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Few subjects prompt louder cries of anguish than suppressed religious liberty. Many Christians worry that precious freedoms are "under assault." Talk about a "war on religion" trips off the tongues of many activists.

We are right to be concerned, because religious freedom is vital and necessary for the health of society. This is why the 2009 Manhattan Declaration considers it a core concern, and why key Catholic and evangelical leaders now work together to protect it. The question is: Are we on the verge of secular totalitarianism, as some activists seem to suggest?

Christian concerns about a suffocating secularism go back decades. Yet activists who sound the alarms today fear more than the loss of a religious perspective in public life. Religious identity itself is at stake, and along with it, freedom of conscience.

Colleges and universities pressure campus fellowships to admit leaders hostile to Christian moral teaching. Governments that partner with Christian groups are now severing ties because faith groups refuse to place needy children with homosexual couples. Hospitals seek to strip medical workers' conscience protections; they strong-arm nurses into assisting with abortions. Bureaucrats bully religious employers into bankrolling health plans that include contraceptives or the morning-after pill.

Attempts to constrict religious liberty are indeed terrifyingly real; hence we understand the rhetoric of grave threats and imminent dangers. But in the midst of all this, a blessedly reassuring Supreme Court decision has arrived. We hope it will rouse the doomsday prophets from their fatalistic crouch.

In mid-January, the court issued the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and ...

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The Supreme Court's Religious Freedom Reality Check
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March 2012

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