Free exercise of religion is a bedrock principle of American governance. As schoolchildren, we’re taught that Pilgrims fled to America to avoid persecution by the Church of England. While many of America’s founders were Christians, they prohibited government from favoring one religion over another. Our constitutional protection for religious exercise is listed first in the Bill of Rights. That wasn’t a mistake.

Since I’ve been involved in Alabama politics, I’ve noticed that a good number of people, Christian conservatives in particular, tend to equate “defending religious liberty” with “defending Christian principles.” Many of the religious-liberty cases around the country that we hear about in conservative circles involve Christians being sued for refusing to do things that violate their beliefs. So I understand, to some degree, why this religious-liberty confusion occurs. That’s why it’s important, when we find ourselves thinking about the intersection of faith and government, to remember what the founders intended when they first laid out the concept of religious liberty.

We can turn on the news almost any given day and see people around the world persecuted for their beliefs. Even in America, we see targeting of different religious groups by radical individuals. I am thankful we do not live in a country where government-sanctioned religious discrimination exists, but with that comes the obligation of our government to defend the rights of all individuals to worship across all religions.

When it comes to politics, I am more likely to vote for a candidate who is a Christian, not because I think that they intend to use their office as a soapbox for our shared beliefs, but because I believe they are more likely to prayerfully consider decisions they may make. I have the right to do that, just like the person sitting next to me at my polling place has the right to vote for a candidate who has a different system of beliefs, or no religious beliefs at all.

I’m afraid if folks start thinking about what religious liberty really means, some won’t like it. From where I’m sitting, it looks like many are okay with the concept of religious liberty as long as it only applies to what they believe. But here’s the problem with that—who defines what’s right in terms of religion? I think John Adams said it best: “Nothing is more dreaded than the National Government meddling with religion.” True freedom means that people are given the opportunity to worship the way they see fit, and the government shouldn’t stifle or promote any particular religion, theology, or belief system.

Today, we live in a state where many politicians are proud to be Christians, and for that I am truly thankful. But what if, one day, that changes and Christians become the ones compelled to comply with another religion, or shamed by the government for adhering to our religion? One day, it could be that most of our elected officials espouse a religion that I do not. Would we want to receive the same treatment we’ve extended to other religious groups? If we can’t answer that question in the affirmative, we need to rethink our stance on religious liberty.


Legislative Session: Week 5 Review

It was a slower week, so before you kick off your weekend, check out what happened in Montgomery during week five of the 2018 legislative session! By the way, if you want to receive daily news hits from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to API’s Daily […]

Using our tax breaks and bonuses for things that matter

“Crumbs”. That’s how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi characterized the thousand-dollar bonuses and wage increases that companies are offering employees in the wake of federal tax reform. This description has, appropriately, come under attack. Walmart, Alabama’s largest employer, is spending around $400 million on employee bonuses. In fact, according to Americans for Tax Reform, over […]

Calling All Candidates: Let’s Talk Education

You spoke, Alabama. We asked, what issues are important to you and what questions would you ask of your candidates to answer?  Since last week was National School Choice Week, let’s explore questions on promoting education and supporting Alabama’s school children. And it probably won’t come as much of a surprise—Alabamians are very vocal on these […]

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Define “Transparency”

When you think about the word “transparency,” you probably think about things like openness, honesty, accountability, or integrity. In an ideal world, those descriptors would be accurate. Today, however, amid calls for nonprofits like the Alabama Policy Institute to disclose our donors to the IRS, transparency has come to take on another meaning. In this […]

Statement on the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act

The Alabama Pro-Life Coalition (APLC) commends Governor Kay Ivey for signing the Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act into law on May 3, 2017. By her signature, the rights of religion based adoption agencies are protected. APLC also commends the sponsors of the legislation, Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) and Representative Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa). Their understanding, […]

Legislature Wants to Block Illegal Internet Content, Allow Access Again for $20

Alabama legislators plan on forcing your mobile phone company to block illegal content on your phone, then forcing you to pay twenty dollars to access it again. House Bill 428 requires all electronic devices providing Internet access to contain an active filter that blocks child pornography, images used for sexual cyberharassment, prostitution, and human trafficking. […]

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What do you want to hear from your candidates?

Most of the talk I’ve heard this legislative session has been preceded with “well, you know it’s an election year. . .” as if to indicate that we shouldn’t expect too much from our lawmakers in 2018. Rather, our expectations for our elected officials in 2018 should be just as high as usual, if not […]

It’s Time for New Year’s Resolutions

Ah, January, the make-or-break month for New Year’s resolutions. Don’t you think that our elected officials—members of the legislature, state school board, executive branch, and others—should adopt some resolutions? I’ve got a few ideas for them.       1. Commit to protecting taxpayers. Want to raise taxes? Meet them with an offset elsewhere. Want […]

Time to Refocus

Thinking back on the last year, a few things stick out in my mind: the words “fake news,” Alabama’s epic comeback to get a spot in the college football playoff (Roll Tide), and political ads from Alabama’s senate election haunting me in my waking and sleeping hours. With news cycle after news cycle over the […]

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Taylor’s Top 5: Legislative Review for Week 6

TGIF, am I right? Before the weekend begins, check out what happened this week in the state legislature Taylor’s Top 5 for this week! 1. Folks, we are very close to statewide ride sharing! This week, the senate unanimously passed a bill that sets up the framework for ride sharing companies to operate across the state. Now […]

Legislative Session: Week 5 Review

It was a slower week, so before you kick off your weekend, check out what happened in Montgomery during week five of the 2018 legislative session! By the way, if you want to receive daily news hits from across the state and nation straight to your inbox each morning, click here to subscribe to API’s Daily […]

Taylor’s Top Five: Weekly Legislative Review for Week 4

And, we’re back! Happy almost weekend to you. Taylor’s Top Five is back to fill you in on what you might have missed this week in Montgomery. Hope you enjoy, and let us know if you have any questions on the items discussed below. Have a great weekend! 1. The Senate approved harsher punishment for possessing fentanyl. For those […]