Religious Liberty @ Stanford Law

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has partnered with the Stanford Law School to place future lawyers in clinics and cases related to the defense of religious liberty, Clement Boyd writes in the latest issue of Citizen magazine.

Are they unusual partners? As a famous lady would say, “you betcha.” We’ve covered Stanford Law for years and found that it aligns itself with just about every academic fad to come out of the faculty lounge, such as beauty studies. Perhaps this is a good sign: If academia views religious freedom as exotic, they might be more respectful of it.

The majority of the $1.6 million grant that funds the Becket Fund clinics comes from the John Templeton Foundation. The three-year program is the most recent attempt at training students to defend religious liberty. The other program was housed at Cornell University from 1992 to 1998, Boyd reported in Citizen. Citizen is published by Focus on the Family.

Religious liberty is under fire, with the emergence of vicious debates between religious and non-religious Americans over same-sex marriage and free speech. In the words of the Becket Fund’s executive director, Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz, “Only 20 years ago the country saw itself united on the issue of religious liberty, but now we’re polarized. It’s a great danger to the fabric of American society.”

With America’s long history of religion, it is “scandalous” that the freedom to exercise it has diminished in such a short time, said Thomas Farr. Farr is a senior fellow with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Berkley is affiliated with Georgetown University but located on the outskirts of the campus.

One problem facing the Becket Fund and other religious-liberty-minded Americans is ObamaCare. Farr said that the health care law highlights the need for a religious-liberty clinic because the Obama Administration’s response to current lawsuits against the health care law shows that ObamaCare is “indifferent to the idea that hospitals and colleges could be forced to go against their religious scruples.”

One of the clinic’s law students, Jim Wiggenton, said, “Whether that religious practice is viewed as conservative or liberal in mainstream circles shouldn’t matter, because religious liberty is for everybody.” The clinic’s aim, said Wiggenton, is to “build a consensus that religious liberty is a fundamental human right that deserves protection.”


Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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