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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Religious Liberty

RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina is urging lawmakers to reject a bill that would allow magistrates and other government officials to opt out of providing marriage services to the public for six-month periods based on “sincerely held religious” objections.

SB 2 is scheduled for a committee hearing on Tuesday, February 24, at 10 a.m. in room 1124/1224 LB at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

“Religious freedom is one of our most valued liberties, but it should never be used as an excuse to deny government services to those who qualify simply because of who they love,” said Sarah Preston, policy director for the ACLU of North Carolina. “This bill is clearly designed to deny gay and lesbian couples their legal right to marry, but it would also make it harder for all North Carolina couples, especially those living in smaller counties, to access their right to be married under the law. We urge lawmakers to reject this bill and ensure that government services in North Carolina remain open to all on equal terms.”

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The ACLU of North Carolina joins countless people from across our state and around the world this week in expressing sorrow over the tragic killing of students Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, in Chapel Hill on February 10.

While the details are still being investigated, several sources, including family members of the victims, have suggested that an underlying motivation in the killings was the three victims’ Muslim faith. That is why the ACLU of North Carolina is supporting Muslim Advocates and more than 150 civil rights, faith, community, and civic groups in urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to open a full and rigorous federal hate crime investigation.

“With hate crimes against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim alarmingly on the rise in recent years, your leadership is crucial to help stem the tide of hate,” reads to letter to Holder. “…Federal leadership is necessary in this case in order to send the strongest message to the public that acts of violence like this have no place in civil society and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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By Aleksandr Sverdlik, Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief

Claiming that they merely want to improve students' educational options, "school choice" proponents observed "National School Choice Week" over the past seven days. "School choice" may sound innocuous, but more often than not, a cry for "school choice" is a cry for private school vouchers – a reckless scheme that results in neither quality education nor real choice.

That's why the ACLU joined with allies Friday to file a friend-of-the-court brief opposing a North Carolina voucher program. As we explain in the brief, vouchers undermine the separation of church and state. They do this by shifting millions of taxpayer dollars from public schools – which are open to all, regardless of faith – to private schools, the vast majority of which are religious. In turn, taxpayer funds directly support religious instruction – and not just in theology class, but in biology class, history class, and even math class.

In North Carolina, for example, private religious schools are not required to comply with the same academic standards applied to public schools, and many use Christian textbooks published by Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education. These publishers have produced textbooks teaching, among other inaccurate lessons, that "[d]inosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may even have lived side by side within the past few thousand years." What's more, private religious schools can and do discriminate, for example by excluding students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

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RALEIGH – Support for protecting citizens from unwarranted government surveillance and moving toward more compassionate medical marijuana laws may be rising in the North Carolina General Assembly, according to an annual legislative report card released today by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC). The report card shows how members of the North Carolina House and Senate voted on legislation introduced during the 2014 session concerning five key civil liberties issues: privacy rights, protections for government whistleblowers, religious liberty, racial and juvenile justice, and compassionate drug policy.

Of particular note, 18 Senate Republicans voted against H.B. 348, which would have dramatically expanded the use of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) on state-owned roads and highways without including crucial safeguards to protect people’s privacy from unwarranted government surveillance. The ACLU-NC has been working with lawmakers from both parties to pass substantive privacy protections concerning law enforcement’s use of ALPRs and other surveillance technology that is currently unregulated in North Carolina. 

“North Carolinians who support civil liberties should be cautiously optimistic about the growing numbers of lawmakers who support protecting people’s privacy from unwarranted government surveillance,” said ACLU-NC Policy Director Sarah Preston. “The near unanimous support for providing patients suffering from epileptic seizures with safe access to a marijuana-based oil is also very encouraging, and we continue to urge lawmakers to extend their compassion to other North Carolinians who are suffering and could benefit from a comprehensive medical marijuana law. However, support for many other key civil liberties, particularly religious liberty for students of minority beliefs, was sorely lacking in both political parties this session.”

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