Religious Refusals: The New Front in the Culture War

at Yale Law School

New Haven, CT

In the wake of the rapid transformation in American attitudes regarding LGBT people, conservatives led by right-wing Catholic organizations such as The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Becket Fund have shifted tactics, arguing that a wide swath of actors should be exempted from civil rights laws because of professed religious belief. Though almost all would agree that some institutions should be exempted from such laws — churches, for example — the “Religious Liberty” movement seeks to exempt any private actor who professes a religious belief, including corporations and individual proprietors, to deny services to LGBT people. In fact, this tactic is not new — it was attempted unsuccessfully in the 1970s regarding desegregation, and successfully in the 1980s—90s regarding abortion.

Dr. Jay Michaelson, author of the influential report “Redefining Religious Liberty: The New Front in the Culture War” will explore this campaign and assess its prospects in light of recent court cases and new statements from Catholic leadership.