First Liberty focuses on:
Religious Liberty in the Military
Fortunately, First Liberty Institute is engaged on the front line fight for our service members on this ever-growing, ever-changing battlefield.
Historically, freedom of religious expression in the military has been guarded by the U.S. Constitution, Department of Defense regulations, service branch regulations, as well as many subsequent legal precedents.
Today, however, even military chaplains are subject to attack and persecution for following their religious beliefs. And the attacks by radical groups upon our military institutions and service members continues to grow at an alarming rate.
The fact (and irony) is…the very men and women who risk their lives to defend freedom on a daily basis— are now finding their own, most basic religious freedoms at risk.
Seasoned and successful in defending active service members, veterans, and veterans memorials, First Liberty works to ensure that:
- Military members are free to hold and practice their faith as their religion and conscience dictate, without any fear or threat.
- Military chaplains are free to hold and practice their faith as their religion and conscience dictate without any fear or threat, including counseling and teaching according to their faith.
- Religious military support organizations are free to minister to members of the military and their family without any fear or threat.
- Veterans are free to honor their own through public expressions of faith, such as honoring God at military funerals.
- Veterans are free to honor their own through memorials and monuments that contain religious imagery, such as crosses and Stars of David.
Arming You With Resources
If you are a member of the military, the most important first step you can take to protect yourself against these hostilities is to become educated on your religious liberty rights.
Download First Liberty Institute’s free, online Religious Liberty Protection Kit for the U.S. Military.
Religious Liberty in Schools
First Liberty Institute defends people of all faiths who are facing legal retribution for expressing their religious beliefs in school. As subject-matter experts, First Liberty is committed to providing Americans with effective and practical resources on how to safeguard their constitutional rights. When the religious freedom of a student or teacher is violated, our experienced attorneys and legal team are ready to fight to defend and protect their rights.
From kindergarten through graduate school, students and teachers face professional, personal, and academic threats for living out their faith and refusing to compromise their beliefs. Attacks on religious liberty “at the schoolhouse gate” primarily involve school officials prohibiting students or teachers from sharing their faith or exercising their religious free speech rights.
Even more unfortunate, is that many students, teachers and other members of the academic community are unsure about what rights they have to express their faith at school. This “fear of the unknown” has led to the misapplication of the law – even outright hostility to religious expression. Thus, religious freedom violations have increased exponentially in our nation’s schools, affecting people of all faiths, including:
- Teachers, principals, and staff
- Religious organizations and clubs
The First Amendment protects religious expression in schools and is also guarded by important precedents set in cases such as Tinker v. Des Moines. In the 1969 decision, Justice Abe Fortas wrote:
“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
At First Liberty Institute, we equip students, parents, teachers, and staff with the knowledge they need to exercise their rights in accordance with the law, without fear of discrimination.
Empowering You to Protect Your Rights
To learn more about the rights of students and teachers in public schools, please download our free Religious Liberty Protection Kit for Students and Teachers.
Religious Liberty in the Public Arena
First Liberty Institute defends the rights of all Americans to freely express their religious beliefs in public. At First Liberty, we equip people with the knowledge they need to safeguard their rights, and are committed to restoring those rights when they are violated.
Attacks on the exercise of religious liberty in the public arena occur in a variety of settings, including government buildings, public lands, businesses, and virtually any location where Americans can publicly express their faith. Commonly, religious freedom violations take place when people of faith are fired from their job, refused employment, fined for practicing their faith, or speaking out about their religious beliefs.
When the government restricts a person’s religious expression to their home or house of worship, it is violating both freedom of religion and freedom of speech, rights guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution. These rights have been upheld time and again by legal precedent as well as by federal and state laws.
In our fight to preserve religious freedom in the public arena, we specifically protect the following:
- Religious speech in public locations
- Public displays and monuments
- Religious expression in the workplace for employees, employers, customers and vendors
Religious Liberty for Churches, Ministries, and Religious Organizations
First Liberty represents religious organizations of all faiths, including churches, synagogues, temples, and other religious institutions. At First Liberty, we equip these organizations with the resources and information they need to protect their rights, and are committed restoring those rights when they are violated.
Churches, ministries, and religious organizations are often the targets of hostile attacks. In recent years, government officials have increasingly engaged in unconstitutional actions, imposing and dictating where religious organizations can minister and even what they can do in their services. Government agencies have also discriminated against churches through restrictive zoning laws, refusing to grant land-use permits, or withholding public assistance based on regulations that ban religious organizations.
According to the First Amendment, case precedent, and federal and state laws, churches have the right to:
- Preach and teach their faith
- Serve the community free from discrimination
- Meet and assemble without government restrictions or harassment
- Operate and govern internal affairs according to religious beliefs