Reposting of a November 2018 blog post updated to November 2020
This Thanksgiving we should give our thanks to the Pilgrims who have become an icon of what made the New World so unique in the civilizations that preceded them.. They left England and the old world to seek freedom to practice their own religion, free from a government backed state religion that oppressed them. It was a beginning. There was a rocky road ahead to laws guaranteeing religious freedom for everyone, not just one group.
________________________________________________________________________________2018 rulings by the Supreme Court concerning freedom or religion set no precedents that altered the underlining intent of the First Amendment or related laws.
Kim Clark, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to a gay couple because of her religious beliefs, spent jail time over it in 2015 and was defeated in her attempt to be re-elected in 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/26/supreme-court-rules-in-trump-muslim-travel-ban-case.html
A number of Evangelical Christian ministers have recently proclaimed that the US is a "Christian nation". It is not a state one per the Constitution, nor is the Evangelical brand of Christianity (full disclosure..I am a Mainstream Protestant Christian) even the majority of the population. Per a recent Pew Research study, Evangelicals are 25% of the population. http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/
Evangelicals have had an impact, though, in exemptions of employers providing ACA coverage of reproductive rights based on religious beliefs, first in the Obama administration and more so under the Trump administration. The battle yet to be fought is over further proposed restrictions on birth control insurance accessibility coverage. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/fact-sheet-religious-exemptions-and-accommodations-for-coverage.pdf https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/us/politics/trump-birth-control.html
Roe v Wade will also face challenges in the very conservative tilt in the Supreme Court As a public policy regardless of religious affiliation, 71% of Americans polled oppose overturning Roe v Wade, https://www.wsj.com/articles/record-71-of-voters-oppose-overturning-roe-v-wade-1532379600
and 72% support birth control as basic health issue https://powertodecide.org/about-us/newsroom/new-polling-shows-strong-support-for-birth-control-basic-part-womens-health-care
The backlash to religious restrictions on reproductive rights was palapable in 2018. The womens' marches and demonstrations against confirmation of pro life anti birth control Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the doubling of the women gender gap to 19% of the voters were certainly contributors to the Democrats turning the House blue.
Right wing attempts to get around the separation of church and state issue in the funding of education have not gotten far. Once again Colorado was the focus when the Douglas County School Board thought issuing vouchers to students to attend any school of their choice, including a faith based school, was rebuffed by the Colorado Supreme Court. https://www.denverpost.com/2015/06/29/colorado-supreme-court-rejects-douglas-county-voucher-program/ Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's secretary of education has long been a supporter of tax payer money funding faith based schools through vouchers , and has set about issuing executive orders to chip away at the regulations forbidding public funds for religious schools. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/us/politics/betsy-devos-religious-christian-education-federal-aid.html
Following US right wing efforts to alter the protection of freedom of religion, in Europe and South America forces desiring to persecute and discriminate against religious minorities are raising their ugly heads. In Brazil, a fascist government was just elected, vowing to turn that country comprised of centuries of immigrants and native population, into a Christian nation. In Europe a long list of countries electing very right wing, anti- Muslim immigrant governments are being elected to political leadership. http://www.pewresearch.org/topics/restrictions-on-religion/