A Perspective on Suitable Latitude for Religious Establishments

Laurence Winer & Nina J. Crimm.

How should we balance claims of religious liberty against demands for maintaining separation of church and state? Are privately held secular corporations, whose owners have sincere religious beliefs regarding contraception, entitled to disregard legal requirements that they provide health care insurance coverage for their employees that includes certain contraceptives? To what extent are some religious organizations exempt from such requirements? May a government official, a county clerk, assert her own religious objections as a basis for her office to refuse to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple after Obergefell v. Hodges? May a private individual in a service industry—a wedding photographer or baker, for example—refuse out of religious conviction to provide that service at a same-sex wedding? Falling somewhere between the private individual and the government official, may a licensed professional—a pharmacist—rely on religious scruples in refusing to sell certain contraceptives to a willing customer? Finally, may a state rely on its constitutional provisions prohibiting financial aid to religious institutions to exclude a church-run day care and preschool from a state program that reimburses non profits for the purchase and installation of rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires, a grant the school otherwise qualified for?

Full Article