Advocates of religious liberty have announced plans to launch religious freedom caucuses in all 50 state legislatures in order to fight against the erosion of religious liberty at the local level.
The caucuses will be â€œa focal point for those who are working on religious freedom in the states to direct and generate their efforts,â€ said Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Working alongside a wide variety of faith communities and other groups, the American Religious Freedom Program is helping form and support the caucuses, which will allow state legislators to share information and connect with religious and public policy organizations as they focus on threats to religious liberty.
The caucus initiative was announced at the 2012 National Religious Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C. on May 24.
Concerns over religious freedom have escalated in recent months, reaching a peak with the Obama administrationâ€™s federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
The mandate has been widely criticized as an attack on religious liberty. Catholic bishops from every diocese in the U.S. have spoken out against it, warning that it could force Catholic hospitals, schools and charitable agencies to close their doors.
Organizers of the state caucus initiative said that many threats to religious freedom being or are found at the state level. [More]