Church and State: How Separate Should They Be?

Monday, October 16, 2017
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Knight Conference Center
555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

With a new administration in power, the separation of church and state has again become a hot topic, fueling long-running debates about the balance of religious freedom and civil rights. In this discussion, panelists will debate questions such as:

  • Should individuals’ right to privacy — in making decisions about their health, family and other intimate matters — take precedence over government protections of religious organizations? Is it acceptable, for instance, for the government to fund foster care or adoption services with groups who do not support placing children in same-sex households? Or would that license discrimination against LGBTQ people?
  • Is it fair for religiously-affiliated businesses to abstain from providing employees healthcare provisions to which they morally object, like birth control? How do we balance the right of the employer with that of the employee? And where do we draw the line on defining religious groups and their rights versus those of individuals of other faiths or no faith?
  • Should pastors, priests and imams be free to express political views before their believers, or is that an unlawful mix of religion and politics by groups who enjoy tax-free status? Should government employees be able to refrain from some official duties because of religious objections?

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