Religious Liberty

The right to practice religion, or no religion at all, is among the most fundamental of the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The ACLU of Michigan Howard L. Simon Religious Liberty Project works to ensure that this essential freedom is protected. The Constitution’s framers understood that religious liberty could flourish only if the government leaves religion alone, and we are dedicated to maintaining that separation to preserve religious freedom for all people.

The Mayor Doesn't Like It: Standing Up for Religious Freedom

The Mayor Doesn't Like It: Standing Up for Religious Freedom

2015-02-27 00:00:00

When injustice doesn’t impact us directly, it can be easy to say “what’s the harm? It’s not a big deal.”

It’s a much different experience when you’re the one left out, facing discrimination, or pushed out of public spaces.

When government officials insist on promoting a particular faith, citizens who don't share those religious beliefs suffer. All too often that pain is minimized, even ignored. “It’s not a big deal, right?”

It’s a big deal.

This Week Online: Editorials Galore 2/13-2/20

This Week Online: Editorials Galore 2/13-2/20

2015-02-20 00:00:00

The ACLU of Michigan is tracking hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that impact your civil liberties at any given moment, covering all concerns from free speech to government abuse. That's why we like to point out a few cases that made the news each week, to keep our members and supporters up to date on threats in your neighborhood.

Why Did This Doctor Refuse to Care for a Baby?

Why Did This Doctor Refuse to Care for a Baby?

2015-02-26 00:00:00

Moms Jami and Krista Contreras of Oak Park, Michigan brought their six-day-old newborn into a Roseville pediatric practice for a wellness checkup. The couple was turned away. Why?

They’re lesbians.

After developing a relationship with their chosen pediatrician, Dr. Vesna Roi, the couple found that after “much prayer,” she had changed her mind and would no longer treat their child.

Kids Need Loving Homes, Not Discrimination

Kids Need Loving Homes, Not Discrimination

2015-02-24 00:00:00

Update: Because of members and supporters like you, lawmakers have delayed voting on this discriminatory legislation. We'll keep you posted if this package of bills is reintroduced.

Every child in Michigan deserves a loving forever family. That's why it's essential that we speak up now, as legislators consider bills that would block children from being adopted or fostered by supportive parents.

Federal Court Approves Settlement Requiring Warren to Give Atheists Equal Access to City Hall

Federal Court Approves Settlement Requiring Warren to Give Atheists Equal Access to City Hall

2015-02-23 00:00:00

DETROIT—In a victory for religious freedom, a federal judge today approved a settlement requiring the City of Warren to allow an atheist to set up a “reason station” inside city hall after the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued in response to city officials’ efforts to allow only a “prayer station” to operate inside the public building. In the settlement, city officials reversed course and agreed to provide the “reason station” with full, equal access to the building.

The Heckler’s Veto

The Heckler’s Veto

2015-10-28 00:00:00

When someone exercises their First Amendment right to free speech, the government is not allowed to shut down the speech just because other people don’t like the message that is being conveyed.  This is known as the rule against a “heckler’s veto.” 

At the 2012 Arab International Festival in Dearborn, a group of Christian evangelists marched down a public street expressing their beliefs with offensive words and disturbing images that they knew would be upsetting to many members of the local community. 

Our Civil Liberties Heroes of 2014

Our Civil Liberties Heroes of 2014

2014-12-22 00:00:00

Every year, the ACLU of Michigan works on hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that touch lives all over the state.

Through cases covering concerns from free speech to government abuse, we have the honor to meet members, supporters and clients who show the passion, bravery and faith in civil liberties that has supported the ACLU through a century of work defending our rights.

This year has been no different. Take a look back with us and listen to the stories of some of our civil liberties heroes for 2014.

Victory: Together, We Stopped RFRA

Victory: Together, We Stopped RFRA

2014-12-19 00:00:00

We did it! Together, we stopped the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

As the lame duck session of 2014 came to a close last night, members of the Senate did not take a vote on this dangerous legislation, which would have allowed individuals to use their religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate or cause harm to others. That means the legislation will not advance in the 2014 legislative session.

Opponents of Bill Encouraging Dangerous Religious Exemptions Praise Senate Leaders

Opponents of Bill Encouraging Dangerous Religious Exemptions Praise Senate Leaders

2014-12-18 00:00:00

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has adjourned, killing legislation that would have allowed individuals to avoid following state and local laws they say interfere with their religious beliefs, earning cheers from opponents of the unnecessary legislation.

HB 5958, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), would have let individuals put their religious beliefs ahead of established state and local laws by letting individuals argue they should be exempt from any law that they say “burdens” their exercise of religion.

Pages

August 26, 2016
For nearly fifty years, Michigan’s Constitution has strictly prohibited taxpayer funding of private and religious schools.  However, in 2016 the legislature...
January 08, 2016
In 2013 the Michigan Department of Corrections stopped ordering pre-packaged kosher meals into the prison for Jewish inmates.  Instead, it adopted a “one size...
December 02, 2015
A student at Eastern Michigan University who has been a practicing Wiccan since age 14 contacted the ACLU of Michigan when the public safety department refused...
October 28, 2015
When someone exercises their First Amendment right to free speech, the government is not allowed to shut down the speech just because other people don’t like...
September 14, 2015
GRAND BLANC, Mich. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a demand letter to a Catholic hospital in Michigan on behalf of a pregnant woman with...
March 03, 2015
In March 2015, the ACLU of Michigan received a complaint that the McBain public school system in northern Michigan was seeking to hire a new superintendent...
February 23, 2015
Since 2009, a church group has been using space in the public atrium of Warren’s city hall to operate a “prayer station.” Volunteers at the prayer station...
February 10, 2015
In 2014, the ACLU of Michigan received several complaints that the graduation ceremony at a public high school in Zeeland featured Christian prayers approved...
In a victory for marriage equality, a federal judge ruled on January 15, 2015 that the state of Michigan must recognize the legal marriages of 300 same-sex...
September 23, 2014
In 2009, the ACLU of Michigan agreed to represent Muslim prisoners in a religious freedom class action in federal court. Although the Michigan Department of...
June 30, 2014 Reproductive Rights
In several federal lawsuits filed in Michigan, private employers challenged the new requirement under the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) that all...
February 26, 2014
Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan legislature created the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) to educate students in the lowest performing schools in the...
November 25, 2013
Detroit poll workers contacted the ACLU of Michigan to complain that Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey was leading denominational prayers during mandatory...
May 03, 2013
In late 2012 the ACLU of Michigan learned that the football coach at a public school was leading students in Christian prayer on the field at the end of...
April 12, 2013
In 2013, the ACLU became aware that for the past several years Harbor Springs School District has allowed religious individuals and groups into the school...
February 25, 2013
During the holiday season the City of Warren allows the Rotary Club to display its nativity scene in the public atrium of city hall. When an atheist group...
April 10, 2014
The ACLU maintains a presence in Lansing that enables us to pass policies that expand civil liberties or prevent the passage of policies that are hostile to...
April 10, 2014
The ACLU maintains a presence in Lansing that enables us to pass policies that expand civil liberties or prevent the passage of policies that are hostile to...
No related campaigns
In an effort to remind the public about its First Amendment rights and to reassure immigrants that constitutional protections extend to them as well, the...
Today, the Arab-American Civil Rights League and the ACLU of Michigan filed an amended complaint continuing their challenge of President Donald Trump’s latest...
DETROIT – The Arab-American Civil Rights League and the ACLU of Michigan have announced that they will continue their lawsuit challenging the Muslim ban after...
February 02, 2017 FOIA, Immigration, immigration ban
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a FOIA request today with its local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office to expose how...
October 01, 2015
Recently a Catholic hospital denied permission to Jessica Mann, a pregnant Michigan woman with a life-threatening brain tumor, to have her tubes tied after she...
September 23, 2015
GRAND BLANC, Mich. — A Catholic hospital in Michigan denied a pregnant woman with a life-threatening brain tumor a request to get her tubes tied at the time of...
September 14, 2015
GRAND BLANC, Mich. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a demand letter to a Catholic hospital in Michigan on behalf of a pregnant woman with...
September 02, 2015 RFRA
As debate over "religious freedom restoration acts," or RFRAs, heat up around the country and here in Michigan, the threat of religion being used to...
June 30, 2015
A federal district court today dismissed a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan on behalf of a pregnant woman who was...
April 28, 2015
LANSING—The ACLU of Michigan is praising several local business leaders who, in a powerful show of opposition to multiple “religious freedom restoration act”...
April 10, 2015 RFRA
In light of the growing number of state legislatures taking pains to introduce laws written to “protect” religious liberty, you’d think that the idea of...
April 08, 2015 Five Questions
Ever wonder who’s behind the work here at the ACLU of Michigan? In our new blog series Five Questions, ACLU of Michigan staff will talk about the incredible...
March 17, 2015 RFRA
It's getting closer to becoming another bad Michigan law: This Wednesday, March 18, the Michigan House will vote on legislation that would give adoption...
March 10, 2015
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has become the latest federal appeals court to consider the question of whether law enforcement needs a warrant before it...
February 27, 2015 This Week Online
The ACLU of Michigan is tracking hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that impact your civil liberties at any given moment, covering all concerns...
February 26, 2015 RFRA
As debate over "religious freedom restoration acts," or RFRAs, heat up around the country and here in Michigan, the threat of religion being used to...
February 26, 2015 RFRA
Moms Jami and Krista Contreras of Oak Park, Michigan brought their six-day-old newborn into a Roseville pediatric practice for a wellness checkup. The couple...
February 24, 2015 RFRA
Update: Because of members and supporters like you, lawmakers have delayed voting on this discriminatory legislation. We'll keep you posted if this package of...
February 23, 2015
DETROIT—In a victory for religious freedom, a federal judge today approved a settlement requiring the City of Warren to allow an atheist to set up a “reason...
February 20, 2015 This Week Online
The ACLU of Michigan is tracking hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that impact your civil liberties at any given moment, covering all concerns...
December 22, 2014 Heros
Every year, the ACLU of Michigan works on hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that touch lives all over the state. Through cases covering...
December 18, 2014 Kalamazoo
When you woke up this morning, did you check your horoscope? Ask your Magic 8 Ball a question? If you get some take out tonight, will you read your fortune...
December 18, 2014 RFRA
We just got word that the Senate may vote on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill before session ends today. Some legislators are getting...
December 18, 2014
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has adjourned, killing legislation that would have allowed individuals to avoid following state and local laws they say...
December 17, 2014 RFRA
As the year comes to a close, the Michigan Legislature seems to have dutifully set itself to the task of passing as many harmful bills as possible. The recent...
December 08, 2014 RFRA
Regardless of whether you have been pregnant or not, chances are you can recite the long list of things to avoid in pregnancy: alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes,...
December 04, 2014
Four religions were represented at my family’s Thanksgiving table last week. As I looked around the dining room, I was reminded that one of the things I’m most...
December 01, 2014 RFRA
Freedom of religion is one of our fundamental rights as Americans. That’s why it’s protected in the state and federal constitutions. However, this week, our...
November 21, 2014 This Week Online
The ACLU of Michigan is tracking hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that impact your civil liberties at any given moment, covering all concerns...
October 17, 2014 This Week Online
The ACLU of Michigan is tracking hundreds of legal cases and pieces of legislation that impact your civil liberties at any given moment, covering all concerns...
July 23, 2014
DETROIT – In an effort to protect the First Amendment rights of all Warren, Mich. residents regardless of their religious or philosophical beliefs or non-...
November 21, 2013
Under a court-approved settlement filed late yesterday afternoon, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) will accommodate the religious requirements of...
December 07, 2012 Capitol Lockout
To: Governor Rick Snyder P.O. Box 30013 Lansing, Michigan 48909 Dear Governor Snyder: The events today at the State Capitol have been extremely disappointing...
January 27, 2012 Student Rights
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision today in the case of a graduate student, Julea Ward, who was removed from Eastern Michigan...
November 28, 2011
DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit today against the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) for violating the...
October 20, 2011 Government Surveillance
NEW YORK – The FBI has been targeting American communities for investigation based on race, ethnicity, national origin and religion according to documents...
October 04, 2011 Student Rights
Cincinnati — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is slated to hear arguments today in the case of a graduate student who was removed from Eastern...
September 13, 2011
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit today asking a federal judge to strike down a state law that criminalizes...
March 16, 2011 Education
SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan applauded a decision by the South Haven Public Schools to adopt comprehensive policies that...
July 27, 2010
DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today asked the FBI to turn over records related to the agency’s collection and use of race and...
September 24, 2009
DETROIT — In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of the First Baptist Church of Ferndale, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has urged the...
June 16, 2009 Detroit
U.S. terrorism finance laws and policies unfairly prevent Muslims around the nation from practicing their religion through charitable giving and undermine...
March 03, 2009
DETROIT— In a letter today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan urged Ferndale city officials not to interfere with the First Baptist Church of...
January 29, 2009
DETROIT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asked the Michigan Court of Appeals today to remove the harsh and unconstitutional bond conditions...
January 12, 2009 Student Rights
KALAMAZOO, MICH – In a letter today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asked the superintendent of South Haven Public Schools to put an end to the...
December 11, 2008
DETROIT– The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan applauded a Court of Appeals decision today granting its motion for bond on behalf of a Benton Harbor...
November 12, 2008
DETROIT - The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has agreed to represent a Benton Harbor minister who was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for writing...
March 07, 2008
DETROIT - In a letter to one of the largest insurers of churches in the country, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan expressed deep concern today...
December 19, 2007 Religion
Over the years, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has been called many names, but nothing brings out the taunting more than the holiday season....
November 30, 2007
Detroit — A federal judge in Detroit ruled today that the constitutional rights a Catholic man were violated when he was sent to jail for asking a drug court...
October 16, 2007 Religious Freedom
DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced victory today in the case of Claudius Benson, a ninth grader who was suspended from Old...
October 10, 2007 Religious Freedom
DETROIT – A Wayne County judge today ordered Old Redford Academy, a public charter school in Detroit, to temporarily reinstate a ninth grader who refused to...
September 21, 2006 Religious Liberty
DETROIT — As a longtime defender of freedom of religion, the ACLU of Michigan today noted with alarm the endorsement by gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos of...
June 19, 2006 Search & Seizure
DETROIT - The American Civil Liberties Unions of Michigan, Massachusetts and Washington today filed an amended complaint to a lawsuit previously filed by the...
February 09, 2006
DETROIT - A Genesee County Catholic who was criminally punished for not completing a Pentecostal drug rehabilitation program and a Utica valedictorian whose...
December 22, 2005
At this time of year, it is common for the ACLU to receive phone calls regarding religious displays on government property. Though, in recent years, the number...
December 06, 2005
DETROIT – After exhausting all avenues in the Michigan courts, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced today that it has filed a federal...
August 29, 2005
DETROIT -- The American Civil Liberties Union today released an FBI document that designates a Michigan-based peace group and an affirmative action advocacy...
August 17, 2005 Religious Freedom
DETROIT — In a letter sent yesterday to the Ypsilanti mayor and city council, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and its Washtenaw Branch has...
January 19, 2005 Student Rights
DETROIT – After learning that a public school wrestling coach was praying with his team at sporting events, the ACLU of Michigan sent a letter to the school’s...
December 02, 2004
DETROIT – Suspecting that law enforcement is spying on political and faith-based groups, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan today filed Freedom of...
July 20, 2004 Criminal Justice
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asked the Michigan Supreme Court today to hear a case of a Catholic man who was criminally punished for not...
May 11, 2004 Religious Liberty
ACLU Settles Case On Behalf Of Christian Valedictorian DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced today that an out-of-court settlement...
February 25, 2004 Religious Freedom
DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling today that states could withhold scholarship money for the purpose...
December 11, 2003
DETROIT – After anti-choice groups filed their language with the Board of Canvassers today for a citizen’s initiative to ban so-called “partial birth abortion...
July 09, 2002
The ACLU of Michigan has intervened on behalf of a Baptist minister who was unconstitutionally denied a permit to conduct baptisms at a lake operated by the...
March 08, 2002 Racial Profiling
As the nation tries to find the best ways to improve airport security, it is crucial that we resist grabbing onto strategies that only create a sense of false...
March 05, 2002
On Wednesday, March 6, the Michigan Court of Appeals will hear the ACLU's appeal in People v. Timothy Boomer. At issue in the case is whether Michigan's "...
DETROIT – Citing growing concerns over border patrol’s persistent targeting and ongoing detention of individuals at the border based on their race, ethnicity...
DETROIT — The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit on behalf of a ninth grader at Old Redford Academy, a public charter school in Detroit...