Happy New Year 2015! Last year was important. The religious liberty and church-state developments of 2014 have raised fundamental questions about arrangements that have evolved over decades in the United States:
- Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act still draw the proper balance for religious accommodation?
- Should the civil and religious aspect of marriage be more clearly separated?
- As small and marginal faith groups, as well as mainstream ones, compete for a place on statehouse lawns and in lineups for delivering legislative invocations, is a rush toward creating limited public forums for religious expression still the preferable policy?
- Can the government assure universal access to health care services that some find religiously objectionable without creating a single-payer system?
- How much of a burden on third parties is justified in order to provide religious accommodation?
As we enter 2015, I want to again thank all of you who read Religion Clause-- both long-time followers and those who have discovered the blog more recently. And thanks to all of you who send me leads or corrections. Your input is important in maintaining completeness and accuracy. I read all of your e-mails and comments and appreciate receiving them, even though time constraints often prevent me from replying individually. Normally when I blog on a story sent to me by a reader, I mention the sender. If you do not want to be mentioned, I will be happy to honor that request if you let me know when sending me information.
Religion Clause's established format of neutrality, broad coverage and links to extensive primary source material has produced a loyal readership. Often Religion Clause carries a story well before mainstream media feature it. This year, for the sixth time in 8 years, Religion Clause was named by the ABA Journal as one of the 100 top blogs for a legal audience. This year Religion Clause was also added to the ABA's "Blawg 100 Hall of Fame."
StatCounter shows over 256,000 vists to the blog during 2014, but those numbers are skewed for many reasons. For me, raw numbers are not as important as the quality of the audience and the usefulness of the blog to readers. On this score, I am pleased that my regular readers span the political and religious spectrum and include a large number of law school faculty, journalists, clergy, governmental agency personnel, and others working professionally dealing with church-state relations and religious liberty concerns. I encourage you to recommend Religion Clause to colleagues and friends who might find it of interest. Increasingly readers are finding Religion Clause through links on Twitter and Facebook. I urge you to share Religion Clause postings on your social media platforms.
Finally, I remind you that the Religion Clause sidebar contains links to a wealth of resources.
Feel free to contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through comments to this or other posts throughout the year.
Best wishes for 2015! It is already shaping up as a year of important developments.
Howard M. Friedman