Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Dear Religion Clause Readers:

Happy New Year! The past year was unusual in the extent to which two developments often seemed to dominate Religion Clause's coverage-- reactions to same-sex marriage and opposition to the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate.  However, many other interesting and challenging religious liberty and church-state items also filled 2013.

As we enter 2014, 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 made it a widely-recognized authoritative source for keeping up on church-state and religious liberty developments around the world. Often Religion Clause carries a story well before mainstream media feature it. This year, for the fifth time in 7 years, Religion Clause was named by the ABA Journal as one of the 100 top blogs for a legal audience.

I am of course always considering whether any changes in format or coverage would make the blog more useful.  This year I changed the blog's template a bit-- to mixed reviews.  I have also begun to add subject tags to my posts to allow readers to find other blog entries covering similar subject matter.  I will not, however, have the time to retroactively add tags to the over 15,000 past blog posts that are in the Religion Clause database.  I welcome any comments or suggestions you have regarding Religion Clause. Feel free to post them as a comment to this blog entry, or to e-mail them to me at

The Sitemeter shows that Religion Clause has attracted over 1,544,000 visits since I created the blog in 2005. Around 206,500 of these visits came in 2013. Sitemeter, however, is becoming a less and less reliable measure of readership.  First, the Sitemeter server which measures visits to Religion Clause suffered severe technical problems for at least two months this year. Also, a number of visits by automated bots are counted by Sitemeter. This overestimates real readers of the blog.  At the same time, readers are undercounted because of the increasing numbers who are following Religion Clause through Twitter, Facebook, Feedly, Blogger, FeedBlitz and similar services that make access more convenient. (Information about many of these alternatives are available in the blog's sidebar.)  Reading of posts, or of post headlines, through these routes is not measured by Sitemeter.  Only click-throughs are registered.

Ultimately, however, 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, persons at governmental agencies, 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, and to link to specific posts and share them on social media.

Finally, I remind you that in addition to the postings, the Religion Clause sidebar contains links to a wealth of resources.

Best wishes for 2014!  It promises to be another year of interesting legal and political change.

Howard M. Friedman