Religious Liberty and Freedom of Conscience

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Does religious liberty and the freedom of conscience allow individuals to refuse professional services to citizens whose lifestyles they disagree with as a matter of conscience?

This topic invites you to express an understanding of the rights of conscience and liberty in light of recent public controversies and court cases in which individuals have argued for a right of liberty that includes refusing to provide business services (such as catering or flowers) for gay weddings, conducting government business (such as issuing marriage licenses for gay couples).


  • news posts on recent cases
  • related arguments in which doctors claim a right of conscience to refuse to perform some medical procedures.
  • historical examples of businessses which have asserted a right to refuse service.

Some initial leads:

  • ACLU site on this issue. [1]
  • Last year's refusal by SC to hear a religious liberty case. [2]
  • Bloomberg background article. [3]
  • This article was published yesterday and states that Mississippi has passed a "religious freedom" law that allows businesses to deny basic services. Opposition to this bill is presented in this article, including a gay rights advocacy group calls this "the nation's worst piece of anti-LGBT legislation." This law enables discrimination in everyday life. The governor who signed this bill also comments on his decision. -St. Luke
  • This article was written by a philosopher and analyzes the right of medical professionals to refuse to perform a service (even though the service is legal). He addresses both sides of the argument. [4] -Megan Lantsberger
  • An article written by a Catholic journalist that analyzes some philosophical arguments (both for and against) the issue of refusal of service. [5] -Megan Lantsberger
  • This article looks at and reviews Supreme Court rulings on cases regarding issues of religious liberty and the first amendment. [6] -Britta Pihl
  • In addition to the recent Mississippi Religious Freedom Bill, here is an article on a similar bill in Georgia and why the governor vetoed it. It'll be interesting to follow how Mississippi fairs and how other states respond to these bills rising up within their own states. - Jack Pearce
  • This website summarizes the dozens of landmark court cases in the United States that cover the topic of religious liberty. [7] -Laura Moretti
  • The first part of this video show a court clerk's decision and reasoning behind her decision to not issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple based on her beliefs. [8] -St. Catherine of Sienna
  • This article further explains the situation of an officer of the courts refusing to give a same-sex couple a marriage certificate days after the Supreme Court ruling same-sex marriage as constitutional. The significance of this is it shows the role that religious beliefs are playing in society and more significantly, how they play in the court system. [9] -St. Catherine of Sienna
  • This site talks about what parts of the Bill of Rights has been incorporated into state laws because of the 14th amendment. [10] -Zac Oldham