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"Citizens, civic leaders, and jurists interested in good public policy should look to history as a guide to the impact of laws and constitutional provisions aimed at protecting religious actors. American civic leaders and jurists, at both the national and state levels, have long created significant protections for religious Americans who object to neutral, generally applicable laws. At their best, Americans have agreed that government should not force individuals to violate their sincerely held religious convictions unless it has compelling reasons for doing so. Moreover, the nation and the states have still been able to achieve important policy objectives in spite of these accommodations. America’s laudable history of protecting religious citizens from otherwise valid laws makes it clear not only that it is possible to protect “the sacred rights of conscience” and promote the common good, but also that religious accommodations themselves promote the common good."


Originally published in Backgrounder, The Heritage Foundation, No. 3058 | October 26, 2015.