Religion News Service Editor-in-chief Kevin Eckstrom

Here’s what’s coming up this weekend on State of Belief Radio:

Kevin Eckstrom, Editor-in-chief at the invaluable Religion News Service, fills in for Welton Gaddy this week.

Laws, Lawsuits, and Religious Liberty. Activists call for limiting too-broad “religious exemptions” in a non-discrimination executive order as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We talk to Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Legal Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Stacey Long Simmons.

The RAC joined almost 70 other activist and civil rights groups in calling on President Obama to refuse to expand “religious exemption” language in his anticipated executive order extending workplace non-discrimination protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors. Interfaith Alliance was among the signatories as well. You can read the full text of the letter here. A separate letter, signed by over 100 progressive faith leaders – co-authored by State of Belief host and Interfaith Alliance President Welton Gaddy – was sent to the White House to counter conservative leaders’ call for an expanded set of “religious exemptions.” Update: the White House has announced that President Obama will sign the executive order on Monday (July 21) with no additional “religious exemptions.”

NGLTF led the way in withdrawing its longtime support for a national Employment Non-discrimination Act in the form passed by the US Senate, over concerns that current language regarding “religious exemptions” will institutionalize bias and discrimination. Other LGBT and human rights organizations have followed the Task Force’s lead, identifying the changed human rights climate in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which recognized corporate religious conscience as a thing for the first time.

Also, police profiling and surveillance of Muslim-Americans in the New York metropolitan area. The shameful program was discontinued a few months ago, after more than a decade of unfettered spying. A court case claiming damages was recently dismissed, but an appeal has just been filed, with Interfaith Alliance among many rights groups signing amicus briefs. We’ll hear from Muslim Advocates’ Legal Director Glenn Katon.

And a court says Indiana has to allow Atheist and Humanist wedding celebrants. Center for Inquiry Indiana Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden, who is a certified secular celebrant as well as a trainer of others in this work, will have the details.

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