5 Silliest Religious Exemptions Cases in 2014

2014 was the year that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) made a comeback, and now religious exemptions are the talk of the (policy wonk) town. As Hobby Lobby emboldened those seeking religious exemptions, we saw more and more outlandish claims being advanced disguised as religious rights. Here are the top five bizarre religious exemption claims of the past year—although I’m sure 2015 will find a way top them.

  1. The nurse who told a family planning clinic she wouldn’t prescribe birth control and then sued the clinic for not hiring her. Yes, you read that right. Enough said.
  1. The woman arrested for crystal meth who claimed she needed it for her Wiccan religious practices. That’s how far we’ve come from the Native Americans who were penalized for using peyote in the landmark Smith case that brought us RFRA to begin with.
  1. The Satanic Temple’s print-and-sign web form for claiming a religious exemption to get out of having to listen to state-required biased counseling laws before obtaining an abortion. If only it were that easy.
  1. The member of a Mormon sect who claimed it would be against his religious beliefs to provide any factual information about the structure or hierarchy of his church to government officials investigating a potential violation of child labor laws by a fundamentalist sect that ran a pecan ranch. Somehow I have the feeling judges are going to be a lot less friendly to religious exemption claims should they prevent prosecutors from doing their jobs.
  1. The Kansans who continued their 2013 suit against the State Board of Education alleging that state standards requiring that science classes teach…science…violated their religious rights by imposing a “materialistic” or “atheist” world view. Apparently they haven’t heard that even the Pope thinks you can believe in God and evolution at the same time.

Coming up next week—the top five religious exemption cases we can expect to see in 2015.