The First Amendment guarantees that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion, nor favors particular faiths over others. To that end, the ACLU works to ensure that laws and government practices neither promote religion nor prevent people from practicing their faith.
In 2009, the ACLU of Massachusetts sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for permitting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to use taxpayer money to impose religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services in the U.S. government’s trafficking victims program.
We also oppose the “Countering Violent Extremism” program, which relies on the discredited idea that expressing certain political or religious views is an indicator of future violence. Countering Violent Extremism often subjects Muslim communities to increased surveillance by law enforcement. In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice named Boston among the sites for this pilot program, and we continue to speak out about the civil liberties concerns it raises and provide Know Your Rights trainings to affected communities.
Our work on freedom of religion and belief intersects with our work on LGBTQ rights, freedom of speech and expression, and reproductive freedom when people or institutions claim a right to discriminate in the workplace in the name of religion.