I just read attorney Luke Goodrich’s excellent new book entitled Free to Believe: The Battle Over Religious Liberty in America. Because we have the privilege at Dalton & Tomich of being on the front lines of that battle, I read the book with great interest. While the book covers a lot of ground, as it not only discusses the most serious threats to religious liberty but also what can be done about them, I was most interested in the book’s focus on why religious liberty matters. Some may take the value of religious liberty for granted. Others may see no value in religious liberty at all. In many of our cases, our clients’ opponents try to cast our religious liberty claims as nothing more than a demand for preferential treatment. But as attorney Goodrich points out in the excerpt below, there are three reasons we should all (religious and nonreligious alike) continue to fight for the first freedom enshrined in our Constitution:
“1. Religious freedom benefits society. It promotes good works, protects the right of dissent, and reduces social tension.
2. Religious freedom protects our other rights. It establishes limits on what the government can do, which is the foundation for all other rights.
3. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. It is rooted in human nature and, like other human rights, is worth protecting for its own sake.”
At Dalton & Tomich, we’ve seen the first two reasons play out time and again in our religious land use cases. When we have secured our clients’ rights to provide shelter for the homeless, feed the hungry, care for pregnant women, or otherwise serve their communities, our clients’ religious freedom ultimately benefitted the broader community. So often our client’s goal is not to fight for religious freedom simply for freedom sake. Rather our clients are fighting for the sake of those who stand to benefit from their religious ministries and activities. In our homeless shelter cases, for example, our clients often press their rights because they know that their shelter may be the difference between life and death for those in need during the frigid winter nights.
And as to second reason Mr. Goodrich identified, we have also seen how many of our court victories have not only helped establish significant religious liberty precedents but have also served to curb municipal zoning powers and protect other rights as well. Our cases serve as an opportunity for the judiciary to provide critical oversight over how municipalities are using or abusing their zoning powers.
If you’d like to learn more about why religious liberty matters and how to understand the religious liberty issues of the day, I’d encourage you read Free to Believe.
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The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC have the experience and the knowledge to work with you to develop a legal solution that helps accomplish your goals. Our collaborative approach has helped leaders like you grow businesses and banks, develop and expand churches, and build nonprofit organizations nationwide.
In my role as Administrative Bishop for the Church of God, quite often we are faced with issues that involve local governments and municipalities. Many of these issues that arise in dealing with entities are land use related. I have found Dalton & Tomich’s experience and expertise in this area to be a valuable resource and asset in every situation.
Never one time during a year-long litigation process did Dalton & Tomich demonstrate anything other than Christ-like professionalism. They managed the legal details, while we continued to do church. How they managed themselves, managed our case, and represented our church set the table for me and our church to be where we are today.
Dalton & Tomich’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. Their personal interest in helping us went “above and beyond” just the call of duty.