The Regent University Law Review recently welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies along with a panel of right of conscience legal experts to its annual symposium held over the weekend of Nov. 4-5, 2011 on Regent's campus.
Over the course of a Friday evening banquet and Saturday panel sessions this year's symposium, titled "Protecting Conscience: Harmonizing Religious Liberties and the Offering of Commercial Services," brought leading legal minds together to address some of the emerging issues in right of conscience litigation, specifically in the area of commercial business.
From foster-care workers facing license revocation for refusing adoption to homosexual couples and medical professionals required to provide abortions and students "encouraged" to sign statements violating deeply held religious beliefs or face expulsion, Christians in all sectors of society are increasingly impacted by federal-anti discrimination laws.
A brief video presentation at Friday's banquet highlighted Christians who have faced legal action as a result of a conflict of conscience. After the presentation, Carlson-Thies, a public policy expert and the founder and president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, argued for an enlargement of the definition of "freedom of conscience."
Many businesses also face the issue of complying with federal anti-discrimination laws or having their licenses revoked. Noting this, Carlson-Thies contended for an expansion of the definition of "freedom of conscience" to protect the right of both individuals and institutions to not only avoid doing wrong but also allow them the "freedom to do right."
Saturday's panel participants further explored the complications professionals with moral convictions face as a result of their beliefs. Panelists included legal experts from St. Thomas University School of Law, the American Center for Law and Justice, the Alliance Defense Fund, and the Heritage Foundation's DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society.
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By Mallory Hitt
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