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October 25, 2023

Is Religious Speech Free Speech?

In recent rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that speech about religion is entitled to the same protection against content and viewpoint discrimination as speech about other topics, as well as has urged that the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment should work in tandem to protect religious speech. In the view of some, in so doing the Supreme Court has downplayed the role of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and has undervalued the importance of other societal interests. Others, however, find the Court's approach unremarkable, if not essential to protecting freedom of religion as a crucial constitutional value. Whatever one's view, this trend has broad implications for how governments handle religious speech and raises potential conflict between religious beliefs and laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This panel explores these timely and important issues.

The content of this program does not meet requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) accreditation. You will not receive CLE credit for watching.


  • Sarah Goetz  – Senior Counsel, Democracy Forward
  • Holly Hollman –  General Counsel and Associate Executive Director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty; Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Daniel Mach – Director, Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, American Civil Liberties Union 
  • Michael W. McConnell – Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law and Director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School


  • Stephen J. Wermiel – Professor of Practice of Law, American University Washington College of Law; Co-Chair, Free Speech and Free Press Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice


“Is Religious Speech Free Speech?” – A Brief Introduction to the Issues

“Is Religious Speech Free Speech?” – Speaker Biographies

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