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11095613_10152837374152862_5832362727517358267_oI live in Indiana, home of the newly enacted Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Like yours, my newsfeed has become an uncouth display of knee-jerk reactions to Governor Mike Pence signing RFRA into law. Rather than taking the time to consider its true purpose, people across the nation have taken the legislation for face value, making wild claims about the moral character of Indiana and its governor. This is the same kind of emotional uproar the Hobby Lobby verdict produced last year, which I also disputed. Alas, the public continues to misinterpret religious freedom legislation. Much to my chagrin, I now argue again that religious freedom is not legalized discrimination; it’s a safeguard for personal liberties. If you’re fuming at Mike Pence and by extension, Indiana, not only are you wrong, but you might even agree with the law if you bothered to look into what it actually does.

Before getting into the logistics of why this law is not straight from hell, I have provided a few fun facts about RFRA legislation:

  1. RFRA is a federal law, signed in 1993 by former Democratic President Bill Clinton.rfra (2)
  2. It was introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat.
  3. It was ruled unconstitutional to apply the law to the states, however.
  4. Thus, each state has the autonomy to enact versions of the law, as Indiana has just done.
  5. In fact 19 other states have already enacted versions of RFRA – with little to no controversy.
  6. So, if you’re going to #BoycottIndiana, you’ll also have to #BoycottAlabama, #BoycottArizona, #BoycottConnecticut, #BoycottFlorida, #BoycottIdaho, #BoycottIllinois, #BoycottKansas, #BoycottKentucky, #BoycottLouisiana, #BoycottMississippi (who enacted theirs just last year!), #BoycottMissouri, #BoycottNewMexico, #BoycottOklahoma, #BoycottPennsylvania, #BoycottRhodeIsland, #BoycottSouthCarolina, #BoycottTennessee, #BoycottTexas, and #BoycottVirginia – that is, if you want to be logically consistent.
  7. President Obama voted for RFRA legislation as a Senator in Illinois
  8. Oh, and 13 additional states are currently considering similar legislation.

However, before you go boycotting forty percent of the United States, try looking past the sensationalized headlines and snarky Facebook statuses, and consider what the law is actually meant to do. It does not stipulate that business owners can beat gays out of their establishment with a stick – this would be assault, and they would be arrested. What it does say is this:

A state or local government action may not substantially burden a person’s right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest…

This is in adherence with the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Essentially, this means that government cannot impose a religion on the people, and the people may practice whatever religion they like. (more…)

The following story was written by Senior Campus Coordinator Zoe Little, from Appalachian State University.

Over the past two years that I’ve been involved with Students for Liberty a lot of people have asked me why I devoted so much time to an organization that seems to have no relation to my career goals. Sometimes, their questions made me wonder the same thing, and sometimes, the answer I give to them was that I  was just having fun. But to be honest, it wasn’t always fun. Being a student activist can be stressful, frustrating, and time consuming. It’s even more of a challenge when the people who care about you don’t understand why you would willingly subject Zoe Little 2yourself to those stresses. After all, there does not appear to be a lot of overlap between solar farm construction management and libertarian activism. The Campus Coordinator Program didn’t teach me how to read single-line electrical diagrams, test source circuit insulation resistance or wire inverters. What it did teach me was much more important.

Being a Campus Coordinator quite clearly benefits students interested in pursuing careers in public policy, journalism, economics and law, but I think its benefits reach much further. Yes, if I hadn’t been so busy with those darned libertarians I might have had more time to get involved in my academic department and learn more hard skills before I started working. However, there is so much more to starting a successful career than having encyclopedic technical knowledge. Most jobs don’t expect new hires in entry level positions to know how to do everything. What employers do expect from you, though, is good communication, confidence, leadership, and initiative. The Campus Coordinator program helped me build these skills athat are definitely paying off for me at my new job.

Zoe Little 1SFL helped me grow as a person by giving me responsibility and holding me accountable for my actions. From small things like responding promptly to emails (which I’m fairly certain is the reason that I got my job) to hosting webinars with prominent academic figures, SFL gave me experiences that I could not have gotten from simply being active in my university program. Being a leader and a student activist was much more rewarding as a Campus Coordinator because I was not only supported by my colleagues at SFL but challenged to do things that I’d never done before. I feel more capable than ever to confidently approach and overcome new challenges. Through SFL’s fun and encouraging environment, I’ve gained self-confidence, become a more articulate communicator, learned better time management, and gained valuable leadership experience — all vital components of a successful career. I challenge you to find another organization that fosters this high a level of professional skill development as Students for Liberty and its Campus Coordinator Program.

Joining the CC Program was a great decision for me, and I hope it will be for you as well. To learn more about the program, and to apply visit studentsforliberty.org/cc.

This was written by guest author, Katrina Dawson, a student at Florida State University and a Students For Liberty Campus Coordinator.

Last month, the Economics Club at Florida State University had the opportunity to host a Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) one-day conference on our campus in conjunction with GenFKD. FEE is an organization dedicated to educating individuals on free-markets and economics in a way that is both easily digestible and interesting. On Feb. 28, their staff took the stage at Florida State to present on, “How the Sharing Economy is Changing the World.”

unnamedThe day started off with Jeffrey Tucker, a distinguished fellow at FEE. Tucker spoke about how the rising peer-to-peer economy is becoming a staple in our everyday lives – a commendable beginning to the conference. Doctoral candidate at Cal Tech, Nikki Sullivan, followed Tucker with a captivating display of how neuroscience can be intertwined with the study of economics. Sullivan explained that the way humans behave and react has a lot to do with emerging markets and trade.

Following the break from lunch, students broke into teams to discuss business ideas. After some time, the best ideas were then chosen and presented to a panel of entrepreneurs. The simulation was in the style of the television show, “Shark Tank,” where individuals present their business plans and hope to receive funding from distinguished professionals. This gave students the opportunity to test out their entrepreneurial skills in both a fun and challenging way.

Next on the schedule was Lawrence Reed, President of FEE. Dr. Reed presented students with insight on why free trade is the optimal way to both increase relationships with other countries, and to improve the economy. He also discussed how free trade’s outcomes differ from protectionism in a way that is for the better. (more…)

In the aftermath of the Ottawa shooting last October, I wrote an article on how the emerging Islamophobia is a threat to our country’s multiculturalism and could lead to the infringement of civil liberties. This shooting has no doubt sent the country into a state of polarization regarding whether liberty or security should triumph as a response to the tragedy. One side views liberty as indispensable in the aftermath of the shooting and therefore vouches to maintain an adherence to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The other side views the event as a failure in the security of Canadians and therefore vouches to ramp up the powers of the government to combat the fears of future threats.

lkjUnfortunately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada have opted for the latter response and have been on a crusade to strengthen Canadian security from extremist and terrorist activities. In the pursuit of strengthening our security, the Harper government has put forward Bill C-51 (or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015) as an attempt to make a multitude of changes. Some of these changes range from amending the Criminal Code of Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, to enacting the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act. In any regard, these changes are unnecessary, vague, and disgracefully illiberal for a country such as Canada. While my fellow Canadian colleague, Vanessa Walsh, has recently discussed how anti-liberty this legislation is in a great article, I seek to showcase some of the more specific issues with Bill C-51.

For starters, the Security of Canadian Information Sharing Act authorizes the Government of Canada and other government institutions to disclose information about Canadian citizens amongst each other “in order to protect Canada against activities that undermine the security of Canada.” This could indirectly lead to a governmental information sharing network that has the ability to easily lead to the establishment of databases on individuals, whether it is their health records or educational background. Though specific government institutions have access to this information already, checks and balances on the distribution of this information amongst non-related government institutions is absent, because there is no process of independent review to be found in the legislation. And like many pieces of anti-terrorism legislation around the world, the definition of what undermines security is very vague. And due to this vagueness, the privacy rights of Canadian citizens can easily be infringed upon, whether Aboriginal or Quebecois sovereigntists, purely because of the clause that mentions the undermining of “territorial integrity” as a threat to Canadians.

The Secure Air Travel Act also raises many concerns regarding the undermining of Canadian civil liberties. In this act, instead of sharing information between different Canadian government institutions being theBill C51 issue, the issue is sharing information between nation-states, particularly Canada’s no-fly list. Like the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, there is no independent review in the process to protect the sovereignty of the Canadian people’s information, nor is there any way to challenge the placement of Canadian citizens on the no-fly list in the first place. (more…)

afl-gift-drive-emailer

Spring is here! Finally it is time to pack up our winter coats and revel in some fresh air and sunshine. It is also a time for college seniors to wrap up your undergraduate career and prepare for the next step.

Life will take you many places, but no matter where it leads you we must keep liberty in our hearts. The battle for liberty begins on our college campuses but if our cause is to prevail we must support it our entire lives.

Joining Alumni For Liberty is your next step after graduation to stay connected to the liberty movement. Joining AFL gives you access to the AFL Network Directory so you can connect with other AFLers all over the world plus Career Services such as resume & cover letter editing, interview training, and more.

The AFL Senior Gift Drive makes AFL easily accessible to graduating seniors at the time you need it most. Usually AFL membership costs $10 per month, but graduating seniors can join the Senior Gift Drive and get AFL membership for a full year for just one $10 contribution. All donations go to supporting the next generation of students.

This is too good of a deal to pass up. AFL membership also provides a number of perks such as free drinks at AFL/SFL events, Free Registration at the ISFLC & ESFLC, invitations to SFL donor events and more.

Visit AlumniForLiberty.org to learn more and join the Senior Gift Drive today.