First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, three times a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Now displaying: April, 2017
Apr 28, 2017

Justice Alito is a proven defender of religious liberty. You may recall he authored the court’s opinion in Hobby Lobby, protecting the religious consciences of family-owned businesses. Learn how he’s challenging Americans to protect religious liberty at

Apr 26, 2017

Two school boards in Arkansas were told to stop opening their meetings with prayer. Of course, the advice came, not from their attorneys or the community the boards represent, but from a secularist group that just doesn’t like prayer in public. Learn what the Supreme Court and lower courts have to say about public and legislative prayers at

Apr 24, 2017

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reviewed a case involving the Birdville Independent School District after it a humanist group sued them. The humanist group argued students should not be permitted to have an invocation at the school board meeting. Learn how the court ruled at

Apr 21, 2017

Should courts make decisions on church doctrine or practices? How should churches go about their rights when it affects their congregation? Learn what happened to the Syrian Christian man at

Apr 19, 2017

Sometimes we think that the judicial system can and will solve all of our disputes. Learn about a recent case from the Court of Appeals that says there are some things a court cannot decide at

Apr 17, 2017

Even truck drivers deserve religious liberty—that may be the clear lesson from a case recently filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Learn about the case at


Welcome to the First Liberty Briefing. I’m Jeremy Dys.

Even truck drivers deserve religious liberty—that may be the clear lesson from a case recently filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

J.C. Witherspoon, Jr., Inc. hired Leroy Lawson in 2012. His job was to drive truck from the company’s South Carolina facility. During his pre-hire interview, Lawson informed the truck supervisor that, as a Hebrew Pentecostal for 35 years, he observes a religious Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. During that time, he explained, he is not permitted to engage in any labor.

Just weeks after his hire, the company mandated that all drivers work on Saturdays. Lawson complied, but at the end of his shift, he informed his supervisor that the day’s labor would be the last he worked on his Sabbath ever again.

Thankfully, his company accommodated his faith, until December of 2013 when they asked him to violate the observance of his Sabbath by working. Lawson refused and was promptly terminated. 

Lynette Barnes, the regional EEOC attorney handling the case, put it well in a press release: “Under federal law, employers have an obligation to endeavor to fairly balance an employee’s right to practice his or her religion and the operation of the company.” 

Much of life requires that we make compromises. Federal law—and the Constitution—suggests that an employee’s religion should never be one of them.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit

Apr 14, 2017

A group sent a letter to commanders of the air national guard base in Pease, New Hampshire to demand an end to prayer at official events. Learn more about the letter and how we responded at

Apr 12, 2017

Welcome to the First Liberty Briefing. I’m Jeremy Dys.

Ed McDaniels was a local pastor in Upshur County, West Virginia. One day, he asked the local school superintendent if he could place Bibles on a table in the local public school. He didn’t want to hand students anything; he just wanted to set out the material as a resource the students could take if they wanted to.

The school had a policy of allowing the local Little League, Boy and Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, and other community organizations to set their materials on a table. Students passing by could take the material or simply ignore it. In a separate policy, the school prevented the distribution of religious and political materials. Local residents sued the school system, claiming that the policy preventing distribution of religious materials also denied McDaniels access to the community information table.

Eventually, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit determined that distributing meant physically handing out materials. In fact, the court explained that, if the school kept the Bibles off of the community information table, it would breach its duty of religious neutrality and, in the words of the court, “evince the hostility toward religious speech that the Establishment Clause does not require and that the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses forbid. 

So, look around at your school. Perhaps there’s a community information table waiting to be stocked with Bibles

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit


Apr 10, 2017

Bryan Finnemore was a self-described fundamentalist Christian. At the hydro-electric company where he worked, he oftentimes overheard a lot of vulgar statements that did not sit well with his religious beliefs and eventually filed a religious discrimination claim. Learn what the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine said about his claim at

Apr 7, 2017

The Lansing Housing Commission in Michigan allowed residents to use a community room for birthday parties, tutoring, and events. However, the commission refused to grant access to the community rooms for “religious worship, services, or programs.” Learn why religious discrimination is not cured by discriminating against all religions equally at

Apr 5, 2017

There is an effort in America to restrict chaplains in our military. Have you ever considered the enormous cost this could have on our armed forces? Learn about Chaplain Robert P. Taylor and the sacrifices he made for his unit

Apr 3, 2017

A Baptist Minister in Massachusetts hauled a 1,235 pound cheese wheel the same day Jefferson wrote an infamous letter that was meant to assure the Danbury Baptists. Learn what the letter said and how a pastor and president impacted religious liberty at