BJC Podcast

BJC Podcast

BJC goes behind the headlines to tackle today’s serious threats to religious liberty. We bring you conversations about the importance of standing up for religious liberty for all people, threats to our First Amendment right, and our work in the courts and with Congress. Learn with us and make a difference in your community.

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You're listening to this show on the old feed -- subscribe to "Respecting Religion" on its permanent feed so you don't miss any episodes! This was released November 18, 2021. Description: The Supreme Court brought the execution chamber into the courtroom as it heard arguments about the activities clergy can perform at the moment of death. Amanda and Holly share clips from the arguments in Ramirez v. Collier and discuss issues raised by the justices. From questions about sincerity of religious belief to the key laws that protect the religious exercise of prisoners, hear what the justices focused on and learn about the arguments made by both sides. In segment three, Amanda and Holly discuss the roles of pastors in cases like this and how churches connect with prisoners.    Show notes: Segment one (starting at 00:43): Amanda and Holly previewed the Ramirez v. Collier case in episode two this season — you can listen to that on your feed and access show notes at this link. This Texas Tribune article by Jolie McCullough provides a helpful overview of the case: U.S. Supreme Court weighs religion’s place in the Texas death chamber. During the conversation, Amanda and Holly played clips from the oral arguments. You can listen to the entire argument at this CSPAN link. The clips played in this segment were: Justice Samuel Alito, starting at 16:52 in the oral argument. Chief Justice John Roberts, starting at 47:20 in the oral argument. To learn more about the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), visit     Segment two (starting at 19:11) Read the brief BJC joined in the Ramirez v. Collier case at this link. The clips from oral arguments played in this segment were: Justice Brett Kavanaugh, starting at 9:23 in the oral argument.  Justice Amy Coney Barrett, starting at 1:05:31 in the oral argument.  Justice Elena Kagan, starting at 1:26:32 in the oral argument.    Segment three (starting at 34:48) Amanda and Holly talked about this article by Robert Barnes in the Washington Post that shares background on the pastor at the center of the case: Supreme Court considers a minister’s role at the time an inmate is put to death   Respecting Religion is made possible by BJC’s generous donors. You can support these conversations with a gift to BJC. 

Nov 22

38 min 58 sec

You're still listening to the show on the old feed. Search for "Respecting Religion" and listen to us there! This week, Amanda and Holly explore questions swirling around vaccine mandates and religious exemptions related to COVID-19. Is there a newfound religious awakening that is leading to new requests? Are people gaming the system? Dive into the issue that is on the mind of employers, government officials and individuals across the country. Amanda and Holly discuss the religious liberty rationale for religious exemptions, the compelling government interest in mandating vaccines and how those values have been balanced in the past and in dealing with the present pandemic. They also talk about some of the difficult decisions employers are facing as they try to keep their workforce safe, healthy and productive. In the third segment, they look at the broader impact of COVID-19, including new reports on the trustworthiness of clergy when it comes to this topic.  See our "Respecting Religion" podcast feed for comprehensive show notes or visit

Nov 4

40 min 24 sec

You're listening to this podcast on our old feed. Search for "Respecting Religion" on this same podcast provider to find the current feed -- we won't be here much longer! The Supreme Court is about to hear arguments in a type of case it usually addresses in its emergency or “shadow” docket: Questions surrounding clergy and religious exercise in the execution chamber. Amanda and Holly review the issue by considering cases over the past few years, including how the justices have shifted over time, with strong words from Justice Elena Kagan and the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. In segment two, they dive into the first religious liberty case the Court will hear oral arguments this term in Ramirez v. Collier, including the statute at the heart of the case: RLUIPA. In segment three, Amanda and Holly step back to discuss their personal experiences visiting death row early in their legal careers. Subscribe to our new feed or visit for our show notes

Oct 28

38 min 37 sec

As we kick off season three of Respecting Religion, Amanda and Holly take a look at where we’ve been and the big cases the Supreme Court will hear this term. Please join us on our new podcast feed -- search for "Respecting Religion" on this same podcast provider. In this episode, they dig into doctrinal shifts at the Court and recent studies about religion cases, explaining what the numbers don’t show. In segment two, they dive into the Supreme Court’s 2021 decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia (15:55), involving a faith-based group’s voluntary partnership with the government to administer a foster care program. The decision hinged on a single line in a contract, and they share why it’s not as sweeping a decision as the 9-0 outcome might make it seem. In the third segment, hear what Amanda, Holly, and BJC have been doing since we last gathered for a podcast — from new school routines to calling out Christian nationalism.  For show notes and additional information, find the program on our new feed. You can also visit

Oct 21

38 min 45 sec

Respecting Religion is coming back this month -- join us on our new podcast feed! Search for "Respecting Religion" and subscribe. The new icon will be a photo of Amanda and Holly in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Join BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and General Counsel Holly Hollman for new conversations on religion and the law this season, including the most significant cases concerning religion and religious liberty at the Supreme Court. They'll be discussing government funding of religious schools, the religious liberty rights of prisoners, Christian nationalism and flag flying, the continuing debates about religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and more.  As lawyers and people of faith, Amanda and Holly think these topics deserve respectful conversation -- something that we don’t always hear in the public square or in our social media feeds.  Look for new episodes to be released each Thursday on the new feed, starting October 21, 2021. All of season one and two are already on the new feed, so you can catch up!

Oct 14

1 min 26 sec

Race and religion are topics at the forefront of the U.S. Senate race in Georgia between Sen. Kelly Loeffler and the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock. On this bonus episode of Respecting Religion, we bring you a conversation between BJC Director of Education Charles Watson Jr. and Executive Director Amanda Tyler about what happens when ministers become candidates. In this dialogue broadcast live on December 2, they go beyond partisan politics and dive into the sensitive topics, discussing the implications of using sermons in attack ads, the power structure of whiteness, Christian nationalism, liberation theology, double standards and how you can’t ignore the racial components at play right now. Plus, they ask a serious question: How do the attacks against the Rev. Warnock compare to similar attacks on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during his time?   Show notes: You can watch this conversation on BJC’s Facebook page at this link.   Brian Kaylor of Word & Way wrote a story on the conversation, and you can read his article here.    The Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock was the keynote speaker for BJC’s 2016 symposium on religious liberty and the Black church, held at the Howard University School of Divinity. Watch his entire presentation here, and see a highlight video here.We also have a website page dedicated to the event:   Read and sign the statement standing against Christian nationalism at    Visit BJC’s page on resources related to race and religious liberty at this link.   The 2021 Religious Liberty Essay Scholarship Contest asks students to write about members of the clergy running for political office. Read the full writing prompt and details at It is open to all high school juniors and seniors, and entries are due March 26, 2021.    If you would like to continue this conversation with your church or in other contexts about liberation theology or other topics discussed today, reach out to Charles Watson Jr.

Dec 2020

54 min 28 sec

In our season finale, we look to the future and the potential ways the Biden administration could impact religious liberty. Our guest for this episode is Melissa Rogers, former executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships during the Obama administration. Amanda, Holly and Melissa discuss the need for an administration to be organized at the outset and ready for issues that are going to impact religious liberty, both explicitly and implicitly. There is a key difference between an administration making unforced errors and actions that inflame the culture wars. Plus, the trio reviews the religious liberty impact of the Trump administration and the centuries of partnership between the government and religious organizations.     Show notes: Segment 1: Why do we need priorities for the next administration? (Starting at 00:47) Melissa Rogers is the author of Faith in American Public Life, which is available wherever books are sold. The report for the Brookings Institution written by Melissa and E.J. Dionne is titled A Time to Heal, a Time To Build. You can read it online.  Melissa was previously on the BJC Podcast in 2019 alongside Rabbi David Saperstein and Holly Hollman during our series on the dangers of Christian nationalism. You can listen here and watch a video of the podcast here. Amanda and Holly talked about the Trump administration’s record on religious liberty in episode 4 of this season.    Segment 2: What does the next administration need to keep in mind? (Starting at 21:29) Amanda mentioned this piece that Melissa wrote for The Washington Post: President Trump just unveiled a new White House ‘faith’ office. It actually weakens religious freedom. Melissa mentioned the conversation BJC hosted in 2019 on an inclusive approach to religious liberty, featuring Amanda, Dr. Corey Walker, and Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges. You can watch it at this link.   Join the BJC Advocacy Team: Join the BJC Book Club to participate in a group discussion as we read through Melissa’s book Faith in American Public Life. We will be meeting on Tuesday nights in January, and it’s free to join:   Segment 3: Thanks for a great year of Respecting Religion! (Starting at 45:02) Thank you, listeners, for joining us for 26 episodes of Respecting Religion as we’ve navigated the twists and turns of 2020. We hope that we’ve met our goal of highlighting some of the most important questions and topics respecting religion in the context of all that this year has thrown at us -- a global pandemic, reckoning with systemic racism and white supremacy, hugely consequential presidential election, shifts in the Supreme Court and more. This year has taken us all on a wild ride, and we are glad we could slow down a bit and give these important stories their due.  Subscribe to the BJC Podcast on your favorite platform to keep up with what’s next! We’re on all the major providers: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more.

Dec 2020

54 min 38 sec

This summer, the coronavirus pandemic raised novel new questions about religious freedom and government powers. Now, as we head toward winter, what have we learned? Amanda and Holly talk about the latest actions from this surprisingly emotional Supreme Court. Starting with Justice Samuel Alito’s November speech to the Federalist Society (starting at 08:12), they then break down the Thanksgiving eve decision that overturned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s limits on worship in coronavirus hotspots (20:03) and talk about what it might mean for restrictions in other places. Learn more about what’s at stake for religious freedom in these court cases and the importance of comparing apples to apples.   Segment one: What’s happened in challenges to  government restrictions on in-person worship services so far? (starting at 00:47) Amanda and Holly talked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religion and religious freedom in four episodes of season one of Respecting Religion: Episode 6: Stay-at-home orders, religious freedom, and RFRA Episode 8: Religious freedom in the age of coronavirus Episode 10: Lawsuits challenging COVID-19 directives Episode 14: Finding the right response to reopening Holly mentioned two cases from earlier this year: South Bay United Pentecostal v. Newsom (California) from May and Calvary Chapel v. Sisolak (Nevada) from July. Read more about the Thanksgiving eve decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew M. Cuomo (New York) on BJC’s website at this link.   Amanda and Holly talked about the speech Justice Samuel Alito gave to the Federalist Society during the 2020 National Lawyers Convention on November 12. You can watch the entire speech at this link. The clip we played is from 35:05-35:41.     Segment two: Supreme Court sniping in the New York decision (20:03) For a humorous take on comparing like things to like things, check out this editorial from Brian Kaylor, the editor of Word & Way: Treating Costco like my church. The really important free exercise case at the Supreme Court this year is Fulton v. Philadelphia. Learn more at   Segment three: Individual liberty and the common good (40:32) Holly mentioned this Religion News Service (RNS) story by Jack Jenkins: Biden says Americans can worship in person ‘safely.’ But what does that mean? Amanda mentioned this op-ed by Pope Francis that came out on Thanksgiving Day: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts  

Dec 2020

48 min 57 sec

What do we make of the Trump legacy when it comes to religious freedom? Go beyond the sound bites and confusing statements as Amanda and Holly analyze what really happened over the past four years. They note areas of agreement, instances where religious language was used to divide, how high-level appointments mattered, proliferations of religious exemptions, Betsy DeVos and the shift of public funds to religious schools, and what it all means for the future of religious liberty in our country.   Segment 1:  Divisive tactics and confusing statements (starting at 00:49) Holly was in this NPR story by Tom Gjelten: Religious Freedom Arguments Give Rise To Executive Order Battle For more on the protections of the Johnson Amendment, visit Read Attorney General Bill Barr’s 2019 speech at Notre Dame Law School at this link. Read Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 2019 speech titled “Being a Christian leader” at this link. In season one, Amanda and Holly talked about religion and the public schools on episode 3 and episode 19.  For more on the president’s photo-op with a Bible, listen to episode 15 from season one.   Segment 2: Religious exemptions and the legacy of Betsy Devos (starting at 19:28) Amanda and Holly discussed the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act last season in episode 20 and episode 12. Listen to episode 2 from this season for a full discussion of the Fulton v. Philadelphia case or visit For more on the Trinity Lutheran case, visit For more on the Espinoza case, visit Holly mentioned the Department of Justice memo that didn’t say much about the Establishment Clause. Read it at this link.    Segment three: Season of gratitude (starting at 38:53) Thank you for joining us each week! We are taking Thanksgiving off, but join us again the first week of December. 

Nov 2020

43 min 4 sec

How did Christian nationalism show up on the campaign trail and at the ballot box? What is the possibility for religion to be a positive and unifying force for our politically divided country? How did President-elect Joe Biden talk about religion in his acceptance speech? Amanda and Holly look at religion and politics this election season — the good, the bad and the confusing.   Segment one: Christian nationalism in the 2020 election (starting at 00:52) For more on the political ideology of Christian nationalism, visit Read and sign the statement at Amanda mentioned two episodes from season one to take a deeper dive on Christian nationalism:         Episode 11: Christian nationalism during the coronavirus pandemic         Episode 15: Protests, the president, and the photo op with a Bible For more on the speech by Vice President Mike Pence on Old Glory, read this Religion News Service story by Jack Jenkins and Emily Miller: Citing Scripture, Pence switches out Jesus for the American flag in convention speech For more resources from BJC on the Johnson Amendment, visit Amanda mentioned Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry and their book Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States Read the one-page explainer on Christian nationalism at this link. Samuel Perry tweeted about the importance of noting a voter’s proclivity toward Christian nationalism to see who they supported. Read his Tweet here.   Holly mentioned the work of Robert P. Jones at PRRI about how the percentage of the voting populace that identifies as religious is shrinking. You can read their many different research studies on their website. Amanda mentioned this opinion piece by Elizabeth Bruenig in The New York Times: Why Evangelicals Aren’t What They Used to Be    Segment two: Takeaways and what’s next (17:14) For more on the video put out by Idaho lawmakers that included a handgun on a Bible, read this story by Nicole Blanchard in the Idaho Statesman: Idaho Republicans, including Lt. Gov. McGeachin, decry pandemic measures in new video For an egregious example of Christian nationalism in a pseudo-religious setting, see this article  in The Washington Post about Patriot Churches, written by Sarah Pulliam Bailey: Seeking power in Jesus’ name: Trump sparks a rise of Patriot Churches Holly and Amanda discussed this article from The Washington Post Magazine by Richard Just: How Religion Can Help Put Our Democracy Back Together   Segment three: President-elect Biden and civil religion (33:50) We played two clips from President-elect Joe Biden’s speech on Saturday, November 7, 2020. You can watch a video from CSPAN here.   The BJC Podcast series on the dangers of Christan nationalism ran in 2019, and all 10 episodes are available here.   

Nov 2020

45 min 3 sec

What’s at stake in the high-profile religious liberty case at the Supreme Court this term? Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman break down the oral arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia, which centers on whether a religious organization can apply its religious criteria to discriminate when operating as a government contractor delivering foster care services. They share four takeaways and speculate about what sort of decision we might see in the case. Plus, they take a look at how religion has been discussed in terms of voting this week, including problematic implications of a religious test for office.     Segment one: What are the religious liberty issues at play in Fulton v. Philadelphia? (starting at 1:05) For more on Employment Division v. Smith (1990) and the legislative response, visit Holly mentioned this story in the Washington Post by Michelle Boorstein: Religious conservatives hopeful new Supreme Court majority will redefine religious liberty precedents BJC has a page dedicated to the Fulton v. Philadelphia case: Read BJC’s brief in the Fulton case at this link.   Segment two:  Four takeaways from the oral arguments (starting at 19:32) You can listen to the oral arguments in Fulton v. Philadelphia via CSPAN at this link.   We played three clips from the arguments: Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaking with Lori Windham, the advocate for Fulton (around 16:25 into the argument) Neal Katyal, the advocate for Philadelphia, talking about how Fulton’s position can lead to religions being against each other (around 1:18:04 into the argument) Justice Samuel Alito expressing outrage at government actors trying to impose their beliefs on religious actors (around 1:04:17 into the argument) Learn more about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on our website:   Segment three: Religion and the election (starting at 44:56) For more on the “no religious test” principle, read this article from Amanda Tyler, written in advance of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings. 

Nov 2020

51 min 17 sec

What did we learn about religious freedom from the Amy Coney Barrett hearings? To kick off season two of Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman put the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Justice Amy Coney Barrett into context, spotlighting the religious freedom issues raised – or politicized – during the event. And, after so much talk about the Constitution’s prohibition on a religious test for office, they ask an important question: Who was imposing a religious test during the hearings? Plus, in segment three, they look at how religion is showing up in our world today, including in a controversy with one of the Hollywood stars named “Chris” and a recent statement by Pope Francis about civil unions.   Segment one: Barrett and Ginsburg, Cruz and Cornyn (starts at 1:09) Amanda mentioned two pieces BJC wrote about the impact and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: RBG: Defender of equality, principled dissenter, faithful supporter of religious liberty by Holly Hollman, published by Baptist News Global Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy in upholding a key religious freedom law by Holly Hollman and Amanda Tyler,  published by The Christian Citizen Click here to read BJC’s review of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s church-state record, which was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee before the hearings began. It includes questions BJC suggested that senators ask of her. For clips of discussions of religious liberty during the two days of hearings that involved questions, check out these two articles by Don Byrd on the “Latest News” section of our website: In Day 2 of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, some religious liberty discussions, though little depth or insight Religious Liberty discussions on day 3 of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing   Segment two: What did Judge Barrett say about religious freedom during her hearings? (17:43) Read the most recent State of the First Amendment Survey at this link, published by the Freedom Forum Institute. It says only 4% of respondents can name “petition” as one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.  Holly mentioned the travel ban issued by President Trump in his first week in office. Read more about that case, which eventually was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court as Trump v. Hawaii: Holly mentioned the upcoming Fulton v. Philadelphia case, which focuses on nondiscrimination in government-funded foster care. Learn more at Holly recently presented during a webinar on the future of the Establishment Clause, hosted by the American Bar Association (ABA). You can watch it at this link. The ABA also did a seminar on the Free Exercise Clause, which is available at this link. Amanda wrote a commentary about Article VI and the “no religious test” principle before the confirmation hearings began. You can read it at this link, published by Good Faith Media:  This article from The Washington Post that includes the number of times “religion” was mentioned: Democrats’ non-persecution of Amy Coney Barrett.  Segment three: Where did we see religion in our world? Recent discussions on religion and LGBTQ rights in our culture (38:40) Holly mentioned the story surrounding Chris Pratt and his church’s stance on same-sex marriage. Here’s an article from The Washington Post: The latest celebrity cause: Defending the honor of Chris Pratt. Read more on BJC’s website about the recent statement from Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito about the Court reconsidering the Obergefell case in 2015 that upheld same-sex marriage. Statement from Justices Thomas and Alito on religious liberty and same-sex marriage makes tensions worse Amanda mentioned this New York Times article about Pope Francis and his recent support of civil unions: In Shift for Church, Pope Francis Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions

Oct 2020

47 min 8 sec

The doctrine of the “ministerial exception” and the latest installment in the ongoing saga of challenges to the contraceptive mandate capped off this year’s Supreme Court term. Amanda and Holly give their analysis of those key cases impacting religious liberty and discuss how they interact with other decisions from this blockbuster year. In this season finale, Amanda and Holly also look back at our entire season of Respecting Religion and invite you to continue the conversation. The post Ep. 20: Supreme Court in July! appeared first on BJC.

Jul 2020

45 min 16 sec

Amanda and Holly examine the troubling Supreme Court ruling that has major implications for funding education and protecting against government-sponsored religion. They break down the decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, including a concurrence that would undermine the entire Establishment Clause and the different angles taken by the dissenting justices. In segment three, Amanda and Holly share ways they are seeing religion respected in the world around us. The post Ep. 19: SCOTUS disregards distinctiveness of religion in school funding decision appeared first on BJC.

Jul 2020

38 min 17 sec

We’re bringing you important conversations on white supremacy and American Christianity in this episode. First, we’ll play the June 26 discussion between researcher Robert P. Jones of PRRI and journalist Adelle Banks from Religion News Service (starting at 2:14). Jones is the author of the forthcoming White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, and he talks with Banks about the church’s current “moment of reckoning” across denominational lines, particularly as white churches have been either blind to their part in systemic racism or have ignored it. This podcast also features Amanda’s call to action from the June 26 event, including the dangers of Christian nationalism (25:39). We’re also bringing you part of a follow-up conversation with BJC’s Charles Watson Jr. and Dr. Alphonso Saville of Georgetown University (37:48), where they discuss a wide range of issues, including how arguments can inform how we proceed and the importance of understanding history. The post Ep. 18: White supremacy and American Christianity appeared first on BJC.

Jul 2020

48 min 48 sec

This week, the Supreme Court issued a landmark case for LGBTQ rights, interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Amanda and Holly discuss the opinion and the dissents, looking at the way each interprets “because of sex” in the statute. They also talk about how the opinion and dissents discuss implications for religious liberty, as well as responses to the case from the community. In the final segment, Amanda and Holly discuss and recommend recent movies and podcasts and invite you to join upcoming conversations about religious liberty, race, white supremacy and American Christianity. The post Ep. 17: A landmark case for LGBTQ rights: What’s next for religious liberty? appeared first on BJC.

Jun 2020

39 min 55 sec

As the conversation about racial justice continues in our country, we dig in to talk about race and religious liberty. BJC Director of Education Charles Watson Jr. joins Amanda and Holly for a personal conversation about his experiences and how his work at BJC intersects with the work for racial justice. He tells his story and explains how a seminal speech at a BJC Luncheon on Juneteenth impacted the trajectory of his work at BJC. Amanda, Holly and Charles discuss how different ethnic communities view the phrase “separation of church and state” and why the work for religious freedom matters. Plus, in the third segment, they discuss how they are seeing religion respected in books and articles this week. The post Ep. 16: When religious liberty covers racism appeared first on BJC.

Jun 2020

49 min 14 sec

After President Trump publicly addressed the unrest following the killing of George Floyd, peaceful protesters were violently dispersed and the president posed for a photo holding a Bible in front of a church. This week, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman talk about the photo op and what it means in terms of religious liberty and Christian nationalism. They also review the most recent legal developments related to houses of worship and the coronavirus, including a late-night Supreme Court order and an unexplained change on the CDC’s guidance for houses of worship. In the third segment, Amanda and Holly answer listener questions and share important books for self-reflection and action to take a stand against systemic racial injustice. The post Ep. 15: Protests, the president, and the photo op with a Bible appeared first on BJC.

Jun 2020

49 min 32 sec

Churches are facing a barrage of challenges as they navigate whether, when and how to resume in-person worship and other gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, Amanda and Holly explore what’s at stake for churches and how religious liberty fits into these nuanced conversations (28:30). They look at what makes religion unique in the reopening landscape and respond to articles about life in our current context. Plus, find out how you can help shape a future episode of Respecting Religion – we want to hear from you! The post Ep. 14: Finding the right response to reopening appeared first on BJC.

May 2020

41 min 48 sec

On this episode, Amanda and Holly discuss this week’s Supreme Court arguments in cases involving the ministerial exception, a First Amendment doctrine that makes Title VII and other employment discrimination protections inapplicable to certain employees of religious organizations. They explain what the doctrine means (5:33), what you need to know about the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor case that looms large in this term’s cases (3:55), and what to make of active questioning from the justices in this week’s oral arguments (17:20). They also comment on a related line of questioning about public schools that connects to other Supreme Court cases and areas of BJC’s work. The post Ep. 13: Who’s a ‘minister’ and who gets to decide? appeared first on BJC.

May 2020

39 min 32 sec

The controversy over the contraceptive mandate was back at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman react to the live arguments in Trump v. Pennsylvania and give the history of the contraceptive mandate, including how the Hobby Lobby and Zubik cases led to this one. They also share audio clips from key moments in the arguments and discuss what’s at stake for religious liberty when religious accommodations turn into “all-or-nothing” claims on both sides. The post Ep. 12: Not a charm: Contraceptive mandate returns to the Supreme Court for the third time appeared first on BJC.

May 2020

42 min 57 sec

The dangerous political ideology of Christian nationalism is a persistent problem in our country, and continues to be during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Amanda and Holly talk about how Christian nationalism often contributes to confusion about religious liberty in our public discourse at this time, conflating legal and religious understandings. They review troubling rhetoric from political leaders and how to train your ears for telltale signs that someone is using religion for their own political purposes. The post Ep. 11: Christian nationalism during the coronavirus pandemic appeared first on BJC.

Apr 2020

42 min 12 sec

As religious communities deal with bans on mass gatherings, legal disputes are popping up across the country. What’s happening now, and what could we see more of when the country begins lifting restrictions? This week, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman examine the key issues in these lawsuits (starting at 12:45) and talk about how courts are ruling in the various cases, including drive-in church services (19:42). Plus, they share how they’re learning about other religious traditions as people of faith continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The post Ep. 10: Lawsuits challenging COVID-19 directives appeared first on BJC.

Apr 2020

46 min 7 sec

How do religious groups work together for the greater good? On this episode of Respecting Religion, we bring you a conversation featuring Eboo Patel, the founder of Interfaith Youth Core (starting at 13:01). In this discussion from March 2020, Patel talks about how the history behind the term “Judeo-Christian” suggests opportunities for greater religious inclusion, shares personal reflections on what it is like to be a Muslim in America today, and explains why he is optimistic about religious pluralism. Plus, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman talk about how they saw religion respected in the world during the celebrations of Easter and Passover. The post Ep. 09: Eboo Patel and interfaith collaboration appeared first on BJC.

Apr 2020

49 min 19 sec

As the coronavirus changes everything – including the topics for this podcast series – Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman review how religious freedom principles are coming into focus. They talk about three principles that are part of many conversations during this time: the essential nature of religion for many people (04:53), why the government does not have to treat religious organizations differently when it comes to health and safety (12:00), and why the government should not fund religion (19:55). In the third segment, Amanda and Holly talk about what they are doing – and being inspired by – during this week that marks the beginning of Passover and the advent of Easter. The post Ep. 08: Religious freedom in the age of coronavirus appeared first on BJC.

Apr 2020

42 min 7 sec

As the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus, Congress passed and the president signed stimulus packages that impact businesses and nonprofits. But, what does this mean for houses of worship? On this week’s Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman review the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (starting at 5:35), provisions of the CARES Act (15:45) – including the Paycheck Protection Program Loans (20:10) and increased charitable giving incentives – and more. They discuss new requirements and opportunities for nonprofits and what houses of worship need to consider when determining whether to apply for financial relief programs. In the third segment, Amanda and Holly explore how religious communities are caring for people in new ways during this time. The post Ep. 07: New laws – including the CARES Act – and houses of worship appeared first on BJC.

Apr 2020

44 min 47 sec

What does it mean for religious liberty when the government asks houses of worship not to hold services in the middle of a pandemic? Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman look at the impact of the coronavirus on religious communities and how they are responding (starting at 6:13). Plus, they explore a key law that keeps coming up in these conversations: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (starting at 23:03). In the final segment, Amanda and Holly share how the stay-at-home orders are impacting them and how churches are finding new ways to serve in this time. The post Ep. 06: Stay-at-home orders, religious freedom and RFRA appeared first on BJC.

Mar 2020

43 min 26 sec

The coronavirus is leading many conversations this week, and we’ll talk about how it has impacted religious communities during this unprecedented time. But first, Amanda Tyler and Holly Holllman take a look at several Supreme Court cases this term that deal with protections for workers from employment discrimination that could have implications for religious organizations. They break down the term “because of sex” in Title VII (starting at 4:30) and discuss the ministerial exception (18:20), an important part of the law that protects religious organizations. On the final segment, Amanda and Holly share how the coronavirus is impacting – and showcasing – religion in the lives of Americans and how we can lean into a theology of abundance during this time (34:40). The post Ep. 05: Supreme Court cases on employment discrimination appeared first on BJC.

Mar 2020

50 min 48 sec

This year, the Trump administration released proposed regulations impacting faith-based organizations that partner with the government. But, the story has gone largely unnoticed by the media, and it can have huge implications for people receiving government services. On this episode of Respecting Religion, Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman discuss the history of government partnerships with faith-based groups – including “Charitable Choice” and the faith-based initiative office under President George W. Bush (6:07). They also explore the new Trump administration proposals and three major points of concern that could undermine the religious freedom rights of those who often receive government services (21:13). In the final segment, Holly and Amanda discuss how religion has been discussed during the Democratic presidential primary and what this means about how religion is respected in our conversations (36:45). The post Ep. 04: On the Regs: Faith-based regulations from the Trump administration appeared first on BJC.

Mar 2020

46 min 18 sec

Has God been kicked out of the public schools? Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman dig into a recent announcement from President Trump about constitutional prayer in public schools and explore the rhetoric and the reality. Hear their reactions to the Oval Office announcement (starting at 3:20), the stories behind the stories shared there (11:11), and the long history of guidelines on religion in the public schools through Supreme Court cases and consensus efforts (18:32). In the final segment, Amanda and Holly look at how religion is portrayed – and not – in the movie “Little Women” (37:35) and discuss a meditation practice in a public school. The post Ep. 03: Religion and public schools appeared first on BJC.

Mar 2020

46 min 16 sec

Why is religion treated differently by our Constitution? In a blockbuster year at the Supreme Court, BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and General Counsel Holly Hollman examine one case that could have major implications for religious liberty law. They dig deeper into Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (starting at 1:50), talk about what people mean when they say “Blaine amendments,” explain the footnote of a previous decision that came up during oral arguments (18:20), and share their predictions for the decision. They also point out the links between this case and other events, including a troubling proposal released by President Trump during his State of the Union address (29:31). In the final segment, Amanda and Holly review how Supreme Court news continues to dominate religious liberty conversations and note how religion is being treated in news about the coronavirus (39:57). See the show notes for more details. The post Ep. 02: Supreme Court case on gov’t funding of religion: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue appeared first on BJC.

Feb 2020

46 min 5 sec

Why do we need to talk about religion and the law? In the inaugural episode of the “Respecting Religion” podcast series, BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and General Counsel Holly Hollman recount things that have happened in the first few weeks of 2020 (starting at 4:50) and discuss the importance of understanding what’s at stake. They also share their reactions to this year’s unusually political National Prayer Breakfast (28:44), including the lessons it has for all of us. Plus, Amanda and Holly talk about their favorite rejected names for this new podcast series (16:30). The post Ep. 01: Respecting Religion and the National Prayer Breakfast appeared first on BJC.

Feb 2020

44 min 38 sec

It seems like we’re constantly seeing new headlines about religious liberty or an important legal development about the relationship between faith and government. Keep track of it all with our new podcast series: Respecting Religion. Each week, BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and General Counsel Holly Hollman will sit down for a conversation on recent developments regarding religion and the law. Respecting Religion begins on February 20, and new episodes will be released each Thursday. We respect our country’s commitment to religious freedom for everyone. From Supreme Court cases, to new policies from the administration, to what role Congress is playing in all of it, Holly and Amanda will review how religion is being respected today and how we can work to protect faith freedom for all. The post Podcast Series Preview: Respecting Religion appeared first on BJC.

Feb 2020

1 min 42 sec

What’s the antidote to Christian nationalism? To conclude our podcast series, we take a look at what it means to embrace civic pluralism with Eboo Patel, the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core. He talks with BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler about the difference in religious and civic pluralism, the origins of the term “Judeo-Christian,” connections between anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Catholic bigotry, and how we can create a “potluck nation,” where everyone brings their unique contributions to the table. The post Ep. 10: Embracing civic pluralism appeared first on BJC.

Oct 2019

30 min 14 sec

In light of our conversations about Christian nationalism, this podcast takes a broader view of work in the church-state realm. BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler is joined by Rabbi Ambassador David Saperstein, Melissa Rogers and BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman to look at the challenges to our constitutional commitment to religious liberty for all people. As they note, disagreement on the proper application of the First Amendment’s religion clauses is not necessarily evidence of Christian nationalism. Hear them discuss the complexity in this area of the law, the role of religion in public life, the dangers of government promotion of religion, how the Supreme Court tends to interpret the religion clauses, the protections provided by the separation of church and state, and more. The post Ep. 09: Religious freedom, church-state law and Christian nationalism appeared first on BJC.

Sep 2019

44 min 45 sec

As we continue to explore the overlap of Christian nationalism and white supremacy, this week’s episode looks at their connection and the impact on communities. Hear from the Rev. Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins about race, reconciliation, religious liberty, Christian supremacy and more The post Ep. 08: Christian nationalism and white nationalism appeared first on BJC.

Sep 2019

25 min 8 sec

What is the connection between the history of racism and Christian nationalism? On this podcast, Jemar Tisby shares a historical view of white Christian nationalism in America, including how conflations of politics, race and religion in our past continue to impact conversations today. The author of The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Tisby discusses how American Christianity and racism have overlapped for more than 400 years, including examples across several centuries of history. This is episode seven of our 10-week podcast series on Christian nationalism. Visit for more on the series and the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign. The post Ep. 07: Christian nationalism, race and white supremacy appeared first on BJC.

Sep 2019

34 min 18 sec

What happens when bills influenced by Christian nationalism appear in state legislatures? Minnesota State Sen. John Marty discusses his experience standing against legislation from the “Project Blitz” playbook in this episode of our podcast series. He talks about how his Christian faith influences his work defending the rights of all people, and he shares stories about the pushback and accusations he received as he worked to make sure his faith isn’t used to crush others. This is episode six in our 10-week series on Christian nationalism. The post Ep. 06: Standing against Project Blitz in a state legislature appeared first on BJC.

Sep 2019

28 min 25 sec

“Project Blitz,” a coordinated effort to draft and pass bills informed by Christian nationalism, is showing up in state legislatures across the country. What is this effort, and what are its goals? Frederick Clarkson, the writer who broke the story about Project Blitz, discusses its origins, motivations and definitions of success. This is episode five of our 10-week podcast series on Christian nationalism. Visit for more on the series and the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign. The post Ep. 05: Understanding Project Blitz appeared first on BJC.

Aug 2019

25 min 11 sec

What does the Bible have to teach us about Christian nationalism? Author and scholar Walter Brueggemann talks about the theological dangers of Christian nationalism in the fourth episode of our podcast series. Hear his thoughts on what the prophets have to teach us about our current times, the importance of the crucifixion and resurrection narrative in these conversations, and what the Bible says about oppression, hope, truth and power. The post Ep. 04: Theological view of Christian nationalism with Walter Brueggemann appeared first on BJC.

Aug 2019

24 min 40 sec

Learn about the political and religious history behind the idea that the United States was founded as a “Christian nation” in this episode of our podcast series on Christian nationalism. BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler talks with Dr. Steven Green, author of "Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding," about the political history of this concept. On the second half of the episode, we hear from church historian Bill Leonard (starting at 21:38) on what religious leaders said and did during the founding of the United States. The post Ep. 03: Were we founded as a Christian nation? appeared first on BJC.

Aug 2019

37 min 36 sec

Dr. Andrew Whitehead talks about his work researching Christian nationalism in the second episode of our special podcast series. A professor of sociology at Clemson University, he explains what Christian nationalism is, how he and other researchers measure the ideology, and how it affects the way individuals see the world. Whitehead also shares how Christian nationalism differs from religious practice and the way it impacts all Americans. The post Ep. 02: Academic view of Christian nationalism appeared first on BJC.

Aug 2019

27 min 4 sec

In the first episode of our podcast series on Christian nationalism, hear what Christian leaders have to say about the ideology. BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler speaks with Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (starting at 5:19); Rev. Dr. Paul Baxley of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (10:12); Diane Randall from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (15:02); Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice (19:14); and Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Haggray of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (23:13). The post Ep. 01: Christian leaders on Christian nationalism appeared first on BJC.

Jul 2019

28 min 55 sec

Join us for a 10-week podcast series on the dangers of Christian nationalism. Amanda Tyler speaks with researchers, journalists, theologians, historians, and others, including Walter Brueggemann, Sister Simone Campbell, Eboo Patel, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, author Steven Green, Bill Leonard, and many more. Episodes release each Wednesday, starting July 31, 2019. The post Podcast Series Preview: The Dangers of Christian Nationalism appeared first on BJC.

Jul 2019

1 min 51 sec

What does the Supreme Court's most recent church-state decision mean for all of us? BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and General Counsel Holly Hollman examine the Court's splintered 7-2 decision in the Bladensburg cross case and discuss what it means for the future. The post Examining the cross case decision with Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman appeared first on BJC.

Jul 2019

22 min 6 sec

Get to know more about BJC’s new look and website resources. Oliver “Buzz” Thomas, former BJC general counsel, interviews Executive Director Amanda Tyler about how BJC is working to inform about religious liberty issues and equip people to make a difference. The post Podcast: BJC’s new look, with Buzz Thomas and Amanda Tyler appeared first on BJC.

Jun 2019

18 min 26 sec

Molly Marshall, the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, sits down with Amanda Tyler for a wide-ranging discussion on theological education, her journey in ministry, the importance of an international view of religion, and advice for women beginning their career in ministry. The post Molly Marshall on theological education, an international approach to faith, and ministry appeared first on BJC.

May 2019

31 min 5 sec

Rev. Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins sits down with BJC’s Amanda Tyler for a conversation about race, religious liberty, and reconciliation, including his experiences seeking racial justice. The post Race, religious liberty and reconciliation appeared first on BJC.

May 2019

31 min 2 sec

What gets left out of our conversations about religious liberty? Hear Dr. Corey Walker, Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges, and Amanda Tyler discuss the need for an inclusive approach to religious liberty, and hear from 10 BJC Fellows. Recorded during the BJC Dinner on April 26, 2019. The post An inclusive approach to religious liberty: BJC Dinner appeared first on BJC.

May 2019

47 min 58 sec

Podcast interview with Christine Browder and Rev. Charles F. Johnson on the faith leader's role and boundaries in supporting public education. The post Why Do Pastors Care About Public Schools? appeared first on BJC.

Apr 2019

28 min 56 sec