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12 Days of Religious Liberty - Day 6

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December 19, 2011

During what is often referred to as the holiday season, a variety of cultures and religions honor an equally diverse number of both religious and secular traditions. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Bodhi Day are just some of the religious holidays that are celebrated this time of year. And for many who don’t subscribe to a particular faith tradition, the season is still seen as an occasion to gather with friends and family.

No matter why you are celebrating this holiday season, we can all celebrate living in a country where religious freedom is a fundamental value. The First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses not only protect the right to believe (or not to believe), but also the right to express and to manifest religious beliefs.

In honor of our country’s proud history of promoting religious freedom, and the ACLU’s commitment to protecting the rights of all religious believers to practice their faith, this holiday season we are highlighting 12 cases we have brought on behalf of a variety of faiths defending religious liberty and the right to religious expression.

Sixth Day: The ACLU Helps a Student Receive a Religious Accommodation for the Bar Exam
Americans have a fundamental right to observe religious holidays and traditions, and the ACLU has been a champion on behalf of those wishing to honor their religious beliefs.

When a Jewish law student taking the Colorado bar exam discovered that the first day of the test was scheduled on Tish’a B’Av, a traditional day of observance and fasting, she asked the Board of Bar Examiners for an alternate test date. The Board first denied her request, then later stated that they would simply “entertain” her request at the next board meeting. This left the student without a practical resolution, as that meeting would take place just months before the exam.

That’s when she decided to contact the ACLU of Colorado. After hearing from the ACLU, the Board subsequently agreed to provide the law student with an accommodation by allowing her to take the portion of the bar exam that conflicted with Tisha B’Av on a different day. Read more…

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For more instances of the ACLU rigorously defending the rights of all religious believers to practice their faiths, please visit our website.

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