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Defending religious freedom: Seamus Hasson

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

June 4, 2015, Washington Times

In 1994, a top-notch lawyer left his job at a prestigious Washington, D.C. law firm to found a non-profit, public interest law firm. Its purpose? To defend religious liberty in the courts and, in doing so, to shape the law to embrace a more robust understanding of religious liberty.

Kevin “Seamus” Hasson’s decision to found the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm dedicated to the sole purpose of the legal defense of religious freedom, was remarkable. Twenty years ago, the cause of religious liberty brought together advocates from across the political spectrum. Just a year before Seamus founded his firm, a bipartisan Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with close to unanimous support. Religious freedom was a cause that everyone could get behind.

This is what makes Seamus‘ choice significant. He had the foresight to ensure that religious freedom had a committed warrior, even when it didn’t seem to need one.

Today, it desperately needs that warrior.

The fight for religious liberty is much more tense and much more divisive than it was in the 1990s. Our nation has always been one of vigorous public debate; disagreement is nothing new for Americans. Yet, competing cultural interests have recently shown that we disagree even on what constitutes religious liberty.

This is where Seamus Hasson’s philosophy comes in. Defending religious liberty for Americans of all (and no) faith has been the Becket Fund’s mission since it was founded, but that doesn’t mean that Seamus is a relativist. Instead, he maintains that we all have “the right to be wrong.” As human beings, we are entitled to live in a society that allows us to follow our consciences—even if our consciences lead us astray.