Hundreds Attend Relgious Freedom Forum

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SAINT PAUL — More than 400 people attended the Minnesota Religious Freedom Forum last month at the St. Paul RiverCentre. The event was hosted by Transform Minnesota, along with the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Minnesota Family Council and the national Alliance Defending Freedom.

Designed for business and religious leaders, the Forum focused on how new laws will impact religious freedom. Workshops addressed specific issues, such as the religious rights of nonprofits and churches, and employment law for religious employers. Workshop speakers included local and national leaders, including Jordan Lorence from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Speakers at a noonday panel discussion represented Catholic, Mormon, Jewish and Evangelical Christian perspectives, including Fr. Erich Rutten, chair of the Archdiocesan Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs; Dr. Christopher Barden of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Rabbi Joshua Borenstein, executive director of Torah Academy; and the Rev. Dr. Steven Goold, senior pastor of New Hope Church.

Keynote speakers included Joe Infranco, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom; Michael McAfee, director of Faith Initiatives for Hobby Lobby; and Peter Dobelbower, who is the chief legal officer for Hobby Lobby. McAfee and Dobelbower discussed their company’s faith background and its current court case against the federal government over their requirement to provide insurance coverage for the “morning after pill.”

Carl Nelson, president and CEO of Transform Minnesota, said: “The right to religious freedom is one that both our country and our state were founded upon, but there has been an increase in hostility toward people of all faiths. This Forum was developed to respond to the countless questions our organization, and others, have received from Minnesotans concerned about their right to practice their faith.”