Religious Freedom and Your Business

Religious Freedoms for Christian Business Owners

Most of us recognize that we're afforded personal religious freedoms through the constitution, but how, exactly, do those liberties apply to Christian business owners? Is it possible to speak of faith or provide faith-based resources to employees without the fear of legal repercussions? Kelly Shackelford helps clear up some of the murkiness surrounding what you can and cannot do as a Christian employer in the United States. 

Kelly is President of the Liberty Institute, the largest organization in the country that focuses exclusively on religious freedom in the United States. He is a constitutional scholar and has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and congress on matters of religious liberty and the constitution.

Kelly pointed out two clear requirements that religious freedom laws place on you as an employer.
  1. No discrimination based on religion
    • You cannot fire or refuse to hire an employee based on their religious beliefs.
    • You cannot show unequal treatment to employees of different faiths.
  2. Reasonable accommodation for employees' religion
    • Work to accommodate scheduling requests made on the basis of religion.

The same religious freedoms that apply to Christian employees apply to employees of all faiths. Why is supporting religious freedoms for ALL important in leading your business?
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Kelly pointed out that all the religious freedoms that you enjoy as a Christian apply to you as a Christian business owner. You can provide as many opportunities to interact with the gospel to your employees as you like, you just can't force anyone to participate. Kelly listed a few examples:
  • You can host a Bible study.
  • You can provide a company chaplain.
  • You can provide Christian resources. (Like counseling, books, or RightNow Media @ Work)

Think through the opportunities you currently extend to your employees (maybe they are from the list above). What checks do you have in place to make sure that employees don't feel obligated to participate?
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How does your language about such activities reflect that they are completely voluntary and have absolutely no influence on an employee's professional performance or standing?
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What is one key takeaway or new insight you gained from Kelly's explanation of your religious freedoms as a Christian employer? How will that change how you oversee your employees this week? This month? This year?
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As a business owner, God has entrusted you with overseeing significant resources—including the people you employ. You have an opportunity to provide not just financial resources for your employees, but resources that will help point them to the truth of the gospel. 

However, there is an enemy who is opposed to the gospel message. He uses fear—fear of lawsuits, fear of losing your business—to keep us from being faithful witnesses. Stand firm in the religious liberties granted to you through the constitution, but even more, stand firm in a God who is in control of all things. Take to heart the encouragement Paul wrote to Timothy:

 "God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…" (2 Timothy 1:78, ESV). 

If you have specific questions about religious freedoms for your organization, or simply want to find out more about the Liberty Institute, visit their website,, or call them at 972-941-4444.