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July 21, 2014

Nonprofit Becket Fund at Center of Religious-Liberty Cases

A small nonprofit law firm has become a key player in the growing conservative movement to carve out faith-based exemptions to federal policies in areas such as gay rights and access to contraception, the Los Angeles Times writes.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has represented plaintiffs in numerous high-profile religion cases, including retail chain Hobby Lobby and faith nonprofits fighting the Affordable Care Act mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control. It was also instrumental in recent cases involving prayers at local government meetings and claims by faith groups for exceptions to federal antidiscrimination rules.

The firm has a dozen full-time lawyers and finances it work with donations and grants, which amounted to about $5-million last year. While the fund has taken on clients representing a spectrum of faiths, critics say it has increasingly pursued cases on behalf of conservative Christians fighting what its founder and former president, Kevin "Seamus" Hasson, has called a "culture war" waged by secular organizations.