U.S. State Department Discriminates Against Indiana Pastor On Basis Of Collar

Liberty Institute Defends Religious Liberty Rights of a Lutheran Pastor Whose Passport Application was Denied Because He Wore Religious Attire in His Photo

WHITELAND, Ind., Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to the U.S. State Department on behalf of Lutheran Pastor Mark Powell, who was denied his passport because he wore a clerical collar for his passport photograph. In September, Rev. Powell applied for his passport with the State Department's National Passport Information Center, and subsequently, received a denial letter. Rev. Powell's passport application was rejected because in the photograph submitted with the application he is "not shown in normal attire."

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Rev. Powell stated: "I am astonished that the U.S. State Department refused to issue my passport simply because I am photographed in my clerical collar, something that I wear everyday as part of my religious beliefs and practice as an ordained Lutheran pastor."

"The U.S. State Department's refusal to issue a passport to Pastor Powell because he dresses in a clerical collar is not only outrageous, it also violates federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment," said Jeff Mateer, Liberty Institute's general counsel. "We demand that the State Department stop this infringement upon Pastor Powell's religious liberty rights and issue his passport immediately."

Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.

SOURCE Liberty Institute