• A coercive contraceptive mandate imposes pro-abortion ideology on all with pro-life views.
• The gutting of the only federal conscience regulation in health care opens the door to discrimination.
• The denial of federal funds to a ministry, just for opposing abortions, threatens care for human trafficking victims.
• The administration's court case to restrict faith-based organizations' hiring rights minimizes religious liberty.
• Firings, discrimination and coercion of life-honoring health care professionals imperil health care access.
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Why then, does the federal government refuse to acknowledge such requests for exemptions in other contexts, such as regarding contraception and abortion, and same-sex marriage? The conscientious objectors are often similarly motivated by religion, and just as sincere. Why did the Obama administration refuse to accommodate the beliefs of the Little Sisters of the Poor and fight these women all the way to the Supreme Court? Why did the solicitor general contemplate revoking the tax-exempt status of conscience-based schools if they decline to approve of same-sex marriage? It would appear the government wants to pick and choose which religious claims to support based on their content.
Incoming freshman at Duke University are reportedly refusing to read their summer novel, Fun Home- an LGBT, graphic novel by Alison Bechdel - due to their Christian and moral beliefs. According to the Duke Chronicle, freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page that he would not read the book "because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality." "I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,"Grasso added. Many other students shared Grasso's beliefs, saying that they were against reading the novel which details Bechdel's tumultuous relationship with her father, a closeted gay man, while coming to terms with her own sexuality.
The Little Sisters of the Poor has been through more than any faith-based charity should have to go through all to continue the noble work they're doing without violating their faith. But, for the time being at least, some good news has come their way. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the group must comply with Obamacare's abortion mandate, The Little Sisters of the Poor found reprieve Friday morning after the Tenth Circuit issued an order temporarily safeguarding the group and other ministries from being forced to violate their faith. “The federal government doesn’t need the Little Sisters or any other ministry to help it distribute abortion-inducing drugs and other contraceptives,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the Little Sisters, said in a statement.
Craig James, a former professional football player, ran into trouble when he started working at Fox Sports Southwest. Network executives fired him when they discovered statements he made while running for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Texas. He said he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. He ended up losing the nomination to Ted Cruz. Earlier this month, James filed a lawsuit against Fox Sports. "He understands that this is going to touch every single employee across this country. Are you going to be allowed to talk about your faith at work?" said attorney Jeremy Dys of the Liberty Institute.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today sent a letter to 161 public colleges and universities urging the institutions to update their free speech codes in order to foster freedoms under the First Amendment. The letter comes after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) released a report detailing a list of public colleges and universities that received a “red light” rating--“one that has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” Recently, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing examining First Amendment protections for students on public college and university campuses.
Tax exemption for churches protects religious entities from the state. Giving government authority to tax religious entities not only breaches the protective wall of separation that guards the church from the state, but effectively knocks that wall down. Religious values have long infused American public life and law, yet as institutions, church and state are distinct institutionally. Giving any government, whether federal, state, or local, the legal authority to tax property belonging to religious entities is only a first step toward making churches institutionally subservient to that government.
If there is one thing that I thought I'd learned over the past few weeks, it's that history has a "side," and I don't happen to be on it. Imagine my confusion when I discovered that since the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision, three separate polls showed that support for same-sex marriage had declined. Not only that, but almost six in ten Americans now support the right of religious business owners to decline to participate in same-sex weddings - a sharp increase.
Religious freedom isn't just for non-profits. Again, the pro-life movement's example is instructive. It protected pro-life conscience across the board, not just for non-profits, because opening a business (even as an ob-gyn doctor) shouldn't require leaving your principles behind. Thanks to its efforts, people of deep religious or secular conviction concerning the moral worth of unborn children can serve as doctors, nurses and medical workers without being forced to perform abortions.
In fact, the First Amendment makes no mention of either "deeply held religious beliefs" or "institutions of faith." Those terms relate to the freedom of worship: the unfettered right to pray in whatever way one chooses to pray. But the First Amendment does not guarantee the freedom of worship; it guarantees the free exercise of religion-a much broader concept that explicitly includes the right to lead a faith-based life and to behave in a manner that faith dictates and eschew choices that faith prohibits. The distinction between the two concepts is profound, and it comes into sharp focus whenever contemporary mores and religious doctrines point in opposite directions. If contemporary society can define morality, and the state promulgates a law embodying that definition, to what extent should the law also tolerate the behavior of those who follow contradictory religious codes?
The recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court which redefines marriage for legal purposes is a landmark decision that has wide-ranging implications for religious liberty. Hear from legal experts, education leaders, and a member of Congress as they equip you for the road ahead for religious education in light of Obergefell v. Hodges. Maureen Van Den Berg, American Association of Christian Schools: "Of grave concern to us is the recent Supreme Court decision and the effects it will have on the religious liberty of our schools to continue." (orig. air date 7/23/15)