Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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It's time to restore the First Amendment and stop attacks on religious free exercise:

--Coercing health professionals and redefining sex discrimination: the 2016 HHS transgender mandate;
--Squelching First Amendment freedoms on campuses: barring campus faith expression;
--Forcing nuns to violate religious tenets: the Obamacare contraceptive mandate;
--Threatening pro-life doctors and health care access: the 2009 gutting of the federal conscience regulation;
--Denying federal human trafficking grants to pro-life programs for victims: HHS grant scandal;
--Government intrusion on churches' hiring freedom: Supreme Court Hosanna Tabor case;
--Firing and coercing life-honoring health care professionals and students: personal stories of discrimination.

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Faith Steps: How to winsomely engage on controversial public policy issues. 

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In the News

ISIS poses one of the biggest threats to religious freedom, State report says

Politico

August 15, 2017

"ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controlled," Tillerson wrote in the preface to the 2016 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. And there are 10 identified "countries of particular concern": Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which continued last year's designations and followed the recommendations by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in April. Ambassador Michael Kozak of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said, "There is a growing concern for a need to act. The genocidal acts of ISIS wakened the international threats that religious minorities are facing," Kozak said. "The first good news on the program is that ISIS is being defeated." The State Department began releasing the annual report after the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 was amended under President Bill Clinton to help better assess and protect freedom of religion as a foreign policy.

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Filed under: Religious freedomPersecution

Trump expected to roll back LGBT protections in ObamaCare

The Hill

August 12, 2017

A proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to be released in the coming weeks or months that opponents say would make it easier for doctors and hospitals to deny treatment to transgender patients and women who have had abortions. A sweeping 2016 final rule from the Obama administration prohibited healthcare providers and insurers who receive federal money from denying treatment or coverage to anyone based on sex, gender identity, or termination of pregnancy, among other conditions. It also required doctors and hospitals to provide "medically necessary" services to transgender individuals, as long as those services were the same ones provided to others. Becket Law, which represents the Franciscan Alliance [and Christian Medical Association], told The Hill in an emailed statement "the old rule never had a legal leg to stand on. [T]he government has no business forcing doctors to violate their medical judgment and perform harmful gender transition procedures on children."

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Filed under: Christian Medical AssociationBecket LawGender

The HHS contraception mandate is hurting our religious beliefs

The Hill commentary by Dr. Alveda King and Fr. Frank Pavone

August 11, 2017

This mandate, imposed on us and all Americans by the Obama administration, would force virtually every employer to include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives in health insurance policies, despite the objecting employers' sincerely held religious beliefs. We hold that the mandate is illegal, because believers should never be forced to choose between following their faith and following the law. President Trump, his administration and his party all agree with us, and we are grateful to them for that. Why then, some have asked, is it taking so long for the mandate to go away, despite the president's words and actions? As we've seen repeatedly, the left is ready and willing to sue the Trump administration for every step it takes, and has already threatened to sue if the HHS mandate is changed. The administration, therefore, is working hard to make sure that in changing this mandate, every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed so that when its actions are challenged in court, the administration will prevail and change can go into effect right away instead of being tied up in additional years of court battles.

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Filed under: ContraceptionPriests for LifeHealthcare

Why Did Google Freak Out and Fire an Employee for Spurring 'Honest Discussion'?

The Daily Signal commentary by Genevieve Wood

August 9, 2017

"The tolerance police at Google just struck another blow against increasing diversity in Silicon Valley by firing an employee who wrote a memo critiquing the company’s politically correct culture. Now, let’s be clear: While the Google software engineer who authored the memo had the right to say and write what he did—it’s called free speech—Google is a private company and has every right to fire an employee it deems not in line with its mission or culture. But it’s fair to ask why Google reacted so negatively to an employee who, in a 10-page memo, laid out a case for why Google’s diversity programs weren’t working and how it might rethink its attempt to reduce the gender gap."

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Filed under: Free speech

Beyond Bathrooms: Why Transgender Battles Could Soon Impact Every Family

The National Pulse commentary by Anna Anderson

August 8, 2017

"As it becomes clearer every day, Americans are sharply divided on how best to handle questions of children and gender identity. For better or worse, however, American parents are currently allowed (and even encouraged) to raise their kids as the opposite gender, and reports suggest many are doing so. But should these parents have the right to force other parents in their community to raise their own kids to question their biological sex? Should they have the right to impose their own transgender ideology on other families?"

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Filed under: GenderParental rights

Trump moves forward with religious freedom priorities

Washington Examiner

August 8, 2017

The Becket Fund, a non-profit religious liberty law firm praised the choice. Montserrat Alvarado, executive director of Becket, said in a press release, "Gov. Brownback's legacy of promoting and defending religious liberty both in the United States and overseas is strong. As a U.S. Senator, he was one of the [motivating] forces behind the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, key legislation that ensures that the policy of the United States will be to support religious liberty internationally. His robust experience defending religious freedom for people of all faiths makes him uniquely qualified to lead America's international defense of this most sacred and fundamental of human rights, religious freedom." That's not the only sign Trump is prioritizing religious freedom. He's also quietly appointing conservative judges to various courts.

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Filed under: Religious freedomBecket LawPersecution

Why is HHS contraception order still standing? Trump said it 'would soon be over'

The Hill commentary by Cardinal Daniel N. Dinardo

August 4, 2017

"After meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on May 4, I sat in the Rose Garden and listened as the president promised the Little Sisters of the Poor that their “long ordeal” with the government’s contraceptive mandate “would soon be over.” Yet here we are, nearly three months later, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate still stands. For four years, the Little Sisters and many other faith-based nonprofit groups have patiently asked the government to do the right thing and let them serve the poor. In a pluralistic society like ours, people should be free to serve the common good without compromising their moral or religious convictions. The HHS mandate, requiring employers to cover contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, has tested this country’s commitment to a healthy pluralism."

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Filed under: Religious freedomContraceptionU.S. Conf. Catholic BishopsHealthcare

Cake Wars And The Coming Conflict Over Religious Liberty

August 4, 2017

This context makes the thoughtful and engaging book Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, by John Corvino, Ryan T. Anderson, and Sherif Girgis, timely and necessary. This book provides a good introduction into current debates over religious liberty, and offers genuine debate on these issues, with Corvino taking one side, and Anderson and Girgis, writing jointly, the other. Of course the authors are not in total opposition. They all proclaim that it is important to maintain religious liberty and to oppose unjust discrimination. But they differ dramatically regarding emphasis and implementation, illuminating the contours of debate over cases like those above. A crucial difference is that for Anderson and Girgis, anti-discrimination laws are primarily pragmatic, while for Corvino they are principled. That is, Anderson and Girgis see these laws as proportionate remedies for injustices of a certain sort and severity, with state-enforced racial segregation being the classic example. In contrast, Corvino seems to see them as essential because of the message they send, regardless of the extent of existing injustice.

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Filed under: Religious freedomHeritage FoundationHomosexuality

The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty

National Review commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

August 3, 2017

While there has always been disagreement about what religious liberty requires in particular cases, the idea of religious liberty as a fundamental human right has more or less been a consensus in America. It became controversial only in recent years as the government tried to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage, and as liberal advocacy groups decided that civil liberties aren't for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution. That's why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns' attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control - including forms of birth control that prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortion. The HHS mandate garnered the most headlines, but it's far from the only flashpoint. In several jurisdictions, Catholic Charities and other faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to abandon their invaluable work simply because they want to place needy children only in homes with married moms and dads. The government calls that discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Filed under: ContraceptionHeritage FoundationHomosexuality

Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions

Pew Research Center

August 2, 2017

The partisan differences in views of the impact of churches also have remained fairly stable: 73% of Republicans and Republican leaners say churches and religious organizations have a positive effect, compared with 50% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. Democrats' views of the effect of the national news media have grown more positive over the past year, while Republicans remain overwhelmingly negative. Orig. pub. 7/10/17.

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Filed under: Religious freedomPollingEducation

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