Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

Read: Faith Steps: How to winsomely engage on controversial public policy issues. 
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Helping people of faith to engage in public policy.

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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

Religious bigotry from Senate Democrats shouldn't hold up the confirmation process

The Hill commentary by Rachel Bovard

October 12, 2017

What makes these nominations significant, however, is the indifference shown by Republican leadership to the overt religious bigotry these nominees are suffering at the hands of Democrats. Both Russ Vought, President Trump's nominee to deputy director of OMB, and Amy Coney Barrett, nominated to the 7th Circuit, have been subject to outright harassment for their religious faith. In Vought's confirmation hearing, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) charged Vought with Islamophobia because of his Christian belief that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation. According to Sanders, the consequence of this belief - that those groups who do not believe in Christ, including Muslims, will not achieve salvation - constitutes bigotry, and thus renders Vought unqualified to hold public office.

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Filed under: CommentariesReligious freedomCongress

Shouldn't pro-life students have the same free speech rights as millionaire athletes?

FOX News commentary by Kristan Hawkins

October 12, 2017

Over the last few weeks, the free speech rights of students on college campuses have been violated as peaceful chalk messages from students have been destroyed, flyers pulled down and permits for new pro-life groups and speakers slow walked through the approval process to prevent voices from being heard. If you haven't heard about the college blockade taking place even this week, perhaps it is because the students whose voices are being forcibly silenced favor life over abortion. And while they may not get the attention that millionaire athletes can garner, their points of view are no less valid.

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Filed under: CommentariesFree speechEducation

Robert George reflects on Trump admin's latest religious liberty moves

Catholic News Agency

October 11, 2017

"Two sets of announcements by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued Friday both promise to broaden religious freedom protections in the United States. The first announcement, by the HHS department, broadens the religious freedom exemptions to the department’s contraception mandate, which has been facing federal lawsuits from conscientious objectors since its introduction in 2011. The second announcement was a memo issued by the Department of Justice, in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained 20 legal principles all government agencies should consider when dealing with religious freedom concerns. Neither announcement will automatically resolve religious freedom cases currently within the court system.  In an Oct. 6 interview with CNA, Robert George, a professor of constitutional law at Princeton University and visiting professor at Harvard University, explained the implications of these two announcements for religious freedom supporters throughout the country. "

 

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Filed under: Religious freedomContraceptionConscience freedomHealthcare

A Win for Freedom of Conscience

National Review commentary by the Editors

October 11, 2017

"President Donald Trump announced new reforms that would broaden conscience exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, expanding protections beyond small and closely held businesses to publicly traded companies and other employers as well as extending protections not only to those with religious objections but to those with moral objections that are not specifically religious in nature. This is an excellent development: The overbearing contraception mandate was an assault not only on religious liberty but on the legal standing of private conscience itself. (The mandate included types of contraception that, as even the Obama administration’s FDA acknowledged, might instead operate post-conception to prevent implantation and thus kill the early embryo.)"

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomContraceptionConscience freedomHealthcare

Members of Congress Praise HHS Religious Freedom Accommodations

US Congress on HHS regs

October 6, 2017

Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, applauded a new Health and Human Services regulation released today that provides relief to employers, such as religious organizations, schools, and family businesses, that had religious or moral objections to covering abortifacient drugs and contraception in employee health plans. "For years, the Obama Administration threatened religious charities, schools, and pro-life organizations with massive fines for living according to their convictions," said Smith. "Today's new regulation provides long-awaited regulatory relief to employers bullied by the Obama mandate. "Finally, the Executive Branch has returned to its job of protecting freedom of religion and conscience rather than threatening it." Following are statements from Members of Congress on the new regulation."

Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) – press releasetweet

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) – press release

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) – press release

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) – press releasetweet

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) – press release

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) – press release

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) – press release

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) – press release

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) - tweet
Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) – tweet
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) – tweet
Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) – tweet
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) – tweet
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) – tweet 1tweet 2tweet 3
Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) – tweet
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-TX) – tweet
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) – tweet 1tweet 2
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) – tweet
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) – tweet0
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) – tweet
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) – tweet

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Filed under: Religious freedomCongressContraception

Trump Exempts Religious Employers from Birth Control Coverage

Christianity Today

October 6, 2017

More employers—including Christian-run businesses and nonprofits—can opt out of contraception coverage required under the Affordable Care Act thanks to new rules issued by the Trump administration. The regulations exempt employers who object to treatments like birth control pills, emergency contraception, and sterilization due to "sincerely held religious beliefs" or "moral convictions." "The new rule is a victory for common sense," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel with Becket, which represents the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that came to symbolize the religious opposition to the mandate. "The previous administration pursued a needless and divisive culture war ... It should be easy for the courts to finalize this issue now that the government admits it broke the law."

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Filed under: Religious freedomContraceptionBecket Law

There Should Be No Religious Tests for Judicial Nominees

The Daily Signal

October 4, 2017

"Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke Monday on the Senate floor about the case of Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a hearing, Democrat Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Dick Durbin of Illinois, brought up the religious beliefs of Barrett, a Catholic. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein told Barrett. “And that’s of concern.” We reprint below Flake’s prepared remarks on the topic. "

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Filed under: Courts

The Senate must act now to save Christianity in Iraq

The Hill commentary by Carl Anderson

October 1, 2017

Whether Christianity and pluralism survive in the Middle East, or disappear forever, may well lie in the hands of the U.S. Senate. Earlier this summer, the House unanimously passed HR 390, which would direct American aid to the minority communities - including Christians - targeted by ISIS for genocide. The Christian, Yazidi and Shi'ite communities of Iraq and Syria have faced an evil every bit as hateful and genocidal as previous episodes. Why American bureaucrats have not reacted in keeping with the historical precedent in this instance is unclear. But there is no excuse for the inaction. (pub. date 9/13/17)

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Filed under: CommentariesCongressPersecution

Americans Still Wait for Trump to Protect Health-Care Conscience Rights

National Review commentary by Melanie Israel and Elizabeth Slattery

September 29, 2017

"The legislation creating Obamacare left lots of policy “details” to the discretion of the executive branch. And so the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama decided to require insurance plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization. Commonly referred to as the “HHS mandate” or “contraception mandate,” that requirement conflicts with the beliefs of many employers, individuals, and religious organizations regarding the protection of unborn human life. They regard it as an intolerable burden. The Supreme Court has provided relief to closely held businesses and to certain religious institutions. But as long as the mandate is in place, many individuals and organizations still face a disturbing choice: Either violate their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs or pay steep fines and, perhaps, forgo offering or obtaining health insurance altogether. When President Trump took office, these people and those who sympathize with them hoped that he would make religious liberty great again. "

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Filed under: Religious freedomContraceptionHealthcare

Sessions to declare free speech 'under attack' on campus, in broadside at political correctness

Fox News

September 26, 2017

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to declare freedom of speech is “under attack” at American colleges and universities, during an address Tuesday taking aim at political correctness run amok on campus. Sessions plans to tackle the hot-button issue of free speech on campus at Georgetown University Law Center, following a series of clashes at Berkeley and beyond over conservative speakers. “Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack,” Sessions plans to say, according to excerpts obtained in advance by Fox News. 'Whereas the American University was once the center of academic freedom – a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas – it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.' "

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Filed under: Free speech

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