Voice your values: Legislative action
Read: Faith Steps: How to winsomely engage on controversial public policy issues.
Now with new study guide!
--Coercing health professionals to comply with transgender ideology: the 2016 HHS transgender mandate;
--Squelching First Amendment freedoms on campuses: barring campus faith expression;
--Forcing nuns to make moral compromises: 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 organizations: HHS grant scandal;
--Elevating state over church: Supreme Court case to restrict faith-based organizations' hiring rights;
--Firing and coercing life-honoring health care professionals: personal stories of discrimination.
Tell how you have experienced discrimination as a health professional regarding abortion, assisted suicide, transgender issues and other matters of medical judgment and conscience.
"Overall, he was part of a unanimous decision in almost 90 percent of the time, and when he actually authored the religious liberty decision for the court, he produced a unanimous decision every single time. This is a striking record of coalition-building in an area of jurisprudence that can be quite contentious." Watch video
During the presidential campaign, President Trump produced a list of 21 potential nominees for Justice Scalia's vacant seat on the Supreme Court. We are pleased that he nominated a great candidate off that list -- Judge Neil Gorsuch. Upon confirmation, Judge Gorsuch will be faced with a host of pressing legal issues, and it is important to understand how he will rule and why. This issue analysis generally discusses the type of justices who should sit on our highest court, and explains why Judge Gorsuch is qualified for that role and should be confirmed. (.pdf file)
Gorsuch recently said, "Judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views, always with an eye on the outcome, and engaged perhaps in some Benthamite calculation of pleasures and pains along the way." This point is especially popular with the large majority of American people. According to a January poll from Marist, eight out of ten Americans want a Supreme Court justice who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written.By recognizing in both Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act's mandate is oppressive to many consciences, and by showing that even a stillborn baby's rights deserve protection in Pino v. United States, Gorsuch consistently affirms that, as an originalist, he would have all rights to life in mind as a Justice.
He was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. Like the city, the congregation is politically liberal. It bars guns from its campus and installed solar panels; it condemns harsh rhetoric about Muslims and welcomes gays and lesbians. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said, "Would I be happier if he were going to a more traditional Episcopal Church? Yeah, I'd be happier for him. But I'm more concerned with his views on the Constitution than where he goes to church." Gorsuch himself drew on natural law while writing his 2006 book "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia." In it, he argued that "all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong." "It is impossible to come away from this rather remarkable book with any conclusion other than that this is a man who has a very high regard for the sanctity and the dignity of human life," said Timothy Goeglein, vice president for external relations for the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told a Catholic legal group that the United States' dedication to religious liberty is being put to the test. Alito told the Catholic lawyers and judges on Wednesday, "A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs," according to the Associated Press. "We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls," Alito said in New Jersey, according to the AP. "But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom." Alito, a Catholic, reportedly also read from his dissent in the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage case and said he predicted those who opposed the high court's decision would be cast as bigots.
In recent months, the CCCU and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) have discreetly led the charge to get evangelical institutions to think through potential legal options to safeguard their Christian distinctives as they look ahead to 2017. They met with more than 200 leaders in 9 cities to discuss Fairness for All, an approach that would bring together religious liberty defenders and LGBT activists to lay out federal legislation to secure rights for both. Still, several prominent religious liberty advocates-including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention-that opposed the Utah compromise model aren't on board with Fairness for All either. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Bristow noted the ERLC's "longstanding policy that we do not support elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to a protected class." Wilson warned against comparing potential Fairness for All legislation to existing policies that have led to high-profile "bakers and bathrooms" cases, most of which were enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage and without input from both sides. "To look at these older data points and rules only shows us that legislation did not take into account religious freedom," she said. "They weren't Fairness for All. They were sexual orientation and gender identity antidiscrimination statutes that did not answer the hardest questions." (orig. pub. 12/8/16)
More than 150 conservative leaders are urging President Trump to sign an executive order "protecting the practical exercise of religious freedom." The letter, sent yesterday, is from the Council for National Policy, currently led by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. It began by thanking Trump for "beginning to reverse" the "devastating trend" of Obama-era policies hurting religious freedom. The Council for National Policy members asked Trump to issue "an executive order to prevent federal discrimination against [Americans] for acting in accordance with their beliefs." Examples of such ongoing discrimination include Christian adoption agencies having to shut down and the Little Sisters of the Poor being forced to participate in the provision of contraception. Federal grantees "face the prospect of the government forcing them to violate their faith or give up their role serving the disadvantaged and poor around the world," the letter explains.
The biggest problem with current sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws-including "Fairness for All," which proposes a grand-bargain compromise between SOGI laws and religious liberty-is that they do not appropriately define what counts as discriminatory. As I explain in a new report for The Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," these are the laws that are being used to shutter Catholic adoption agencies, fine evangelical bakers, and force businesses and public facilities to allow men into women's locker rooms. ... Catholic Charities adoption agencies decline to place the children entrusted to their care with same-sex couples not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the conviction that children deserve both a mother and a father. That belief-that men and women are not interchangeable, mothers and fathers are not replaceable, the two best dads in the world cannot make up for a missing mom, and the two best moms in the world cannot make up for a missing dad-has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation.
The commission report sparked a protest letter signed by 17 faith leaders, arguing that the report "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens." One of the signers, Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington, says religious conservatives are entitled to make claims of conscience. "We may not like the claim of conscience," Haynes says, "but you know, we don't judge claims of conscience on whether we like the content of the claim. We are trying to protect the right of people to do what they feel they must do according to their God. That is a very high value." Haynes himself says LGBT rights and same-sex marriage "are very important" but that supporters of those causes "cannot simply declare that one side wins all. Nondiscrimination is a great American principle - it's a core American principle - as is religious freedom," Haynes says. "When you have two important American principles coming into tension, into conflict with one another, our goal as Americans is to sit down and try to see if we can uphold both."
Contrary to almost all the news reporting on this story, the real question addressed by the new administration's guidance is not (at least not directly), "Which restrooms or locker rooms should students who identify as transgender use?" Instead, it is something much simpler - "Who gets to decide?" The answer that President Trump's administration has now given is also simple: "Not us. Not the federal government."The Trump administration policy will open the door for such accommodations to ensure that the legitimate needs and concerns of all students are met.