Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

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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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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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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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ABC News: Christians Who Believe In The First Amendment Are A 'Hate Group'

Federalist commentary by Mollie Hemingway

July 14, 2017

"ABC News’ Pete Madden and Erin Galloway smeared Christians who believe the Bill of Rights secures religious liberty as a “hate group,” in an article this week headlined, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.” The lede of the story made it clear this was not just the work of a rogue headline writer but the failure of the reporters themselves ... "

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Doctors Across The World Are Fighting To Treat Charlie Gard. Will The UK Let Them?

The Federalist commentary by Arina Grossu

July 12, 2017

"Why has the case of British 11-month-old baby Charlie Gard struck an international nerve? At its core, this controversy is about state infringement on parental rights. The question is, whose child is Charlie: his parents’ or the state’s? Why is the hospital holding him hostage and by what authority can it override his parents’ wish to pursue therapy that could help Charlie?"

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Parental and Governmental Authority in Medical Decisions: The Tragic Case of Charlie Gard

The Public Discourse commentary by Melissa Moschella

July 10, 2017

Much ink has been spilled debating whether or not further experimental treatment would be in the best interests of Charlie Gard. That debate is important and worthwhile. But it is not, in fact, the central question at issue in this case. Rather, the central question is: Who has the authority to make this controversial medical decision on Charlie’s behalf? The doctors at Ormond Street Hospital? The British courts? Or Charlie’s parents?

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Whose baby is Charlie Gard anyway?

First Things commentary by Wesley J. Smith

July 4, 2017

This is where Charlie Gard's case is breaking new and even more authoritarian ground. Not only are doctors and judges forcing Charlie off life-support; they are also declaring that their ethics rule over Charlie's life, even if the parents-Chris and Connie Gard-find alternative care. The refusal to allow Charlie's parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors' choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents'? Or are sick babies-and others facing futile-care impositions-ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?

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At Berkely, the mob wins again

National Review commentary by David French

April 26, 2017

Early this afternoon, Ann Coulter canceled her planned Thursday speech at the University of California, Berkeley. There can now be no doubt: A violent Left-wing mob dictates the rules at one of the nation's (and the world's) most prominent academic institutions. Let's be crystal clear about the government's obligation here: It is to protect liberty. That's why government exists in our constitutional republic, to guarantee the exercise of our unalienable rights, especially when it is threatened. Berkeley instead has chosen to systematically strip those rights from its students and hand ultimate power to the mob, justifying its cowardice through a disingenuous appeal to public safety. The deprivation of individual rights is comprehensive, ominous, and intolerable.

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Trump, global religious freedom needs US ambassador to lead

The Hill commentary by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer

April 23, 2017

The Pew Research Center found in 2016 that 74 percent of the world's population lives in countries with high or very high restriction or outright hostility to religion. The Knights of Columbus in a 300-page report documented genocide against Christians in the Middle East - mass murders and deportations, torture, kidnapping for ransom, sexual enslavement and rape of girls and women, forcible conversions to Islam and the destruction of Christian churches, monasteries, cemeteries and artifacts by the Islamic State - and former Secretary of State Kerry designated last year the violence by ISIS against Yezidis, Christians, Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims in Iraq and Syria as "ongoing genocide." The recent slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt during Sunday worship services is another tragic reminder that we must continue to speak up. International religious freedom is not a "Republican" or "Democrat" issue.

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Trump Returns Authority Over School Transgender Policies to States and Localities

The Stream commentary by Peter Sprigg

February 26, 2017

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.

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What Trump can do to secure religious freedom

The Hill commentary by Thomas Farr

February 15, 2017

As a candidate, Donald Trump said very little publicly about rising threats to religious freedom abroad. But recent reports suggest that President Trump may be moving quickly to nominate the official charged by law to lead that element of United States foreign policy: the ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom. Given that President George W. Bush took well over a year to get his nominee in place, and President Barack Obama took more than two, it appears that Trump may be placing a higher priority on international religious freedom than his predecessors. He has ample reason to do so. Studies show that religious freedom can make substantial contributions to democratic stability, economic growth and the undermining of religious violence and terrorism. Unfortunately, studies also show that religious freedom is in global decline, while religious persecution and terrorism are spreading.

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Chip Gaines: "Fight for a world that knows how to lovingly disagree"

Focus on the Family commentary by Jake Roberson

January 30, 2017

"This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can't recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgment, fear, and even hatred. Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand. If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow - we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth."

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What President-elect Trump can do about religious freedom

Fox News commentary by Tony Perkins

January 16, 2017

Our foreign policy, contrary to the law, has not prioritized religious freedom like it should. President-elect Trump must direct that religious freedom be properly integrated into all foreign policy of the United States at every level. As even the United Nations has recognized, religious freedom is not just an American right, it is a human right. Defending that human right has been an American value until recent years. President-elect Trump should also follow through with his pledge to issue an executive order, reinstating government-wide protections for religious liberty. But executive orders halting attacks on religious freedom are just the start, there are many more anti-religious freedom policies of the Obama administration that must be reversed. That's why government nondiscrimination legislation is needed to protect supporters of marriage between one man and one woman. People of faith should not be punished by the government for living in accordance with their beliefs.

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Federal Court Blocks Transgender Mandate

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission newsletter

January 6, 2017

Had the rule gone into effect, Christian doctors could have lost their jobs or been sued for discrimination for refusing to perform gender transition procedures on children. The mandate would have also required most private health insurance policies to cover transition procedures for minors. The injunction is thus a significant step in protecting children, religious liberty, and rights of conscience for healthcare workers. In a comment about this lawsuit last October, ERLC president Russell Moore told Baptist Press, "Though confusion over gender and sexual identity is real and should be met with compassion, it would be a travesty for the federal government to steamroll consciences in the name of ideology."

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Religious Liberty Protections Stripped From NDAA

Daily Signal commentary by Melanie Israel

November 18, 2016

Reports have surfaced that House and Senate members of the conference committee negotiating the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) have caved to the Obama administration's veto threat and stripped the Russell Amendment, which would prevent the government from revoking contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith, from the final version of the bill. The amendment, offered by Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., was originally included in the House-passed version of the NDAA and applies decades-old religious exemptions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to federal grants and contracts. In other words, it shouldn't have been controversial.

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Four cultural trends leading to decline of religious freedom

The Gospel Coalition commentary by Trevor Wax

October 6, 2016

A few years ago, a survey showed that nearly 40 percent of Americans believed the First Amendment's protections "go too far." What's going on? What are the cultural trends leading to diminished religious liberty? Trend #1: Religion is personal and private, not public. Trend #2: Freedom of religion is narrowed to freedom of worship. Trend #3: Fewer people claim to be religious today. Trend #4: The Sexual Revolution has its own vision of sin and salvation. 

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Setting the Record Straight on RFRA (Again)

Family Research Council blog by Trtavis Weber

September 8, 2016

The federal RFRA and almost all state RFRAs contain no such amendment. They’ve operated well for years, protecting individuals like the Muslim inmate highlighted in this article, and others. The article also implies that RFRA without the “fix” could not help the inmate: “After Pence’s “fix” the law became largely disarmed from doing what many critics said was its original discriminatory intent. In fact, the opposite happened, the law has since become an extra tool to fight against religious discrimination, [Professor] Katz said.” Yet a Muslim inmate bringing a claim under RFRA with the “fix” is not the “opposite” of what he could have done before the “fix.” The provision of RFRA he is using to bring his claim (the same provision which has been around since 1993 with little controversy) was not changed at all.

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Trampling on health care providers' consciences

Religion News Service commentary by Charles Camosy

September 6, 2016

A. Imagine you are a Christian physician in late first-century, pagan Rome when a patient comes to you with his just-born child who, because she is a girl, he wants you to kill by giving her hemlock. B. Imagine you are a Catholic physician living in Nazi Germany working in the psych ward of a Catholic hospital when a patient who initially asked you to admit his mentally ill daughter now asks you to kill her so she is no longer a drain on the Reich's resources. You cannot participate in either act, of course, without violating a fundamental part of who you are. But signatories of the Geneva statement would insist you either assist the patient in killing his child or refer your patient "to another practitioner who is willing" to help kill his child.

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Why Burkinis Should Matter To Christians Who Care About Religious Freedom

Christianity Today commentary by Ed Stetzer

August 31, 2016

If we don't speak out, Muslims in France will not be the only ones stripped of their religious liberty. We can't stand idly by today because it is not "our" religious liberty that is being trampled upon. Next time, as secularism continues its march across the West, it very well might be us. Religious liberty for some soon means religious liberty for none. I don't want Muslim women forced to strip off some of their clothes on the beaches of France under the watchful eye of the police. Or Catholic adoption agencies stripped of their participation in Massachusetts' adoption system because of their views of marriage. Or a baker stripped of her business because she did not want to participate in a wedding with which she disagrees.

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A speech code for lawyers bans viewpoints that express 'bias'

Washington Post commentary by By Eugene Volokh

August 10, 2016

So say that some lawyers put on a Continuing Legal Education event that included a debate on same-sex marriage, or on whether there should be limits on immigration from Muslim countries, or on whether people should be allowed to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity rather than their biological sex. In the process, unsurprisingly, the debater on one side said something that was critical of gays, Muslims or transgender people. If the rule is adopted, the debater could well be disciplined by the state bar: 1. He has engaged in "verbal . . . conduct" that "manifests bias or prejudice" toward gays, Muslims or transgender people. 2. Some people view such statements as "harmful"; those people may well include bar authorities. 3. This was done in an activity "in connection with the practice of law" - Continuing Legal Education events are certainly connected with the practice of law.

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Defending religious liberty

Washington Times commentary by Frank. R. Wolf

July 27, 2016

During my time in Congress I often reached out to Chuck Colson for his wise advice and counsel. I am struck by Chuck's foresight on the erosion of our religious liberty. [He wrote:] "I believe we are heading for a new Dark Ages, with persecution coming to the church soon. It's going to happen as a result of conflicts over sex. This is where modern human beings do not want to be in any way restrained. They will accept the law that governs them in just about every area of their lives except sexual passion. We must reflect on how we defend religious liberty. We don't want to defend it by claiming our opponents are bigots. Instead, we have to show why, if we allow the government to take away our freedom of conscience, we're going to lose all other liberties. That's the kind of approach that is going to have to be made to get a majority of the people with us."

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Administration: Single-Payer System Stops Religious Freedom Challenges to Abortifacient Mandate

CNS News commentary by Terence Jeffrey

July 27, 2016

In their argument to the court, the Justice Department lawyers had suggested another vision for stopping cases challenging government health insurance mandates on religious grounds. "It also follows that there would be no viable RFRA challenge if Congress had adopted a single-payer system in which the government provided health coverage including preventive services to all Americans and required all Americans to pay premiums to pay for that coverage," the Justice Department lawyers told the court. "The fact that Congress chose to accomplish the same goal through the less-intrusive means of regulating the existing system of private health insurance provides no sound basis for reaching a different conclusion: The interests in universal participation in a comprehensive system are the same." In other words: When government takes complete control of the health care system, there will be no room for religious liberty.

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Calif, bill that will undermine religious colleges not improved

IRFA commentary by Stanley Carlson-Thies

July 8, 2016

The bill now has two major features. The first is a requirement for any California higher education institution that has a religious exemption from the federal Title IX law to broadcast that exemption to prospective students, to faculty and staff, to any visitor to campus, and also, via a new public shaming listing on a California Student Aid Commission website, to the public. The other major feature of SB 1146 is to eliminate the independence of religious higher education institutions from the provision in California education law that prohibits institutions receiving any state funding (indirectly, via California state scholarships, or directly) from selectivity on any of many grounds, including not only sexual orientation but also religion.

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"Freedom of Worship" Isn't Enough

Wall Street Journal commentary by John J. Miller

June 9, 2016

On March 28, however, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a revision. The phrase "freedom of worship" would be changed to "freedom of religion." The notice came in a letter from the agency's director, Leon Rodriguez, to Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who called for the correction last year. The switch allows the naturalization exam to reflect the actual language of the Constitution: The word "worship" does not appear anywhere in its text, whereas the First Amendment promises "the free exercise" of "religion."

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DOJ's Lawsuit Against North Carolina Is Abuse of Power

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

May 9, 2016

I'm very disappointed in my former colleagues at the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. They know very well that when Congress banned discrimination "on the basis of sex" in 1964 and 1972, it did not mean "gender identity." It disrespects the very notion of the rule of law for them to hold otherwise, but that is exactly what they have done by threatening North Carolina with lawsuits, fines, and revocation of federal funds because they dared to write in law what most people consider simple common sense-that biological men should not be given unfettered access to public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms set aside for the needs, safety, and privacy of biological women.

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Is Religious Liberty Biblical?

Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics commentary by Hugh Whelchel

April 25, 2016

Sir William Blackstone, an English law expert, argued that English common law had its roots in God's law. Blackstone's views influenced many of America's Founders; Jefferson's appeal to the "law of nature and of nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence is a reference to Blackstone's thought. Recognizing the importance of both natural law and the Bible, Blackstone noted in one of his writings that, "Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict these."

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DeMint: America needs more governors like Phil Bryant

USA Today commentary by Jim DeMint

April 12, 2016

In the face of corporate bullying and vitriolic, misleading opposition from progressive groups, Gov. Bryant and the Mississippi state legislature courageously protected the religious liberty of their fellow citizens-liberties that have been under assault all around the country. In a sensible world, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act shouldn't have taken much bravery to sign. All it does is reaffirm First Amendment rights that religious orders, schools, and businesses have enjoyed for 227 years. It doesn't give anyone a license to discriminate, and it doesn't victimize anybody. But this is not a sensible world.

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The Perils of Religious Liberty

First Things commentary by Yuval Levin

April 1, 2016

This may be the greatest peril we face in championing religious liberty-the danger that our call for sustaining a space for living out our moral vision might be mistaken for an argument that the sustaining of space for ourselves is itself the essence of our moral vision. ...[W]e need to see that we are defending more than religious liberty: We are defending the very idea that our government exists to protect the space in which various institutions of civil society do the work that enables Americans to thrive, and we are defending the proposition that this work involves moral formation and not just liberation from constraint. That is an entire conception of the meaning of a free society that goes well beyond toleration and freedom of religion. It is ultimately about the proper shape and structure of American life.



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NBA's Threatening North Carolina Is Textbook Cultural Cronyism

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 28, 2016

Big business and special interest groups are threatening boycotts. The mayor of San Francisco issued an order to “to bar any publicly-funded city employee travel to the State of North Carolina.” ThinkProgress reports that IBM, PayPal, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Salesforce are all against the law. The ACLU has even lodged a federal lawsuit against North Carolina. The NBA has said North Carolina’s law might make it move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. The NBA threat over the All-Star Game is particularly amusing. The NBA (and its sister organization, the WNBA) apparently think bathroom access shouldn’t be based on biology, but basketball leagues should. The NBA and WNBA, of course, are free to have gender-neutral basketball teams—and to have gender-neutral bathrooms at those games. That they are threatening the state to impose a policy that even they haven’t voluntarily adopted is the height of hypocrisy.

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Dignity v. Freedom

First Things commentary by Peter J. Leithart

March 11, 2016

Justice Kennedy concluded his majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges with this summary: Gay couples "ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." Some have called for dignity as the basis of a new public or legal philosophy, but it would set an impossible standard. No society can grant respect to every choice; societies must discriminate, and so must (on this theory) inflict indignity. Even when there is no intent to inflict harm, a law rooted in this view of dignity teaches that anyone who feels excluded by the law should see this exclusion as an affront to their worth as a person. The damage to democratic process is immense, as electoral defeats would come to be seen as a violation of a right to dignity.

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Atheists Give Up Case; Christians Can Continue to Help Ex-Convicts

Daily Signal commentary by Melody Wood

March 10, 2016

A judge ruled last month that two Christian organizations in Florida can continue helping newly released prisoners reintegrate into society. The Christian organizations had been brought to court by a New York-based atheist organization called the Center for Inquiry that sued to strip the ministries of government funding because of their religious identities. Because the atheist group failed to appeal the judge's decision, the Christian ministries will now be free to carry on helping ex-convicts.

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Ronald Reagan: Champion of religious liberty

FOX News opinion piece by Kelly Shackelford

February 6, 2016

Because Reagan the individual understood religious faith, Reagan the statesman understood its value to a free society. "Without God," he said, "there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure." For this reason, Reagan rebutted attacks on religious values as attempts to "abrogate the original terms of American democracy." He supported both judicial and legislative action to restore prayer and other religious activity to public schools, including the 1984 Equal Access Act. He left a federal judiciary populated with Reagan judges who made key rulings in favor of religious freedom.

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Another Effort to Expand Definition of "Sex" Discrimination

IRFA commentary by Stanley Carlson-Thies

February 1, 2016

It gives no justification at all for its editing of the current WIOA nondiscrimination regulations in order to "replace[] ‘he or she' with ‘the individual,' ‘person,' or other appropriate identifier whenever possible to avoid the gender binary." And while the NPRM states that it is a "policy" commitment of the Department of Labor to ban sexual orientation discrimination, it admits that "[c]urrent law is mixed on whether existing Federal nondiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as a part of their prohibitions on sex discrimination" and that no federal appeals court has ruled that way while some have ruled the opposite way. However, the administration is insistent on reaching its policy goals.

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Think It Not Strange: Fiery Trials and the Testimony of Christ

Desiring God commentary by John Piper

February 1, 2016

Christianity isn't dying and no research says it is; the statistics about Christians in America are simply starting to show a clearer picture of what American Christianity is becoming - less nominal, more defined, and more outside of the mainstream of American culture. Stetzer puts it like this: The cultural cost of calling yourself "Christian" is starting to outweigh the cultural benefit, so those who do not identify as a "Christian" according to their convictions are starting to identify as "nones" because it's more culturally savvy. So if you picture a continuum with the mere absence of cultural benefits for Christians on one end, and the aggressive persecution of Christians on the other end, Christianity in America is now on that continuum and is moving from indifference to derision to exclusion to hostility.

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Can Christians Change the World After Obergefell?

TGC commentary by Hunter Baker

November 25, 2015

Christian writers and other leaders are looking at new approaches. Rod Dreher, who has become an important voice for Christians during this period, has written about what he calls "the Benedict option." While there is room for interpretation, Dreher seems to mean that Christians need to place more focus on orthodoxy and orthopraxy as a community. By strengthening their cultural and spiritual core from the inside, the devout may be able to engage the culture in a more meaningful way. Some see Dreher's approach as a call for withdrawal, but I think he intends merely to change our priorities as the church in such a way as to improve the authenticity of our witness. Others refer to a Robert George option. The Princeton philosopher emphasizes continuous, rational engagement at the highest level of discourse. In a third camp, I see something like an option I would associate with people such as former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, Q Ideas founder Gabe Lyons, and James Davison Hunter. This group notes the toxic reputation Christians have developed in the broader culture (with Lyons focusing attention especially on how young people feel about us) and recommends a focus on "shalom," as Hunter says, or "the common good," as Lyons emphasizes in his conferences.

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Ryan Anderson's powerful case for marriage

The Catholic Thing commentary by Hadley Arkes

October 20, 2015

Could we invoke a plea for religious tolerance? Chai Feldblum, a gay activist, descended from a line of rabbis, brushes away with a breezy contempt the claim for religious tolerance here, for it would stand in opposition to things she regards as commandingly rightful. This argument can be met then only by an argument showing why it cannot be wrongful to confine marriage to a man and a woman. It can be met, that is, only by an argument that takes up precisely the question of "What is Marriage?," the question that Anderson has pursued in this book, and in his book of that title with Robert George and Sherif Girgis.

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Terms Banned on Campus: Illegal Immigrant, Male, Female

Townhall commentary by Katie Pavlich

September 2, 2015

Want a good grade in certain classes at Washington State University? Then you better avoid using the terms "illegal immigrant," "male" and "female" as part of your descriptive vocabulary. Universities around the country have recently release lists of banned words and phrases that professors consider "microagressions." Terms on those lists include "American," questions like, "where are you from" and the concept that hard work is how individuals get ahead in life.

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Sexual freedom is afforded more protection than religious liberty

Washington Times commentary by Travis Weber

August 28, 2015

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.

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The Decline--and Fall?--of Religious Freedom in America

Mosaic commentary by Bruce Abramson

August 3, 2015

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?

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The Equality Act: Bad Policy that Poses Great Harms

Public Discourse commentary by Andrew Walker

July 24, 2015

If enacted into law, the Equality Act would further erode religious liberty, transform public opinion on sexuality, and harm the public perception of those who believe in traditional or biblical sexual morality. The bill would create federal anti-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, education, employment, and housing. To do so, it would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes (SOGI). In short, the Equality Act would offer the same types of protections extended to other groups (on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin) protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Faith Steps: Should Christians engage in the public arena, and if so, how?

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

May 25, 2015

The leadership of Christian believers during the Bush presidency, our efforts to combat human trafficking through faith-based organizations, and Christian volunteers and ministries responding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina serve to illustrate Christians' engagement in the public square. The examples also help frame important questions about the biblical and prudential role of believers and the Church in politics and society: What role, if any, should Christians play in influencing our government and our culture? Does God call Christians to separate from the world for the sake of spiritual purity, or does He call us to engage the world for the sake of others? Is America too far gone in the direction of secularism for Christian influence to turn her toward godly principles?

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Why Religion Will Dominate the 21st Century

EPPC commentary by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

May 18, 2015

Wherever you look, religion is mutating, thriving, growing. Southeast Asia is as fiercely religious as ever. Same with India. Africa - this century's next superpower - is the most religious continent on the planet. In America, disaffiliation is changing the face of American religion, but at the same time, higher proportions of people today than in the 1950s declare believing in God, or having had a religious experience, or praying frequently.

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The Eclipse of Religious Liberty and the Threat of a New Dark Age commentary by Al Mohler

May 18, 2015

These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image. Religious liberty is being redefined as mere freedom of worship, but it will not long survive if it is reduced to a private sphere with no public voice. The very freedom to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, and thus so is the liberty of every American. Human rights and human dignity are temporary abstractions if they are severed from their reality as gifts of the Creator. The eclipse of Christian truth will lead inevitably to a tragic loss of human dignity.

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The Silencing--How the Left is killing free speech

Daily Beast

May 11, 2015

On today's campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficial tactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling-and more far reaching-is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don't like. They've invented a labyrinth of anti-free speech tools that include "speech codes," "free speech zones," censorship, investigations by campus "diversity and tolerance offices," and denial of due process. They craft "anti-harassment policies" and "anti-violence policies" that are speech codes in disguise. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education's (FIRE) 2014 report on campus free speech, "Spotlight on Speech Codes," close to 60 percent of the four hundred-plus colleges they surveyed "seriously infringe upon the free speech rights of students."

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The man who could redefine marriage

Center for Vision and Values commentary by Paul Kengor

May 6, 2015

Why must we, therefore, reject our faith's millennia-old, traditional-natural-biblical teaching on marriage as between one man and one woman? For Catholics faithful to their Church's teachings, the Justice Kennedy scenario is increasingly maddening, if not dismaying. They're not optimistic, especially given Kennedy's shockingly relativistic views expressed in previous major court decisions. The most notorious was Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which enshrined Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. There, Kennedy led the majority with this breathtaking proclamation: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

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Christians thrown overboard left to drown by Obama

USA Today commentary by Kirsten Powers

April 21, 2015

Religious persecution of Christians is rampant worldwide, as Pew has noted, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Middle East and Northern Africa, where followers of Jesus are the targets of religious cleansing. Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the persecution and begged the world for help, but it has had little impact. Western leaders - including Obama - will be remembered for their near silence as this human rights tragedy unfolded. The president's mumblings about the atrocities visited upon Christians (usually extracted after public outcry over his silence) are few and far between. And it will be hard to forget his lecturing of Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast about the centuries-old Crusades while Middle Eastern Christians were at that moment being harassed, driven from their homes, tortured and murdered for their faith.

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Surrendering Neither Grace Nor Truth in the Religious Liberty Debate

Christian Post commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 14, 2015

Recently, the news has been tough for Christians here at home. Stories involving the erosion of religious liberty in America, as in the failure in Indiana to protect the rights of business persons who don't wish to participate in same-sex weddings, have persuaded some that the chips are not only down but depleted. As a result, some Christians seem to be heralding cultural defeat and advocating a gracious concession to the other side. They urge us, in as many words, to reduce our witness to acts of private charity and church ministry.

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The Shifting Definition of Religious Freedom: Why We Can't Bow to the New Established Religion

Breakpoint commentary by Eric Metaxas

April 13, 2015

The message is clear: not only should Christians remain silent about gay marriage if we know what's good for us, but we must be made to agree with and even celebrate what Scripture calls sin. As Ana Marie Cox recently said of Christians on MSNBC, "you're going to have to force [them] to do things they don't want to do." But gay columnist Frank Bruni recently took it to the next level in the New York Times, writing that it's time Christians get with the program and "take homosexuality off the sin list."

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The 'Party of CEOs' and Religious Liberty

National Review Online commentary by Maggie Gallagher

April 10, 2015

"Big business has been at the forefront of the backlash against the Indiana law, and similar legislation pending in states around the U.S.," reports CNN's Money channel. Salesforce's Marc Benioff pledged to reduce investments in Indiana and help employees relocate (to one of the other 20 states with RFRAs?), pronouncing Indiana's rather innocuous RFRA to be "brutal" and "unjust." Most eloquently and helpfully, Benioff explained the social phenomena we are now witnessing: "One thing that you're seeing is that there is a third [political] party emerging in this country, which is the party of CEOs." I am sure much of this reflects the sincere if misguided sentiments of the Party of CEOs, but there is another force at work here as well. When I say that traditional believers lack institutions, I mean that over the last ten years, the stage for the moment that has just emerged has been set, piece by piece, with very little effective, creative, or well-funded response by the so-called Religious Right.

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Who will stand?

First Things commentary by Robert P. George

April 5, 2015

The lynch mob is now giddy with success and drunk on the misery and pain of its victims. It is urged on by a compliant and even gleeful media. It is reinforced in its sense of righteousness and moral superiority by the "beautiful people" and the intellectual class. It has been joined by the big corporations who perceive their economic interests to be in joining up with the mandarins of cultural power. It owns one political party and has intimidated the leaders of the other into supine and humiliating obeisance. And so, who if anyone will courageously stand up to the mob? Who will resist? Who will speak truth to its raw and frightening power?

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The Church of the Left

National Review commentary by Yuval Levin

April 3, 2015

Madison was making this case not in the context of arguing for permitting the free exercise of religion but rather in the context of arguing against the establishment of any religion by law. His point was that no one ought to be compelled to affirm as true a religious tenet he took to be false and that no one should be compelled to participate in a religious rite that violated his own understanding of his religious obligations. But this is also the essence of the argument that a wedding vendor who wants to remain free to refrain from participating in a same-sex wedding would advance.

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Tennessee affirms opposite-sex marriage, not bigotry

The Tennessean commentary by Jonathan Imbody

March 14, 2015

A Chicago resident complains in a letter to the editor that Tennessee does not recognize in law the fact that Illinois considers him married to another man; he labels Tennessee's legal definition of marriage a matter of discrimination and inequality. The state of Tennessee retains a constitutional right, highlighted in the Supreme Court's recent Windsor decision, which deemed a federal definition of marriage as usurping states' rights, to determine by objective qualifications and definitions who qualifies for a marriage license. Tennessee also uses objective qualifications to determine which of its citizens can vote, practice medicine, own a gun or teach in public schools.

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Memo to Supreme Court: State Marriage Laws Are Constitutional

Heritage Foundation

March 10, 2015

To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage that our law has long applied equally is just wrong: that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely. The U.S. Constitution, however, is silent on what marriage is and what policy goals the states should design it to serve, and there are good policy arguments on both sides. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the U.S. Constitution any more than the Justices in Dred Scott should have written into the Constitution their own policy preferences in support of slavery.

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A Fight to Keep Catholic Schools Catholic

Wall Street Journal commentary by R Anderson and L Ford

March 5, 2015

American business and civic institutions frequently make choices to remain true to principles even when it is unfashionable or may hurt their bottom line-for example, CVS last year pulled cigarettes from shelves, calling the sale of tobacco "inconsistent with our purpose-helping people on their path to better health." This choice is even more essential for religious schools, which must be able to have teachers who support-or at least don't publicly attack-the school's beliefs. Lawmakers shouldn't be using threats of governmental investigation to control those decisions. Yet similar coercion is taking place throughout the country.

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Wake up to the war on Catholic doctors

Catholic Herald (Canada)

March 5, 2015

As medical science advances other procedures that are in conflict with Catholic teaching are emerging. One thinks of gender reassignment surgery and, most recently, the creation of "three-parent babies". It would be a tragedy if the gradual creeping exclusion from healthcare of Catholics and others with strong religious and conscientious principles continued. We must act to stop it.

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The Constitution supports Chief Justice Roy Moore

WND commentary by Alan Keyes

February 12, 2015

Chief Justice Moore is now proving true to his word. Under his leadership, the Alabama judiciary is refusing to surrender the power of his state and its people over matters the Constitution's 10th Amendment clearly reserves "to the States respectively, or to the people." Since the U.S. was founded, the Congress and the federal courts respected the constitutionally reserved power of the people, in their respective states, conscientiously to establish and maintain civil respect for the exercise of individual right that, by reproducing and preserving human offspring, directly serves the common good of their society, and indeed of humanity itself.

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Could Millennials Change Their Views on Same-Sex Marriage?

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

January 14, 2015

Ryan Anderson, who researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty at The Heritage Foundation, argued that the answer may not be known for a number of years, as same-sex marriage becomes more prevalent in the United States. According to Pew Research, 67 percent of those ages 18 to 33 favor same-sex marriage. "My generation is more pro-life than my parents' generation, and there's no reason why the same thing can't happen on the question about marriage," Anderson said.

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The Price of a Pro-Life Contract

Human Life Review commentary by Connie Marshner

January 6, 2015

The discrepancy in response to each of these situations, however, made it easy for the court to find that the school had discriminated against Emily Herx on the basis of her gender. A representative of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend testified at the trial that the diocese had assets of $30 million. The award decreed on December 20 amounts to almost 7% of its financial net worth. It's a steep price to pay for having failed to catechize several generations. Of course, I hope the Diocese will appeal to the Supreme Court. And certainly I will pray the Court will understand that the First Amendment protects the right of a church to decide who can represent it in a classroom . . . even if the church is playing catch-up with its own team members.

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School Ground Bullies in the Nation's Capital

Wall Street Journal commentary by Patrick Reilly

December 26, 2014

On Dec. 2, the Council of the District of Columbia passed an amendment to the D.C. Human Rights Act, repealing protections for religious schools and colleges to determine their own rules regarding gay and lesbian student activities. If the current or incoming mayor signs it, the amendment will become law and likely force the Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington schools to provide recognition, facilities and perhaps even funding to gay and lesbian student clubs that oppose Catholic teachings. The D.C. Council approved the amendment unanimously, despite vigorous opposition from Catholic University, the D.C. Catholic Conference and the Alliance Defending Freedom, among other religious groups.

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Here's How the Media Got the Latest Religious Liberty Bill Wrong

Daily Signal Commentary by Ryan Anderson

December 13, 2014

Finishing off a week that was pretty bad for the media, CBS News is now spinning a story about a Michigan religious freedom bill. Their headline reads: "Bill would let Michigan doctors, EMTs refuse to treat gay patients." But the bill does nothing of the sort. The bill, passed by the Michigan House last week, is the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And, as the legal scholar Ed Whelan points out, "the bill is modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, [and] at least 19 other states have enacted laws modeled on the federal RFRA, and nothing remotely like what CBS News alleges has ever happened anywhere."

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Conscience and Abortion Funding Concerns in the CRomnibus

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

December 10, 2014

Congress should permanently prohibit federal funding of abortion and ensure transparency in health care. The No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act would ensure that no federal funds could be used to pay for abortion or health benefit plans that cover abortion, including those offered through Obamacare exchanges. The current version of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act also includes language from another bill, the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would address the serious lack of transparency about abortion coverage that has been noted by groups on both sides of the abortion debate.

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Religious liberty under attack

Philadelphia Inquirer commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

October 29, 2014

Indeed, a form of government respectful of free association, free contracts, free speech, and free exercise of religion should protect citizens' rights to live according to their beliefs about marriage. After all, protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not infringe on anyone's sexual freedoms. No one has a right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them. Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in same-sex ceremonies, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists. They should not be forced to choose between their beliefs and their livelihood.

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A Line Has Been Crossed; It's Time to Sound the Alarm on Religious Liberty

Breakpoint Commentary

October 21, 2014

Last week I told you that Houston’s Mayor, Annise Parker, demanded to see the sermons of a group of five pastors and threatened them with a subpoena. Why? Because the pastors had objected to a new so-called “equal rights” ordinance that would allow self-identified “transgendered” men to use women’s restrooms. That’s an issue all its own. But as bad as that is, the Houston mayor’s shocking and outrageous trampling on the religious liberty of these pastors is far, far more disturbing.  In fact, for someone in government to demand that pastors turn over their sermons is almost beyond belief. I confess I almost thought I was reading something out of my own book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, where I describe how the Gestapo tried to harass and intimidate Martin Niemoller and other German pastors speaking the truth from their pulpits.

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Homosexual Marriage: A Watershed Issue for Evangelicals

The Christian Post commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 20, 2014

Even as Evangelicals gently but firmly speak the truth about God's teaching regarding human sexual conduct, they need to extend the mercy of Christ to the homosexual men and women God brings into their lives. If Evangelicals have homosexual neighbors, they need to treat them with the same warmth and respect they should treat anyone else. If their kids become friends with children raised by same-sex couples, those little ones should be welcomed as eagerly as any other child. If one's homosexual colleague is in the hospital, visit him, do his yard work, drive him home, and so on. Yet law and public policy are different matters. Just as water does not collect atop an apex - it flows down one side or the other - so there are only two sides to the debate over legal recognition of same-sex marriage.

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A Collective Hope for Persecuted Christians in November

The Christian Post commentary by David Curry

October 16, 2014

Today we cannot overlook the fact that approximately 100 million Christians still live under oppression and persecution for expressing their faith in Jesus. Christians living under oppressive regimes cannot walk down the road holding a Bible, read it in freedom, choose for themselves the faith they wish to follow, or express their faith in an open marketplace of ideas without fear of persecution or death. In places like North Korea, ranked highest on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries that persecute Christians, is where more than 70,000 Christians live and work in labor camps for the crime of trying to practice their faith. Or in places like Iraq and Syria, where Jihadist rebels from the Islamic State have pushed Christ-followers from their homes, tried to force conversion to Islam, and tortured and killed people for their faith. But Christians in the West can do something to help. We can let those living under persecution know that they are not forgotten.

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Why not just hand the sermons over?

Moore to the Point

October 16, 2014

In our system of government, the ultimate "king" is the people. As citizens, we bear responsibility for electing officials, for speaking to laws that are made in our name, and for setting precedents by our actions. Shrugging this off is not the equivalent of Jesus standing silently before Pilate. It's the equivalent of Pilate washing his hands, so as not to bear accountability for our own decisions and precedents set. When the government acts, legal precedents are set. By complying with this unjust decree, Christians would be binding future people and institutions, including those who are the most powerless to stand against such things. If the government can scrutinize the preaching of Christian churches on sexual matters in Houston, the same government could do the reverse in, say, Amarillo.

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California's Abortion Insurance Mandate Spotlights the Left's 40-year Devolution on Conscience commentary by Casey Mattox

September 9, 2014

The California decision to compel Catholic institutions to facilitate abortions in violation of their conscience would have been unthinkable in 1975 when the state law now cited as the basis for this new mandate was enacted. After four decades of relentless effort by the ACLU, it has now found government support for its illiberal agenda to not just secure an unenumerated abortion right but to also subjugate any individual religious liberty objections to this abortion right. It is time for the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act. Introduced by Rep. Diane Black and Sen. Tom Coburn, this bill would provide a permanent home in the U.S. Code for the Weldon Amendment, ensuring that critical protections for conscience rights are not subject to the political winds in any given budget cycle. It would also provide a clear right for anyone whose conscience protections are violated to seek to stop the violation in court.

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Obama Administration's Eighth Try on HHS Mandate and Religious Liberty Still Fails

The Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

August 22, 2014

Under current regulations, a religious non-profit can sign what amounts to a "permission slip"directing their insurance company or administrator to cover the objectionable drugs and devices - a scheme most organizations believe still makes them complicit in a gravely immoral act. Under today's revision, objecting religious non-profits would instead send a letter to HHS. HHS would then direct the organizations' health plans to include the objectionable drugs and services. Numerous federal courts - including the Supreme Court - have seen through the current gimmick and granted temporary protection from the coercive mandate for religious non-profits in 31 cases.

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Government to Farmers: Host Same-Sex Wedding or Pay a $13,000 Fine

Daily Signal commentary by Leslie Ford and Ryan Anderson

August 19, 2014

But the New York State Division of Human Rights doesn't see things this way. On August 8, it fined Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman and thus declining to rent out their family farm for a same-sex wedding celebration. The Human Rights Commission ruled that "the nature and circumstances of the [Giffords's] violation of the Human Rights Law also warrants a penalty." This is coercive big government run amok.

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Engaging Culture on All Fronts

Canon and Culture commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 11, 2014

In other words, in addition to showing Christ's love in practical, hands-on ways through our churches, para-church and other ministries, and through individual acts of mercy for our Lord's sake, not to seek legal protection for the unborn and sound medical care for their mothers ... not to use the law to fight the commodification of women through sex trafficking and pornography ... not to use legal means to protect marriage as God designed it and to strengthen the family unit, which is the fundamental means by which we become healthy, functional, productive persons ... and not to work through legislation and the courts to sustain and defend the practice of religious conviction as well as the right of private conscience, recognizing that "freedom of religion" is the foundation of all of our other freedoms ... is to abandon a massive sphere of human experience to evil.

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Who gets to define marriage? Utah's marriage amendment and the Supreme Court

ERLC commentary by Andrew Walker

August 6, 2014

What's at stake in this debate-and what needs to be answered-is whether marriage is malleable or fixed; whether marriage is something subject to electoral opinion, or whether-like water-marriage has a definite composition. Or, to use Anderson, Gergis and George's terminology, whether marriage is conjugal or subject to revision. For if marriage is something; that is, whether it is intelligible and has a definite shape to it, then the question of whether same-sex attracted persons can enter into something that they're not apt to enter, becomes irrelevant.

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Government Should Stop Discriminating Against Religious Adoption Agencies

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre and Ryan Anderson

August 1, 2014

On Wednesday,, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would protect the right of child welfare providers, including private and faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, to continue providing valuable services to families and children. The federal government and states receiving certain federal child welfare funds would be prohibited from discriminating against a child welfare provider simply because the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.

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State Department Releases Report on International Religious Freedom

Acton Institute commentary by Joe Carter

August 1, 2014

Once again, North Korea stands out as the worst offender for "its absolute prohibition of religious organizations and harsh punishments for any unauthorized religious activities." Other countries of note were Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan - each of which put severe restrictions on members of religious groups that did not conform to the state-approved religion - as well as China, Cuba, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, countries where religious activity was only lawful if explicitly authorized by the state. Reports on each of the countries can be found here.

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Helping orphaned children is far more important than being politically correct

Washington Examiner commentary by Leanna Baumer

August 1, 2014

But increasingly, many families may face barriers in finding an agency able to sympathize with their central values and religious motivation for caring for needy boys and girls. That's because in places such as California, Massachusetts, Illinois and the District of Columbia, some faith-based child welfare service providers have been forced to halt services simply because they believe that children do best when raised by a mom and a dad. In Illinois alone, a 2011 change in law has forced Catholic and evangelical Christian child welfare service providers to stop serving over 2,000 children

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I'm Praying for David Saperstein

Canon and Culture commentary by Barrett Duke

July 30, 2014

David has been advocating forcefully and effectively for religious freedom around the world longer than I have by decades. By the time I got to DC, the International Religious Freedom Act had been law for about 5 years. David is a recognized champion of the successful effort to pass this bill. In doing so, he helped create the office he has been nominated to fill and the commission that advises the State Department and the president on international religious freedom, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

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Hobby Lobby and Conestoga: A Victory for Religious Freedom

Washington Insider commentary by Richard Doerflinger

July 22, 2014

The Court’s 5-to-4 decision in favor of the religious freedom of these familyowned companies was immediately greeted by a hailstorm of negative, misleading, and ignorant commentary by those who are politically committed to mandatory contraceptive coverage for all Americans. However, what the court did, in fact, was follow its own precedents and faithfully apply a law passed almost unanimously by the people’s elected representatives. That law is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was approved by the 103rd Congress almost unanimously in 1993 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. RFRA says that a federal policy cannot “substantially burden” a person’s religious freedom unless it furthers a “compelling governmental interest” in the way that is “least restrictive” of that freedom.

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USCCB chairmen respond to unprecedented and extreme executive order

USCCB news release

July 21, 2014

The bishop-Chairmen of two USCCB Committees responded with great concern to President Obama's July 21 executive order to prohibit federal government contractors from what the Administration deems "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" discrimination and to forbid "gender identity" discrimination in the employment of federal employees. The problems the bishops identify in the order relate both to the flaws in its core prohibitions, and to its lack of religious freedom protection.

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Response to Obama's LGBT Executive Order

National Review Online commentary by Ryan Anderson

July 21, 2014

In response to this executive order, Congress has an opportunity to protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience. Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating against any individual or group, whether nonprofit or for-profit, based on their beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and woman or that sexual relations are reserved for marriage. The government should be prohibited from discriminating against such groups or individuals in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation, or contracting. This is the policy approach proposed by the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133, S. 1808).

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U.S. Senate Democrats Take Aim at Conscience Protections

National Right to Life News Today

July 17, 2014

U.S. Senate Democrats yesterday sought to advance the so-called "Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act" (S. 2578), a sweeping bill that, if enacted, would further empower the Obama Administration to mandate coverage of the abortion pill RU-486, surgical abortion (including late abortions), or anything else it chooses to classify as "preventive services," overriding all existing federal laws that protect religious freedom and conscience rights. "All Americans should rightly be concerned that every Senate Democrat supported a bill to trample on our rights of conscience," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.

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Sens. Ayotte, Fischer: Stop Distorting Hobby Lobby Decision


July 16, 2014

Nothing in the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling denies a woman access to birth control, and attempts to misrepresent the facts of the case and its impact on women are divisive and damaging, say New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. "In the days since the Supreme Court's June 30 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, we have been troubled by those who seem eager to misrepresent both the facts of the case and the impact of its ruling on women - all to divide Americans and score political points in a tough election year," the women wrote.

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Blumenthal's Abortion Omnibus

National Review Online commentary by Thomas Messner

July 15, 2014

Cynically titled the "Women's Health Protection Act of 2013," S. 1696 currently has 35 Senate co-sponsors. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced the pro-abortion measure last November. S. 1696 is extreme, ideological, and biased. S. 1696 could be interpreted to trump state and federal conscience protections.

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Sorry, Libs: The War On Women Is A Complete Fiction

The Federalist commentary by Ashley McGuire

July 11, 2014

There is no "war on women" in America. But there absolutely is a war among women. And the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate is its biggest battlefield right now. The latest shot was fired by the National Organization for Women (NOW), who set all tact aside when they named the Little Sisters of the Poor among their "dirty 100" list for the nuns' opposition to the mandate. The Little Sisters run more than 200 homes for the poor and dying elderly around the world. If they are in any way dirty, it's from combing through the streets in search of people who have been completely cast aside by society to nurture them for the last days of their lives.

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The Supreme Court reins in government bullies

Washington Post commentary by George Will

July 4, 2014

Two 5 to 4 decisions this week, on the final decision day of the Supreme Court's term, dealt with issues that illustrate the legal consequences of political tactics by today's progressives. One case demonstrated how progressivism's achievement, the regulatory state, manufactures social strife and can do so in ways politically useful to progressives. The other case arose from government coercion used to conscript unwilling citizens into funding the progressives' party.

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What the Hobby Lobby ruling means to people of faith

Los Angeles Times commentary by Jonathan Imbody

July 4, 2014

Blind to the irony of its own assertion, The Times opines that the court "absurdly" held that "Hobby Lobby and the other companies qualified as 'persons,'" thus protected by 1st Amendment religious exercise rights. If the 1st Amendment did not apply to companies, The Times would have no right to free speech.

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RFRA post-Hobby Lobby: what now?

SCOTUS blog commentary by O. Carter Snead

July 3, 2014

Even more encouraging for religious non-profits is the Court's discussion of the strong deference owed to the faithful's judgments about what their religion forbids in terms of complicity in wrongdoing and requires by way of integrity of witness. The Court pointedly refused to allow the government (or the principal dissent) to substitute its own view of these matters for that of Hobby Lobby, and made clear that the only role for the Court in this context is to confirm that the asserted beliefs are sincerely held. This signals that the Court is very likely to accept the claims of religious non-profits that the so-called accommodation, in particular the self-certification requirement, coerces them to facilitate immoral activities and impedes their ability to bear authentic witness to the truths that their faith affirms about the dignity of human life and the gift of conjugal love.

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Obamacare Drug Mandate Loses, Women Win

Daily Caller commentary by Cathy Ruse

July 1, 2014

What do women on the bench think about the mandate? Most of them don't like it. So far, women judges in the lower courts have voted to stop the mandate 24 times. In only 15 cases have they voted to let it proceed. Yesterday's votes from the high court don't change the equation. Surprisingly, even after having been assaulted by the "war on women" rhetoric for two years, the average American woman still holds an unfavorable view of the contraceptive mandate. In poll after poll, more women oppose it than support it.

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Today the Supreme Court Protected Religious Freedom

Daily Signal commentary by E. Slattery and S. Torre

June 30, 2014

With today's ruling, the Greens' and Hahns' family businesses will be able to continue offering their employees generous healthcare plans (which cover most forms of contraception) without fear of government penalties. And the women who work for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood remain free - like all women - to make their own decisions about these four drugs and devices (as well as other birth control) and to purchase or find insurance coverage for them. But the government cannot coerce these family businesses to participate in those decisions in violation of their beliefs.

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What Has Happened to the United Nations?

NCR commentary by Ashley McGuire

June 11, 2014

Sadly, today, the United Nations is increasingly becoming a platform for turning human-rights language and treaty bodies into vehicles for intolerance and religious oppression, aimed with particular zeal at the Catholic Church. And our own government is party to it.

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Marriage, Polygamy, and Religious Liberty

FRC commentary by Peter Sprigg and Travis Weber

June 6, 2014

Religious freedom is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution, RFRA, and other laws. However, religious freedom rights should not protect the practice of polygamy, which has such widespread and destructive consequences that it threatens the very foundation of the governmental order which allows our constitutional freedoms to exist. For this reason, and the many compelling government interests outlined above, the government should be able to prohibit polygamy-even in the face of religious liberty laws like RFRA which apply strict scrutiny to any government regulation substantially burdening religious exercise.

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Will Catholics Comply?

First Things commentary by Michael Gorman

June 6, 2014

If, after the bishops have claimed that conforming to the mandate would involve acting against Church teachings, Catholics then conformed, we would be sending a very clear message to the present administration, and to future administrations as well: When we say that something is against our teachings, it doesn't mean that we won't do it-all it means is that someone has to threaten us first. We may speak truth to power, but we give power the last word. Our conscience is for sale, and the only thing left to discuss is the price.

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The Supreme Court on Prayer

Public Discourse commentary by Gerard Bradley

May 29, 2014

The surprise-and it is a big one-is that Justice Kennedy's majority opinion did not stick to the reasoning of the more limited 1983 case. He did not equivocate or dither. Instead, Kennedy authored a bold and almost uniformly lucid opinion that secured a wide constitutional berth for robustly "sectarian" prayers. Kennedy's opinion is the Court's best piece of Establishment Clause work in decades-and a happy omen for religious liberty in our country.

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Neo-Jim Crow in the Middle East

Washington Times commentary by Gary Bauer

May 29, 2014

Sadly, a version of Jim Crow has been resurrected - but this time, his targets are the ancient Christian populations of the Middle East. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recently issued its 15th annual report on the World's Worst Religious Freedom Abusers. The report highlights the worst violators of religious freedom and recommends steps the U.S. government can take to encourage countries to reform. This year's report details how Christians in many Middle Eastern countries have become second-class citizens.

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Overturn judge's ruling, restore real marriage in Virginia

Washington Times editorial

May 12, 2014

If judges decide the topic of marriage is off-limits to the political process, it follows that many other issues would be decided by judicial fiat instead of the democratic will of the people. "Tax policy, housing subsidies, wage regulations, and even the naming of public schools, highways, and monuments," wrote Justice Kennedy, "are just a few examples of what could become a list of subjects that some organizations could insist should be beyond the power of voters to decide, or beyond the power of a legislature to decide when enacting limits on the power of local authorities or other governmental entities to address certain subjects."

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Religious nonprofit groups stand up for faith

Washington Times commentary by Frank Pavone

May 7, 2014

In the case of religious nonprofit organizations such as Priests for Life, the government recognizes that they do have rights of religious freedom, but is claiming that those rights have been protected by the "accommodation" the government offered in regard to the mandate. In our suit, we claim the accommodation is still a violation of our faith.

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Freedom of religion or belief is a foreign policy priority

The Hill commentary by Robert P. George

May 1, 2014

Societal well-being tends to suffer when religious freedom is unprotected. Politically, religious freedom abuses are linked with abuses of other human rights. Economically, religious persecution can marginalize the persecuted, causing their talents to go unrealized and robbing affected countries of added productivity and abundance. Civically, whenever religious liberty is violated, nations surrender the benefit religious beliefs may yield through the molding of character which enables the responsible exercise of citizenship. Socially, wherever freedom of religion is abused, peace and security may be threatened, affecting these societies and in some cases the security of the United States and the world.

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A New Time for Choosing on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Heritage Foundry commentary by Ryan Anderson

April 28, 2014

America exists to defend the unalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." In this new time for choosing, we must return to the synthesis of the American Founding: ordered liberty based on faith and reason, natural rights and morality, limited government and civil society-with the laws of nature and nature's God providing the standard.

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What does the affirmative action SCOTUS decision mean for marriage?

National Review Online commentary by Carrie Severino

April 24, 2014

Kennedy's language in today's opinion is very encouraging for those who defend the states' constitutional authority to resist federal pressure to redefine marriage. He describes the statewide initiative allowing Michigan voters to amend the Michigan Constitution as "a basic exercise of their democratic power" and lauds the initiative system as a means "to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues."

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Nobody Expects the Rainbow Inquisition

Breakpoint commentary by Eric Metaxas

April 11, 2014

He was the co-founder of Mozilla, a non-profit whose Web browser, Firefox, broke Microsoft's stranglehold on the browser market. Yet, none of this mattered to the folks at Mozilla, who recently forced him to resign two weeks after he became its CEO. His offense? Supporting traditional marriage.

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What Mozilla Means

First Things commentary by Robert George

April 3, 2014

Mozilla has now made its employment policy clear. No Catholics need apply. Or Evangelical Christians. Or Eastern Orthodox. Or Orthodox Jews. Or Mormons. Or Muslims. Unless, that is, you are the "right kind" of Catholic, Evangelical, Eastern Orthodox Christian, observant Jew, Mormon, or Muslim, namely, the kind who believes your religious or philosophical tradition is wrong about the nature of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the view now dominant among secular elites is correct. In that case, Mozilla will consider you morally worthy to work for them.

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Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance.

Heritage Foundation Foundry commentary by Ryan Anderson

April 3, 2014

Christian adoption agencies already have been forced out of serving children because they believe orphans deserve a mom and a dad. Forcing out these agencies doesn't help those orphans, and it doesn't help our society. We need as many adoption agencies as possible. Other cases include a photographer, a baker, a florist, a bed-and-breakfast, a T-shirt company, a student counselor, the Salvation Army, and more. In each of these instances, there were plenty of other businesses available that were willing to provide similar services.

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Liberals Are Using Campaign Disclosures to Intimidate and Harass

Heritage Foundry commentary by Hans von Spakovsky

April 3, 2014

The resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over a personal $1,000 donation he made in 2008 in support of California's Proposition 8 shows the dark side of campaign disclosure laws and how liberals are using them to intimidate, harass, and bully anyone who disagrees with them on social and cultural issues. The Mozilla staffers and others targeting the company are engaging in the type of intolerance and coercive behavior that they are always accusing others of exhibiting.

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The War on Hobby Lobby

National Review Online commentary by Rich Lowry

March 25, 2014

The truth is that the Obama administration wants to bring Hobby Lobby to heel as a matter of principle. In its pinched view of religion, faith should be limited as much as possible to the pews. In its attenuated regard for civil society, it believes government should overawe any person, business, or institution whose beliefs run counter to officially sanctioned attitudes.

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What's the difference between CVS and Hobby Lobby? Read more: Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

The Hill commentary by Ashley McGuire

March 25, 2014

One of the central arguments of the Obama administration's lawyers is that one cannot concurrently pursue a profit and have values, especially when those values are religious by nature. In one related case, the Department of Justice said, "Plaintiffs' challenge rests largely on the theory that a for-profit, secular corporation...can claim to exercise a religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity. This cannot be." That's fancy speak for, "If you turn a profit, say good-bye to your constitutional rights."

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Hobby Lobby Recap: Kennedy the Swing Vote, But Breyer Wavers Too

National Review Online commentary by Carrie Severino

March 25, 2014

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases challenging the HHS contraceptive mandate. Defenders of religious liberty have much to be optimistic about in today's arguments, but the outcome is far from clear. The justices' questions broke down along typical liberal/conservative lines - Justice Kennedy offered questions on both sides, but Justice Breyer had a few comments that were surprisingly harsh to the government.

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Families fighting Obamacare's assertion of "pill-level power"

FOX News commentary by Jonathan Imbody

March 25, 2014

By transferring massive power to the administration's federal bureaucracy, Obamacare snatched away decision-making power not only from employers, but also from patients and physicians. Obamacare empowered ideologically driven Obama administration officials to make myriad healthcare decisions for us and our employers, literally down to the level of specific pills. The audacity of this pill-level government decision-making was exposed in the mandate under Obamacare that prescribes the provision of 20 specific contraceptives. The government-mandated, no-exceptions list includes four especially controversial items (Plan B, ella and two intrauterine devices--IUDs) that the FDA notes can end the life of a developing human being.

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Uphold religious liberty: Opposing view

USA Today commentary by Cathy Cleaver Ruse

March 25, 2014

Millions of Americans are losing their health plans as Obamacare takes effect. Waiting for your cancellation notice has become the modern-day equivalent of waiting for your draft number to come up. The Department of Health and Human Services' mandate of early abortion pill and birth control coverage will only make things worse. It threatens the jobs, health plans and livelihood of millions of Americans.

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Religious Exemptions Are Vital for Religious Liberty

Wall St. Journal commentary by Robert George and Hamza Yusuf

March 23, 2014

The United States is one of the most religiously diverse nations on earth. People of a vast array of traditions of faith live here in a harmony that would have been unthinkable in most of the world for most of human history. One of the ways America has fostered and protected this diversity is by nurturing a robust understanding of religious liberty that includes granting certain exemptions to people who need them in order to be true to their religious faith.[WSJ subscription req'd]

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Hobby Lobby: It’s about the Mayflower

Independent Women's Forum commentary by Connie Marshner

March 22, 2014

At stake are no less than two questions: do Americans give up their religious freedom when they start a family business? Are all Americans free to live and work according to their beliefs? Or should some Americans be required by the government to go against their religious beliefs and violate their consciences?

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If the contraception mandate passes, it will ruin a core U.S. ideology

Washington Post commentary by Rick Warren

March 21, 2014

Does our Constitution guarantee the freedom of religion, or does it merely allow a more limited freedom to worship? The difference is profound. Worship is an event. Religion is a way of life.

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Religious Americans have been politically excluded.

National Review Online commentary by Philip Hamburger

March 11, 2014

The effect of this kind of distinction is to curtail the constitutional rights (and associated statutory rights) of Americans when they associate with one another in organizations. Why is this so troubling? Standing alone, individuals in an egalitarian society are weak in relation to government. But when they associate with one another, as Tocqueville observed, they acquire a shared strength, including the resources, capacity, and courage to develop public opinion independent of government and thereby to defend their freedom.

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The Terms of Our Surrender

New York Times commentary by Russ Douthat

March 1, 2014

Meanwhile, pressure would be brought to bear wherever the religious subculture brushed up against state power. Religious-affiliated adoption agencies would be closed if they declined to place children with same-sex couples. (This has happened in Massachusetts and Illinois.) Organizations and businesses that promoted the older definition of marriage would face constant procedural harassment, along the lines suggested by the mayors who battled with Chick-fil-A. And, eventually, religious schools and colleges would receive the same treatment as racist holdouts like Bob Jones University, losing access to public funds and seeing their tax-exempt status revoked.

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Why That Texas Judge Was Wrong to Strike Down Texas' Marriage Law

Heritage commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 26, 2014

Equality demands that we treat in the same ways things that are the same. But a same-sex relationship is fundamentally different from a marriage. No same-sex union can produce a child. And no same-sex relationship can provide a child with a mother and a father. The government isn't in the business of affirming our loves. Rather, it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose.

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Holder Encourages Dereliction of Duty by State AGs

National Review Online commentary by Carrie Severino

February 25, 2014

Holder has it exactly backwards. The AG's proper role is to defend the laws of the state because he is a lawyer representing the state. It is for courts to subject the law to scrutiny, reserving the "highest level of scrutiny" for those that implicate core constitutional rights.

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Bake Us a Cake, or Else!

NRO commentary by Leslie Ford and Ryan T. Anderson

February 18, 2014

A growing number of incidents show that the redefinition of marriage and state policies on sexual orientation have created a climate of intolerance and intimidation for citizens who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage. Now comes government coercion and discrimination. Laws that create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity are being used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

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Obamacare Anti-Conscience Mandate at the Supreme Court

Heritage commentary by Elizabeth Slattery and Sarah Torre

February 13, 2014

The Supreme Court has agreed to review two challenges brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. It will consider whether family-run businesses can exercise religion and, if so, how such a ruling would affect the anti-conscience mandate. Americans do not forfeit their right to live and work in accordance with their faith simply because they go into business to provide for themselves, their families, and their employees.

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Abortion and Contraception Cases Before the Justices

NY Times commentary by Mark Rienzi

February 13, 2014

Whether Ms. Greenhouse agrees or not, the Little Sisters of the Poor feel a religious obligation not to sign such forms. The plaintiffs in these civil rights cases are not the "school-yard bully"; the bullies are the governments that threaten these women with jail or financial ruin for engaging in kind and loving First Amendment activity.

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The HHS Mandate Meets an Immovable Object

National Review Online commentary by Ken Starr

February 12, 2014

The Greens' specific concerns about HHS's policies are shared broadly and deeply by millions of Americans. Catholic bishops, Evangelical leaders, and Orthodox Jews are all singing the same pro-life refrain. The federal government doesn't seem to care about their objections. According to the federal government, reproductive freedom, vigorously supported by the expert federal agency (the FDA) and now enforced by HHS regulations, trumps religious scruples. That's not the way of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

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Religious liberty should trump HHS mandate

USA Today commentary by Tony Perkins, James Lankford

February 10, 2014

But two years ago, the rules changed for every business. As of 2013, the Green family had to decide if they would follow their faith or follow the Obama administration's new regulations. The Green family, through the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, will file its brief with the Supreme Court Monday seeking relief from paying a daily fine of potentially more than $1.3 million for refusing to violate their biblically based views on life.

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When the administration attempts to force even nuns to violate their religious convictions

Los Angeles Times commentary by Jonathan Imbody

February 7, 2014

The Times rightly defends but wrongly interprets a federal law that forbids the government from imposing "substantial burdens" on the exercise of religious convictions and requires federal officials to pursue the "least restrictive means" of achieving any "compelling interest." The Times neglects 1st Amendment principles in defending the administration's attempts to force employers with conscientious objections to bow to the government's edict to provide controversial contraceptives and sterilization surgeries.

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Obama's blind spot on religious liberty

Washington Post commentary by Kathleen Parker

February 7, 2014

As Obama pointed out, there is a strong correlation between religious freedom and a nation's stability: "History shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people - including the freedom of religion - are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful." Since this is so, one wonders why the Obama administration is so dedicated to forcing people to act against their own conscience. By requiring through the contraceptive mandate that some religious-affiliated groups provide health plans covering what they consider abortifacient contraceptives, isn't the Obama administration effectively imposing its own religious rules? Thou shalt not protect unborn life.

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U.N. Overreaches, Tramples Religious Freedom

National Review Online commentary by Marco Rubio

February 5, 2014

Unfortunately, the U.N. also chose to use the opportunity to make political statements about Catholic doctrine on abortion, contraception, and marriage, issues at the core of the Church's teachings about human rights and the dignity of life. In doing so, the U.N. - with the seemingly limitless worldwide injustices it could be condemning or investigating - trampled on the religious-freedom principles outlined in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Must even nuns pay for contraceptives?

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

February 5, 2014

Consider Mr. Obama's relentless campaign to round up everyone from elderly nuns to Mennonite small business owners and force them to obey his Obamacare contraceptives mandate. The issue served as a potent campaign tool to juice up his radical base about a fabricated "war on women." But continuing to push the controversial program on conscientious objectors serves no apparent purpose other than to assert executive power over individual religious freedom.

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Obamacare and Religious Liberty Mandating Carcinogens as 'Women's Preventive Health'

National Review Online commentary by Dorinda Bordlee

February 1, 2014

The brief shows that the government's claim that religious-liberty rights must be violated in the interest of women's "preventive" health care is an empty and biased assertion. A robust body of widely accepted research that the government selectively ignored is surveyed in the amicus brief, showing that the mandated contraceptive drugs and devices significantly increase risks of serious disease, including HIV, stroke, and heart attack.

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The Little Victims of the State

National Review Online commentary by Mona Charen

February 1, 2014

In both the Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor cases, the federal government is attempting to define religion so narrowly as to exclude all but churches and church-affiliated institutions. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents both plaintiffs, argues that this is a pinched and constraining interpretation of the law and the Constitution. Our religious liberty is more than freedom of worship.

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JEP Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood

National Review Online commentary by Carrie Severino

January 28, 2014

This is a very significant case for the United States. At stake are conscience rights, not only for these plaintiffs, but for all people of faith whose religious beliefs govern the way they do business or earn a living. Our brief argues that the reasons given by the government for forcing these objectors to provide free contraceptives to employees are insufficiently important to require overriding the objectors' conscience rights.

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Big Procedural Victory for Little Sisters of the Poor

National Review Online commentary by Ed Whelan

January 24, 2014

Without recorded dissent, the Supreme Court has enjoined the federal government from enforcing the HHS mandate against the Little Sisters of the Poor and their co-plaintiffs during the pendency of their Tenth Circuit appeal. This is an important procedural victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor and their co-plaintiffs, and it ought to lead the lower courts to grant similar relief to other religious nonprofits challenging the HHS mandate.

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GOP must continue to push against abortion

USA Today commentary by Lila Rose and Ashley McGuire

January 22, 2014

More than half of young Americans agree with the statement, "abortion is morally wrong." Republicans should not succumb to growing pressure to abandon today's great moral struggle: the fight to ensure the right to life for all people. And they would be wise to take a closer look at the data. It reveals a solid pro-life foundation among women – and most especially among the rising generation of young voters.

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Obamacare overreach tramples Little Sisters: Our view

USA Today editorial

January 12, 2014

When the Obama administration picked a fight with Catholics and other religious groups over free birth control coverage for employees, sooner or later it was bound to end up doing battle with a group like the Little Sisters of the Poor. And sure enough, the administration is now stuck arguing that it is justified in compelling nuns who care for the elderly poor to assist in offering health insurance that they say conflicts with their religious beliefs. Talk about a political loser.

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A revealing case about the Administration and religious conscience

Wall Street Journal editorial

January 3, 2014

But the White House wants to make an ideological statement, and so Mr. Verrilli is in effect telling the nuns that they don't understand their own church teachings and that signing the contract doesn't really tread upon their religious beliefs. This case is simply a raw assertion of state power directing the religious to follow orders. Thus ObamaCare forces women who have taken a vow of chastity and minister for the dying to implicate themselves in what they consider to be grave moral wrongs.

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Religious freedom could prevail over the law’s birth-control coverage

Washington Times commentary by Donald Lambro

January 2, 2014

Mark L. Rienzi, senior attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who is representing the Sisters of the Poor, explained that the nuns would have to sign a paper requesting that their insurance, not their employer, pay for any and all birth-control benefits to avoid substantial fines. "At the end of the day, they can't be involved in certain things, and one of them is signing forms authorizing permission slips for those kinds of drugs," Mr. Rienzi told The Washington Post.

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D.C. Circuit Ruling Against HHS Contraceptive Mandate

Ed Whelan in National Review Online

November 1, 2013

A divided panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled this morning, in Gilardi v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Services, that two brothers, Francis and Philip Gilardi, who own and operate a food-supply company are entitled under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act to a preliminary injunction against imposition of the HHS mandate on contraception and abortifacients.

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Conscience Gets Lost in Obamacare Maze

Sarah Torre, Heritage Foundation

October 18, 2013

But we really shouldn't be surprised at this bewildering system, where hidden premiums and restricted consumer choice are further muddled at the direction of special interest groups. Obamacare's capacity to confuse stems from the law's power to control. Americans, told that their consciences are of no consequence, are left with few tools to scale the high walls of confusing regulations built by unelected bureaucrats in search of health care that meets their family's needs and aligns with their values.

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Ignoring the Constitution: The president continues to chip away at the guarantee of freedoms

Washington Times editorial

October 8, 2013

Mr. Obama has never been a particular fan of the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion, but he never attacked it in so direct a way as with his feud with Roman Catholic Church. He's threatening to punish "contract priests" hired to supplement the chaplain corps.

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Remember When Conscience Was Cool?

Kellie Fiedorek in National Review Online

August 29, 2013

Just as the Panera Bread or Whole Foods business approach is integral to their larger mission, many other businesses believe their unique values are fundamental to the business models they have built. Increasingly, however, when businesses' values are at odds with the prevailing opinion of government officials and leftist activist groups, they suffer persecution.

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Should public-accommodation law trump all religious liberty?

Ryan Anderson in National Review Online

August 23, 2013

The Supreme Court of New Mexico yesterday ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a photographer's right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony - even though doing so would violate the photographer's deeply held religious beliefs. As Elaine Huguenin, owner of Elane Photography, explained: "The message a same-sex commitment ceremony communicates is not one I believe."

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Recalling what freedom of religion meant to the Founders

Robert Knight in Washington Times

August 12, 2013

Like the Soviet Union's commissars and President Obama, they support "the freedom to worship," a cramped view of religious freedom that protects essentially nothing. You can do what you want behind closed doors or inside your head. God help you, though, if you want to have an active faith and exercise your constitutional freedom outside those doors.

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Religious freedom applies to businesses

Mark Rienzi in USA Today

August 11, 2013

If religious freedom means anything, it means that these people - just like Chipotle, Starbucks and everyone else in our society - are allowed to earn a living and run a business according to their values. In a tolerant society, we should just accept that our neighbors will have different beliefs, and that government-enforced conformity is rarely the best answer to this diversity.

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Five reasons why women care about HHS contraception mandate

Helen Alvare in Washington Post

August 1, 2013

Many of the religious institutions the mandate threatens were founded by religious women in order to pay attention to the people the mainstream ignored: females, slaves, immigrants, the poor.

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What Is Religious Freedom?

Robert George in Public Discourse

July 24, 2013

Conscience is one's last best judgment specifying the bearing of moral principles one grasps, yet in no way makes up for oneself, on concrete proposals for action. Conscience identifies our duties under a moral law that we do not ourselves make. It speaks of what one must do and what one must not do.

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Editorial: Evangelical atheism

Washington Times

July 21, 2013

A report Tuesday by the Family Research Council documents a pattern of hostility from military brass toward the free expression of religious beliefs by the rank-and-file in uniform. These are the men who put their lives on the line in the foxholes to preserve the freedom denied to them. The report cites more than three-dozen examples of the "pressures to impose a secular, anti-religious culture on our nation's military services." The culture has grown, like e coli in a petri dish, under President Obama.

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Editorial: Britain throws book at preacher for reading Bible verses

Washington Times

July 17, 2013

In Britain, as here, everyone if free to obey or ignore the scriptural injunctions of preachers, just as they are free to walk on by when someone on the street shouts those verses aloud. Mr. Miano ran afoul of British law when an unidentified woman called the police. "I explained that there was nothing homophobic about my speech because I am not afraid of homosexuals," said Mr. Miano. "I love homosexuals enough to bring them the truth of the Gospel." Mr. Miano was arrested, anyway, held in jail for seven hours, and subjected to a range of questioning usually reserved for IRS investigations of conservatives in America.

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This Won't Turn Out Well

Weekly Standard commentary by Ashley McGuire

June 12, 2013

On August 1, the one-year "safe harbor" for religious charities objecting to provisions of Obamacare will end. Starting then, these nonprofit employers will be forced to violate their religious beliefs or pay large fines. In charge of collecting the fines will be our recently newsworthy friends at the Internal Revenue Service.

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Keepin' the Faith, Behind Closed Doors Only

Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review Online

June 11, 2013

Keep your faith to yourself. That was the message Ania Joseph, executive director of Pro-Life Revolution, and her lawyer at Alliance Defending Freedom took away from conversations with an IRS agent during a two-and-a-half-year application process for tax-exempt status that ended just last week.

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Obama, God, and the Profits

Becket Fund commentary by Mark Rienzi

May 31, 2013

In courtrooms across the country-including one yesterday in Philadelphia-Department of Justice lawyers told judges that profit-making businesses with religious objections to the HHS contraceptive mandate cannot exercise religion. Profit-making business apparently can pursue just one goal: making money. Business owners must check their religious values at the door.

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Redefining marriage: Religious liberty is at risk

Teresa Collett in Pioneer Press

May 9, 2013

Redefining marriage creates new liability under the anti-discrimination laws for "marital discrimination" where none exists now, and will expand claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The exemption for religious organizations is so narrow that most charitable activities engaged in by people of faith will not be covered. There is absolutely no protection for private individuals and businesses. Licensed professionals and students are not protected from requirements that they affirm same-sex marriage.

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Cruz Was Right: HHS Mandate Puts Religious Liberty Under Assault

William Saunders and Mary Novick in LifeNews

April 15, 2013

Is "the freedom to worship" the same as "freedom of religion"? No it isn't. The freedom of religion entails much more than being able to "worship;" it includes being able to live out your faith. And that means to conduct your affairs - for-profit or nonprofit -so as to honor your deepest beliefs.

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USCCB Says Administration Mandate Violates First Amendment Freedoms Of Religious Organizations And Others


March 20, 2013

No exemption or accommodation is available at all for the vast majority of individual or institutional stakeholders with religious or moral objections to contraceptive coverage. Virtually all Americans who enroll in a health plan will ultimately be required to have contraceptive coverage for themselves and their dependents, whether they want it or not. 

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FLEMING: Pushing back against Obamacare’s overreach

Washington Times

March 12, 2013

Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo still remembers the gruesome images of the dismembered body of the child whose abortion she was forced to observe. Ms. Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at a hospital in New York City, was required by her employer to assist in the abortion of a 22-week preborn baby. The hospital knew her long-standing opposition to abortion, yet threatened her job and her nursing license if she did not take part.

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God and the Profits: Is There Religious Liberty for Money-Makers?

Mark Rienzi, Columbus School of Law, CUA

March 7, 2013

This article offers a comprehensive look at the relationship between profit-making and religious liberty, arguing that the act of earning money does not preclude profit-making businesses and their owners from engaging in protected religious exercise.

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Congressmen: Obama Admin Can’t “Pick and Choose” Who Gets Religious Freedom

Sarah Torre in The Foundry - Heritage Foundation

February 26, 2013

On February 19, nine U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives joined a “friend of the court”brief in Hobby Lobby’s 10th Circuit Court appeal over the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate, highlighting the Obama Administration’s refusal to recognize business owners’ religious freedom. The congressional brief explains that the federal government “may not pick and choose whose exercise of religion is protected and whose is not.”


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How to reduce abortions

Richard M. Doerflinger in The Washington Post

February 21, 2013

Assuming we don't want to focus on compromising the autonomy and dignity of women to achieve a sterile population, what approaches with wide popular support could reduce abortion, even as it remains legal under the Supreme Court's decisions?

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Members of Congress File Legal Brief on HHS Contraception Mandate

Orrin Hatch

February 20, 2013

"Religious freedom is an issue our country was founded on, and it's not a Democrat or Republican issue. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has time and again ignored calls to stop the implementation of a policy some organizations or businesses are morally opposed to."

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HHS Wars: Nothing Has Changed

Connie Marshner in Independent Women's Forum

February 20, 2013

The so-called HHS "accommodation" earlier this month on the HHS mandate is just that: so-called. It was 80 pages of text to say: nothing has changed. Nothing for the better, that is. The bureaucratic finagling may well have given a kick in the solar plexus to private business.

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Not a Real Olive Branch: Obama’s phony compromise on contraception

Wesley. J. Smith in The Weekly Standard

February 11, 2013

The issue here is not contraception, but the demolition of limited government. If the Obama administration can force the private sector to provide a free product to help the government circumvent a constitutionally protected freedom, what can it not do?

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What the contraception fight is about

Jonathan Imbody in The Washington Post

February 8, 2013

Mr. Obama undermined any pretense of a compelling health justification for a government mandate by unwittingly observing that 99 percent of women already access contraceptives. His health department dismissed concerns of economic consequences, blithely contending that preventing babies is cheaper than having them.

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HHS ‘accommodation’ nothing more than a gimmick

Leonard Leo in The Washington Times

February 8, 2013

We are now entering at least Round Three in the administration's ongoing efforts respecting abortion and contraception services under Obamacare, and it is dividing Americans in a culture war that smacks more of politics than a well-intentioned crusade for women's health.

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HHS: Preventing babies cheaper

Jonathan Imbody in The Washington Examiner

February 7, 2013

The administration claims -- without proof -- that it's justified forcing insurers to provide products and services for free because it will be cheaper to prevent babies than to deliver them.

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Wassup with the HHS Mandate?

Kim Daniels in National Review Online

February 6, 2013

Most objecting religious employers are in the same position they were before Friday, faced with a choice between giving up their religious beliefs or facing crippling government fines.

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Abortion pill mandate gives the illusion of compromise

Alan Sears in The Washington Examiner

February 6, 2013

The Obama administration is attempting to divide the faith community by issuing a minor amendment to Obamacare's abortion pill mandate. The mandate itself forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

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Obama’s new contraception rules try to fool Catholics

M. Gerson in Washington Post

February 6, 2013

The administration has never shown a particularly high regard for institutional religious liberty. In this case, the administration views access to contraception as an individual right to be guaranteed by the government, and institutional religious rights as an obstacle and inconvenience. But the First Amendment, it is worth remembering, was designed as an obstacle and inconvenience to the government.

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Another Non-Accommodation

Jim Capretta in National Review Online

February 5, 2013

On the contrary, it is a renewed statement by the administration that it will not allow religious institutions or believers to dissent from the prevailing secularism of the day.

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Missed opportunity on the HHS mandate

Kim Daniels in Catholic Voices USA

February 5, 2013

The administration admits as much, stating that "this proposal would not expand the universe of employer plans that would qualify for the exemption beyond that which was intended in the 2012 final rules." In other words, colleges, hospitals, and most social service organizations are still not exempt from the mandate.

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New Obama rule would spare churches but not believers

The Washington Examiner

February 3, 2013

It remains remarkable that the Obama administration ever thought it appropriate to create a religious exemption so narrow and meaningless that even Catholic Charities, the Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington would not have qualified.

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A New Round of Intolerance

Yuval Levin in NRO

February 1, 2013

So basically, the religious institutions are required by the government to give their workers an insurer and that insurer is required by the government to give those workers abortive and contraceptive coverage, but somehow these religious employers are supposed to imagine that they're not giving their workers access to abortive and contraceptive coverage.

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Obama ‘freedom to worship’ assaults First Amendment

Jonathan Imbody in The Washington Times

January 28, 2013

The first American Congress enshrined religious liberty pre-eminently in the Bill of Rights. Many of those leaders and their fellow patriots who ratified the First Amendment had risked everything they owned and their very lives to win those freedoms. They also recognized that threatening one group’s freedoms, by either restricting or establishing a faith, threatens the freedoms of everyone.

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Gaining ground in a 40-year march on abortion

Jeanne Monahan in Washington Times

January 24, 2013

Developments in prenatal imaging, including ultrasound, which provide a stark look at the humanness of unborn children, have played a part in public opinion. Another tremendously hopeful sign on the horizon involves young people’s views on abortion. The bottom line is that young people are pro-life and are incredibly enthusiastic about ending the human rights abuse of abortion.

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Judicial Theocrats Against Religious Liberty

NRO commentary by Ed Whelan

January 3, 2013

In a Public Discourse essay titled "The HHS Mandate and Judicial Theocracy," Melissa Moschella nicely explains how appalling it is that some judges ... have somehow seen fit to impose on religious believers the judge's own view on what constitutes improper complicity in immoral conduct.

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Pharmacist Conscience Rights Under Attack

Carrie Severino commentary in NRO

December 3, 2012

The Judicial Education Project, in conjunction with two leading Jewish Orthodox Groups, Agudath Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel, has filed an amicus curiae brief in a Becket Fund case, Stormans Inc. v. Mary Selecky, et al., defending conscience rights for pharmacies and pharmacists. Stormans challenges the constitutionality of Washington State's Board of Pharmacy regulations that require pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense emergency contraceptives.

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Eighth Circuit Injunction Against HHS Mandate

NRO article by Ed Whelan

November 30, 2012

I'm pleased to pass along that an Eighth Circuit panel has, for now, overridden the badly confused decision (O'Brien) from Missouri that denied a Catholic employer injunctive relief against the HHS mandate.

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‘Culture wars' are just getting started

M. Dannenfelser commentary - Washington Times

November 28, 2012

Happy days are here again for Planned Parenthood. It has helped return to the White House the most active pro-abortion president in American history, protected the largest expansion of abortion and abortion subsidies since Roe v. Wade, and reinstated a Democratic Senate that will block pro-life initiatives and battle tooth and nail for judges who will protect abortion on demand.

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Another Victory for Challengers of HHS Mandate

NRO commentary by Ed Whelan

November 19, 2012

The HHS contraceptive mandate suffered another loss last Friday—its third loss in the four decisions that have addressed the merits of the claim that the HHS mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In a thorough opinion in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the federal district court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction that bars the federal government from penalizing a publishing house for its religiously based refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives that also operate as abortifacients.

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Obamacare strong-arms religious beliefs

Washington Times commentary by Cody and Millard

November 16, 2012

Hopes of repealing Obamacare took a beating last week with the election results. For the foreseeable future, implementation of the Affordable Care Act will continue, including the Department of Health and Human Services‘ (HHS) "contraception mandate" - a frightening glimpse of what we have to look forward to.

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Religious conservatives’ uphill battle

M. Gerson commentary in Washington Post

November 15, 2012

President Obama's first term was a period of unexpected aggression against the rights of religious institutions. His Justice Department, in the Hosanna-Tabor case, argued against the existence of any "ministerial exception" to employment rules. Obama tried to mandate that Catholic schools, hospitals and charities offer insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients. His revised policy still asserts a federal power to declare some religious institutions secular in purpose, reducing them to second-rate status under the First Amendment.

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Carney: Re-elected, Obama takes aim at religious liberty

Washington Examiner

November 11, 2012

The Obama administration this month, in defending its health plan's contraception mandate, articulated a narrow view of the First Amendment's religious liberty protections. Obamacare requires employers to pay for contraception and sterilization coverage. This includes coverage of "morning-after" contraceptives, whose makers admit the drugs can kill a fertilized egg by preventing or "affect[ing]" implantation.

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Anti-Conscience Mandate Halted Against Second Family-Owned Business

Heritage commentary by Dominique Ludvigson

November 3, 2012

A second federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Obamacare's conscience-crushing contraception mandate. Weingartz Supply and its owner objected to the mandate's requirement that they provide their employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives in violation of the owner's religious beliefs or risk crippling fines.

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Another Catholic Business Protected Against Free Birth Control Rule

NRO commentary by Wesley J. Smith

November 1, 2012

Good news. Contrary to the O'Brien case in St. Louis, and consistent with the Hercules case in Colorado, a judge has protected a Catholic-owned business from having to comply with Obamacare's Free Birth Control Rule. First, since the company is owned by a Catholic family, it substantially burdens their faith.

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What About Religious Freedom? The other consequences of Obamacare

Weekly Standard commentary by W.J. Smith

October 22, 2012

Obamacare won't just ruin health care. It is also a cultural bulldozer. Before the law is even fully in effect, Health and Human Services bureaucrats have begun wielding their sweeping new powers to assault freedom of religion in the name of their preferred social order.

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Summer of Intolerance Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Bleeds into Fall

Heritage Foundation commentary by Dominique Ludvigson

October 18, 2012

Gallaudet University put its chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, on paid leave last week for the offense of joining 200,000 other Marylanders in signing a petition supporting a ballot referendum over Maryland’s recently adopted same-sex marriage law.

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Obamacare limits freedom on abortion, contraception

Washington Examiner commentary by Helen Alvare

October 15, 2012


On Oct. 5, President Obama came to George Mason University in Virginia, where I teach law, to generate support for the health care mandate requiring employers to buy health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and drugs that cause early abortions. "Let me tell you something, Virginia," he said. "I don't think your boss should control the care you get. I don't think insurance companies should ... I definitely don't think politicians on Capitol Hill should ... I think there's one person who gets to make decisions about your health care -- that's you." The president can obviously say what he wants, but I wish he wouldn't say that a law means its opposite.


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Debunked: Biden Claims HHS Mandate Not an Assault on Religious Liberty

Heritage Foundation commentary by Sarah Torre

October 12, 2012

The real "fact" about the anti-conscience mandate is that it applies to almost all employers-including many religious organizations such as hospitals and social service providers. It requires them to provide coverage that pays for abortion drugs, contraception, and sterilization regardless of moral or religious objections.

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Obama Mandate: The Gravest Threat to Religious Freedom in 226 Years

American Thinker commentary - K. Blackwell and B. Morrison

October 7, 2012

James Madison famously said that the people are right to take alarm at the "first advance on their liberties." The Obama mandate will force us to violate our consciences. President Obama famously said that he doesn't know when human life begins, but he's willing to force us to collaborate in the destruction of innocent human lives.

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Blunt Amendment: Protections For Religion, Conscience Long Established

Hartford Courant commentary by Rep. N. Johnson

October 5, 2012

Strong pro-choice representatives and senators, women and men, have understood the value of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Until the Affordable Care Act dramatically limited protection, it was seen as essential in a democracy that guarantees religious freedom.

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Obama Commitment to Religious Freedom ‘Worrisome’

Washington Times commentary by Paul Rondeau

September 28, 2012

The unelected Secretary Sebelius of HHS then imposed rules that redefined religious freedom to the point that, as Cardinal Wuerl explained, "HHS's conception of what constitutes the practice of religion is so narrow that even Mother Teresa would not have qualified."

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Common Ground or Not, Let’s Do What’s Right

FRC blog by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 29, 2012

Some well-meaning souls are calling for Christians to stand-down in the battle for our culture and simply be nice to everybody.  In practical terms, this means abandoning the unborn, their mothers, marriage and the family, and religious liberty to those who would harm them.

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The HHS-Mandate Battle

National Review Online commentary by L.M. Nussbaum

August 21, 2012

Some of the plaintiffs had been misled by President Obama himself. During his Notre Dame speech, the president promised that, notwithstanding his support of abortion rights, he intended to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause."

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An Open Letter to President Obama commentary by Casey Mattox

August 18, 2012

What is the breadth and scope of the religious liberty you believe ought to be respected? Do you believe religious liberty stops where Planned Parenthood's financial needs begin? Should Americans be forced to pay for that which violates their conscience and the tenets of their faith?

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Is religious freedom being intentionally eroded?

Turtle Bay and Beyond commentary by Wendy Wright

August 9, 2012

Soon after President Obama took office, astute observers noticed a one word change in official pronouncements. That one word carries huge implications, yet arrived with no explanation. This mystery may now be understood as what's behind some of the most contentious international and domestic policy decisions of the Obama administration - the contraception mandate and aggressive promotion of homosexuality in other countries.

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Is Religious Freedom Necessary for Other Freedoms to Flourish?

BQO commentary by Thomas Farr

August 7, 2012

America's founding generation identified religious freedom as "the first freedom" because they saw it, in effect, as a precondition for the other freedoms. James Madison wrote that each of us has rights that flow from the duty we owe God. "This duty is precedent, both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe."

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Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction in HHS Mandate Fight

Heritage commentary by J. Marshall and D. Ludvigson

July 29, 2012

Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals alone, acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would effectively push religion out of every sphere of public life and restrict the free exercise rights of adherents to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives. The Administration does not appear to perceive religion as something that people of faith strive to live out daily in every aspect of their lives, however imperfectly.

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Bizarre White House meeting undermines faith-based outreach

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

July 27, 2012

I recently experienced what was by far the most disturbing and bizarre of dozens of White House meetings and events that I've attended--the White House Forum for Faith Leaders in conjunction with the International AIDS Conference 2012.

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Abortion, Conscience, and Health Care Provider Rights

Public Discourse, by E. Christian Brugger

July 26, 2012

This framework—our moral knowledge—is not merely an affectively supported matrix of subjective beliefs, but the basic apprehension of a set of propositions asserting truths pertaining to what is good, choiceworthy, and consistent with human well-being. 

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The HHS Mandate: Not an Academic Debate

National Review commentary by K.J. Lopez

July 20, 2012

For Wheaton, the violation of conscience lies in the inclusion of abortion-inducing drugs in the HHS mandate — further evidence that at the heart of the debate is not access to contraception but the erosion of religious liberty. “We were surprised that the federal government is using the term ‘contraception’ to refer to drugs that are widely recognized as having an abortive effect,” Ryken explains. “The secretary of Health and Human Services has been on record publicly as saying these are drugs that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg."

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State Department To Downplay Religious Oppression

Investor's Business Daily editorial

July 17, 2012

Religious institutions see the universities, hospitals, charities and other social services they perform as part and extensions of their faith. The government believes they are impediments to its growing power over every facet of our lives. As a result, these religious institutions and the freedom on which they are founded, are in serious jeopardy.

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One HHS Mandate Case Dismissed, Don’t Read Too Much Into It

National Review Online commentary by Kyle Duncan

July 17, 2012

Today’s decision by a federal district court in Nebraska to dismiss one of the many pending lawsuits against the HHS abortion-drug, contraception and sterilization mandate is unfortunate (and in one respect, seriously mistaken). But the decision turns on technicalities and doesn’t decide the merits of the dispute. Bear this context in mind if you should hear anyone trumpeting this decision as some sort of “victory” for the federal government on the religious-liberty questions at the heart of the HHS mandate litigation.

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Religious Freedom Under the Gun

Weekly Standard commentary by Thomas A. Farr

July 16, 2012

Given the Obama administration's consistent downgrading of religious freedom at home and in foreign policy, this move may be part of a larger reprioritization in human rights policy in favor of the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. Whatever one thinks of that initiative, however, the failure to promote religious freedom abroad is likely to have significant humanitarian and strategic consequences for the United States.

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Omaha Stacy vs. HHS

National Review Online commentary by K. Lopez

July 11, 2012

Thomlison is 31 and suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal condition that threatened her life when she was a teenager. This patient is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by seven state attorneys general in response to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers, regardless of their religious convictions, to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

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ObamaCare decision does not stop fight against abortion pill mandate

Townhall commentary by Steve Aden

July 10, 2012

The fight against the abortion pill mandate is a fight for religious freedom, whereas the ObamaCare case revolved primarily around the constitutionality of the health care legislation as a whole. Freedom of conscience itself is at stake with the abortion pill mandate.

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Repeal Obamacare -- and then really reform health care

Washington Examiner commentary by Jonathan Imbody

July 5, 2012

Reforming health care is unquestionably challenging, but it's not brain surgery. It works best when following basic principles most kindergartners learn: Help others up when they've fallen, keep your hands off other people's stuff and save your lunch money for when it's needed.

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Obamacare’s Many Victims

Heritage Foundation commentary by Sarah Torre

July 5, 2012

Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate displays the Administration’s offensively constricted view of faith in public life, affording the narrowest religious exemption in federal law that effectively only applies to formal houses of worship. Schools, soup kitchens, health clinics, and countless other “Good Samaritan” groups are left completely unprotected by the exemption simply because they serve vulnerable individuals without regard to their creed or background.

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HHS mandate challengers receive unlikely support

CNA commentary by Kim Daniels

July 3, 2012

In her separate opinion – joined by Justice Sotomayor, Justice Breyer, and Justice Kagan – Justice Ginsburg notes that beyond the provisions directly at issue in the healthcare case, other constitutional provisions limit the power of the federal government: “A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, interfered with the free exercise of religion, or infringed on a liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause.”

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The fight against Obamacare isn't over yet

Washington Examiner commentary by Casey Mattox - ADF

June 29, 2012

The first of Obamacare's hammers has already fallen, targeting religious freedom. And attention must now turn to the dozens of cases around the country aimed at stopping what is known as the Health and Human Services, or HHS, mandate -- the requirement that qualifying insurers and self-ensuring employers pay for sterilizations, abortifacient drugs and contraception, or else pay a fine.

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What next for health care reform?

Blog by Jonathan Imbody

June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court only tested the health care law's constitutionally, not its merits. That's for the people to decide, and a majority of Americans for the past two years have weighed the merits of the law and found it wanting. Congress and the President now should take heed to constitutional and practical principles, stop trying to take over the world and focus instead on sensible, measured and bipartisan health care reforms.

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Religious Liberty Takes Center Stage

Daily News commentary by Mark Rienzi

June 29, 2012

Nothing in the court’s opinions directly addressed the religious-freedom challenges brought in the 23 lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate that all employers must provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and drugs and devices that cause early abortions. In fact, every justice who voted to uphold the law was quite clear that Congress’ exercise of its taxing power remains subject to other constitutional guarantees like the right to religious freedom.

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Individual Mandate Survives; Religious Liberty Challenges Move Forward

Becket Fund commentary

June 28, 2012

“The Becket Fund’s religious liberty lawsuits against the unconstitutional HHS mandate will continue,” said Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Never in history has there been a mandate forcing individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay a severe fine, a fine which could force many homeless shelters, charities, and religious institutions to shut their doors.”

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A Clarion Call for the American People

Heritage Foundation commentary by N. Owcharenko and R. Alt

June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare reflects a tragic misreading of the law, one which could cost us not just economically but also in terms of liberty.  On the bright side, the Court recognized that there are limits to what Congress may do under the Commerce Clause.  But this was the silver-lining of a dark cloud.  The Court then fundamentally misreads ObamaCare, contorting to find another authority—the power to tax—for Congress to enact the law.

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NCBC Response to the June 28 Ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court

National Catholic Bioethics Center commentary

June 28, 2012

From the perspective of social justice, this law jeopardizes the principle of subsidiarity, which, like the principle of federalism upon which our Constitution was written, holds that services ought to be provided by those social agencies and instrumentalities of government that are closest to the point of delivery.  Tremendous dangers lie in health care being orchestrated by the highest level of social organization, our federal government.

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Religious Liberty Concerns Grow Greater as Obamacare Upheld

Heritage Foundation commentary by J. Marshall and S. Torre

June 28, 2012

This morning, the Supreme Court didn’t just miss the opportunity to protect individual liberty. It also failed to defend religious freedom. The Court’s ruling to uphold the health care law doesn’t mean it has cleared its legal challenges, however. Twenty-three federal lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate—which goes into effect on August 1—now take on added urgency.

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Pregnancy, Preventive Services and Cost Saving: An Ethical and Economic Mirage

Commentary by Chuck Donovan, Charlotte Lozier Inst.

June 27, 2012

Without the ability to track the value of investment in human capital and the return on an individualized basis, the presumed cost-savings of family planning even to government is a pseudo-statistic that depends on an extremely narrow frame of reference and a deterministic, faintly eugenic theory of human development.  Numerous nations that have experienced sharp drops in fertility are facing crises of aging that threaten the viability of their economies and government services across the board.

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Health Care After the Court

Commentary by Yuval Levin - EPPC

June 27, 2012

As a matter of policy substance, the individual mandate is peripheral, not central, to the Left's approach to health-care reform. It is necessary to the system envisioned by Obamacare precisely because that larger system is at odds with basic economics. Left to itself, the system would quickly self-destruct, since it would create strong incentives for people to remain uninsured until they were sick.

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What's Behind The Mandate?

Crisis Magazine commentary by Gerard Bradley

June 26, 2012

It is easy to see already that “equal sexual liberty” is a natural predator of Catholic institutions, which are standing contradictions of almost all that the new orthodoxy proposes. What is not so apparent, however, is why the new orthodoxy has so totally eclipsed considerations of conscience, tolerance, and liberty in the thinking of self-identifying liberals such as Barack Obama.

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Modern-day slaves, hostage to abortion

NY Daily News commentary by S. Wagner and K. Daniels

June 24, 2012

In May 2011, the federal Department of Health and Human Services decided its human trafficking grant-making process would prioritize those who would provide “family planning services and the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care.” Translation: Unless you offer abortion and contraception, you’re not welcome.


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"Accommodation" Fails to Protect Religious and Moral Conscience

Heritage Foundation commentary by T. Messner and E. Haislmaier

June 19, 2012

Though the ANPRM states that insurance issuers would be prohibited from charging a premium for the separate contraceptive coverage, there is no reason to believe that insurance issuers would not raise premiums on other services to compensate for the coverage they are forced to provide for “free.” Indeed, state-level insurance regulation is properly focused on ensuring that issuers charge enough in premiums to cover expected claims costs, and failing to adjust premiums to pay for mandated services could undermine the financial solvency of insurers,

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Emergency Contraception: We need an unbiased review of the facts

Family Research Council blog by Jeanne Monahan

June 7, 2012

In the end, this conversation requires caution and continued unbiased research. The difference between preventing and destroying life is immensely significant to women who choose to take these drugs. Women have the right to know about all of the scientific research, not merely the research supporting an individual ideology.

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Dust Off Your Law Books President Obama

Forbes commentary by Christen Varley

June 7, 2012

Religious freedom and liberty activists, along with faith leaders, policy advocates and politicians across the country are petitioning members of Congress to live up to their oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America by voting to protect religious freedom.

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ObamaCare Automatic Enrollment of Minors

Alliance Defense Fund blog entry by Matt Bowman

June 6, 2012

ObamaCare is not content with forcing coverage of abortion-inducing drugs against people's consciences. Now the administration has made its attack on conscience even worse: by forcing abortion-drug coverage onto children against their parents' objection.

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Mandate for health services touches full religious spectrum

Philadelphia Inquirer commentary by Joe Watkins

June 4, 2012

Priests, rabbis and pastors, as well as ministry and faith leaders across the spectrum, are speaking out against this policy. The mandate impacts people of all faiths. Forcing a religious institution to provide and pay for services that violate its own faith goes against our nation’s history of religious liberty.

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ObamaCare and the War on the Church

Commentary magazine article by Jonathan S. Tobin

May 31, 2012

Allowing their institutions to abstain from providing contraception coverage does not make the church a law unto itself or impose its views on others; it merely leaves them alone.

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Religious liberty at stake in battle over contraception rule

CNN commentary by Mary Matalin

May 25, 2012

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is the first line of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Apparently, this now only applies to the certain instances for which President Barack Obama sees fit.

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Protecting our Catholic conscience in the public square

Washington Post op-ed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

May 23, 2012

Imagine the church's surprise, then, to be told by the federal government that when a Catholic organization serves its neighbors, it isn't really practicing its religion. That is the unacceptable principle at the heart of a mandate, issued in February by the Department of Health and Human Services, that requires religious organizations to provide health-care coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, even if their faith teaches that those drugs and procedures are wrong.

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Different words, same policy

Washington Times commentary by Anna Franzonello

May 23, 2012

This week my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, was one of more than 40 plaintiffs to file suit against the Department of Health and Human Services regarding its mandate that private health insurance plans cover life-ending drugs and devices, including the abortion-inducing drug ella.

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Catholic bishops strike back

Washington Times commentary by Cathy Ruse

May 23, 2012

In January, the Obama administration hit Catholic employers with arguably the most religiously-oppressive government directive in modern American history: Provide free abortion drugs and birth control pills in your health insurance plans, in flagrant violation of your religious beliefs, or face legal punishment. This week the bishops of the Catholic Church hit back. In one of the largest legal actions to defend religious liberty in U.S. history, Catholic organizations filed a dozen lawsuits across the country claiming the Obama Health and Human Services Department rule violates the right to religious freedom set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

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Obama's grand miscalculation with Catholics

Fox News commentary by Maureen Malloy Ferguson, Ashley McGuire

May 22, 2012

In the most comprehensive survey conducted on the issue yet, Washington-based public opinion firm QEV Analytics recently found that some 50% of regular churchgoing Catholics heard a statement during Mass setting forth the bishops' serious misgivings about the insurance mandate. Of all the Catholics who heard this statement, most apparently agreed with it.

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HHS doesn't speak for me, or many women

Washington Post commentary by Helen Alvare

May 22, 2012

HHS is further suggesting that rather than allowing female employees of religious institutions to seek contraceptive coverage, a government-approved entity will simply provide it to them and all their female beneficiaries (minors included) “automatically” — and without any co-pay to tip off minors’ parents. This isn’t freedom. This is coercion, along with the undermining of parents’ duties and rights respecting their children.

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Healthcare mandate endangers religious freedom

The Hill commentary by Jim Nicholson

May 18, 2012

This radical policy change will be devastating to religious organizations who are working to provide critical services to Americans in need. These institutions may now be forced to pay huge fines, be subject to unelected bureaucrats' defining their status, limiting their work, or even shutting them down altogether. This would not just impact the organizations themselves, but the millions of needy Americans whom these organizations serve.

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The Religious Battle of Vanderbilt

Wall Street Journal commentary by John Murray, 4th Presby. School

May 10, 2012

The legislation follows Vanderbilt's decision to stop recognizing campus religious organizations that require their leaders to accept certain religious beliefs on which they are founded. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Vanderbilt Catholic, Navigators and other groups-ministering to about 1,500 students-would effectively be moved off campus in the name of "nondiscrimination."

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Is Conscience Partisan?

Public Discourse commentary by Richard Doerflinger

April 15, 2012

During his final illness Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, stating, "I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone."

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Will the Obamacare Decision Affect the HHS Mandate?

National Review Online commentary by Mark Rienzi

April 2, 2012

Last week's Supreme Court arguments over the Affordable Care Act focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the expanded Medicaid entitlement. Could those cases also affect the religious-liberty lawsuits challenging the HHS abortion/sterilization/contraception mandate, which are now pending in many federal district courts? The short answer is: Maybe.

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Put on your shoes; we can win this one

Breakpoint commentary by Chuck Colson:

March 19, 2012

This is a battle that is both crucial and winnable. The important thing is to keep the focus on where it belongs: religious freedom. The early polls where a reaction to the media's initial announcement that this was all about contraception, but the Catholic Bishops and everybody else has been working hard to educate them. And you need to continue to educate people that this is about religious liberty.

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No mandate exemption for religious groups

Washington Times commentary by Richard Doerflinger

March 7, 2012

The Washington Times persists in reporting that the Obama administration has "agreed to exempt religion-affiliated universities, charities and hospitals" from its contraceptive coverage mandate ("Limbaugh apology garners bipartisan approval," Web, Sunday). However, this is not the case. On Feb. 10, the administration's controversial mandate and its incredibly narrow religious exemption were finalized "without change."

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Obama's epic blunder on birth-control mandate

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson

February 13, 2012

The initial policy was a disaster. The partial retreat was more skilled. Obama's goal was not resolution but obfuscation. The contraceptive mandate was shifted from Catholic employers to insurance companies. Instead of being forced to buy an insurance product that violates their beliefs, religious institutions will be forced to buy an insurance product that contributes to the profits and viability of a company that is federally mandated to violate their beliefs. Creative accounting, it seems, can cover a multitude of sins.

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