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.
April 20, 2017
Much of the hostility seems to focus on the fact that people of faith often hold convictions on hotly debated topics like abortion, sex and marriage-convictions that differ from some people who do not share in that faith. So if you don't like those convictions, what is the easiest way to beat your religious opponents on these issues? Shut them up, marginalize them, exclude them from the public square. Make them the one group that it's okay to discriminate against. And I would suggest that that way of thinking has resulted in a concerted pressure to reduce religious freedom to something more like religious permission. Religious permission means, okay, you can believe whatever you want-but only as long as you keep it inside the four walls of your church, synagogue or mosque. Your religious views will not be allowed in public. Religious permission means you can sing your little religious songs, pray to whatever gods you imagine inside your head, talk about love and peace and sing around the campfire. But actually living out your religious beliefs, your conscience, your convictions in the public square? Well, that's where religious permission draws the line.
April 1, 2017
Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty has sent a letter to the acting Secretary of the Army regarding the outgoing Secretary of the Army's decision to sign a directive just hours before his resignation that wastes valuable resources on a plan to provide "training on implicit or unconscious bias." "The military exists to protect our nation, not to be used as a laboratory for social engineering-and especially not from an outgoing official's 11th hour order," said Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA (Retired), executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. "This directive does nothing to increase military readiness but wastes valuable training time just to promote a political agenda." Pub. 3/27/17
April 1, 2017
Congress has passed two pieces of legislation protecting religious freedom with overwhelming bipartisan support: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). These laws strike a sensible balance so no American-particularly those who are politically unpopular-can be unnecessarily forced by the government to violate their faith. These laws have been pivotal in protecting religious freedom for individuals of many faiths, including Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, and Native Americans. The balance required by these laws is put in the hands of judges, and so it is crucial that any Supreme Court nominee demonstrate a knowledge of how they function. Judge Gorsuch's reasoned and thorough understanding of RFRA and RLUIPA has been well documented and is vividly demonstrated in his Yellowbear v. Lampert decision that protected a Native American man's right to practice his faith while in prison. Pub. 3/26/17
April 1, 2017
The cultural ideal of individual sexual autonomy, which has slowly and steadily grown since first significantly emerging during the sexual revolution of the 1960s, has rapidly expanded into a powerful cultural and political force, primarily embodied in the lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender (LGBT) advocacy movement. As this occurred, largely Christian segments of the country found their beliefs being displaced in law to give way to LGBT policies. The minority faiths who have always needed religious liberty protections still need them. But now, in addition, perhaps for the first time in American history, Christians need religious liberty protections-as their beliefs are adversely impacted by federal, state, and local laws and government actions. (.pdf file)
March 30, 2017
David Daleiden's ordeal at the hands of the California attorney general is hardly the only California threat to the First Amendment. Because abortion is paramount to some progressives - and religious freedom, free speech, and freedom of association hardly worth mentioning by comparison - the California Assembly is currently pondering a bill that would directly infringe on the rights of religious organizations to uphold and advance their principles and beliefs regarding sexuality and marriage. The bill is flatly unconstitutional in any reasonable jurisdiction, but California is in the Ninth Circuit, so it's always better to defeat bills in committee rather than test them in court.
March 28, 2017
Gorsuch has been a valuable ally of these believers through his judicial career, noted Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the public interest law firm Becket, who voiced her support during a day of testimony from outside experts on Friday. "Judge Gorsuch has demonstrated repeatedly that he applies the law fairly to protect religious minorities and incarcerated persons - some of the most politically powerless in our society," she said. Overall, Gorsuch's past rulings and testimony before the SenateJudiciary Committee illustrate his commitment to upholding religious freedom, Smith argued. "His jurisprudence demonstrates an even-handed application of the principle that religious liberty is fundamental to freedom and to human dignity, and that protecting the religious rights of others - even the rights of those with whom we may disagree - ultimately leads to greater protections for all of our rights," she said.
March 27, 2017
Roger Severino, JD, was named director of HHS' Office for Civil Rights. An OCR spokesperson confirmed Mr. Severino's new leadership role on March 24, according to GovInfoSecurity.com. OCR, which oversees HIPAA and health information privacy rights, also posted Mr. Severino's biography and title to the OCR website. Mr. Severino previously worked at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative political think tank in Washington, D.C. At The Heritage Foundation, he served as director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity.
March 21, 2017
During the presidential campaign, President Trump produced a list of 21 potential nominees for Justice Scalia's vacant seat on the Supreme Court. We are pleased that he nominated a great candidate off that list -- Judge Neil Gorsuch. Upon confirmation, Judge Gorsuch will be faced with a host of pressing legal issues, and it is important to understand how he will rule and why. This issue analysis generally discusses the type of justices who should sit on our highest court, and explains why Judge Gorsuch is qualified for that role and should be confirmed. (.pdf file)
March 20, 2017
He was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. Like the city, the congregation is politically liberal. It bars guns from its campus and installed solar panels; it condemns harsh rhetoric about Muslims and welcomes gays and lesbians. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said, "Would I be happier if he were going to a more traditional Episcopal Church? Yeah, I'd be happier for him. But I'm more concerned with his views on the Constitution than where he goes to church." Gorsuch himself drew on natural law while writing his 2006 book "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia." In it, he argued that "all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong." "It is impossible to come away from this rather remarkable book with any conclusion other than that this is a man who has a very high regard for the sanctity and the dignity of human life," said Timothy Goeglein, vice president for external relations for the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family.
March 16, 2017
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told a Catholic legal group that the United States' dedication to religious liberty is being put to the test. Alito told the Catholic lawyers and judges on Wednesday, "A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs," according to the Associated Press. "We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, state legislatures and town halls," Alito said in New Jersey, according to the AP. "But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans. It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom." Alito, a Catholic, reportedly also read from his dissent in the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage case and said he predicted those who opposed the high court's decision would be cast as bigots.
March 7, 2017
St. Anthony School and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York went to a Manhattan court today to defend their right to choose a school principal without government interference, against a lawyer who says protecting Catholic schools may aid "potential jihadists." "Talk about shameless. This blatantly anti-Catholic lawsuit is nothing but a scheme to take money away from needy New York schoolkids and put it in an attorney's pockets," said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at Becket, the non-profit religious liberty law firm, who argued the case for St. Anthony's and the Archdiocese. "Not only are these attacks uncalled-for, they are ignorant. The Supreme Court has already said that the Church, not the State, should pick religious leaders."
March 6, 2017
In recent months, the CCCU and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) have discreetly led the charge to get evangelical institutions to think through potential legal options to safeguard their Christian distinctives as they look ahead to 2017. They met with more than 200 leaders in 9 cities to discuss Fairness for All, an approach that would bring together religious liberty defenders and LGBT activists to lay out federal legislation to secure rights for both. Still, several prominent religious liberty advocates-including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention-that opposed the Utah compromise model aren't on board with Fairness for All either. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Bristow noted the ERLC's "longstanding policy that we do not support elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to a protected class." Wilson warned against comparing potential Fairness for All legislation to existing policies that have led to high-profile "bakers and bathrooms" cases, most of which were enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage and without input from both sides. "To look at these older data points and rules only shows us that legislation did not take into account religious freedom," she said. "They weren't Fairness for All. They were sexual orientation and gender identity antidiscrimination statutes that did not answer the hardest questions." (orig. pub. 12/8/16)
March 2, 2017
More than 150 conservative leaders are urging President Trump to sign an executive order "protecting the practical exercise of religious freedom." The letter, sent yesterday, is from the Council for National Policy, currently led by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. It began by thanking Trump for "beginning to reverse" the "devastating trend" of Obama-era policies hurting religious freedom. The Council for National Policy members asked Trump to issue "an executive order to prevent federal discrimination against [Americans] for acting in accordance with their beliefs." Examples of such ongoing discrimination include Christian adoption agencies having to shut down and the Little Sisters of the Poor being forced to participate in the provision of contraception. Federal grantees "face the prospect of the government forcing them to violate their faith or give up their role serving the disadvantaged and poor around the world," the letter explains.
March 1, 2017
Until relatively recently Americans disagreed about what religious freedom meant in practice, but they espoused religious freedom and insisted that it cannot be government's job to promote any one religious sect over others or coerce anyone's conscience in religious matters. For a time, this consensus seemed poised to embrace the entire world. In this article Timothy Shah and Daniel Philpott review new publications from Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood, and Peter G. Danchin which argue that religious freedom is the product and the agenda of one culture in one historical period-the modern West-and should remain limited to that milieu. Shah and Philpott counter that the minimalist moral intuition of religious freedom as religious noncoercion, far from being parochial or peculiar to the modern West, enjoys a widespread resonance across history and across cultures. 11/1/16 (download.pdf)
March 1, 2017
Saying everyone but churches can participate in a state program is blatant religious discrimination. The Constitution protects the rights of religious people to exercise their religion and not be punished for it. Just because these kids attend a preschool run by a church doesn't mean their safety on the playground is less important than that of students who do not attend religious schools. "As far as I know...the Lutheran kids and the neighbors around there, their kids, bruise just as easily as kids going to secular daycare centers. The lower courts basically said, under current Supreme Court precedent, the State of Missouri is allowed to say everybody gets the eligibility for these rubber grants except the churches." said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. Thankfully, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case.
March 1, 2017
The biggest problem with current sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws-including "Fairness for All," which proposes a grand-bargain compromise between SOGI laws and religious liberty-is that they do not appropriately define what counts as discriminatory. As I explain in a new report for The Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," these are the laws that are being used to shutter Catholic adoption agencies, fine evangelical bakers, and force businesses and public facilities to allow men into women's locker rooms. ... Catholic Charities adoption agencies decline to place the children entrusted to their care with same-sex couples not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the conviction that children deserve both a mother and a father. That belief-that men and women are not interchangeable, mothers and fathers are not replaceable, the two best dads in the world cannot make up for a missing mom, and the two best moms in the world cannot make up for a missing dad-has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation.
February 28, 2017
The commission report sparked a protest letter signed by 17 faith leaders, arguing that the report "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens." One of the signers, Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington, says religious conservatives are entitled to make claims of conscience. "We may not like the claim of conscience," Haynes says, "but you know, we don't judge claims of conscience on whether we like the content of the claim. We are trying to protect the right of people to do what they feel they must do according to their God. That is a very high value." Haynes himself says LGBT rights and same-sex marriage "are very important" but that supporters of those causes "cannot simply declare that one side wins all. Nondiscrimination is a great American principle - it's a core American principle - as is religious freedom," Haynes says. "When you have two important American principles coming into tension, into conflict with one another, our goal as Americans is to sit down and try to see if we can uphold both."
Trump's draft executive order on religious freedom would free people of faith to serve those in need
February 23, 2017
Notably, the order makes clear that the executive branch is to uphold religious freedom for "persons of all faiths." While it expressly protects (in limited situations) people that speak or act consistently with specific beliefs about marriage and humanity, that is neither surprising nor troublesome. Those particular beliefs (like the conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman) were demonstrably targeted and disfavored by the prior administration. The Constitution allows the government to alleviate the most pressing and palpable burdens on religion, which is precisely what this order would do. Trump should sign it, the first of many steps to fulfill his promise to protect religious freedom. If he does that, it would welcome people of faith back into public life and free them to serve their neighbors, especially the most vulnerable, with love and compassion.
February 23, 2017
Earlier this month a high school freshman named "Katie" (a pseudonym) was forced to sit through a highly politicized LGBT lesson at the beginning of Math class, via closed circuit TV. Her parents were not given the opportunity to opt her out. They weren't even given notice. "After watching the video, it was my impression that the Fairfax County school district was attempting to force me to believe in something that doesn't respect my beliefs," Katie told the Fairfax County School Board at a recent meeting. "The whole situation made me feel stressed and uncomfortable." For its reversal of the Obama edict, the Trump administration earns high marks in Biology, Social Studies, and Comparative Religion. Unfortunately, the Fairfax County School Board seems to care only about being politically correct.
February 16, 2017
Under a policy issued by the Obama administration's agriculture secretary, a USDA official threatened to remove all USDA inspectors if West Michigan Beef Company owner Donald Vander Boon didn't permanently refrain from placing in the company's breakroom religious literature supporting marriage between one man and one woman that the department deemed "offensive." After Vander Boon placed a faith-based article concerning marriage on his facility's breakroom table in 2015, Dr. Ryan Lundquist, USDA's public health veterinarian and the inspector in charge on-site at West Michigan Beef, read the article, removed it, and reported it to USDA Frontline Supervisor Robert Becker. They held a meeting with Vander Boon, at which Becker threatened three times to remove USDA inspectors if Vander Boon didn't agree to refrain from placing the article in the breakroom. Becker explained that the ultimatum was based on expanded agency rules against offensive and harassing speech.
February 16, 2017
Gorsuch voted with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in its en banc decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, which sided with the religious challengers and articulated a strong view of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In that same case, he wrote a concurring opinion explaining how the Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) themselves are also entitled to protection under the same statute. In addition, when the en banc 10th Circuit rejected the Little Sisters' claims in Little Sisters v. Burwell, Gorsuch joined the dissent, clearly stating that their religious beliefs had been substantially burdened under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Yet he won't allow the religious liberty law to be used as an excuse for all behavior. In United States v. Quaintance, he rejected drug smugglers' claims that their marijuana distribution was motivated by religious belief as insincere and thus not protected by the statute.
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.
February 15, 2017
This same belief in the power of faith drives some of the country's most remarkable rehabilitation programs. Faith affirms the dignity and significance inherent in all human life, but especially to lives that society marginalizes. Prison Fellowship reports that, in multiple instances, participation in their Bible studies reduced recidivism by 66 percent. Similarly, a 2003 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that re-arrest was far less common after prisoners completed an Inner-Change Freedom Initiative program, a faith-based re-entry program spanning incarceration and release.
February 15, 2017
The Christian ideal state of living includes more than just an experience of inner freedom, it involves an external effort to promote the freedom and flourishing of others. In his talk, theologian and author Dr. Art Lindsley will explain the biblical view of freedom and how it differentiates from other secular views. He will further discuss the societal implications of the biblical view of freedom on the political, economic, and religious spheres. In particular, he will explain how free market principles of private property, limited government, and the freedom to innovate are grounded in biblical freedom. Dr. Lindsley will challenge those who adhere to these biblical values to follow their external implications and work toward a flourishing society. Click here to Register for this event
February 14, 2017
What would a portrait of America look like, if we were a nation without faith? On a cold winter night, would there be enough warm beds to shelter the men, women, and children suffering from homelessness? The Republican Study Committee's America Without Faith project aims to shine a spotlight on this essential knowledge base for Members of Congress and the American public. RSC Members from across the country are telling the stories of faith-based groups in action:
- Faith in Hunger: Representative Vicky Hartzler (MO-4)
- Faith in Awareness: Representative Bill Flores (TX-17)
- Faith in Opportunity: Representative Brad Wenstrup (OH-2)
- Faith Behind the Wheel: Representative Diane Black (TN-6)
- Faith in Dignity of Work: Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3)
February 9, 2017
In essence, the Johnson Amendment prohibits tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations from engaging or speaking on matters related to political campaigns. In 1954, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson wanted to weaken organizations politically opposed to him - so he conditioned all such organizations' tax-exempt status on their remaining silent in political matters. Since that time, the amendment has been used to muzzle anything remotely perceived as political speech from tax-exempt organizations, religious and nonreligious, on both sides of the aisle. This overly broad muzzling has included comments of pastors speaking from the pulpit about candidates as well as policy matters. Simply put, the Johnson Amendment has been used to censor speech - something that should never have occurred.
February 3, 2017
"First, religious freedom matters because it benefits society. It allows religion to flourish, which produces moral virtue that is necessary for self-government. It also produces good works that benefit all of society. It also protects the right of minorites to dissent from the majority view. And it reduces social conflict." This speech was given by Becket Law Senior Counsel, Luke Goodrich, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law's Religion and Law Symposium on Saturday March 12, 2016.
February 2, 2017
The religious freedom executive order instructs the secretary of the treasury to ensure that it does not revoke nonprofit tax status because a religious organization's ordinary religious speech deals with politics, or because it speaks or acts on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife, that a person's sex is based on immutable biology, or that life begins at conception. And to avoid any potential conflicts, the executive order explicitly states that it "shall be carried out ... to the extent permitted by law" and that any accommodation must be "reasonable." With those two clauses alone, the hyperventilating criticisms of the LGBT left are immediately rendered void. These protections take nothing away from anyone-they simply ensure that the public square remains open to all religious voices, even when those voices diverge from the government's view on contested questions. They protect diversity and pluralism and tolerance.
February 1, 2017
Religious charities shouldn't have to give up their mission and identity simply because they partner with the government in serving the public. In addition to proactively protecting the rights of Americans to hire for religious mission and to act on the conviction that marriage is the union of husband and wife, Trump should also rescind the various Obama executive actions that caused these problems. A statement from the Trump administration notes that Trump was the "first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression." Trump can and should protect all Americans from violence and oppression, but he should not go along with Obama's policies of elevating "sexual orientation and gender identity" to a protected class. The First Amendment Defense Act and similar religious liberty provisions oppress no one-they protect Americans from government-sponsored discrimination and coercion.
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.
December 12, 2016
Perhaps more than any other sector in America, the ivory towers of academia are mourning the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the departure of President Barack Obama, and the election of Donald Trump. For our faith-based university, however, the changing of the guard cannot come soon enough. The Obama administration's sustained assault on religious liberty and the right of conscience, and the ineptitude of his White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, had campuses and religious charities of conservative, religious orientation struggling to survive. President Obama threatened crippling fines if a college refused as a matter of conscience to make contraceptive services, including sterilization and abortifacient drugs, available in the health plans offered to its employees and students. The government's foreign-assistance apparatus required a pledge of allegiance to the LGBT and "reproduction freedom" agendas as a condition for grants.
December 1, 2016
Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., realized the need to ensure that churches, religious organizations, and other nonprofits weren't forced to choose between contracting with the federal government or living by their foundational religious beliefs. He introduced the Russell Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Heritage Foundation expert Roger Severino explains the need, and simplicity, of the amendment: "The Russell Amendment is sound policy that will prevent the administration from stripping contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith. Jewish day schools and Catholic adoption centers, for example, are not liable under Title VII for being authentically Jewish or Catholic, and their staffing policies shouldn't disqualify them from federal grants and contracts either."
November 30, 2016
What are the limits of what constitutes a "church" under ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act? Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, explains the upcoming Supreme Court Case, Dignity Health v. Rollins. The "Dignity Case" highlights the ambiguity of the definition of "church-established enterprises," such as the health care systems of religious organizations, and how they are impacted by the parameters of what constitutes religious exercise.
November 21, 2016
ADF explains in the letter that federal law protects Ascension Health, the nation's largest nonprofit health system and the world's largest Catholic health system, from being forced to perform sterilization procedures in contradiction to its religious convictions. As the letter explains, not only does the federal Church Amendment offer such protections, but the Affordable Care Act on which the ACLU relies also protects Ascension by stating explicitly that nothing in the ACA "shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding...conscience protection." "No one should be forced to perform or participate in a procedure when doing so would violate their conscience. This is especially true of medical workers and health care systems who are in the profession largely because of-and as an extension of-their faith," said ADF Legal Counsel Ken Connelly.
November 18, 2016
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is designed to ensure that all Americans may freely live out their faith. This is not limited to freedom of worship, but includes the heart, mind, and soul of religious people, thereby guiding how people act in the public square. When a law restricts that first freedom, the American conscience is put on trial. One way to preserve the American conscience is for individuals to preemptively put unjust laws on trial by way of pre-enforcement challenges. This ensures that the owner is not at risk of criminal or civil penalties for violating an ironically titled anti-discrimination law when faced with the challenge of being asked to participate in any practice that violates his conscience.
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.
November 15, 2016
Our symposium explored the following: To what extent is religious liberty critical for human flourishing? When and how does it contribute to economic prosperity, democratization, and peace? What challenges face religious communities living under repressive governments or hostile social forces? How is the persecution of religion related to other infringements of basic human rights? What is the relationship between religious freedom and violent religious extremism, and is there a role for religious freedom in efforts to undermine radicalization and counter violent religious extremism and terrorism over the long term? Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) delivered a keynote address on the promotion of international religious freedom as an urgent global imperative.
November 14, 2016
The survey asked, "As you may know, the Republican party platform includes strong positions on unborn human life and religious liberty. How did this impact your presidential vote?" A majority - 51 percent - of total registered voters surveyed said these issues in the Republican platform impacted their presidential vote, and 59 percent of Trump voters said that this impacted their presidential vote, compared to 48 percent of Clinton voters. "The Republican Party's platform positions on unborn human life and religious liberty was the bridge between Donald Trump and Christian conservatives," FRC President Tony Perkins.
November 11, 2016
The reduction of religious liberty to mere freedom of worship is a hallmark of the Obama years. Houses of worship, for example, were exempted from the HHS Obamacare contraception and abortifacient mandate. But religious schools, like Wheaton College, and religious charities and communities, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, were merely "accommodated"-offered a different way to comply with the mandate while still violating their beliefs. A Trump administration can fix this right away. President-Elect Trump can instruct his Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide robust religious liberty protections to the HHS mandate. And Congress can pass legislation, which Trump can sign, to repeal and replace Obamacare. Likewise, the Obama administration has engaged in a series of executive actions-some of which were likely unlawful-to advance a radical transgender agenda. This, too, Trump can end.
November 4, 2016
On May 18, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its Final Rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Like previous federal laws, Section 1557 forbids healthcare providers from discriminating against individuals due to their race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Unlike previous federal laws, however, the new Section 1557 rule redefines the protected class "sex" to include three new categories not listed in the original non-discrimination statutes: (1) "gender identity," (2) "sex stereotyping," and (3) "termination of pregnancy"-with no express religious exemption or accommodation for conscience rights. In the three months since Section 1557 took effect, the ACLU has filed lawsuits against Catholic healthcare providers Dignity Health (California) and Ascension Health (Michigan).
November 3, 2016
Our First Amendment freedom is functionally meaningless when it is reduced to the "right" to express government-approved views. Throw in a simultaneous prohibition on all expression that hasn't received the government's stamp of approval, and you have the makings of George Orwell's "1984," where even beliefs are controlled. Indeed, to forbid people from articulating beliefs and peacefully acting consistently with those beliefs is, at its core, an attempt to forbid the beliefs themselves. As the Supreme Court has held, "First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought...The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."
October 27, 2016
Included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., that 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. The Russell Amendment is sound policy that will prevent the administration from stripping contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith. Jewish day schools and Catholic adoption centers, for example, are not liable under Title VII for being authentically Jewish or Catholic, and their staffing policies shouldn't disqualify them from federal grants and contracts either. But Obama's veto threat is actually the strongest proof of why the Russell Amendment is needed.
October 25, 2016
VIDEO: Religious Freedom and Civil Rights: The Alliance Defending Freedom held a discussion on the tension between religious freedom and civil rights. Speakers included small business owners with deeply-held religious beliefs who face civil penalties, loss of their business, and retaliation from some in their communities for refusing service to same-sex couples.
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.
October 1, 2016
The amendment was introduced in 1954 by Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, as a way to stop his political opponents. The future president never intended to bar advocacy organizations from mentioning elected officials, or pastors and churches from commenting on candidates. Unfortunately, the Johnson Amendment certainly has been used in this way. Indeed, under current IRS guidance, it prevents a whole host of nonprofit organizations, religious and otherwise, from informing their followers in ways relevant to their own duty to vote. This ban is at odds with our own history. Since the birth of our nation, pastors and churches have been at the forefront of shaping public debate and our choice of public servants.
October 1, 2016
Americans are evenly divided (49% to 48%) over whether wedding-related businesses, such as caterers and florists, should be required to serve same-sex couples who want to marry, even if the owner of these establishments objects to homosexuality for religious reasons. Americans are also closely divided over whether transgender people should be able to use public restrooms that correspond to their current gender identity. Two-thirds (67%) of Americans say employers should be required to provide birth control to employees through their health insurance plans, even if the business owner has religious objections to contraception.
September 16, 2016
Faith leaders and religious liberty advocates are weighing in on the recently released U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report that concluded terms such as "religious liberty" and "religious freedom" were code words for discrimination and even "Christian supremacy." "The phrases ‘religious liberty' and ‘religious freedom' will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance," Martin Castro, chairman of the commission, said in a statement included in the 296-page report. "Perhaps most troubling is the attempt to discredit sincere religious believers as being motivated by hate instead of faith and the implied recommendation that religious groups should change their beliefs on sexual morality to conform with liberal norms for the good of the country," said Roger Severino, , director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation who also worked with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
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.
September 2, 2016
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing an Iowa church filed a federal lawsuit against members of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, among others, to stop the government from censoring the church's teaching on biblical sexuality and from forcing the church to open its restrooms and showers to members of the opposite sex.
September 2, 2016
In attendance were several uniformed military chaplains. They included the Chief of Chaplains of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. (Chaplain) Dondi Costin, who delivered a benediction while in uniform. Several members of the House and one United States Senator were also in attendance. This allowed anti-Christian activist "Mikey" Weinstein an opportunity to attack Maj. Gen Costin and two other chaplains for their participation in the event by filing a complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, Glenn Fine. With typically histrionic and excessive rhetoric, Weinstein asked that all three be formally disciplined. Weinstein presents a pretext for attacking Rep. Forbes and the event based on the Congressman's opposition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and his orthodox Christian beliefs about sexuality and marriage. Given Weinstein's longstanding track record of anti-Christian animus, his raising of LGBT issues is mere window-dressing.
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.
August 22, 2016
Charitable Choice anticipated by five years this revised understanding of when and how government may resource faith-based service providers. The provision was added by Senator John Ashcroft, R-MO, to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act-comprehensive welfare reform-signed into law by President Clinton exactly 20 years ago. Charitable Choice instructed regulators not to eliminate grant applicants simply because they were intensely religious in character, but rather to ask, "Can you do the job?" In turn, Charitable Choice guaranteed faith-based providers that they would not have to forfeit their religious nature to obtain the funding. That said, explicitly religious activities by faith-based charities would have to take place outside the government-funded program. The law also guaranteed that beneficiaries of the assistance would not have to be served by a religious provider. If they objected, they would be reassigned: the "choice" in Charitable Choice.
August 19, 2016
But it establishes a dangerous precedent to pressure those with conscientious objections to perform what they believe are grossly immoral acts. In fact, the day may come when those on the left appreciate the protections that our Constitution, and our civil society, afford to conscience. They would do well to recognize the value of these protections while they can.
August 18, 2016
The Air Force has ruled an officer broke no rules by keeping his Bible on his desk after receiving a complaint last week about the presence of the holy book. The Scriptures had been removed from the workstation of Maj. Steve Lewis of the 310th Space Wing, following a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), alleging the presence of the book violated the First Amendment's establishment clause. But an investigation into the incident found "no abuse of liberties has occurred," said Lt. Col. David Fruck, chief of public affairs at the 310th Space Wing. Mr. Fruck said keeping a Bible on one's desk is "well within the provisions" of Air Force regulations regarding religious expression.
August 10, 2016
Considering the above, of all the schools thought to be in contention to join the Big 12, Brigham Young University should be a top contender. It most certainly has a larger national following than several other teams said to be in the running, such as Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, or Memphis. But there is just one problem. Brigham Young, a university run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has an honor code that, shocker of shockers, aligns with its religious beliefs. One of those Mormon beliefs is that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the church's religious tenets. That has the LGBT bully community all aflutter and demanding that the Big 12 not allow BYU to enter the conference because, in their view, the university has an "express policy of discriminating against same-sex couples and LGBTQ students." Well, let's take a look.
August 4, 2016
According to Open Doors, Christians are being martyred at an accelerated pace over the last three years, by a variety of groups, including ISIS. Open Doors counts more than 7,000 Christians killed for their faith last year, a substantial increase from 4,344 in 2014 and 2,123 in 2013. These figures do not necessarily include Iraq, Syria, or North Korea, where accurate numbers are hard to come by. The 2016 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also paints a grim picture. "By any measure," the 276-page report says, "religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since . . . 2015." The victims are not just Christians, either, the report says: "From the plight of new and longstanding prisoners of conscience, to the dramatic rise in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, to the continued acts of bigotry against Jews and Muslims in Europe . . .there was no shortage of suffering."
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."
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.
July 22, 2016
Q: How does SB 1146 threaten the future of Biola University and other religious institutions of higher education? A: SB 1146 represents an unprecedented narrowing of religious freedom in America. By removing protections for religious colleges that allow for free exercise of faith (per the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution), SB 1146, in effect, communicates that the government, not individual religious communities, determines which beliefs are acceptable and how faith can and cannot be lived out. For example, if passed, SB 1146 would likely mean that schools like Biola would no longer be able to maintain certain conduct, housing, admissions, employment and other policies according to their Christian convictions about sexuality and gender. What's at stake for religious institutions of higher education is nothing short of their ability to exist as alternative communities; communities whose alternative ways of thinking and living allow for distinct educational practice and meaningful missional impact.
July 14, 2016
Currently, the only recourse against this discrimination is to file a complaint with OCR. In light of its extremely slow response to straightforward complaints or its outright refusal to execute the law, something had to be done. The House this week passed the Conscience Protection Act, a bill I proudly co-sponsored. This bill stops the federal government, and any state or local government that receives Federal funds from penalizing, retaliating against, or otherwise discriminating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. Further, this bill provides a civil right to action for those discriminated against, including physicians, health professionals, hospitals, health systems, insurance issuers, insurance plans, and administrators of health plans, among others. They deserve a choice. They deserve their day in court.
July 14, 2016
Some of this feeling may stem from the fact that the country is becoming more secular: A rising share of Americans do not identify with any religion, while a shrinking portion of the population is Christian. Another factor may be the spread of legal same-sex marriage nationwide and increasing social acceptance of homosexuality, developments with which many conservative Christians disagree. And other clashes with the values many conservative Christians hold continue to play out across the country, whether it be over the teaching of evolution in public schools, the presence of religious displays on public property for Christmas or whether public school cheerleaders can put Bible verses on their banners.
July 14, 2016
My father fled Fidel Castro's Cuba and lost everything. My father did not stew on his losses. Instead, he stayed focused on the horizon, on the future, and he taught his kids to do the same. Sitting around our kitchen table at night, he would speak about what was possible, not what was lost. He filled me with excitement when he would tell me that in this new country, a young Latina woman from Cuba could do whatever she set her mind to. Speaking to the next generation in Denver and taking the oath of office for USCIRF-both experiences brought me back to that kitchen table. In taking on this role for USCIRF, I want to carry on that spirit of possibility and optimism for all people who suffer, especially for their beliefs.
July 11, 2016
n one of its last orders of the term, the high court refused to hear a case brought by a family-owned drugstore in Washington state. The Stormans, who own Ralph's Thriftway, object to state regulations that force pharmacies to dispense certain drugs. A federal district court ruled in their favor, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it. The Stormans asked the Supreme Court to hear their case, but the four liberal justices refused. Justice Samuel Alito wrote an irrefutable dissent, which fellow conservative justices John Roberts and Clarence Thomas joined. Alito makes it painfully clear that Washington's rules amount to blatant religious discrimination.In refusing to hear the Stormans' case, the Supreme Court has given states a green light to practice what the district court called a "religious gerrymander": They can single out deeply felt religious scruples as unworthy of consideration even while they accede to far less important objections, such as added paperwork. Alito calls the decision "an ominous sign." He's absolutely right.
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.
June 28, 2016
All of this-diverse institutions, respect for differing religious and moral values, extensive choice for students, a religious setting for students, faculty, and staff who prefer such, state government support for low-income students committed to a faith-based education and to traditional moral values-is at extreme risk from SB 1146. Its author, state Senator Ricardo Lara, aims to stop what he alleges, but with only the most minor proof, is discriminatory and harmful treatment of LGBT students and employees by California's conservative religious colleges and universities, such as Biola University, Azusa Pacific, Thomas Aquinas, and William Jessup. SB 1146 has passed the Senate, and on June 21, 2016, after a distressing hearing, the Assembly higher education committee. A few more steps and, everyone expects, the bill will land on Governor Jerry Brown's desk.
June 28, 2016
Clashes between religious believers on one side and the state and elite culture on the other have reached a fevered pitch. This has resulted in an unprecedented erosion of religious liberty as defenders of our first freedom are demonized as "hateful and bigoted." In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt shines a spotlight on liberal intolerance of traditional religious belief and believers. By laying out the evidence of intimidation and discrimination in law, on campus, in the workplace, and throughout public life, she makes an implicit plea: How can such deeply conflicting world views live together in a pluralistic society? Does anyone really want to shut down faith-based charities that help the sick and feed the hungry simply because they insist on living their faith rather than by a secularist creed? Eberstadt argues that we are at a turning point and provides a guide for moving forward toward the kind of tolerance for which liberalism once stood.
June 28, 2016
In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt finds a dark pessimism settling over many American Christians when they contemplate the future. They perceive a foreboding shift in public attitude. Once there seemed to be a broad and liberal respect for the free exercise of religion, even in public life. But now, the very cultural forces promoting tolerance and diversity treat Christians and their institutions with broad suspicion, and demand absolute conformity with an egalitarian ethos that has only recently even announced its own existence. But what if the zeal that Eberstadt uncovers in her book is motivated by something deeper?
June 22, 2016
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rejected complaints Tuesday from California churches and religious groups against a state regulation that mandates abortion coverage in all state health care plans with no religious exemptions. The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) stated in an August 2014 letter to seven insurance companies that they were required to include elective abortions in their health plans with no exceptions. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a complaint with HHS in September 2014 on behalf of seven employees and health care plan participants with Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law, and this time in the most unimaginable way,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox responded to the decision Tuesday.
June 14, 2016
In a historic settlement agreement signed last night, the federal government admitted that it was wrong to send an undercover agent to raid a Native American powwow and seize nearly 50 eagle feathers used for religious worship-a raid the government dubbed "Operation PowWow" (watch video). Called "a victory for religious freedom" by the Wall Street Journal, the historic agreement ends a decade of litigation by recognizing the right of Pastor Robert Soto of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas and 400 other Native Americans to freely use eagle feathers for Native American worship. "The government has no business sending undercover agents to raid peaceful Native American religious ceremonies," said Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "This historic agreement recognizes that the government violated Mr. Soto's religious freedom and must respect the rights of all Native Americans in the future."
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."
June 1, 2016
[video] "We have seen such an increase in hostility toward religious freedom and expression in this country that the ability to freely live out our faith--in a way that impacts the world around us for Christ--is at risk. We can either stop that by those we elect in office who understand our First Amendment freedoms and are willing to defend them, or we can continue to see those freedoms disintegrate as we allow those to be elected who are hostile toward the expression of Christian faith."
May 26, 2016
Conservatives are mainly taking aim at a pair of Obama directives to ensure protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors and to direct public schools to provide access to locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Also on Wednesday, a measure by Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne passed to exempt religious groups from complying with the directives. The speaker this week cautioned GOP members at a closed-door session that Democrats were likely to keep trying to force them into uncomfortable votes on LGBT discrimination, according to aides and members who were present. He floated the idea of modifying House rules in a move that would likely restrict the number of amendments that could be offered on the floor, which would allow leaders to get out ahead of controversial votes and avoid any potentially embarrassing floor fights.
May 2, 2016
The global refugee crisis, political strife and economic dislocation all contributed to a worldwide deterioration of religious freedom in 2015 and an increase in "societal intolerance," according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. "At best, in most of the countries we cover, religious freedom conditions have failed to improve," says Princeton professor Robert George, the USCIRF chairman. "At worst, they've spiraled downward." In its annual report, the commission identified 17 countries as "Tier One" concerns, meaning they have "particularly severe religious violations of religious freedom that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious."
April 27, 2016
The idea behind the measure, Johnson, president of Missouri Alliance for Freedom, told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview, was to give people the opportunity to vote on the "religious freedom vs. gay marriage contest" for the first time since the Supreme Court ruled on the issue last June. Supporters say if SJR 39 were to take effect, it would ban government discrimination against people of faith because of their beliefs about marriage. Schools and charities, for example, would be protected from losing access to government programs because of their beliefs about marriage.
April 27, 2016
The commission says Tennessee's H.B. 1840, which was passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor's decision, "will permit mental health professionals to deny counseling services to LGBT people based upon ‘sincerely held religious beliefs."' The dissent more accurately describes the bill, which allows counselors or therapists whose beliefs "conflict with a potential client's ‘goals, outcomes or behaviors' to decline to offer counseling/therapy to that potential client, provided that he or she refers the potential client to someone who will." Far from denying service, the bill actually "decreases the likelihood" that someone seeking counseling or therapy will be "saddled with a counselor or therapist" whose beliefs don't align with the potential client's counseling goals.
April 27, 2016
Tennessee's Republican governor said Wednesday that he signed a bill into law that allows mental health counselors to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist's religious or personal beliefs. "As a professional I should have the right to decide if my clients end goals don't match with my beliefs - I should have the right to say somebody else can better serve them," Gov. Bill Haslam said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "Lawyers can do that, doctors can do that. Why would we take this one class of professionals and say you can't do that?"
April 26, 2016
"We asked the Colorado Supreme Court to take this case to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people's freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living," Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal group representing Philips, said in a statement released Monday. In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins requested Philips bake them a custom wedding cake to celebrate their Massachusetts marriage. Philips declined, citing his religious convictions, but recommended another bakery nearby. Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which eventually ruled against Philips in 2014.
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."
April 14, 2016
We are calling on churches across America to observe April 17, 2016 as Stand with the Persecuted Sunday. Please make time during your weekend services to view a brief, 2-minute video, distribute a special bulletin insert, and spend time in prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters internationally. While believers face growing hostility in America, we have experienced nothing like the mistreatment, displacement, violence, rape, crucifixions, and beheadings experienced by followers of Jesus in Iraq, Syria, Libya, other parts of the Middle East and beyond. We are honored to partner with ministries like Open Doors USA, The Voice of the Martyrs, Institute on Religion and Democracy, In Defense of Christians, Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA, International Christian Concern, 21st Century Wilberforce, and others who are highlighting the plight of the persecuted. Please urge your pastor and church to join us on Sunday, April 17 and Stand with the Persecuted.
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.
April 12, 2016
Last December a group of pro-life organizations represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to intervene on the case. These groups included the Catholic Medical Association, Christian Medical Association, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Concerned Women for America. In a statement released following news of the dismissal, ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot said, "No American should be forced to commit an abortion - least of all faith-based medical workers who went into the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them."
April 11, 2016
Confusion around the new law seems to come from media coverage that fails to distinguish its protections for religious organizations - which do not apply to businesses - from its much narrower policy concerning a handful of small businesses in a specific circumstance: wedding-related vendors in the context of participating in wedding ceremonies. The only provisions that apply to businesses generally are the assurances that private employers can set their own bathroom and employee dress policies based on their particular circumstances. Most of the new law is about protecting religious groups and individuals who have a different perspective on marriage. It guarantees their religious freedom while not taking anything away from anyone else. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of differences.
April 11, 2016
if these boycotts are really a matter of principle—and not just grandstanding—then why do so many of these same companies do business in foreign countries with terrible records on human rights in general, and for LGBT people in particular? The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, pointed out this hypocrisy. After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a travel ban for state employees to North Carolina, Gov. McCrory asked how it was consistent with Gov. Cuomo’s trip to Cuba—with state business leaders—to promote trade with that country. Others have pointed out the hypocrisy of PayPal. The CEO of PayPal announced that the company wouldn’t expand in North Carolina because of “PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect.” Really? Then PayPal might want to explain why its international headquarters are in Singapore, where people engaged in private consensual same-sex acts can face two years in jail.
April 10, 2016
Nearly a half-million children are in the foster care system, and roughly a quarter of them are available for adoption. Over 1,000 non-profit agencies, many of them faith-based, work to find safe and loving homes for these children. States such as Mississippi are being pressured to end their relationships with these faith-based organizations because the government doesn't like the organizations' beliefs about natural marriage. This is just one example of how states are being used to discriminate against people with deeply held religious beliefs. This penalizes more than the religious organization; it hurts society as a whole
April 6, 2016
Religious believers around the world experience violence, repression, and exile of various forms and degrees. It deserves our attention and America's action. This lecture featured remarks by former Congressman Frank Wolf of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative; Dr. Thomas Farr, Director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University; Tina Ramirez, Founder and Executive Director of Hardwired Global, an organization focused on training and promoting religious freedom around the world.; and Pervez Rafique, President of Bleeding for Belief, an organization working to stop religious persecution in Pakistan and former Member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly in Pakistan.
April 6, 2016
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, has signed the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, a law that guarantees religious freedom in the wake of last year's activist Supreme Court decision redefining marriage for the country. The left, big business, and even Planned Parenthood weighed in against the legislation. Mississippi policymakers, reflecting the overwhelming support of the state's citizens, stood up to the bullying and enacted commonsense religious liberty protection. The law protects religious beliefs in a precise and balanced way.
April 1, 2016
Should it be illegal for a Democratic lawmaker to reject as unqualified any Republican and Tea Partier who applies for work in their congressional office? Wouldn’t it be outlandish if that was illegal? What about a Muslim student club at a community college turning down an atheist who seeks a leadership post, or a Christian student group at a public university requiring leaders to be Christians in belief and conduct? Should the leadership criteria of the religious student groups be labeled as discriminatory and be forbidden? That’s just what various public colleges and universities have declared—but such an interpretation of discrimination is no longer allowed in Kansas, thanks to a measure signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback on March 22, 2016. The Kansas bill, SB 175, is brief but addresses a serious problem created by a significant number of colleges and universities and legitimized, in part, by the US Supreme Court.
April 1, 2016
Public restrooms are places where women and girls may shower, change their clothes, handle personal grooming issues, and take care of many other private matters unique to females. Many people are uncomfortable merely discussing these topics, so imagine the discomfort when women have to do such activities with males present. Women and girls shouldn’t be forced to conduct these private activities in a confined space with male strangers present. Consider especially that girls and women who have been sexually abused will suffer the additional trauma of being compelled to engage in their most intimate activities in the immediate company of male strangers.
April 1, 2016
This issue cuts across political lines; conservatives believe businesses should have a conscience on marriage and sexuality, and liberals believe businesses should have a conscience when it comes to environmental issues. We all agree that businesses should have ethics. The whole field of “corporate social responsibility” has developed from the notion of ethical business practices. Numerous lawsuits against large, for-profit corporations alleging human rights abuses overseas are evidence that many want corporations to have a conscience.
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.
March 29, 2016
Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff, government employees, and other health care workers are being pressured, required and forced to provide morally-controversial elective procedures (such as non-therapeutic abortions) despite their expressed moral objections to participating in such services. For example, in the U.S. Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at a hospital in New York City, was reportedly forced to participate in a gruesome, violent, dismemberment abortion over her objections. She was told that if she did not participate in the abortion of a 22-week-old fetus she would be charged with "insubordination and patient abandonment" which would jeopardize her nursing license and her job.
March 28, 2016
Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal has caved to pressure from big business and special interests and vetoed a very modest religious liberty bill. The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.
March 24, 2016
If they follow their Catholic beliefs, the Little Sisters will have to pay the federal government a fine of $100 per employee per day. This fine bears no relation to the cost of the insurance coverage at issue. It is utterly punitive-intended to make the nuns bend the knee at the altar of a new god. The Supreme Court has upheld a right to contraception and abortion, but never the right to get them for free. This case is not about rights, it is about power. The administration gave an outright exemption to churches. It could exempt religious nonprofit schools and soup kitchens and the Little Sisters, too, but decided to keep them on the hook.
March 24, 2016
If religious nonprofit organizations fail to comply with the mandate, they face fines of up to $100 per affected employee per day. For the Little Sisters, that could mean up to $70 million a year in federal fines, a devastating burden for a religious order with a long tradition of begging for food and donations to offset the costs of caring for the elderly poor. The mandate makes a serious assault on the fundamental freedom of individuals and organizations who form the backbone of civil society: those who care for the sick, feed the hungry, educate the next generation, and provide shelter and counseling for the most vulnerable Americans. The government should not be permitted to coerce religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor under threat of devastating fines.
March 23, 2016
Gov. Sam Brownback capped two years of legislative debate by signing a bill Tuesday forbidding public colleges and universities in Kansas from compelling student religious organizations to accept members or leaders who don't share the group's core beliefs. The bill approved by the Senate in 2015 and the House this session was developed because of apprehension higher education administrators could apply "accept-all-comers" rules membership and leadership rules to campus faith organizations under a threat of loss of school funding. The governor said. "Senate Bill 175 preserves intellectual diversity and religious liberty by allowing student clubs and organizations to determine the membership of their own groups."
March 15, 2016
United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling was court-martialed after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and reposted the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. A trial court ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. Sterling appealed to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, but the appeals court also ruled against her. First Liberty Institute stepped in and filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)-which is the highest military court and whose cases are subject to review by the U.S. Supreme Court-asking the court to hear Sterling's case and protect her religious liberty rights. In October 2015, the CAAF accepted the case and it is expected to be heard in 2016.
March 4, 2016
One answer is to protect privacy at the bathroom and accommodate transgender students. But LGBT activists don't like this at all. Their official policy is that boys who identify as girls should have unfettered access to girls' bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities. Earlier this year South Dakota crafted an even-handed policy respectful of everyone's interests. Unfortunately, the governor caved to special interest hysterics. The South Dakota bill would have prevented biological males who identify as girls from using girls' private facilities in public schools, but it also would have required local school officials to make reasonable accommodations for such students, such as providing access to single-occupancy facilities. A win-win arrangement for everyone, it would have protected all students' privacy and safety and created new accommodations for transgender students.
March 4, 2016
Nurses, however, would not even have that slim hope, since they would merely be delegated the dirty task of carrying out the homicide. This leaves nurses with religious objections to euthanasia with the stark choice of administering the lethal dose when directed by a doctor, or being insubordinate and facing job termination. The same conundrum would no doubt apply to religiously dissenting pharmacists when ordered to concoct a deadly brew. Even Catholic and other religious nursing homes and hospices may soon be required by law to permit euthanasia on their premises, for the federal commission recommended that federal and provincial governments "ensure that all publicly funded health care institutions provide medical assistance in dying."
March 3, 2016
"We, as conservatives, should lead the way-to be able to speak out for people to believe in any faith, or to have no faith at all. Because it is a basic tenant of our beliefs that people should be able to live out their faith... It's become an amazing transition that people are beginning to be afraid of people of faith living their faith out. Why people would be afraid of a baby Jesus on the courthouse lawn or a Menorah in a city park absolutely confounds me. We are people of faith. People can choose to live their faith as they choose to." CLICK HERE to view the C-SPAN video of the speech.
March 3, 2016
A lower court ruled that Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, must pay penalties and attorneys' fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer's same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred Rob Ingersoll, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support. "Barronelle and many others like her around the country have been willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner.
March 1, 2016
Discrimination against Americans of faith is on the increase, but if they stand up for their religious liberty, they can prevail, a new report says. "Hostility to religion in America is rising like floodwaters," Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel at First Liberty Institute, writes in the report. "This flood is engulfing ordinary citizens who simply try to live normal lives according to their faith and conscience." The report documents more than 1,200 legal cases involving persons who believe they have been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.
February 28, 2016
Doug Laycock, a distinguished professor of law and professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and a lead player in helping draft RFRA, occupies a middle ground between Haynes' and Garnett's viewpoints, describing Scalia's work on the case as both a blow to religious freedom advocacy in the early 1990s, but also an impetus for the heightened protections the U.S. has today. "Smith has had real consequences that, on the whole, have been bad for religious liberty. But not as bad as people feared at the time. And the growth of statutory protection has probably been good for religious liberty," Laycock wrote in an email. Scalia was supportive of the protections guaranteed by RFRA.
February 23, 2016
Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon bakers who were ordered to pay $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, have assembled a new legal team to take their case through the appeals process. On July 2, 2015, Brad Avakian, commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 for the emotional, physical, and psychological damages they caused a lesbian couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, for refusing to make a wedding cake. "They've assembled a world-class team of appellate attorneys including Boyden Gray," Jeremy Dys, a senior counsel at First Liberty, formerly known as Liberty Institute, told The Daily Signal.
February 8, 2016
Indiana's Senate Bill 344 died "because it was a threat to freedom of religion and conscience," said Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Society at the Heritage Foundation. "Because when you elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to the same status as race, mainstream religious beliefs about sexual identity are then labeled as bigoted," he said. The broad anti-discrimination bill, introduced in the state senate in January, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or active duty military service in areas like housing, employment and education.
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.
January 21, 2016
Obama is correct. All Americans should be able to be free to live out their religious principles. Yet some of the greatest threats to religious freedom in America in recent years have come from policies he supports. The Obamacare contraceptive mandate, for example, has resulted in government persecution of an order of religious sisters. The Little Sisters of the Poor seek to continue their mission of serving the elderly poor while operating in accordance with their religious beliefs without fear of incurring government penalties. With the Obamacare requirement in place, they face millions in government fines for doing so.
January 20, 2016
An LGBT activist group has singled out Christian colleges in a recent report, claiming they use religious liberty as a "guise for discrimination" against LGBT students. Since 2013, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 56 colleges have applied for partial exemptions to Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, citing views on transgenderism and homosexuality. The group is calling on Congress and the Department of Education to broadcast information about these schools to prospective students.
January 15, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up a case that addresses the question of whether states can exhibit hostility to religion by prohibiting churches and church-run organizations from participating in state programs solely because the groups are religious. ADF attorneys represent a church-run pre-school and daycare center which the state of Missouri excluded from a program that provides recycled tire products to surface children's playgrounds. "No state can define religious neutrality as treating religious organizations worse than everyone else," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.
January 14, 2016
"If you desire to improve your health in this new year, just give yourself a little something to work with. During my grandfather's story he said, 'A person can't pray for a new job and expect to get it when they haven't even filled out an application. You have to give God a little something to work with,'" he added. However, Col. Thomas Hundley's post was met not with approval but rejection by the activist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation headed by Mikey Weinstein, who filed a complaint about it with the Army Regional Health Command in Virginia, according to Military.com.
January 14, 2016
Sadly, predictions about 2015 had come true-persecution of Christians increased on every continent in the last year. While much of the attention is on radical Islam-which is sure to blame-perennial offenders (like #1 North Korea) continue to make a deadly impact with their incredibly repressive state-sponsored persecution. The ten worst nations for persecution of Christians throughout 2015 were North Korea, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya.
January 5, 2016
A group of pharmacists in Washington state is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect their religious rights. They're fighting a ruling that lets the state force them to dispense drugs that may cause abortions, even though that violates their conscience. The group, including a Ralph's Thriftway Pharmacy in Olympia and two other pharmacists, says requiring them to dispense the Plan B drug infringes on their religious beliefs and is equivalent to involving them in abortion.
January 4, 2016
On the other hand, the Obama Administration and the State Department, faced with growing calls to acknowledge this genocide, have spent months debating whether to label the Islamic State's attacks against members of only one religious minority, the Yazidis, a "genocide," a classification that carries important legal and political implications. This situation raises an important question: what about others? In particular, what about the largest non-Muslim minority in the Middle East: Christians. In response to the Administration's reluctance to designate Christians as victims of genocide, many organizations and individuals have urged Secretary of State John Kerry to include Iraqi and Syrian Christians as well, thus raising a further question: if not now, when?
January 2, 2016
He said the idea that government must be neutral between religion and unbelief is not grounded in the country's constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the United States because Americans honor him. He said he would concur with their principle of treating religion and non-religion as equals if Congress enacted it by statute. "But don't cram it down the throats of an American people that have always honored God," he said. Quoting from his “text” — “I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’ ” he then quipped, “That seems to be what my court does.”
December 18, 2015
Middle East researchers acknowledged the terrible threat that Middle East researchers acknowledged the terrible threat that ISIS poses to religious freedom, virtually wiping out minority communities, including Christians. Bishop Angelos of the Coptic Church in the United Kingdom said that Western nations don't want to defend the Christians of the Middle East because they fear being seen as biased. If Western nations won't step in to stop ISIS, who will?
December 15, 2015
To understand the level of contempt for religious liberty, consider - for example - the words of Chai Feldblum, a commissioner of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whose message for those who seek to exercise their religious freedom in the marketplace was chilling: "When someone has not been educated [about tolerance of LGBT individuals] and wants to keep discriminating . . . there is only one federal government, there is only one state government, one local government that can say: We will not tolerate this in our society." [But] since Obergefell, the Evangelical community has redoubled its commitment to orthodoxy. Those Christians who’ve fought back against domestic political repression — especially on college campuses — tend to emerge from the fight spiritually revitalized. A sense of resolve is spreading across the Evangelical world, a resolve every bit as strong as the resolve on the LGBT Left.
November 24, 2015
Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Salem, Va., medical center after it issued a Christmas memo to its employees that explained they are only "permitted to engage in private religious expression in their personal work areas that are not regularly open to the public" in an effort to extend "a happy holiday season in a manner that is welcoming to all." The wording of the memo leaves open the possibility that employees could be punished for Christmas decorations or "merry Christmas" greetings to veterans except in personal workstations that are out of public view. "It's ridiculous that people have to think twice about whether it's okay to celebrate Christmas as Christmas rather than some watered-down winter holiday," said ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley.
November 17, 2015
With the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the case of Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York, the for-now final outcome of this 20-year-old case-centered on the public's right to meet for worship in rented public school facilities-is now in the hands of the city's mayor, Bill de Blasio. While he has assured Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and their allies (including many New York civic and religious leaders) that, under his administration, churches like Bronx Household will be allowed to hold worship services in public buildings, the only permanent hope for that freedom now lies with the state legislature.
November 9, 2015
I knew he was in a relationship with a man and he knew I was a Christian. But that never clouded the friendship for either of us or threatened our shared creativity - until he asked me to design something special to celebrate his upcoming wedding. If all he'd asked for were prearranged flowers, I'd gladly have provided them. If the celebration were for his partner's birthday, I'd have been delighted to pour my best into the challenge. But as a Christian, weddings have a particular significance.
November 6, 2015
Based on his new book Faith Steps: Moving toward God through Personal Choice and Public Policy, Jonathan Imbody’s lecture explained the importance of Christian participation in the public square. As Jonathan asked, "Why should people who know the difference between good and evil leave government in the hands of those who do not?" Jonathan made a point of emphasizing that Christians must engage culture in terms the culture understands, using the Apostle Paul's message to the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill (Acts 17) as a solid biblical example. "God creates every human being in His image," writes Jonathan. "From a public policy standpoint, this means that we honor and protect human life at every stage of development, especially when individuals cannot protect themselves. From a personal standpoint, it means that as God's image-bearers, we need to walk consistently with His principles if the image we reflect is to help others better understand Him." Be sure to watch the lecture and learn why your involvement in public life is so vital, and how we can make arguments persuasively to our needy culture.
November 4, 2015
He is the kind of man who not only cares about his players because that's what coaches are supposed to do, but because he has seen tough times as a teenager in Bremerton himself. He celebrates and loves his players the way we would hope all coaches do, but far exceeds that standard. That is why I am troubled that Kennedy is banned from working with those young men because he is exactly the kind of coach I once so desperately needed and these young men need today. Going further, I am troubled that Kennedy is suspended from duty because he made the decision to pray.
November 3, 2015
The falloff in traditional religious beliefs and practices coincides with changes in the religious composition of the U.S. public. A growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, including some who self-identify as atheists or agnostics as well as many who describe their religion as "nothing in particular." Altogether, the religiously unaffiliated (also called the "nones") now account for 23% of the adult population, up from 16% in 2007. As older cohorts of adults (comprised mainly of self-identified Christians) pass away, they are being replaced by a new cohort of young adults who display far lower levels of attachment to organized religion than their parents' and grandparents' generations did when they were the same age.
November 2, 2015
HERO would impose new, and potentially ruinous liability on innocent citizens for alleged "discrimination" based not on objective traits, but on subjective and unverifiable identities. HERO would further increase government interference in markets, potentially discouraging economic growth and job creation. And, as to issues surrounding "gender identity" and "transgender" teachers, students and employees, HERO could require education and employment policies concerning schoolhouse, locker room, and workplace conditions that undermine common sense.
November 1, 2015
Washington state high school football coach Joe Kennedy, inspired by the Christian faith-based film "Facing the Giants," walks to the 50-yard line after games to thank God for the players he has the opportunity to coach. As of Wednesday, Kennedy has been suspended and is no longer able to participate in football program activities because of his post-game prayers. "We tried to meet with the school officials in-person but they refused to meet," Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel for Liberty Institute, said in a statement. "We were only able to have a brief hour and a half call with their lawyer, and the result was a letter banning private prayer just a few hours before last Friday's game. It is unfortunate this school district is choosing litigation instead of a simple meeting."
October 26, 2015
What do Hobby Lobby, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Wheaton College, World Vision, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the University of Notre Dame have in common? All are faith-based organizations that have faced pressure to act in ways contrary to their religious beliefs. In this book, two policy experts show how faith-based groups--those active in the educational, healthcare, international aid and development, and social service fields--can defend their ability to follow their religiously based beliefs without having to jettison the very faith and faith-based practices that led them to provide services to those in need.
October 21, 2015
According to a new study released today by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (of which one of us, Brian Grim, is president), the globe's growing religious diversity is likely to be one of the 21st century's most important developments for businesses and policymakers around the world. Burgeoning religious populations with greater wealth will have greater political influence, and this has the potential to either undermine or enhance social stability and economic strength. To navigate this new economic landscape well-and to ensure continued economic growth-it will be vital that national and business leaders emphasize the protection of minority groups' human rights, especially the rights and liberties of all religious groups.
October 5, 2015
A judge in Washington state ruled this week that a 70-year-old florist who declined to make flower arrangements for a gay couple's wedding violated the state's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman said the decision-and its accompanying fines-will put her flower shop out of business, or worse. After the fines and legal fees, "There won't be anything left," Stutzman said. "They want my home, they want my business, they want my personal finances as an example for other people to be quiet."
October 3, 2015
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has promised, if she becomes President, to use her influence to cut off federal funding for adoption and foster care agencies that "discriminate against LGBT people." Clinton said: "As president, I would push to cut off federal funding for any child welfare agency that discriminates against LGBT people. For me, there is no excuse - none - for hurting children and families like this."
October 1, 2015
To tax someone or something is to exercise sovereign power over that person or thing. But then, quite obviously, any state or federal taxation of churches or religious organizations would constitute an exercise of sovereignty by the state over the church-that is, over religion. To maintain that government has the power to tax religious organizations is to affirm the sovereignty of state over church. To affirm that proposition is to reject any meaningful distinction-much less separation-between church and state. In short, those who advocate the right of the state to tax religious organizations are abandoning the separation of church and state.
October 1, 2015
A court battle in the Pacific Northwest has opened another front in the fight over religious liberty, raising questions over whether pharmacies are legally obligated to provide patients with emergency contraception despite moral objections. "The opponents to religious liberty keep escalating their demands," says Douglas Laycock, a law and religious studies professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. "People who are offended by religious opposition to emergency contraception may bring political pressure to enact such rules despite the lack of any need for them."
State university faculty bans "racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language"
September 4, 2015
A reasonable response would be for parents and students to boycott rather than subsidize such universities, and for Congress to cut off all federal aid to public institutions like the University of Washington that violate the Constitution. Then the faculty and administrators can parade around in robes and soft hats in their multi-million-dollar auditoriums and prattle on about transphobia, species-ism, GOP-ism, and whatever else they can't tolerate, all day long--until they have to get to the unemployment offices before closing time.
September 2, 2015
The citizens of Rowan County have a right to receive in a timely and efficient manner the various government provisions-including licenses-to which they are entitled. At the same time, the employees of Rowan County (including civil servants) have rights, including religious liberty rights, and they are entitled to religious accommodations. But a religious accommodation, like religious liberty in general, is not absolute.
September 2, 2015
Gov. Mike Huckabee:"She's a Democrat, and I salute her today. I stand with her."
Carly Fiorina: "When you are a government employee...you are agreeing to act as an arm of the government."
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fl): "While the clerk's office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.): "As a public official, comply with the law or resign."
Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.): "I think one way to get around the whole idea of what the Supreme Court is forcing on the states is for the states to just get out of the business of giving out licenses."
Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.): "Someone who works in the government has a bit of a different obligation than someone who's in the private sector."
September 1, 2015
Davis - who stopped issuing licenses to all couples, gay and straight - had not indicated late Monday how she would respond to the court's decision. Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal group that is representing Davis, demurred earlier Monday when asked how she would respond if she lost. "She's not going to resign, but to issue a marriage license is a direct conflict with her religious convictions," he said. "So it would put her in a real Catch-22 over having to make a decision about her convictions."
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.
August 25, 2015
Incoming freshman at Duke University are reportedly refusing to read their summer novel, Fun Home- an LGBT, graphic novel by Alison Bechdel - due to their Christian and moral beliefs. According to the Duke Chronicle, freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page that he would not read the book "because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality." "I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,"Grasso added. Many other students shared Grasso's beliefs, saying that they were against reading the novel which details Bechdel's tumultuous relationship with her father, a closeted gay man, while coming to terms with her own sexuality.
August 24, 2015
Craig James, a former professional football player, ran into trouble when he started working at Fox Sports Southwest. Network executives fired him when they discovered statements he made while running for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Texas. He said he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. He ended up losing the nomination to Ted Cruz. Earlier this month, James filed a lawsuit against Fox Sports. "He understands that this is going to touch every single employee across this country. Are you going to be allowed to talk about your faith at work?" said attorney Jeremy Dys of the Liberty Institute.
August 13, 2015
Tax exemption for churches protects religious entities from the state. Giving government authority to tax religious entities not only breaches the protective wall of separation that guards the church from the state, but effectively knocks that wall down. Religious values have long infused American public life and law, yet as institutions, church and state are distinct institutionally. Giving any government, whether federal, state, or local, the legal authority to tax property belonging to religious entities is only a first step toward making churches institutionally subservient to that government.
August 13, 2015
If there is one thing that I thought I'd learned over the past few weeks, it's that history has a "side," and I don't happen to be on it. Imagine my confusion when I discovered that since the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision, three separate polls showed that support for same-sex marriage had declined. Not only that, but almost six in ten Americans now support the right of religious business owners to decline to participate in same-sex weddings - a sharp increase.
August 6, 2015
Religious freedom isn't just for non-profits. Again, the pro-life movement's example is instructive. It protected pro-life conscience across the board, not just for non-profits, because opening a business (even as an ob-gyn doctor) shouldn't require leaving your principles behind. Thanks to its efforts, people of deep religious or secular conviction concerning the moral worth of unborn children can serve as doctors, nurses and medical workers without being forced to perform abortions.
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?
August 1, 2015
The Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage at the end of June has set the country up for two new waves of discrimination claims: those made by same-sex couples and LGBT workers, and those made by religious Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. The two may seem distinct or even opposed, but they're actually intertwined: In certain cases, extending new rights to LBGT workers will necessarily lead to religious-freedom objections, and vice versa. One arena to keep an eye on is that of religious colleges and universities. Some leaders at Christian schools, including many that identify as evangelical, fear they may be stripped of their tax-exempt status, lose their access to federal funding, or face other problems because of their policies on homosexuality. (orig. pub. 7/27/15)
July 28, 2015
As recently as 1993, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by a nearly unanimous Congress and signed by a Democratic president. Today, the same value is a political liability. Bakers, photographers, and florists are being ruined, adoption agencies shuttered, schools threatened with loss of accreditation and nonprofit status. So what happened? Why is religious liberty now losing so much ground? As I explain in my just-released book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, three historical developments explain our current predicament: a change in the scope of our government, a change in our sexual values, and a change in our political leaders’ vision of religious liberty. An adequate response will need to address each of these changes.
July 27, 2015
To ensure that Americans have as much freedom after the redefinition of marriage as they did before, the law should prohibit government discrimination against those who dissent from the conclusion of five justices in Obergefell v. Hodges. During oral arguments in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli made clear that the nonprofit tax status of religious schools would be at risk if the Court decided to redefine marriage. Within days of the Obergefell decision, a New York Times columnist writing in TIME suggested that religious organizations who do not get in line with the new public policy should lose their nonprofit tax status.
July 24, 2015
"Public officials should not be allowed to run roughshod over the right of the people to decide these types of issues, especially when the citizens of Houston clearly met all the qualifications for having their voice heard," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement. "The scandal began when the city arbitrarily threw out the valid signatures of thousands of voters. The city did this all because it was bent on pushing through its deeply unpopular ordinance at any cost."
July 2, 2015
[Justice Kennedy found] the right of everyone to the “dignity” of marriage. The uncertain implications of that right should be a concern not just for conservatives but also for civil libertarians. [T]he use of a dignity right as a vehicle presents a new, unexpected element, since it may exist in tension with the right to free speech or free exercise of religion. Obergefell would be a tragic irony if it succeeded in finally closing the door on morality and speech codes only to introduce an equally ill-defined dignity code. Both involve majoritarian values, enforced by the government, regarding what is acceptable and protectable. Substituting compulsory morality with compulsory liberalism simply shifts the burden of coercive state power from one group to another.
July 1, 2015
Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have been forced to close their doors, rather than abandon their commitment to placing children in homes with a married mother and father. Numerous photographers, florists, cake makers, farmers, and many others have been hauled into court or fined for simply declining to help plan or participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. The First Amendment Defense Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and in the House by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against any individual, organization, school, or business because they acted in accordance with the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
July 1, 2015
Judicial activism causes harm. The Obergefell ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely cause four distinct types of harm to the body politic. The ruling has already and will continue to cause harm to constitutional democratic self-government. Redefining marriage makes it more about the romantic desires of the consenting adults involved than about the needs or the rights of children involved in a relationship with their mother and father. When fundamental policy changes are made by court rulings that have no basis in the Constitution, it makes change harder to accept-because it casts doubt on the change itself. Most alarmingly, the majority opinion never discusses the free exercise of religion.
July 1, 2015
We can't allow the judicial usurpation of politics to go uncontested. We have to commit now to bearing witness to the truth about marriage-a permanent and exclusive union of man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother-and work to restore our constitutional authority as citizens to make marriage policy that serves the common good by reflecting this truth. How do we do that? Here are five steps....
July 1, 2015
The majority of Americans-nearly six in 10-say they are concerned that religious freedom will become more restricted in the next five years (56%). These concerns are heightened among older Americans: 62 percent of adults over age 40, compared to 45 percent of Americans under 40, say they are concerned about the future of religious freedom. Not surprisingly, those who are religious are most concerned: Three-quarters of practicing Christians 40 and older (77%) and nine out of 10 evangelicals (93%) say they are concerned that religious freedom will become more restricted in the next five years.
July 1, 2015
(orig. pub. 6/24/15) The June 18 Metro article "House GOP targets D.C.'s reproductive-bias law" failed to note the law's unprecedented breadth, which led then-D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and his general counsel to warn last year of legal and constitutional defects. The law protects employees who make any decision relating to "the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy." The law protects employees who make any decision relating to "the planned or intended initiation or termination of a pregnancy." So pro-life organizations must employ women who plan to have abortions, as well as men who perform abortions or tell colleagues they will encourage women to have them.
June 30, 2015
[The First Amendment] actually guarantees freedom of religious expression, of which teaching the faith is but one small part. Or as the First Amendment puts it, Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. To pat the religious on the head and say, “you can kind of still teach, for now” while discovering a new constitutional right in deep conflict with those teachings is disconcerting, to put it mildly. Kennedy's muddled opinion included a total of one paragraph on the most contentious religious freedom issue of our time. Even that paragraph showed, as Thomas put it, a mistaken understanding of the First Amendment.
June 27, 2015
First, we must call the court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges what it is: judicial activism. Just as the pro-life movement successfully rejected Roe v. Wade and exposed its lies about unborn life and about the Constitution, we must make it clear to our fellow citizens that Obergefell v. Hodges does not tell the truth about marriage or about our Constitution. Second, we must protect our freedom to speak and live according to our beliefs. The pro-life movement accomplished this by ensuring that pro-life doctors and nurses would never have to perform abortions. And it made sure that pro-lifers and pro-life organizations could not be discriminated against by the government. We must ensure that the government does not discriminate against citizens or organizations because of their belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife.
June 26, 2015
"What today's decision did was strip that flat freedom to do so. Not just from them but the entire democratic process that we so near and dear to America. I think we're headed into some unchartered territories, affects towards religious freedom. And it remains to be seen, will people in this country still remain protected under the first amendment to live according to their faith with respect to marriage."
June 26, 2015
The American College of Pediatricians, in an amici brief in Obergefell v. Hodges, stated what is often the case when sound research is ignored by the left when it fails to support their causes: "Despite being certified by almost all major social science scholarly associations-indeed, in part because of this-the alleged scientific consensus that having two parents of the same sex is innocuous for child well-being is almost wholly without basis. All but a handful of the studies cited in support draw on small, non-random samples which cannot be extrapolated to the same-sex population at large. This limitation is repeatedly acknowledged in scientific meetings and journals, but ignored when asserted as settled findings in public or judicial advocacy."
June 26, 2015
First, in reading this right into the Constitution, the Court played social policy maker instead of judge. This issue should have been left to the states, but the Court chose instead to make extensive pronouncements of social policy and create a right to same sex marriage under the Constitution. Second, the Court overlooks huge logical gaps throughout its use of precedent and case law. All of the marriage decisions the majority relies on pertained to marriage between a man and a woman. None of them dealt with a marriage between two people of the same sex. To claim all those decisions contemplated such relationships as constitutionally protected marriages is an incredible leap in legal reasoning.
June 25, 2015
Today's cultural power elite is entirely aligned with the economic power elite, and they're ready to steamroll anyone in their way. In the case of Indiana's RFRA, corporate and gay activists combined to bring to heel conservative Christians in a rural, Rust Belt state that struggles at the margins of America's global economy. Corporate America is willing to join any coalition that advances its financial interests and deeper philosophic commitments, at the expense of Americans on the wrong side of history, especially those Americans living in places like Indiana who aren't part of the meritocratic global elite.
June 25, 2015
As a nation founded in the pursuit of religious freedom, America can and must do more to root-out the religious intolerance that is helping to foster much of the political instability and violence we see today. Specifically, we believe the Obama Administration should integrate the protection of religious freedom into its overall response to growing terrorist threats and development efforts around the world. Doing so would help to eliminate the underlying causes of violent extremism, promote increased international economic stability, and foster greater respect for human rights.
June 24, 2015
Robert P. George, chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, "I believe that our government does care about the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Countries that fail to uphold religious freedom are more likely to be plagued by poverty and insecurity, tyranny and terrorism. Hence, religious freedom belongs prominently at the table with economic and security concerns in the conduct of our foreign policy."
June 15, 2015
A federal court ordered the Army to allow a Sikh college student to join his college's NROTC unit without having to shave his beard, cut his hair or remove his turban. "All this Sikh student wants to do is to serve his country," said Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "The military cannot issue uniform exemptions for secular reasons but then refuse to issue them for religious reasons. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was written and passed nearly unanimously by Congress precisely to protect the rights of individuals such as Mr. Singh."
June 11, 2015
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law letting faith-based adoption agencies with state contracts decline to participate in referrals that violate their beliefs. The Republican governor told The Associated Press Thursday that the legislation codifies existing state practice for private agencies with contracts to place children and ensures as many organizations as possible are involved in helping kids be adopted
June 8, 2015
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today urged the Department of Homeland Security to change all United States Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization and citizenship materials to reflect our First Amendment right of the free exercise of religion, instead of simply the "freedom of worship." Currently, the naturalization test civics questions only reflect "freedom of worship."
June 4, 2015
To address the concern that religious institutions may lose their tax-exempt status if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage later this month, the Utah Republican plans to introduce legislation next week that would ban that from happening. "Discrimination by private parties against private parties-that's one issue," Lee told a small group of reporters today in a phone conference. "There is a different issue when the government is itself the discriminator ... that's a problem and that's what we're trying to protect here."
June 4, 2015
In other words, the employer can't discriminate against the employee or prospective employee "because of" their religion, or on account of their religion, and can't make their religious practice "a factor" in employment decisions. This is a good result with regard to protecting the religious practices of employees. In the future, in other contexts where employers may seek to exclude Christians from the workplace, the employers won't be able to escape the law by claiming ignorance. The Court's ruling today means that the employer won't be able to escape liability by just claiming "the employee never told me they needed a religious accommodation."
June 3, 2015
Attorney Jim Campbell, who handles various constitutional cases for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has a working list written down at his office in Scottsdale, Ariz. The list details benefits religious nonprofits could lose if the Supreme Court makes gay marriage a constitutional right. When he arrived at work recently, he read it off: 501(c)3 status, tax benefits, government licensing, accreditation, and government contracts or grants, among others.
June 1, 2015
"If you think about it, we are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech," Rubio told CBN News. "Because today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater. So what's the next step after that?" he asked. "After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech and there's a real and present danger," he warned.
May 26, 2015
Three months after Canada's high court overturned legislation against assisted suicide, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the nation's attorney general to be included in upcoming public consultations on the decision's implementation. "The Court's ruling not only erodes society's appreciation for human life, but also the trust and confidence all people, particularly those most vulnerable, should have in medical personnel and health-care institutions to protect their lives," said Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau.
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?
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.
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.
May 13, 2015
In an interview with The Washington Post timed to a high-level summit on combating poverty, Harvard professor Robert Putnam said, "The obvious fact is that over the last 30 years, most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those." This is utter nonsense, to the point of absurdity. Broadly speaking, American churches are incredibly generous to the needs of a hurting world. As noted by The Philanthropy Roundtable: "In 2009, overseas relief and development supported by American churches exceeded $13 billion, according to path-breaking calculations by the Hudson Center for Global Prosperity."
May 13, 2015
In light of how narrow the bill's protections are, the rhetoric of the bill's opponents seems divorced from reality. The executive director of the Louisiana chapter of ACLU warned that the bill would legalize spousal abuse. She opined that an earlier version of the bill "basically dismantles the Louisiana legal system. The whole criminal code goes out the window."
May 12, 2015
These individuals, and their bold ideas (whether in art, literature, music, science, or civil rights), were made possible because they lived in societies where religion thrived. Their religious beliefs were allowed to inform and guide their actions. Their faith inspired their contributions in their given fields-contributions that left indelible marks on Western Civilization. When religious freedom is extinguished, when individuals are told to separate their faith from their work-to confine it to their home or church-our society loses something of great worth. We lose beauty, inspiration, and innovation born out of service to a higher calling.
May 9, 2015
This is about the power of the state to to close or fine Christian business owners, this is about the left trying to silence us and telling us we don't have a right to live our lives according to our sincerely held beliefs. When Secretary Clinton, when President Obama say, ‘you've got the freedom of religious expression,' to them, that just means you get to go to church and say what you want inside church. That's not religious liberty. Religious liberty is the ability to live our lives according to our faith 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
May 9, 2015
"I'm betting that when it comes to doing the right and good thing, the Little Sisters of the Poor know better than the regulators at the Department of Health and Human Services," Bush said. "From the standpoint of religious freedom, you might even say it's a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother - and I'm going with the Little Sisters." But even as he struck the conservative chords on religious freedom, Bush sought to position himself as a social conservative capable of reaching out to those of all beliefs. Bush declared that "some moral standards are universal" and can't be shifted by public opinion, referencing his opposition to abortion and his efforts to keep Terri Schiavo alive, as well as the need to fight sex trafficking and stand up for oppressed minorities.
April 30, 2015
The House voted late Thursday night to overturn the District of Columbia's law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on reproductive health choices. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) sponsored the disapproval resolution in the House, while 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a companion measure in the Senate. Republicans maintained the disapproval resolution would ensure religious employers' First Amendment rights are protected. "This is not a war on women. It is an outright war on religious liberties," said Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.).
April 30, 2015
"America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and faith-based employers deserve the ability to hire people who share their beliefs. The measure passed by the D.C. Council, however, discriminates against religious and pro-life Americans, violates their conscience rights, and runs completely counter to the ‘free exercise' clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a proud pro-life Catholic, I condemn this form of discrimination and urge the president to reconsider his veto threat of our joint resolution."
April 29, 2015
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who authored the resolution to overturn RHNDA, explained: "Women are already rightfully protected from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy status and a number of other fronts through both D.C. and federal law. This resolution does nothing to change that. As a registered nurse, I have spent my career caring for women, children, and families. The claims that my resolution amounts to ‘an attack on women's healthcare' are offensive and patently false."
April 22, 2015
The global swell of radical Islamic terrorism led by the Islamic State (ISIL) has ushered in an exceptionally dangerous era for religious minorities, particularly Christians. On Sunday, a video surfaced depicting the execution of dozens of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, a country that has descended into terrorism-fueled chaos in recent years. Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said, "We've taken steps regardless of an individual's religious identity to try to protect anybody who is being targeted because of that religious identity." Certainly, "working hard" and "taking steps" to protect "anybody" is better than nothing, but is the White House "doing all it can to protect Christians"? It seems we have our answer...
April 22, 2015
The issue pertinent here is not whether the death penalty for convicted murderers is moral or not. The issue is whether the state should be able to force people to help facilitate an execution against their will. And it raises the greater question of when the government, in general, can compel people to act against their beliefs. That is why we need state laws like the religious freedom law that the federal government and 20 other states have approved, and that the North Carolina Legislature is currently considering. Government exercises its actions through coercion, and sometimes, the government can achieve its end without compelling those with a moral objection to participate in something that violates their conscience.
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.
April 16, 2015
At a news conference Thursday, Jindal said the bill only prevents the state from discriminating against businesses or business owners who choose to exercise their religious beliefs. Critics say the measure could sanction discrimination against same-sex couples in Louisiana. "The great thing in America is that we support the right of folks to live their lives according to their beliefs, whether we agree with them or not," Jindal said. "I think you can have tolerance and religious liberty. I don't think those two are mutually exclusive." The governor said the bill as written doesn't affect the ability of a business to serve or not serve its customers.
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.
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."
April 13, 2015
Nevertheless, such people are increasingly being ostracized, fired and facing death threats simply because of such beliefs. All of this makes protection of their individual rights and civil liberties even more crucial. Protecting their rights is what Louisiana's Marriage and Conscience Act (H.B. 707) would do. This bill would prohibit the government from taking "any adverse action against a person" due to that person's "religious belief[s] or moral convictions[s] about the institution of marriage."
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.
April 9, 2015
These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church's freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today's culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church's freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith. Here are five ways churches can protect their freedom to maintain fidelity to the faith.
April 8, 2015
Of all of the principles that the left is suddenly willing to sacrifice on the altar of same-sex marriage - free speech, free exercise of religion, the rule of law, the right to vote, etc. - the most surprising to me is that it is now demanding compulsory participation and support of religious services. The opponents of RFRA are still quick to deploy their "separation of church and state" cliché, but one side is demanding that the state fine people for declining to participate in a religious service. It isn't mine. It's the ACLU and its allies who are ready to use the power of the state to compel unwilling people to participate in religious services.
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?
April 3, 2015
On the conservative side, said Kingsfield, Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life. "The fact that Mike Pence can't articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn't care and can't articulate it, is shocking," Kingsfield said. Why can't Republicans articulate this? We don't have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can't imagine that they might be wrong about any of it."
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.
April 2, 2015
the proposed "fix" amounts to nothing less than a wholesale repeal of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act with respect to those who need religious liberty protections the most. The "fix" is bad public policy that explicitly exempts sexual orientation and gender identity laws from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act except with respect to a narrow class of nonprofit religious organizations and their agents. The "fix" specifically targets the millions of other religious Americans who wish to live their lives in accordance with their faith values, free from government coercion.
April 2, 2015
It has been 22 years since President Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. In two decades of RFRAs, the world has not ended. In fact, not a single person who identifies as homosexual has been harmed by these RFRAs. None. This may come as a surprise to you if you have watched any of the media coverage or been on social media for the last several days. The unhinged claims from the Left have been entirely detached from the reality that these laws have actually existed for decades and have never resulted in any of the things they worry will happen. This is not new. Dire warnings that are unsurprisingly not confirmed by future events have been a common theme in arguments from the Left in recent years.
April 1, 2015
The United States is in a time of transition. Courts have redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Will the right to dissent be protected? Will the right of Americans to speak and act in accord with what the United States had always believed about marriage - that it's a union of husband and wife - be tolerated?
March 31, 2015
Discrimination is going on all right but not against the groups many on the Left are claiming. Here's the bottom line: many people who support abortion or who support same-sex marriage don't just want those rights for themselves. They want society at large to approve of their actions. And they will fight any law or movement that they believe undermines that goal. Religious freedom laws, like the one coming under fire in Indiana, are needed because it is increasingly people of faith who are being persecuted.
March 30, 2015
In the nation’s capital, religious freedom is being attacked in the name of "reproductive health decisions." The City Council has enacted a Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, under which, for example, a Catholic school or a pro-life organization in D.C. would have to cover elective abortions in its healthcare plan and could not fire an employee who had an abortion and bragged about it to students. They’re not satisfied that abortion is legal—their idea of freedom is to force religious institutions not only to pay for the procedure but to promote it as well. The City Council has also enacted a “Human Rights Amendment” which compels religious schools to support the LGBT agenda with recognition and funding (think Georgetown University).
March 17, 2015
We must preserve and promote freedom of conscience. We must promote understanding of and respect for freedom of conscience and belief as an inherent aspect of whom each of us are as human beings and as essential to respect each individual's inherent dignity.
March 17, 2015
Five months ago the Navy called him the "best of the best." But now, Chaplain Wes Modder could be kicked out of the military over issues of intolerance and insensitivity to other cultures. Lt. Cmdr. Modder has been accused of failing to show "tolerance and respect" in private counseling sessions regarding issues pertaining to faith marriage and sexuality - including homosexuality. On March 16 the Navy rejected Modder's claim that he was being singled out because of his Christian faith. LTG (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, who now serves as executive vice president at the Family Research Council, said a chaplain isn’t worth anything if he isn’t allowed to minister and counsel according to his faith. "The Navy has to decide whether it wants a chaplain corps or social workers only.”
March 10, 2015
"Religious freedom is a bedrock value of our society but, on President Obama's watch, this time-honored principle is under assault," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. "From Obamacare's coercive HHS mandate to the unlawful, pro-abortion directive by the state boards in California, it is clear that Congress must act where the White House will not and reverse this infringement of our First Amendment rights." Pro-life lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation similar to HR 940 for several years. But this year, Black, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Rep. John Fleming, R-La., plan to combine HR 940 with an appropriations bill to increase its chances of passing.
March 9, 2015
The two euphemistically titled acts are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA). These policies will saddle religious organizations and employers with a choice between complying with coercive laws that force them to violate their religious beliefs and organizational missions and staying true to their beliefs in defiance of unjust laws. RHNDA discriminates against pro-lifers and HRAA violates religious liberty. The former could force employers in the nation's capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality and recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus.
March 9, 2015
Michael Berry, a military veteran and attorney with Liberty Institute a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is representing Modder. "We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs," Berry said. "They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?' They want chaplains to be glorified summer camp counselors and not speak truth and love into people's lives. There are some anti-religious elements in our military. Anytime somebody wants to live their faith out - there are people who say that is offensive."
March 5, 2015
These two points-that InterVarsity qualified for the ministerial exception and that it could not waive its constitutional rights-were the most significant outcomes of the case, according to David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, the firm that defended InterVarsity. "It matters not whether the plaintiff is claiming a specific violation under Title VII or any other employment discrimination statute," the court wrote. "The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses do not permit federal or state courts to adjudicate such matters when the defendant properly asserts the ministerial exception as an affirmative defense."
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.
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.
February 20, 2015
The Obama administration is getting ready to issue new rules requiring charities to provide abortions to child refugees entering the US without their parents. Faith-based groups say this is a contravention of the rights of parents and a violation of the conscience rights of faith-based groups helping resettle the children. The rules require faith-based providers to make referrals for emergency contraception, partner with groups which provide abortion, or notify the federal government which would make arrangements for the abortion.
February 19, 2015
Former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran filed today a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and its Mayor Kasim Reed alleging they terminated his employment because of his belief in traditional marriage. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, states Cochran's was fired "solely" because "...[Cochran] holds religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct that are contrary to the mayor's and the city's views on these subjects, and because he expressed those beliefs in the non-work-related, religious book he self-published."
February 18, 2015
A state judge ruled Wednesday that Washington floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman must provide full support for wedding ceremonies that are contrary to her faith. The court claims that Stutzman's referral of a long-time customer to another business for floral design and support for a same-sex ceremony violated Washington law. The court also ruled recently that both the state and the same-sex couple, who each filed lawsuits against her, may collect damages and attorneys' fees not only from her business, but from Stutzman personally. "The message of these rulings is unmistakable: the government will bring about your personal and professional ruin if you don't help celebrate same-sex marriage," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the court in December.
January 26, 2015
Bowser signed into law two euphemistically titled acts: The "Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act" and the "Human Rights Amendment Act." In fact, the former discriminates against pro-lifers, and the latter violates the human right of religious liberty. Here's how. The former could force employers in the nation's capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus.
January 8, 2015
Just before the Christmas break, the D.C. City Council passed a law that could force pro-life organizations to pay for abortion coverage. But that wasn't the only piece of bad legislation, violating religious liberty which came out of the D.C. Council in December. A new bill might force Christian schools to recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus. Here's how: In a unanimous vote on Dec. 2, the D.C. Council approved legislation that revokes religious liberty protections that Congress passed for the District back in 1989. The Orwellian titled bill-"The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014"-eliminates an important protection for a key human right: religious liberty.
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.
January 6, 2015
Christians must defend marriage by facing opponents winsomely and demonstrating that God's plan of one man and one woman for life promotes human flourishing, Rick Warren told international religious leaders at the Vatican Nov. 18. To stem the cultural tide in favor of gay marriage, Christians should promote "tasteful" movies and television shows that celebrate marriage, Warren said. Media produced by marriage proponents should portray "the joys and benefits of healthy marriages and the hard work it takes to maintain a great marriage." Social media should be used "to mentor the next generation" regarding marriage, he said.
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.
December 9, 2014
Since July, Michael Lindsay, the 42-year-old president of Gordon College near Boston, has faced the firing line. Due to public allegations that his college supports discrimination against LGBT students and faculty, Lindsay spent much of the past five months defending Gordon's long-standing policy calling students and faculty to refrain from sex outside Christian marriage. Earlier in 2014, Lindsay and other Christian leaders signed a letter supporting a religious exemption from the presidential executive order prohibiting employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal government and for federal contractors.
November 13, 2014
While the relationship between economic and religious freedom is complicated, religious freedom advocates should also champion economic freedom because they both rely upon some of the same foundational principles, several of the speakers argued. There are four major themes in the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom, also known as Dignitatis Humanae, which is Latin for "of the dignity of the human person," noted Jay Richards, assistant research professor in the School of Business and Economics at CUA: Religious freedom should be based upon 1) the fundamental dignity of every human person, 2) freedom of association, 3) the rights of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs, and 4) the God-ordained but limited role of government. A case for economic freedom can also be made based upon those same four principles, Richards argued. The "defenses are more or less the same."
November 12, 2014
More than 100 legal cases against the HHS mandate are currently open, the archbishop said. "That's keeping us all pretty busy," he admitted. An update to the mandate was recently released and is being studied by the bishops' religious freedom committee. In addition, Archbishop William E. Lori noted the growing threat to religious liberty being posed by "laws redefining marriage." Such laws have led to businesses and religious entities being threatened with fines or closure for seeking to maintain their longstanding beliefs on marriage. Despite the ongoing challenges in the realm of religious freedom, the archbishop called for hope.
November 10, 2014
Actions and convictions gain power and permanence in the real world only where the capacities for free economic action are well protected. For religion does not live in conscience alone but in its capacities to act in the world, and to work for the coming of the good, the true, the beautiful, and the self-sacrificing assistance to others to transform this real, concrete Earth of ours. So to act, it must have the wherewithal secured above all by certain economic rights: among them, the ownership and use of private property, the right of association, the right to personal economic initiative, and the right to create new sources of wealth and well-being.
November 9, 2014
Much worse than the stories about Brendan Eich or Phil Robertson are the stories that involve government coercion, government fines and other punitive action. The examples are well known at this point. Consider Christian-run adoption agencies in Massachusetts and Illinois and Washington, D.C., that have been forced out of the adoption space because they wanted to find homes with married moms and dads for the children they were responsible for. They just wanted to run their adoption agency according to their belief that children deserve a mom and a dad-and the state said no.
November 6, 2014
Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overruled lower court decisions that had struck down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The 6th Circuit Court ruled that constitutional amendments passed by popular vote in Michigan (2.7 million votes), Kentucky (1.2 million), Ohio (3.3 million) and Tennessee (1.4 million) do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Citizens remain free to define marriage as a male-female institution. Today's decision helpfully explained why these laws are constitutional, why it is reasonable for citizens to support such laws, and why arguments for court-imposed redefinition of marriage do not succeed. It also sets the stage for marriage to return to the U.S. Supreme Court.
November 2, 2014
In an exclusive interview with Kelsey Harkness of The Daily Signal, former senator Rick Santorum discussed the state of religious liberty in America and the tension between some LGBT activists and those with deeply held religious beliefs. "We need to continue to fight, and in fact to push back the other way," Santorum said. "We've been too silent too long and we need to say, ‘Look, all of these thoughts are proper in the public square.' We need real freedom in this country, not government-dictated adherence to a set of principles."
October 29, 2014
Katrina Lantos Swett, chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, “We want to see people at the highest levels saying ‘we get it,’ religious freedom is not just a nice issue, it’s central to our foreign policy and national security policy. We are not totally in the dark in the way our government actually works, but what you need is attention from those at the highest level that think this is important, this is a priority that is crucially in our national interest.”
October 29, 2014
Two controversial bills—the Human Rights Amendment Act and the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act—passed their first reading and vote as part of the D.C. Council Consent Agenda on Tuesday, Oct. 28. The final passage of the bills may seriously violate the religious freedom of Catholic educational institutions in the city. The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (Bill 20-790) would force organizations and employers to provide insurance coverage for elective abortions regardless of religious objection. The Human Rights Amendment Act would roll back an exemption for religiously-affiliated organizations to the 1977 act which prohibited “discrimination based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, familial status and 11 other protected classes.”
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.
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.
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.
October 15, 2014
More than 1,800 pastors in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico have participated so far in the Alliance Defending Freedom seventh annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday event, which began this year on Oct. 5. Of those participating, 1,517 preached sermons presenting biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates and signed a statement agreeing that the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermon. “The tax-collecting IRS shouldn’t be playing speech cop and threatening a church’s tax-exempt status simply because its pastor exercises his constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom Sunday event.
October 7, 2014
A small, non-profit public interest law firm, with just eleven litigating attorneys and a $5 million annual budget, the Fund is a rising star in Washington. Its lawyers are most famous for arguing the often politically incorrect view that the constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion has been eclipsed in recent years by government deference to other parts of the constitution. That’s no easy task, since arguments over religious liberty can be some of the thorniest, and most heated, in America. But the Becket lawyers are shaking up Washington for a simple reason: they win. Over 20 years, Becket has won 85% of its cases–from 1920-2000, the ACLU averaged a little over 65% in religion cases at the Supreme Court.
October 6, 2014
Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs. Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act. "Think about the Gospels and how the Apostles lived," said CMF CURO director Louis A. Brown Jr. at the program's Washington, D.C., debut. "They very much shared and cared for each other.
October 3, 2014
A new requirement from the state of California's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) demands that all health insurance plans in the state, except self-insured plans and those covered by ERISA, cover elective abortions, including late term abortions, labeling such procedures a "basic health service." "The ACA is very clear on this, recognizing the divisiveness of this issue and it respected pluralism of opinions about abortion," said Bill Cox, President of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, in a phone interview yesterday.
October 2, 2014
Earlier this season, the university rejected the demands of anti-religion interest groups to stop Tennessee's tradition of observing a moment of non-denominational prayer praying before kickoff. Earlier this year, an anti-religion group went after Clemson University and its football coach Dabo Swinney. Another instance was a case involving prayer in legislative bodies, which ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court. I filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending this practice, which dates back to the Founding Fathers of our nation, because it has been an enduring, living symbol of the religious freedom America stands for.
September 26, 2014
Feldman notes the two central issues in this debate: the policy question - what is marriage? - and the legal question - who gets to define marriage? On the policy question, Niemeyer explains that there are indeed rational reasons for people to think that marriage is a union of husband and wife: "Only the union of a man and a woman has the capacity to produce children and thus to carry on the species. And more importantly, only such a union creates a biological family unit that also gives rise to a traditionally stable political unit." Indeed, "when the Supreme Court has recognized, through the years, that the right to marry is a fundamental right, it has emphasized the procreative and social ordering aspects of traditional marriage."
September 26, 2014
Government shouldn't be able to fine citizens for acting in the market according to their own-rather than the government's-values, unless there is a compelling government interest being pursued in the least restrictive way possible. 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.
September 25, 2014
In 2010, a deeply divided Court held in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez that so-called "all comers" policies are constitutional. As a result, public colleges and universities are now free to require all student clubs to allow any student to be eligible for leadership of the group. Since that ruling, InterVarsity and other conservative Christian organizations have been "derecognized" at a growing number of public universities. And some private universities have invoked the reasoning behind the High Court's decision to defend their exclusion of some religious groups from recognition.
September 22, 2014
Stability is not possible for a country if it is going to have warring religious groups within it, violent religious extremism. One of the antidotes to that is military. I have no problem personally with the use of drones, for example, if they are used with care for non-combatants, never intending to harm any innocents. However, there's another way to do this. It's called religious freedom. If we could succeed in places like Iraq, or even a better example, Egypt, which says it is trying to develop a democracy-our message to them should be, it won't work without religious freedom.
September 18, 2014
The American conception of religious liberty provides every person the freedom to seek the truth, form beliefs and live according to the dictates of their conscience -whether at home, in worship, or at work. Americans should be free to care for the poor, heal the sick and serve their communities in accordance with the faith without unnecessary government interference. Protecting the fundamental right to religious freedom will require continued vigilance from every American against an ever-expanding government that threatens to suffocate the free exercise of religion and the charitable works it inspires.
September 15, 2014
Based on these trends and empirical relationships, it is therefore in the interest of policy makers throughout the world to respect and protect freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), because FoRB promotes peace and stability, respects diversity, guards the rights of minorities and women, and creates environments where economic competitiveness flourishes and sustainable development is possible. It is also in the interests of businesses to protect religious freedom within their companies and communities. Indeed, businesses are at the crossroads of culture, creativity and commerce, and therefore can and should be among the most FoRB-Friendly institutions on earth.
September 10, 2014
Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, states, "simply disliking a government monument does not mean that anyone can just run into court to make a federal case about it. ... The Establishment Clause does not require courts to scrub every religious reference from public life."
September 9, 2014
The Obama administration has decided to continue its legal battle against Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity that objects to Obamacare's mandate that employee health plans cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The order of Catholic nuns argues that the rule fashioned by the Department of Health and Human Services requires them to violate their religious beliefs by offering insurance coverage for 20 specific drugs and devices - some of which the nuns believe could destroy what they consider a human life.
August 27, 2014
The line between good and evil was drawn by two issues: creedal belief and sexual expression. If religious groups required set truths or limited sexual autonomy, they were bad-not just wrong but evil, narrow-minded, and too dangerous to be tolerated on campus. It didn't matter to [Vanderbilt officials] if we were politically or racially diverse, if we cared about the environment or built Habitat homes. It didn't matter if our students were top in their fields and some of the kindest, most thoughtful, most compassionate leaders on campus. There was a line in the sand, and we fell on the wrong side of it.
August 21, 2014
Because of shrinking budgets and the onerous cost of buying non-Common Core compliant text books, private schools are more willing to accept the standards for financial reasons, said Sarah Perry, a senior fellow and Common Core manager for the Family Research Council, a conservative think tank. "The government is getting its foot in the door," Perry told TheBlaze. "But it hasn't had to push very hard."
August 15, 2014
Thomas F. Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, blasted the Durbin bill as one that "betrays an unfortunate ignorance of U.S. policy. The commission, even at its most effective, is not the central institution mandated to 'promote international religious freedom.' That is the State Department's job. And the senior official responsible for leading that policy does not (yet) exist, a sign of the remarkable indifference of this administration to the issue of religious persecution and its antidote, religious freedom."
August 12, 2014
"It's tiresome to see senior military leaders needlessly cave in to activist groups offended by anything Christian," said Chaplain Ron Crews, executive director of the group. "A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. They are there for those who want them."
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.
August 3, 2014
But the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) says that the public deserves to know what procedures the IRS has set in place as to who will be investigated and how. "Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups," said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. "We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day."
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.
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.
July 31, 2014
President Barack Obama's nomination of Rabbi David Nathan Saperstein - director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and a Georgetown University professor - to serve as ambassador at large for international religious freedom at the U.S. State Department has brought with it some harsh critique. Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with the Catholic Association, a faith-based organization that advances religious liberty, flatly decried the choice, saying it shows President Barack Obama's "callous disregard for religious liberty."
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).
July 30, 2014
For those who insist that only secular institutions can fully cultivate students' minds, I would offer a wager: Let's compare the academic growth of similar students who attend a religious school such as Wheaton with students who go to secular colleges. We could compare the growth in student performance during college in areas such as literacy, math, science, even critical analysis. Let's grade their papers blindly; I think we would be surprised by what we found. There are policies at Wheaton with which I disagree, but disagreement must not tempt us to banish difference but instead should spur us to look harder.
July 22, 2014
The Equal Protection Clause does not authorize the judiciary to substitute its own value judgments for those of Congress and the People of the states unless the Constitution itself confers the contested status. This Article concludes by arguing that the federal government has no authority to deconstruct the moral culture of any community. The Constitution expressly prohibits any attempt to require an individual or institutional dissenter to affirm, expressly or implicitly, abhorrent moral or religious views or behaviors.
July 20, 2014
With just a dozen full-time attorneys, the firm, after a string of Supreme Court successes, is earning a reputation in legal circles as a powerhouse, though its leaders play down talk about the firm's growing influence. "We had a good laugh," said Kristina Arriaga, the firm's executive director, when asked about the nationwide attention that followed the Supreme Court's June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling. "We find there has been an aggressive push from the government to become the sole arbiter of morality, which is not good for the country," Arriaga said. "Regrettably, religious liberty work has augmented exponentially."
July 16, 2014
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke on the U.S. Senate floor today to debunk false claims made by Senate Democrats regarding the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which found that the Obama Administration infringed on Americans' First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Watch video.
July 15, 2014
“We are writing to state our strong opposition to the misnamed ‘Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014’ (S. 2578),” wrote Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston in a letter to all U.S. senators on Monday. "In short, the bill does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty. Indeed, if it were to pass, it would call that commitment into question," the bishops wrote. The proposed legislation would force employers with group health plans to cover any "specific health care item" mandated by federal law or regulations despite religious liberty protections.
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.
July 7, 2014
But the organizations say the accommodation provided by the administration does not go far enough because, though they are not on the hook financially, they remain complicit in the provision of government-approved contraceptives to women covered by their plans. "Anything that forces unwilling religious believers to be part of the system is not going to pass the test," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents many of the faith-affiliated nonprofits. Hobby Lobby Inc., winner of its Supreme Court case last month, also is a Becket Fund client.
July 7, 2014
One of the hallmarks of religious liberty protections is that they protect people of all faiths, even if their beliefs seem unfounded, flawed, implausible, or downright silly. Recognition of a right to religious freedom does not, however, depend on religious skepticism, relativism, or indifferentism. Rather, it rests on the intelligible value of the religious quest-the activities of seeking to understand the truth about ultimate questions and conforming one's life accordingly with authenticity and integrity.
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.
June 30, 2014
In response to the Supreme Court's ruling, Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, issued the following statement: "Today the Supreme Court actualized the fundamental purpose of the First Amendment's guarantee of the ‘free exercise' of religion. In essence, the Court's ruling stands for the proposition that-even when the government seeks to implement valuable policy goals-it must do so without trampling upon the conscientious beliefs of American citizens, especially, as is the case here, when there are many other ways to meet the policy goals without infringing on religious liberty.
June 30, 2014
In the United States, freedom of religion has always included-and should always include-the right to live out one's religion and act according to one's conscience outside the walls of one's house of worship. Every single day, millions of Americans are motivated by their faith to go and serve the neediest among us. The good works of these individuals of faith can be seen in soup kitchens, hospitals, schools, hospices-and, yes, family-owned businesses. We have come together to write this letter with one specific plea: Do not amend or repeal RFRA, one of our nation's most vital legal protections for the religious freedom and rights of conscience of every person of every faith.
June 30, 2014
"This is a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business," said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and counsel for Hobby Lobby. [click link or image to view video]
June 30, 2014
"I'm here at the Supreme Court today, where we have just had a tremendous victory for religious liberty...to protect family-owned businesses from being forced to do things that violate their faith--particularly providing abortifacients that would violate their conscience." [click image or link to view video]
June 25, 2014
What comes next? The answer is simple: the Little Sisters of the Poor. Just as Hobby Lobby headlined a group of for-profit businesses challenging the contraception mandate, the Little Sisters of the Poor headline a much larger group of non-profit ministries challenging the same mandate. The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international order of Catholic nuns founded by St. Jeanne Jugan. They take a vow of poverty and spend their lives caring for the elderly poor. They have thirty homes in the United States, where they care for the elderly and dying with love and compassion. Because of their commitment to the dignity of all human life, they cannot participate in a system that would provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
June 24, 2014
A group of U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement noting "great concern" over "the reported intention of the President of the United States to issue an executive order forbidding what the Administration considers ‘discrimination' based on ‘sexual orientation' and ‘gender identity.' If signed into action, the executive order could require organizations with federal contracts to treat same-sex partnerships as marriages, unless wide religious freedom exemptions are granted.
June 11, 2014
Speaking on the second and final day of the SBC's national meeting at the Baltimore Convention Center, Russell Moore said members shouldn't "call it a comeback" because the history of the Baptist faith is rooted in persecution. "We're living in a time right now in which religious liberty is imperiled at home and around the world," said Mr. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
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.
June 9, 2014
Rick Warren: "The Constitution doesn't guarantee freedom of worship; it guarantees freedom of religion, which is the freedom to practice. If I only have the freedom of worship, then that means the only freedom I have is inside a building one hour a week, I don't have the chance to build my business on my convictions, raise my family on my convictions, train and educate my children, all of these issues. The first amendment, religious freedom is called America's first freedom for intentional reasons."
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.
June 6, 2014
Christian Parks, a student at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, was preaching in the campus courtyard last year. A school police officer told him to stop because his words "might offend someone." Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed suit this March. "We commend the Virginia Community College System for revising its speech policy to align with what a marketplace of ideas should be," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Travis Barham.
June 5, 2014
Religion is the No. 1 motivation for giving and serving in America. Christian faith prompted the rise of such historic charities as the Red Cross, YMCA, Salvation Army, United Way, and Goodwill Industries. Today, of the $300 billion donated to charity in America each year, 32 percent is directed to religious causes. Educational institutions rank a distant second, at 14 percent.
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.
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.
May 28, 2014
U.S. troops are fighting to defend the First Amendment but are not being allowed to fully exercise it, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services said Wednesday. Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, criticized the military for appearing "zealous to shut down expressions of faith. This is our military telling service members to raise their hands and ask permission before they dare to utter an expression of faith," Mr. Fleming said during a speech at the Family Research Council.
May 22, 2014
Some people would like me and the millions of Americans who continue to believe that marriage is what societies have believed it to be throughout human history - a male-female union - to get with the program and accept the inevitable. We're clearly, they tell us, on the Wrong Side of History. But we should avoid the temptation to prognosticate about the future in lieu of working to shape that future. We are citizens in a self-governing society, not pundits watching a spectator sport, not subjects of rulers. We are participants in one of the most significant debates our society - any society - has ever faced.
May 13, 2014
To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society. One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships.
May 7, 2014
"It is outrageous that the U.N. Committee Against Torture would challenge the Catholic Church's religious commitment to the sanctity of life at every stage," commented Ashley McGuire, Catholic Voices USA advisory board member. "Throughout these hearings, Ms. Gaer has sent a strong signal that she considers a strong pro-life belief to be a pro-torture position. Given that most of the world's religions hold similar views on abortion, were the committee to adopt such a twisted official position, it would be nothing more than a direct attack on religious freedom."
May 5, 2014
By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court has ruled that the town of Greece, New York, has not violated the Establishment Clause by opening its monthly board meeting with a prayer. Justice Kennedy inquires whether the town of Greece's prayer practice "fits within the tradition long followed in Congress and the state legislatures." He rejects the claim that legislative prayer must be "nonsectarian or ecumenical."
May 1, 2014
Doctors and nurses who object to providing controversial emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds are being barred from specialist professional qualifications under official guidelines. They class Roman Catholics and others motivated by pro-life beliefs as "ineligible" for important qualifications provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) even if they complete the training programme. It led to accusations that the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, a branch of the RCOG, is unfairly discriminating against medical staff who act on grounds of conscience.
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.
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.
April 12, 2014
Dutch Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt, killed in Syria last week just shy of his 76th birthday, spent 50 years in his adopted country, humbly serving poor and disabled persons regardless of their race or religion. On Monday morning, a still-unidentified assailant dragged him into the street outside his Jesuit residence, beat him, and then shot him twice in the head.
April 9, 2014
Roy Peterson, president of the American Bible Society, said, "In our experience, they may not necessarily be coming back like previous generations. Today the skeptics are saying, 'It's just like any other piece of literature, and it's no different from that.'" Millennials, generally described as those born since 1980, are less likely to own, read and respect the Bible. Survey conductors predicted this trend would continue through the next five years.
April 8, 2014
Hobby Lobby was providing generous health insurance and wages long before the phrase "Affordable Care Act" touched paper in Congress. Forcing Hobby Lobby to drop health coverage burdens their religious exercise because their religious beliefs require them to provide generous benefits to employees. All that's required is that Hobby Lobby have a sincerely-held religious belief and that the government's policy put substantial pressure on it to act against those beliefs. This has been unambiguous statutory law under RFRA for 20 years and clear Supreme Court precedent for more than 30 years.
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.
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.
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.
April 1, 2014
From the Declaration of Independence through the Revolution, the Civil War through the civil rights movement, Americans have frequently been willing to fight back and assert their rights when overzealous governments tried to take them away. That's still happening today. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties took their turn recently, when their lawyers argued before the Supreme Court.
March 26, 2014
Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life, stressed that the challenge to the mandate is not about contraception, but instead "is about religious liberty. This is about President Obama changing the landscape of the separation of church and state that we have known until today," she said, adding that "no one should be forced into a corner on things such as this."
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.
What's the difference between CVS and Hobby Lobby? Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/religious-rights/201667-whats-tghe-difference-between-cvs-and-hobby-lobby#ixzz2xYpnic13 Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook
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."
March 25, 2014
Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN) held a press conference following Supreme Court oral arguments in the landmark cases Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius. Other Members who participated were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Vicki Hartzler (R-MO), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Kevin Brady (R-TX), James Lankford (R-OK) and Joe Pitts (R-PA). Congressman Black is the author of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.
March 25, 2014
Justice Kennedy (p. 75): "Under your view, a profit corporation could be forced in principle, there are some statutes on the books now which would prevent it, but could be forced in principle to pay for abortions."
March 25, 2014
The two convened at the Willard Hotel on Monday, the day before oral arguments in the case were presented to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a delightful back-and-forth punctuated by yarns and anecdotes, the two legal luminaries affirmed at least two points of agreement: (1) separation of church and state is good for religion; (2) corporations are people and people are corporations (echo Mitt Romney?) and, therefore, Hobby Lobby should be permitted an exemption from the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
March 24, 2014
"The question is this: Can the government use the threat of crippling fines to force the owners of a business to violate their own deeply held beliefs?"
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]
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?
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.
March 20, 2014
"We see companies act on ethical and philosophical and moral views every day of the week," says Mark Rienzi, an attorney with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in court. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations have free speech rights and, therefore, can spend freely in federal elections. Whether they can practice religion is another question - albeit one the justices need not answer if they base their decision on the owners' rights.
March 20, 2014
The Green family members signed a formal commitment to run the two chains according to Christian religious principles. The owners and their stores do not object to every part of the contraceptive mandate, but they do object to the use of any drugs or intrauterine devices that — in the words of their lawyers — “end human life after conception.” There is, on the corporations' side, a brief by constitutional law scholars seeking to answer that constitutional challenge. That brief contends that RFRA is a valid exercise of Congress's legislative powers, and that nullifying the law "would threaten thousands of statutes that protect religious minorities." [see listing of briefs]
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.
March 4, 2014
A German home-schooling family that was facing deportation by U.S. authorities will be permitted to stay here indefinitely, the leader of a national home-school support group said Tuesday. The devoutly Christian family came to America in 2008 after being threatened and fined for disobeying German rules requiring all children to attend a state-approved school. "This is an incredible victory that I can only credit to Almighty God," Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said on the group's website Tuesday afternoon.
March 4, 2014
The Arizona Legislature sent Mrs. Brewer an amendment to the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have given business owners a defense against local and state action that would "burden the person's exercise of religion." Homosexual activists made the defeat of this measure their top priority, even though the words "gay" or "homosexual" do not appear anywhere in the legislation.The governor's veto "enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona," argued Doug Napier, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
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.
February 27, 2014
At least 30 states have similar religious protections through statutes or their constitutions, and several conservatives question why they are now sparking controversy. "Five years ago, this would have been seen as innocuous," said Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom program at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, whose group has established "religious freedom caucuses" in 18 states.
February 26, 2014
The ruling was yet another setback for same-sex marriage opponents, who hope the Supreme Court will ultimately reverse what they call the work of a group of activist judges. "What we're in is essentially a state of lawlessness that I do believe will eventually get corrected at the United States Supreme Court," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that has campaigned for gay marriage bans across the country.
February 12, 2014
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of congressional panel that oversees international human rights issues, said the event was intended to highlight that Christians "remain the most persecuted religious group the world over," even amid the persecution faced by adherents to other faiths. Elliott Abrams, commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, pointing to a report by the Government Accountability Office, that “the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor dramatically reduced the rank of the Ambassador-at-Large. This reduction in rank constitutes a major change in the structure [the International Religious Freedom Act] established and a thwarting of congressional intent.”
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.
February 10, 2014
For more than two decades, the UN has dedicated itself to attempting to diminish the influence of the Church on life issues. We need to begin to understand why. In an October 2013 Crisis article entitled "Kicking the Church out of the UN," Austin Ruse, the president of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), suggests that the reason for the hostility directed at the Church is because the Church has obstructed the goals of the population control zealots at the UN." It is likely that last week's UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report was payback.
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.
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.
February 6, 2014
Maureen Ferguson, Senior Policy Advisor with The Catholic Association, said, "This morning at the National Prayer Breakfast the President affirmed the dignity and right to religious liberty of all human beings, meanwhile here at home his administration faces the largest religious liberty lawsuit in American history. This administration insists on forcing people of faith to violate their consciences by providing abortion pills in their health plans - including the Little Sisters of the Poor, nuns who care for the needy and dying."
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.
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.
January 31, 2014
Hundreds of individuals and groups from a broad range of religious and political backgrounds have filed briefs supporting the owners of Hobby Lobby in their religious freedom case at the Supreme Court. "The breadth of support has been incredible," said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby and its owners before the Supreme Court. Where else do you see Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews coming together?" she asked. "Religious freedom is important to Americans of all faiths, and we hope the Supreme Court will protect that freedom."
January 29, 2014
AA slew of other legal challenges to White House wish list policies have been launched by unhappy Republicans. One deals with the implementation of Obamacare, seen by some as a piecemeal approach that picks and chooses which political favorites get exempted, and by others as a trouncing of religious rights in favor of birth control. Among those in the GOP who have tacked on to lawsuits over Obamacare: Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Randy Forbes filed amicus briefs in a case against the Department of Health and Human Services, alleging a violation of religious freedoms over the contraception mandate. Eighty-eight other lawmakers have signed on to the brief.
January 20, 2014
"They didn't think they had any other choice," said Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of religious traditions. Blomberg said the Little Sisters of the Poor had two options: provide contraception coverage to their employees, in violation of their Roman Catholic beliefs, or pay hefty tax fines for failing to comply with the law.
January 13, 2014
I don't know how much more emphatically the Supreme Court could make this point. Even if an activity is a mere "gratuitous" privilege or benefit, the government's placement of a condition on that activity inconsistent with someone's religious beliefs constitutes a substantial burden. This is because in America, pursuing free activities consistent with one's beliefs is at the heart of the meaning of our "liberties of religion." It is "too late in the day" to even propose otherwise.
January 8, 2014
But of course the employers are not going to court to stop employees from using contraception (or even resorting to abortion) should they wish to do so; they are merely trying to keep themselves from any complicity in it. A right not to be coerced into such complicity had never previously been asserted in court only because it had been taken for granted through the first two centuries of our country's existence.
January 2, 2014
Capping off a disastrous year for the Obama administration and its signature healthcare law debacle, one of President Obama's own appointees to the Supreme Court said the Obama administration for now must put a hold on its drive to force nuns and other religious objectors to provide pills that can end the life of a developing human being.
December 1, 2013
The last time the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to cut religion from the First Amendment it lost 9-0 in Hosanna Tabor. Time and again, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations, such as churches and universities, can exercise religion.
November 14, 2013
They identified three ongoing concerns surrounding the mandate: a reduction of religious freedom to mere freedom of worship; the compulsion of Catholic ministries to participate in the providing of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception; and the compulsion of Catholics owning for-profit businesses to act against Catholic teaching. Kim Daniels, spokesperson for the president of the bishops’ conference, said the statement shows that the bishops remain united and are not letting up on their efforts to secure religious freedom.
November 7, 2013
Even more alarming than the lack of a strong religious exemption, however, is the prospect that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would lead to a form of reverse discrimination, whereby anyone who expresses or promotes a view of family or morality that can be interpreted to be a disapproval of homosexual conduct or disagreement with elements of the homosexual political agenda (such as the redefinition of marriage) will be subject to retaliation and discrimination.
November 6, 2013
David Christensen, vice president for government affairs at the Family Research Council, said the amendment does not go far enough to protect the religious freedom of nonprofit groups and business owners. "Senators may be looking for political cover from this amendment, but ENDA removes the ability of non-profits, para-church ministries, and individual business owners to make their own decisions about appropriate conduct in the workplace," he said Wednesday in a statement. "People's religious freedom rights do not stop at their front door on their way to work, whether they are a business owner or employee."
November 5, 2013
A bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against homosexual and transgender persons poses serious threats to religious freedom and undermines the biological basis of gender, say its critics as it heads to a crucial Senate vote. “All Americans should oppose unjust discrimination, but ENDA does not advance that goal. In fact, it moves us in the wrong direction,” said scholar and author Ryan T. Anderson. The bishops explained that as it is currently written, the proposed law lacks an exception for a "bona fide occupational qualification" for "those cases where it is neither unjust nor inappropriate to consider an applicant's sexual inclinations."
October 30, 2013
Concerns about ENDA unite civil libertarians concerned about free speech and religious liberty, free marketers concerned about freedom of contract and government interference in the marketplace, and social conservatives concerned about marriage and culture. ENDA would further weaken the marriage culture and the ability of civil society to affirm that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human. ENDA would treat these moral convictions as if they were bigotry.
October 21, 2013
One of the clearest expressions of the Founders' attitude toward religion - endorsed by most Americans today - came from our second president, John Adams. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people," Adams declared in 1798. "It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Only a moral and religious people could acquire and retain such traits of character as honesty, kindness, thoughtfulness, respect for law, fairness, self-discipline and self-reliance - virtues the Founders rightly deemed necessary for self-rule.
October 13, 2013
The Survey of Religious Hostility in America has found about 1,200 current incidents of religious persecution - about twice as many as last year, the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council said in a report. The survey tallies challenges to public prayer in schools and in public events, efforts to remove crosses on veterans memorials, and rejection of public displays of Nativity scenes and the Ten Commandments. It also includes cases in which companies with religious convictions are forced to abide by health care rules that require coverage for "abortion-inducing" products.
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.
October 3, 2013
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court order holding off enforcement of the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, sterilization mandate, against Hercules, Inc., a family-owned HVAC business, which the Obama administration challenged. The Department of Justice has argued that the Newland family of Denver doesn't have religious liberty in "the marketplace of commerce."
October 3, 2013
I write because the mandate is forcing me and my family to choose between the teachings of our faith and the operation of our business. It gives us three options, all of which are unconscionable according to our beliefs: (1) violate our faith by complying with the mandate and provide our employees with insurance that covers contraception and sterilization; (2) pay over $16,000,000 in fines per year, destroying our business and putting our employees out of work; or (3) cut our employees' health benefits so that we do not have to violate our beliefs. While the last choice would save our family and the company $5,000,000, we reject it because of the respect we have for our employees.
October 3, 2013
A small town in upstate New York is at the center of what legal scholars say could be one of the biggest religious freedom cases in decades, as the Supreme Court prepares to open its 2013-14 term next week. The case, the Town of Greece (N.Y.) v. Galloway, involves the town council's practice of beginning its meetings with a prayer offered by a volunteer "chaplain of the month" - Christian and non-Christian - and has attracted friend-of-the-court briefs from religious, secular and civil liberties organizations.
September 19, 2013
Bipartisan legislation was introduced today in the House of Representatives that would prevent the federal government from discriminating against citizens and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) was introduced by Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) and over 60 other original co-sponsors from both political parties.
September 5, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), once claiming to support religious freedom, recently praised a Mennonite family's loss in court, opining with regard to the family's small woodworking business that "corporations don't pray and have values." Really? What about churches? They are corporations, too. Don't they pray? The New York Times and the ACLU themselves are both corporations. They have no values?
September 4, 2013
In Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Shulman, the court ruled that the Freedom from Religion Foundation has standing to challenge the alleged policy of the Internal Revenue Service of not enforcing against churches and religious organizations the requirement of tax-exempt status that they not participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.
August 27, 2013
The Associated Press reports that some churches are taking steps to change their bylaws after the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act out of a desire to protect themselves from potential claims by same-sex couples.
August 25, 2013
Matthew Franck, of the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank in Princeton, N.J., argued the only real protection for religious freedom is maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. He said same-sex marriage advocates are unlikely to tolerate for long any "deviations from the ‘new normal' they wish to create," so he predicted religious exemptions granted now will eventually be repealed. "We have not lost the fight for the truth about marriage, and surrendering the field is premature," Franck said. "I continue to hope that it will never finally be necessary, and I work to make that hope a reality."
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."
August 13, 2013
A new report by a group of faith leaders working closely with Capitol Hill argues for ending the decades-old ban on explicit clergy endorsements. More than 1,100 mostly conservative Christian pastors for the past few springs have been explicitly preaching politics - they call the annual event "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" - in an effort to lure the Internal Revenue Service into a court showdown. The report argues that the ban chills free speech and violates the culture of people who see the weaving of faith and political expression as essential to their religious practice.
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.
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.
August 1, 2013
Helen Alvare, a George Mason University law professor, founded Women Speak for Themselves last year to combat the Obama administration's belief "that women care more about free birth control than freedom of religion." Alvare kicked off Thursday's rally with opening remarks before giving way to a string of speakers, many trained in the medical field.
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.
July 26, 2013
The Obama Administration is using healthcare law to become a dictator of conscience. ObamaCare is holding your healthcare hostage and offering no real choice. It requires you to either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be fined for your faith. By upholding the individual mandate, the greater of either the cost of the ObamaCare plan or up to 2.5% of your salary can now be taken straight from your tax returns. But by God's grace, there is still hope for the future of religious freedom.
July 25, 2013
The British religious thinker John Henry Newman observed in 1874 that "conscience has rights because it has duties." We honor the rights of conscience in matters of faith because people must be free to fulfill what they believe to be their solemn duties. Since America's founding, the country has honored this form of liberty. Today, when religious freedom in many parts of the world is under siege, one of the aims of U.S. foreign policy should be to combat such intolerance-not just because religious freedom reduces the risk of sectarian conflict, but more fundamentally because it protects the liberty that is central to human dignity.
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.
July 23, 2013
Faith-based service organizations, like other nonprofits, are dependent on private giving and thus count on tax incentives for giving, such as the federal deduction for charitable contributions. And yet, because they are religious organizations, they may have distinct interests in the big fight that has broken out in Washington DC and in state and local politics concerning tax breaks for donations and tax breaks for nonprofits themselves. That's the premise of a new coalition just forming, tentatively called the "faith in giving" coalition.
July 22, 2013
Members of a newly formed coalition of religious charities visited Capitol Hill last week to persuade members of the Senate to back the charitable deduction as they draft recommendations for a massive federal tax overhaul that must be submitted by Friday. The coalition was formed two months ago by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and the National Christian Foundation. Its members include such groups as the National Association of Evangelicals, Salvation Army, and World Vision. Jonathan Imbody, vice president of the Christian Medical Association, said his organization had not previously lobbied to protect the charitable deduction. But the approach taken by Mr. Baucus and Mr. Hatch spurred his group to join the coalition. "When you read the letter that says they're starting with a blank slate," Mr. Imbody said, "that's enough to get you going.
July 22, 2013
Many feminists seem to regard abortion as a rite of passage and anything that looks like an obstacle to the procedure, even a last-minute change of mind by a woman seeking an abortion, is an affront to "choice," and must be eliminated. Pregnancy centers like the faith-based Center for Pregnancy Concerns must not be allowed to offer women the choice of changing her mind. “We are confident [the] procedural ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit will eventually lead to a ruling that affirms pregnant women in need of assistance and the First Amendment principles we treasure in a free society,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore said after the decision by the appeals court.
July 21, 2013
A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance," Hobby Lobby founder David Green said last year in a opinion piece in USA Today. "Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since Day 1. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines."
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.
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.
July 5, 2013
Nearly half of all Americans - 48 percent - say the growing number of nonreligious people is "bad for society," according to a poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But about the same amount - 50 percent - say the rise in nonreligious people is either a good thing (39 percent), or doesn't matter (11 percent).
July 3, 2013
Leaders of religious groups representing more than 100 million Americans said Tuesday that religious institutions and business owners should not be forced to provide contraceptive coverage that violates their conscience. Rev. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists' public policy arm, said Tuesday that the administration's finalized rule on the mandate amounted to "word games and accounting tricks," with no exemptions for religious business owners.
July 2, 2013
"To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here we stand; we can do no other. God help us."
July 2, 2013
The final version of Obamacare's "preventive services" regulation that the Department of Health and Human Services published on Friday discriminates against faithful members of the Roman Catholic Church by effectively barring them from owning and operating health-insurance companies. This is because the regulation orders health insurance companies to provide sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to all female beneficiaries except those insured by "religious employers"--which, according to the regulation, includes only actual "houses of worship" (n.b. parish churches), their immediate auxiliaries, associations of houses of worship and the "exclusively religious activities of any religious order."
June 28, 2013
According to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, 75% of the world's population lives in countries with high governmental or societal restrictions on religion. Christians face harassment in the largest number of countries, followed by Muslims and Jews. This is not only terrible for believers, it's unhealthy for societies. Brian Grim at the Pew Forum notes that "restriction of religious freedom correlates with diminished wellbeing and violent social conflict."
June 27, 2013
Today, the en banc 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a major victory to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., by reversing and remanding the district court's erroneous ruling. The circuit court returned the case to the district court with instruction to consider whether to grant Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction. "Today marks a milestone in Hobby Lobby's fight for religious liberty," said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
June 26, 2013
A Largo electric company won't have to cover certain contraceptives under its employee health plan after a federal judge Monday issued a preliminary injunction freeing the company from a controversial provision under the Affordable Care Act. "I fought the law and the Lord won!" exclaimed a jubilant Thomas Beckwith, owner of Beckwith Electric Co., who argued the "Obamacare" contraceptive mandate violated his religious beliefs.
June 26, 2013
Unless something dramatic changes in the drift of public opinion, the future of religious liberty on these issues is going to depend in part on the magnanimity of gay marriage supporters - the extent to which they are content with political, legal and cultural victories that leave the traditional view of marriage as a minority perspective with some modest purchase in civil society, versus the extent to which they decide to use every possible lever to make traditionalism as radioactive in the America of 2025 as white supremacism or anti-Semitism are today.
June 24, 2013
Our military men and women are in President Obama's cross hairs. He's taking aim at their religious freedom, unapologetically so. Is it any wonder that less than half of our citizenry places its trust in our presidency? Religious freedom has been a generally escalating issue under the Obama regime.
June 24, 2013
Federal lawmakers, archdiocesan representatives and leaders of companies and non-profit organizations came together at a Philadelphia forum to publicly support religious liberty from governmental threats. "What brought us all here today is so much bigger than a single piece of legislation or a political party; it is about protecting Americans' First Amendment right to religious freedom," said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).
June 23, 2013
In the end, you don't have to agree with any of this to support the central message of "Conscience and Its Enemies." George's book is more than anything a plea for liberty of conscience, or more specifically, for religious liberty. Religion, he reasons, should be thought of as "conscientious truth-seeking regarding the ultimate sources of meaning and value" and, therefore, "a crucial dimension of human well-being and fulfillment." George, in other words, speaks for a sizable number of conscientious objectors to America's ruling liberal secularism.
June 21, 2013
Religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, and social-service ministries that continue to live by their beliefs about marriage could face anti-discrimination lawsuits, and their access to government contracts and benefits could be at risk. It's not far-fetched to think that such groups may face the loss of tax-exempt status; the California Senate has passed a bill that would take away the Boy Scouts' tax-exempt status in reaction to what it sees as the Scouts' discriminatory membership policy.
June 21, 2013
The recently-erupted scandal over efforts by IRS officials to penalize conservative organizations has taken Washington and the country by surprise. Few scandals in recent decades have captured the public discourse so quickly or completely.
But careful observers of this "new" scandal will see that it fits a larger pattern of governmental efforts to use state power to enforce ideological conformity. Nowhere is that pattern more evident than in the realm of religious freedom where recent years have seen efforts, both subtle and overt, to squelch diversity of ideas.
June 21, 2013
This weekend marks the beginning of the second Fortnight for Freedom, an ecumenical celebration of freedom established last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This year's events begin tonight with an opening Mass in Baltimore and a vigil for freedom Saturday evening in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Jacqueline Halbig of The Catholic Association has been working with the Knights of Columbus organizing a prayer vigil and Saturday night's rally. She talks a bit about it with National Review Online.
June 21, 2013
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today released a staff report that outlines the current status of pending litigation related to requirements in the health care law that have drawn widespread criticism for infringing on religious liberty. The report also details federal "fines on faith" that could be imposed on employers that exercise their conscience by refusing to pay for services that violate their beliefs - penalties totaling millions of dollars.
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.
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.
May 29, 2013
People who are opposed to same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs can be accused of marital-status discrimination in addition to sexual-orientation discrimination. Such individuals will increasingly be required to check their religious beliefs at the entrance to the public square - and with an ever expanding public square, that means confining religious practice to the home and house of worship.
May 21, 2013
"We had everything in order, and one of their agents shared that our application was ready to go through," Martinek explained. "But before that could happen, each member of the board would have to sign a letter stating we would not protest Planned Parenthood." The case went to Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker, who was shocked at the request the IRS had made of her new clients. "This was disturbing, content-based scrutiny," Wagenmaker said. "We have freedom of speech. We have religious freedom, and we have the right to peaceable assembly, and they seemed determined to deprive this organization of all of those protections. It's the type of activity that can have a chilling effect on our constitutional rights."
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.
May 6, 2013
David Cortman, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said using prayer to open public meetings is a long-standing American tradition that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. "Nonetheless, new legal attacks by people and activist groups claiming to be 'offended' by the way private citizens voluntarily pray have created significant confusion in the lower courts," he said.
April 30, 2013
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has hired religious liberty attorney and mother of six Kim Daniels as spokesperson for conference president Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. The bishops' conference said April 29 that it "welcomes" Daniels, who brings with her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA, a lay Catholic organization that "works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square."
April 22, 2013
Ongoing conflict over the contraceptive mandate promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") has resulted in more than two dozen lawsuits by profit-making businesses and their owners seeking protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"). To date, the businesses and their owners are winning handily, having obtained preliminary relief in seventeen of the cases, and being denied relief in only six.
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.
April 11, 2013
On Monday, hundreds of thousands of public comments flooded the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as individuals and groups expressed concern with the Obama Administration's continued trampling on a fundamental freedom. Many public comments expressed continued opposition to the coercive HHS mandate that requires almost all employers to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices, contraception, and sterilization-regardless of moral or religious objection. After more than a year of public outrage, over 50 lawsuits against the anti-conscience mandate, and a federal judge's demand that HHS fix its coercive mandate, the Administration published a "notice of proposed rulemaking" (NPRM) on February 6.
March 30, 2013
A federal appeals court in Denver has granted Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.'s request for the entire court to hear its legal challenge over part of the Affordable Care Act that requires the company to cover emergency contraceptives for its employees. Typically, appeals cases are heard by a panel of three judges, but Hobby Lobby had asked the full court to hear the case - a request that federal appeals courts seldom grant, said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is defending Hobby Lobby in its lawsuit.
March 29, 2013
Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke of "...a pattern of government coercion that includes the current administration's HHS mandate, which violates the religious identity and mission of many religiously affiliated or inspired public ministries; interfering with the conscience rights of medical providers, private employers and individual citizens; and attacks on the policies, hiring practices and tax statuses of religious charities and ministries. Why is this hostility happening? I believe much of it links to Catholic and other religious teaching on the dignity of life and human sexuality."
March 22, 2013
Maureen Ferguson, Senior Policy Advisor with The Catholic Association, decried the vote in comments to LifeNews.
"The Senate today voted against the First Amendment and religious freedom in a vote forcing Americans to pay for abortion products in their health care plans," she said. "People of faith should not be forced to buy health plans that include products that so flagrantly conflict with their religious faith."
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.
March 19, 2013
The Bible says “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” The Constitution doesn’t. When considered in the light of religious teachings, actual business practices, and the law's treatment of for-profit businesses in other contexts, it is clear that there is no inherent disconnect between earning profits and exercising religion. For this reason, there is no principled basis for excluding profit-making businesses and their owners from the protection of our religious liberty laws.
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.
March 11, 2013
"We cannot--we will not--compromise." --nun who runs network of Catholic Hospitals
March 7, 2013
Catholic leaders and advocates of religious liberty threw their support behind newly proposed federal legislation that would offer additional conscience protection in the realm of health care. Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for The Catholic Association, said, "A pluralistic and tolerant society should not force a healthcare worker to participate in abortion procedures, nor a Christian employer to provide abortion-inducing drugs for employees."
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.
March 5, 2013
Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, a New York state nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion at 22-weeks gestation or risk losing her job and nursing license, told members of Congress that the experience still haunted her dreams. Cenzon-DeCarlo was among several Catholic women who were invited to a March 5 briefing for House members on the proposed Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013.
March 5, 2013
Today, Congressmen Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA) held a press conference to announce the introduction of theHealth Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA). This legislation would protect Americans’ First Amendment rights and would stop the Obama Administration’s assault on religious freedom.HCCRA offers reprieve from ongoing violations of our First Amendment, including full exemption from the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and conscience protection for individuals and health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply-held, reasoned beliefs. Click here to read the bill text.
March 3, 2013
"Restrictions on religious freedom anywhere, are threats to religious freedom everywhere," said Wright, who has guided the National Religious Broadcasters for the past 10 years.
February 27, 2013
Legislators in Virginia have passed a law that seeks to protect the right of Christians and other religious groups on university and college campuses to create their own membership criteria and to elect as leaders only those of the same faith.
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."
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January 29, 2013
Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program, explained that every faith tradition believes their values are the best, and every faith should have the freedom to express that preference in determining public policy. "What they don't get to have is government promoting their religion."
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.
January 20, 2013
At the same time, "the business cases are moving quickly," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, one of the groups coordinating the challenges to the law. By Duncan's count, there are 14 cases filed by business owners who say the law forces them to choose between running their companies and following their religious beliefs. In nine of those cases, courts have issued injunctions until the conflicts can be decided on their merits.
January 18, 2013
A new study conducted by Barna Group shows millions of adults-particularly active Protestants-are concerned religious liberties are under threat. The research, conducted in partnership with Clapham Group, included 1,008 adults from across the religious spectrum, representing the nation's population from the most active to the most skeptical.
December 29, 2012
Late yesterday afternoon, the Seventh Circuit granted an emergency injunction against the HHS mandate - preventing its enforcement against an Illinois business and its owners.
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.
November 3, 2012
Last month, more than 1,500 pastors, organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, endorsed a candidate from the pulpit and then sent a record of their statement to the IRS, hoping their challenge would eventually end up in court. The Alliance has organized the event, called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," since 2008. The IRS has never contacted a pastor involved in the protest.
October 29, 2012
Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the non-profit, public interest law firm that represents Hobby Lobby, said, "The Green family is asking to continue to live their faith by not paying for drugs that might cause abortions." Windham charged that the DOJ is claiming "that the Greens must comply- and pay for abortion-causing drugs- or pay millions of dollars in fines."
Windham observes that the Obama administration has already exempted others from health plans, yet it is forcing a family-owned business to violate the tenets of that family's faith.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 2, 2012
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Tyndale House Publishers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate. Tyndale House is one of the world’s largest privately held Christian publishers of books, Bibles, and digital media. The publisher is subject to the mandate because Obama administration rules say for-profit corporations are categorically non-religious, even though Tyndale House is strictly a publisher of Bibles and other Christian materials.
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."
September 25, 2012
Minor children on their parents' health care plans will have free coverage of sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing drugs, under the controversial HHS mandate - and depending on the state, they can obtain access without parental consent. Matt Bowman, senior counsel for the religious liberty legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the mandate "tramples parental rights" because it requires them to "pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children."
September 23, 2012
Thousands of women across the country are leading grassroots efforts to make their voices heard in opposition to the federal contraception and sterilization mandate. The Women Speak for Themselves movement is driven by “things that women are deciding to do on their own,” said Meg McDonnell, who has been assisting the group from early in its existence.
September 20, 2012
The Obama Administration's mandate that religious employers provide contraception, abortifacients and sterilization for their employees is a monumental attack on religious liberty: never before has our government chosen to force American citizens to violate their consciences so directly. Yet while Alliance Defending Freedom successfully makes the case that this law violates employers' religious freedom, the potentially devastating impacts of this mandate on others should not be ignored.
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.
August 27, 2012
"The government has now re-written the 'safe harbor' guidelines three times in seven months, and is evidently in no hurry to defend the HHS mandate in open court," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Wheaton.
August 26, 2012
In the video, Marshall stresses that the infringement of religious freedom under Obamacare is only beginning: “We will see other conflicts with conscience in the future. So the only real solution for the religious liberty problem under the HHS mandate is the repeal of Obamacare.”
August 23, 2012
Some things are more important than high gas prices or a faltering economy. They are life, marriage and freedom. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?
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?
August 16, 2012
Unless Catholics continue to fight in the courtroom, in the voting booth, and on our knees in prayer, religious liberty in the United States will quickly erode and fade into the annals of our history. Now is the time to protect the legacy that began the American experiment. Now is the time to bring religious freedom to the forefront of the American legal system once more.
August 10, 2012
The government claims that:
1) Seeking profit is a wholly secularist pursuit;
2) Hence, once we go into business, we lose our religious freedoms in the context of those activities;
3) Meaning that all who engage in such secular undertakings must accede to the precepts of secular ideology;
4) Which the government establishes through the passage of laws and promulgation of regulations.
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.
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."
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.
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.
July 26, 2012
The basic principle in this case is the same as in other cases: that Congress does not let federal agencies punish people of faith for abiding by their faith, without passing the most demanding test known to federal law. We believe that in this case the government does not even come close to justifying its refusal to exempt religious objectors. This is because Congress provided secular exemptions for millions of employees, and it could easily give out more free contraception itself if the political will existed.
July 26, 2012
Ashley McGuire with the Catholic Association, a group that promotes activism against the mandate, said Catholics see the policy as "bullying" their faith. "People in the pews may not agree with all of the Vatican's teachings," she said. "But they love their priests and they love their bishops. They see the mandate as a violation of the church's authority to act according to its conscience."
July 24, 2012
A charitable interpretation may be that Obama just doesn’t understand this. After all, he grew up unchurched, so how would he know Christians who live to serve? A more cynical reading of the situation is that Obama wants to compel religious hospitals and colleges to set aside their religious principles in order to follow his pelvic politics.
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."
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."
July 19, 2012
On Wednesday, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the trustees of Wheaton College joined The Catholic University of America in filing a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services. They did so because the HHS mandate requiring the college to provide and subsidize insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs violates the conscience of the school and its members, and denies their First Amendment freedom of religion.
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.
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.
July 16, 2012
Should people of faith have to surrender their First Amendment rights just because it is an election year? Should battles over fundamental Constitutional rights wait until after elections are over? Remember the Church did not ask for this fight.
July 13, 2012
Christian Medical Association CEO Dr. David Stevens interviews Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the HHS mandate in the Affordable Care Act, conscience rights and religious liberty.
July 13, 2012
On Thursday, June 28 at 10:00 AM, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) joined Congresswoman Diane Black (R-TN), Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), and Congressman Dan Lipinksi (D-IL) for a public forum at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall. The topic: the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and its implications for individual liberty and religious freedom. Rep. Fortenberry also discussed his Freedom2Care-supported bill, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179).
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.
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.
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.
July 9, 2012
The empirical work of sociologists Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke, for instance, shows that religious freedom is highly correlated with the consolidation and longevity of democracy, and with other goods, such as economic development, the equality of women, and the absence of violent religious extremism. The Obama administration has paid little attention to these data.
July 6, 2012
When people are not virtuous there is more and more government control of everybody. As the moral capital of the past disappears, more and more bad things happen, and human misery increases. Moral capital must be continuously renewed in the hearts and minds of men and women.
July 5, 2012
The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom. Religious liberty is a foundational right. It’s necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It’s not an end in itself. In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ.
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.
July 4, 2012
It is outrageous that the bishops must go to federal court to protect the constitutionally protected first freedom, but our country’s history abounds with examples of the need for eternal vigilance.
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.”
June 29, 2012
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List: "From the outset, Obamacare is fundamentally flawed legislation because it makes American taxpayers complicit in the deaths of countless unborn children. Today's decision to uphold the individual mandate to force individuals to purchase health care plans that offend their conscience is incredibly disappointing."
June 29, 2012
Christian Medical Association director David Stevens warned that forcing employers and individuals with faith-based convictions to subsidize abortion or life-ending contraceptives would lead to “huge faith fines on those of us who resist.”
June 29, 2012
Dr. Gene Rudd, senior vice president of the Christian Medical Association (CMA), says the high court decision basically endorses the healthcare law, which will lead to a severe encroachment on the rights of conscience and the exercise of religion.
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.
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.
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.
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.
June 21, 2012
"You knew it was bad, but it's worse than you think. ObamaCare includes plans that fund elective abortions, charges people for life-saving drugs while making life-ending drugs free, and seriously fines those who do not comply..."
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 23, 2012
Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell has seen a lot of media abuse in his time as the master monitor of the liberal press. Now, he's seen the very worst: The broadcast networks "all but spiked the largest legal action in history to defend our constitutionally protected religious freedom," the analyst says, citing CBS, ABC and NBC for skimming over news that 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations filed a lawsuit Monday against the Obama administration.
May 23, 2012
Republican leaders might be trying to avoid getting re-entangled in the culture wars, but Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt on Tuesday said he is considering intervening in a legal challenge to a proposed federal contraception rule brought by Catholic organizations.
May 23, 2012
Greg Baylor, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, says the outcry against the mandate is justifiable and understandable. "They're basically saying, Hey, if you're a religious organization that's out there in the world, serving the world, hiring people who don't necessarily share your religious commitments, you're not entitled to freedom of conscience."
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.
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.
May 22, 2012
Chancellor Jane Belford of the Archdiocese of Washington explains the significance of the lawsuit filed to protect freedom to practice religion. Chancellor Belford details why the suit is necessary in light of the attempt of the government to redefine what is a religious institution. She explains that under the new definition that the work of Mother Teresa no longer would qualify as the work of a religious institution.
May 21, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) - Dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses, schools and other institutions sued the Obama administration Monday over a government mandate requiring most employers to provide birth control coverage as part of their employee health plans.
May 20, 2012
Various initiatives are planned throughout the country in response to the U.S. bishops' call for a "Fortnight for Freedom" June 21-July 4 to encourage prayer, education and public action about religious freedom. The initiative was created in response to several moves by the Obama administration that are threatening the Church's religious freedom.
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.
May 18, 2012
The controversy over the Obama Administration's anti-conscience mandate and the fight for religious liberty only serves to highlight the inherent flaws in Obamacare. This conflict is a natural result of the centralization laid out under Obamacare and will only continue until the law is repealed in full.
May 10, 2012
Our nation has often benefited from religious individuals and institutions who were free to bring their religious perspective into the public square, whether by arguing for fair labor laws, advocating better treatment for immigrants, or providing food, shelter and health care to those in need. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and our civil rights movement often made expressly religious calls for the equal treatment of African-Americans.
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."
April 19, 2012
We insist upon the civilly-protected freedom for the practice of religion and freedom for the free exercise of conscience because they are inherently human freedoms. No person may become the pawn of the State no matter how small or diminished; no matter how inconvenient. If we loose sight of the dignity of the person, all else will unravel. Peace will not last, for the violation of conscience makes any other human violation and tyranny justifiable.
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."
April 8, 2012
Influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Sunday that he is not satisfied with the Obama administration's compromise on a requirement that religious-affiliated organizations provide contraception coverage to employees, and said religious freedom is at stake. "The issue here is not about women's health," Warren said on ABC's This Week. "There is a greater principle, and that is do you have the right to decide what your faith practices?"
April 2, 2012
"Nothing guarantees that America's experiment in religious freedom, as we traditionally know it, will survive here in the United States, let alone serve as a model for other countries in the future," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia writes in the new e-book, A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America.
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.
March 29, 2012
That HHS ruling brought home what everyone already suspected about the president's healthcare law: that it is confusing, unnecessary, massive in scope, full of coercive mandates, and will increase costs. And as the implementation stage of the law unfolds, this mandate will be only the tip of the iceberg.
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.
March 10, 2012
The White House has needlessly bought itself a great deal of trouble and a likely Supreme Court case. As with so much that this administration has done, the latest debate again prompts the question: If they can do this, what can they not do?
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."
February 28, 2012
The Judiciary Committee held a hearing Feb. 28, 2012 entitled, "Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty" Watch video clips:
- Rep. Sandy Adams' exchange with witnesses Jeanne Monahan, Asma Uddin & Bishop Lori
- Witness Jeanne Monahan's exchange with Chairman Lamar Smith
- Witness Bishop Lori's exchange with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner
- Witness Asma Uddin's exchange with Rep. Trent Franks (Part 2)
- Witness Bishop Lori's exchange with Rep. Ted Poe
February 21, 2012
Religious liberty isn't even the only thing at risk; the mandate also threatens the financial viability of any organization that disagrees with the administration's politics. They could be forced to stop offering health insurance and be saddled with fines, which are immense competitive disadvantages. They'll have to take money away from their core missions to pay fines. They'll lose employees who can't afford to work for employers who offer no health insurance. They'll lose donors who are scared off by the penalties. The end result: organizations that agree with the administration or are willing to compromise their beliefs will thrive. Organizations that don't will shrink or die.
February 8, 2012
FOX News host Greta Van Susteren interviews Florida Senator Marco Rubio about the administration's coercive contraception mandate.