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Religious freedom

 

Is Economic Liberty Necessary for Religious Liberty?

The Christian Post

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."

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Religious freedom battle daunting. but bishops urged to persist

Catholic News Agency

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.

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Economic tyranny trumps religious liberty

Washington Examiner commentary by Michael Novak

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.

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Sexual Liberty and Religious Liberty Can Coexist. Here's How.

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

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.

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No Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage, Circuit Court Rules

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

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.

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Rick Santorum on Religious Liberty and the LGBT Agenda

The Daily Signal

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."

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U.S. must do more for religious freedom, advocates say

Washington Times

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.”

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Religious Freedom at Catholic Institutions May Be Threatened after D.C. Bills Pass

Catholic Education Daily

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.”

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Religious liberty under attack

Philadelphia Inquirer commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

October 29, 2014

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

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

Breakpoint Commentary

October 21, 2014

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

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A Collective Hope for Persecuted Christians in November

The Christian Post commentary by David Curry

October 16, 2014

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

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Pulpit Freedom participation exceeds 1,800 pastors, continues through Election Day

Alliance Defending Freedom

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.

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Meet the Lawyers Fighting for Religious Freedom Today Before the Supreme Court

Time Magazine

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.

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Following evangelicals, traditional Catholics create a health insurance alternative

Religion News Service

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.

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Conscience & Abortion in California

National Catholic Reporter

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.

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Hats Off To The University Of Tennessee For Standing Up For Public Prayer

Daily Caller commentary by Sen. Marco Rubio

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.

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Let states, not courts, decide marriage policy

Washington Post commentary by Edwin Meese, III and Ryan Anderson

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."

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Farmers to Lesbian couple: "We're not hateful people."

video re: Daily Signal commentary by Leslie Ford and Ryan Anderson

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.

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College and death of religious freedom

The News Star commentary by Charles C. Haynes

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.

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The link between religious freedom and national security

World Magazine interview with Thomas Farr

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.

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Watering Down Religious Freedom to 'Freedom to Worship'

Commentary by Sarah Torre

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.

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If Policy Makers Cared About Data, They'd Care About Freedom of Religion or Belief

The Weekly Number

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.

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Ten Commandments vs. the Establishment Clause

National Catholic Register

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."

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Obama Administration Doubles Down on Fight Against Nuns

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

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.

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The Wrong Kind of Christian

Christianity Today

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.

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Why Top Catholic Education Organization Says Common Core Could Threaten Religious Liberty

The Blaze

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."

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Clashing visions threaten the mission of U.S. religious liberty panel

Deseret News

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."

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U.S. Navy Removes Bibles from Hotel Guest Rooms

Citizen Link

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."

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Engaging Culture on All Fronts

Canon and Culture commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 11, 2014

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

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Legal Group Asks IRS to Release Docs in Atheist Settlement to Investigate Churches

Christian News

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."

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Government Should Stop Discriminating Against Religious Adoption Agencies

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre and Ryan Anderson

August 1, 2014

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

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State Department Releases Report on International Religious Freedom

Acton Institute commentary by Joe Carter

August 1, 2014

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

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Obama accused of callous disregard for religious liberty

The Blaze

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."

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I'm Praying for David Saperstein

Canon and Culture commentary by Barrett Duke

July 30, 2014

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

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No, Wheaton College's Accreditation Should Not Be Revoked

National Review Online commentary by David Coleman

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.

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Symposium on Whether Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Is Constitutionally Required

BYU Law Review article by Robert Destro, et. al.

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.

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Becket Fund law firm gaining a reputation as powerhouse after Hobby Lobby win

Washington Post

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."

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Senator Blunt Debunks Democrats' False Claims Regarding Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Ruling

YouTube video

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.

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Senate bill would strip conscience protections, bishops warn

Catholic News Agency

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.

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

The Federalist commentary by Ashley McGuire

July 11, 2014

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

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Nonprofits' contraceptive cases next for justices

Associated Press

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.

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The Right to be Wrong

The Public Discourse commentary by Ryan Anderson

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.

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RFRA post-Hobby Lobby: what now?

SCOTUS blog commentary by O. Carter Snead

July 3, 2014

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

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Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Applauds Supreme Court Ruling

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

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.

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Faith Leaders to Congress: Don't Change Vital Religious Freedom Law (RFRA)

PR Newswire

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.

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Lori Windham reviews HHS Obamacare mandate decision

Becket Fund on C-SPAN

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]

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Casey Mattox reviews Supreme Court decision

Alliance Defending Freedom 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]

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After Hobby Lobby, what's next?

Citizen Link commentary by Helen Alvare

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.

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Discrimination order sparks fears over religious liberty

Catholic News Agency

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.

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Southern Baptists cite threats to religious freedom in world

Washington Times

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.

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What Has Happened to the United Nations?

NCR commentary by Ashley McGuire

June 11, 2014

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

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Religious freedom panel transcript

ERLC: Russell Moore, Rick Warren, David Platt, Sam Rodriguez

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."

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Will Catholics Comply?

First Things commentary by Michael Gorman

June 6, 2014

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

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Christian Student's Lawsuit Causes School System to Reverse Speech Policy

Citizen Link

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.

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The Public Value of Private Faith

National Review Online commentary by Jay Hein

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.

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The Supreme Court on Prayer

Public Discourse commentary by Gerard Bradley

May 29, 2014

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

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Neo-Jim Crow in the Middle East

Washington Times commentary by Gary Bauer

May 29, 2014

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

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Groups push military for more religious liberty

Washington Times commentary by Gary Bauer

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.

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Marriage: Where Do We Go From Here?

National Review Online commentary by Ryan Anderson

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.

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Ashamed of the Gospel?

National Catholic Prayer Breakfast speech by Robert P. George

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.

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Pro-Abortion Ideology on Display as U.N. Committee Grills Holy See

National Catholic Register

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."

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Ruling in Town of Greece

National Review Online commentary by Ed Whelan

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."

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Doctors who oppose morning-after pill on conscience grounds face qualifications bar

[London] Telegraph

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.

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Freedom of religion or belief is a foreign policy priority

The Hill commentary by Robert P. George

May 1, 2014

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

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

Heritage Foundry commentary by Ryan Anderson

April 28, 2014

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

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Global war on Christianity is violent and real

Boston Globe

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.

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Younger Americans lose faith in the Bible

Washington Times

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.

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The Financial Burden of Substantial Burden

National Review Online commentary by Carrie Severino

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.

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What Mozilla Means

First Things commentary by Robert George

April 3, 2014

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

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Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance.

Heritage Foundation Foundry commentary by Ryan Anderson

April 3, 2014

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

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Liberals Are Using Campaign Disclosures to Intimidate and Harass

Heritage Foundry commentary by Hans von Spakovsky

April 3, 2014

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

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Honoring Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties for living their faith

Washington Times commentary by Ed Feulner

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.

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Women rally outside Supreme Court for religious liberty

Catholic News Agency

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."

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The War on Hobby Lobby

National Review Online commentary by Rich Lowry

March 25, 2014

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

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What's the difference between CVS and Hobby Lobby? Read more: 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

The Hill commentary by Ashley McGuire

March 25, 2014

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

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Rep. Black Holds Press Conference on HHS Mandate

Video - Office of Rep. Diane Black

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.

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TRANSCRIPT: Oral arguments Supreme Court - HHS mandate

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."

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Hobby Lobby case creates unexpected allies in Dershowitz and Starr

Washington Post

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).

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Rep. John Fleming addresses HHS mandate

VIDEO: House of Representatives

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?"

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Religious Exemptions Are Vital for Religious Liberty

Wall St. Journal commentary by Robert George and Hamza Yusuf

March 23, 2014

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

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Hobby Lobby: It’s about the Mayflower

Independent Women's Forum commentary by Connie Marshner

March 22, 2014

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

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

Washington Post commentary by Rick Warren

March 21, 2014

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

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Religious challenge to health care law hits high court

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.

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Argument preview: Religion, rights, and the workplace

SCOTUS blog

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]

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Religious Americans have been politically excluded.

National Review Online commentary by Philip Hamburger

March 11, 2014

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

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German home-school family can stay in U.S. indefinitely

Washington Times editorial

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.

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In Arizona, gays show Intolerance of expressions of faith

Washington Times editorial

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.

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The Terms of Our Surrender

New York Times commentary by Russ Douthat

March 1, 2014

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

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After veto in Arizona, conservatives vow to fight for religious liberties

Washington Post

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.

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Judge strikes down Tex. same-sex marriage ban, paving way for shift in conservative state

Washington Post

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.

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Christians are most persecuted group on earth, legislators told

Catholic News Agency

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.”

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The HHS Mandate Meets an Immovable Object

National Review Online commentary by Ken Starr

February 12, 2014

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

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What's Behind the UN Attack on the Church?

Crisis Magazine

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.

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

Los Angeles Times commentary by Jonathan Imbody

February 7, 2014

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

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Obama's blind spot on religious liberty

Washington Post commentary by Kathleen Parker

February 7, 2014

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

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Irony: Obama Tells Prayer Breakfast: "We Believe in the Dignity of Every Person"

Life News

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."

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U.N. Overreaches, Tramples Religious Freedom

National Review Online commentary by Marco Rubio

February 5, 2014

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

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Must even nuns pay for contraceptives?

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

February 5, 2014

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

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Hobby Lobby draws wide breadth of support in mandate case

Catholic News Agency

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."

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GOP turns to courts to rein in Obama's executive power

Washington Times

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.

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With health-care lawsuit, the Little Sisters of the Poor step into the spotlight

Los Angeles Times

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.

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Lederman on 'Substantial Burden'

NRO commentary by Matt Bowman

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.

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The Obama administration vs. the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

National Review commentary by Romesh Ponnuru

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.

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Nuns off the hook for now

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

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.

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Defending religious freedom from Obamacare

Matt Bowman in Washington Times

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.

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US bishops unanimously reaffirm opposition to HHS mandate

Catholic News Agency

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.

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A high-minded threat to personal liberty

Tony Perkins in The Washington Times

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.

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Senate adds stronger religious protections to workplace discrimination bill

Washington Times

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."

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US bishops: employment bill is wrong solution to discrimination

Catholic News Agency

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."

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ENDA Threatens Fundamental Civil Liberties

Heritage Foundation

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.

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Faith and freedom depend on each other

Ed Feulner in Washington Times

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.

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Christians relay stories of religious repression

Washington Times

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.

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

Washington Times editorial

October 8, 2013

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

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Hercules One Step Closer to Religious Freedom

Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review Online

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."

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Obamacare mandates threaten religious freedom

John Kennedy column in USA Today

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.

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Supreme Court case could define religion's role in public

Washington Times

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.

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Protecting Religious Liberty in the Marriage Debate

Ryan Anderson - Heritage Foundation

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.

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With Obamacare, business doesn't have a prayer

Matt Bowman in Washington Times

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?

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For-Profit, Closely Held Corporations Cannot State Free Exercise or RFRA Claims

Nathan Adams in Religious Institutions Update

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.

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Are Churches at Risk from Redefined Marriage?

Erik Stanley in National Review Online

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.

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On gay marriage, fault lines emerge for groups seeking religious breaks

Washington Post

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."

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Should public-accommodation law trump all religious liberty?

Ryan Anderson in National Review Online

August 23, 2013

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

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Report argues for lifting ban on politics from the pulpit

Washington Post

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.

 

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Recalling what freedom of religion meant to the Founders

Robert Knight in Washington Times

August 12, 2013

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

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Religious freedom applies to businesses

Mark Rienzi in USA Today

August 11, 2013

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

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Fighting the war on mothers

World magazine

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.

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Five reasons why women care about HHS contraception mandate

Helen Alvare in Washington Post

August 1, 2013

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

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Obamacare ruling violates religious liberty

Video - Alliance Defending Freedom

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.

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Religious Freedom Is About More Than Religion

Robert George in Wall Street Journal

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.

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What Is Religious Freedom?

Robert George in Public Discourse

July 24, 2013

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

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New Faith in Giving coalition

Stanley Carlson-Thies in IRFA

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.

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Religious Charities Ask Congress To Save Charitable Deduction in Tax Overhaul

Chronicle of Philanthropy

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.

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Editorial: Suffer the children (and free speech)

Washington Times

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.

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The fight over contraception coverage

UPI

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."

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Editorial: Evangelical atheism

Washington Times

July 21, 2013

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

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Editorial: Britain throws book at preacher for reading Bible verses

Washington Times

July 17, 2013

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

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Is the growth of the nonreligious good or bad? Americans are divided

Washington Post

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).

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Religious leaders push for ObamaCare contraception mandate exemptions

Fox News

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.

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Conscience coalition

JC Derrick for World Magazine

July 2, 2013

"To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here we stand; we can do no other. God help us."

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Obamacare Regulation Effectively Bars Catholics from Owning Health Insurance Companies

Terence P. Jeffrey in CNSNews.com

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."

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Christians are the most persecuted creed worldwide

Cardinal Timothy Dolan in NY Daily News

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."

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Victory: 10th Circuit Overturns Denial of Hobby Lobby Injunction

Becket Fund news release

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.

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Largo firm wins exemption from contraception mandate

Tampa Tribune

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.

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Religious Liberty and the Gay Marriage Endgame

Ross Douthat in New York Times

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.

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Let our soldiers express their faith

Rebecca Hagelin in Washington Times

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.

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Religious freedom erosion threatens all rights, panel says

Catholic News Agency

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.).

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Natural Lawyer: 'Conscience and Its Enemies,' by Robert P. George

New York Times book review

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.

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Marriage Redefinition and Religious Freedom

Kim Daniels in National Review Online

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.

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Religious freedom is not a 'second-class right'

Mary Ann Glendon in Washington Post

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.

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Do You Have a Saturday Night to Spare for Freedom?

KJ Lopez in National Review Online

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.

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Congressional report: Obamacare mandates infringe on religious liberty

House Energy and Commerce Committee

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.

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Keepin' the Faith, Behind Closed Doors Only

Kathryn Jean Lopez in National Review Online

June 11, 2013

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

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Obama, God, and the Profits

Becket Fund commentary by Mark Rienzi

May 31, 2013

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

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Religious Freedom: A Civil-Rights Issue

National Review Online

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.

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Pro-Life groups also targeted by IRS

National Catholic Register

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."

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Redefining marriage: Religious liberty is at risk

Teresa Collett in Pioneer Press

May 9, 2013

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

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Top court may hear N.Y. lawsuit over prayers

USA Today

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.

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US bishops name religious freedom advocate as spokeswoman

CNA

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."

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Explaining the Outliers in the HHS Mandate Cases

Mark Rienzi in Virginia Law Review

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.

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Cruz Was Right: HHS Mandate Puts Religious Liberty Under Assault

William Saunders and Mary Novick in LifeNews

April 15, 2013

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

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Americans Continue to Oppose Obamacare’s HHS Mandate

Heritage Foundation Foundry - Sarah Torre

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.

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Federal appeals court grants Hobby Lobby’s request to speed court case

Associated Press

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.

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Threats against Religious Freedom in Our Country

U.S.Commission on Civil Rights hearing

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."

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Senate Democrats Vote Against Conscience Protections From HHS Mandate

LifeNews

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."

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

USCCB

March 20, 2013

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

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God and the Profits: Religious Liberty for Money-Makers

Witherspoon Institute

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.

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FLEMING: Pushing back against Obamacare’s overreach

Washington Times

March 12, 2013

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

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VIDEO: Victims Speak Out for Conscience Rights Act, H.R. 940

U.S. Congress news conference video

March 11, 2013

"We cannot--we will not--compromise." --nun who runs network of Catholic Hospitals

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Religious leaders applaud new conscience protection bill

EWTN

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."

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

Mark Rienzi, Columbus School of Law, CUA

March 7, 2013

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

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Proposed Health Care Conscience Rights Act — ‘Last and Only Hope’?

National Catholic Register

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.

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Black, Fortenberry & Fleming Introduce Health Care Conscience Rights Act

Rep. Diane Black press release

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.

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Birth Control Mandate Threatens Religious Freedom

Frank Wright in Christian Post

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.

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VA Passes Law to Bar Universities From Forcing Christian Clubs to Allow Non-Christian Leaders

Christian News

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.

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Members of Congress File Legal Brief on HHS Contraception Mandate

Orrin Hatch

February 20, 2013

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

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

Wesley. J. Smith in The Weekly Standard

February 11, 2013

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

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What the contraception fight is about

Jonathan Imbody in The Washington Post

February 8, 2013

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

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HHS ‘accommodation’ nothing more than a gimmick

Leonard Leo in The Washington Times

February 8, 2013

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

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Wassup with the HHS Mandate?

Kim Daniels in National Review Online

February 6, 2013

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

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Abortion pill mandate gives the illusion of compromise

Alan Sears in The Washington Examiner

February 6, 2013

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

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Obama’s new contraception rules try to fool Catholics

M. Gerson in Washington Post

February 6, 2013

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

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Another Non-Accommodation

Jim Capretta in National Review Online

February 5, 2013

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

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Missed opportunity on the HHS mandate

Kim Daniels in Catholic Voices USA

February 5, 2013

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

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New Obama rule would spare churches but not believers

The Washington Examiner

February 3, 2013

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

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A New Round of Intolerance

Yuval Levin in NRO

February 1, 2013

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

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Evangelicals most concerned about religious freedom in US

Deseret News

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."

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Obama ‘freedom to worship’ assaults First Amendment

Jonathan Imbody in The Washington Times

January 28, 2013

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

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Employers challenging health law contraceptive provision

Washington Post

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.

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Most Americans are Concerned About Restrictions in Religious Freedom

Barna Group poll

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.

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The Seventh Circuit Blocks the HHS Mandate for a Private Business

NRO

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.

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Religious conservatives’ uphill battle

M. Gerson commentary in Washington Post

November 15, 2012

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

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IRS not enforcing rules on churches and politics

New York Times

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.

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Obama Administration: Business owners have no religious freedom rights

Breitbart

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.

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What About Religious Freedom? The other consequences of Obamacare

Weekly Standard commentary by W.J. Smith

October 22, 2012

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

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Summer of Intolerance Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Bleeds into Fall

Heritage Foundation commentary by Dominique Ludvigson

October 18, 2012

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

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

American Thinker commentary - K. Blackwell and B. Morrison

October 7, 2012

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

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Blunt Amendment: Protections For Religion, Conscience Long Established

Hartford Courant commentary by Rep. N. Johnson

October 5, 2012

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

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Obama administration: Bible publisher isn’t religious enough

Alliance Defending 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.

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Obama Commitment to Religious Freedom ‘Worrisome’

Washington Times commentary by Paul Rondeau

September 28, 2012

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

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HHS mandate allows minors free contraception, sterilization

CNA

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."

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Thousands join grassroots women's movement opposing HHS mandate

CNA

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.

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The HHS Mandate’s Other Victims – The Needy

The Bell Towers commentary by C. Mattox

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.

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

FRC blog by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 29, 2012

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

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Wheaton HHS lawsuit dismissed

World Magazine

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.

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HHS Mandate “Serious” Threat to Religious Liberty

Heritage Foundation video - J. Marshall

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.”

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Test of fire

Media Research Center

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?

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An Open Letter to President Obama

TownHall.com commentary by Casey Mattox

August 18, 2012

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

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Now is the time to act on the HHS mandate

CNA commentary by Most Rev. James D. Conley

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.

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Obamacare’s Attack on Religious Rights of Entrepreneurs

Secondhand Smoke blog by Wesley J. Smith

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.

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Is religious freedom being intentionally eroded?

Turtle Bay and Beyond commentary by Wendy Wright

August 9, 2012

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

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Is Religious Freedom Necessary for Other Freedoms to Flourish?

BQO commentary by Thomas Farr

August 7, 2012

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

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Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction in HHS Mandate Fight

Heritage commentary by J. Marshall and D. Ludvigson

July 29, 2012

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

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Abortion, Conscience, and Health Care Provider Rights

Public Discourse, by E. Christian Brugger

July 26, 2012

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

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HVAC and the HHS Mandate

NRO interview with Matt Bowman

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.

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Challenges to Obama administration’s birth-control mandate piling up in court

The Hill

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."

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The President’s Pelvic Politics

Indep. Women's Forum - Connie Marshner

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.

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The HHS Mandate: Not an Academic Debate

National Review commentary by K.J. Lopez

July 20, 2012

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

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An Evangelical-Catholic Stand on Liberty

Wall St. Journal commentary by P. Ryken and J. Garvey

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.

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State Department To Downplay Religious Oppression

Investor's Business Daily editorial

July 17, 2012

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

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Religious Freedom Under the Gun

Weekly Standard commentary by Thomas A. Farr

July 16, 2012

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

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What the Fortnight really meant

CNA commentary by Maureen Ferguson

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. 

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Religious freedom and conscience rights in America

Richard Doerflinger interview on Christian Doctors Digest

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.

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Religious Freedom and the HHS Mandate: A Conversation with Representatives

Video of Georgetown U. symposium

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).

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Omaha Stacy vs. HHS

National Review Online commentary by K. Lopez

July 11, 2012

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

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ObamaCare decision does not stop fight against abortion pill mandate

Townhall commentary by Steve Aden

July 10, 2012

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

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Religious Freedom Under the Gun

Weekly Standard

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.

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Why Should You Care About Religious Liberty?

Independent Women's Forum commentary by Connie Marshner

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. 

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Fortnight for freedom homily: We belong to God

Washington Post reprint of sermon

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.

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Obamacare’s Many Victims

Heritage Foundation commentary by Sarah Torre

July 5, 2012

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

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Eternal Vigilance for Religious Liberty

National Review Online commentary by Grace Marie Turner

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.

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HHS mandate challengers receive unlikely support

CNA commentary by Kim Daniels

July 3, 2012

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

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Friends, foes of health care ruling react

Town Hall

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."

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It's 2010 again

World Magazine

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.”

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What to expect post-ObamaCare ruling

One News Now

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.

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The fight against Obamacare isn't over yet

Washington Examiner commentary by Casey Mattox - ADF

June 29, 2012

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

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Religious Liberty Takes Center Stage

Daily News commentary by Mark Rienzi

June 29, 2012

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

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

National Catholic Bioethics Center commentary

June 28, 2012

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

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What's Behind The Mandate?

Crisis Magazine commentary by Gerard Bradley

June 26, 2012

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

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ObamaCare Mandate Is Worse Than You Think

Alliance Defense Fund video

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..."

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Dust Off Your Law Books President Obama

Forbes commentary by Christen Varley

June 7, 2012

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

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ObamaCare and the War on the Church

Commentary magazine article by Jonathan S. Tobin

May 31, 2012

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

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Religious liberty at stake in battle over contraception rule

CNN commentary by Mary Matalin

May 25, 2012

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

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Protecting our Catholic conscience in the public square

Washington Post op-ed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

May 23, 2012

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

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Lawsuit, what lawsuit?

Washington Times evaluates new coverage of anti-mandate lawsuits

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.

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Lawsuits Challenging Contraception Rule Get Little Play

Roll Call: Senator Blunt considers intervening

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.

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Lawsuits swarming over healthcare, religious conscience

OneNewsNow

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."

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Obama's grand miscalculation with Catholics

Fox News commentary by Maureen Malloy Ferguson, Ashley McGuire

May 22, 2012

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

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HHS doesn't speak for me, or many women

Washington Post commentary by Helen Alvare

May 22, 2012

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

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Our Religious Freedom - video

Chancellor Jane Belford of Archdiocese of Washington explains lawsuit

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.

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Catholic dioceses, colleges sue over Obama mandate

Washington Examiner

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. 

 

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Catholics nationwide preparing 'Fortnight for Freedom' events

Catholic News Agency

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.

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Healthcare mandate endangers religious freedom

The Hill commentary by Jim Nicholson

May 18, 2012

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

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Religious Liberty--Obamacare's First Casualty

Heritage Foundation video

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.

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Good for religion, good for America

New York Times commentary by Mark Rienzi

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.

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The Religious Battle of Vanderbilt

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

May 10, 2012

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

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The Mother of All Freedom

National Review Online commentary by Kathryn Jean Lopez

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.

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Is Conscience Partisan?

Public Discourse commentary by Richard Doerflinger

April 15, 2012

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

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Pastor Rick Warren Decries Obama Contraception Compromise

National Journal

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?"

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Ringing a Bell for Liberty

National Review Online interview: Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

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.

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Will the Obamacare Decision Affect the HHS Mandate?

National Review Online commentary by Mark Rienzi

April 2, 2012

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

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Contraceptive mandate uniting people of all religious and political stripes

Newsweek commentary by Mary Kate Cary

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.

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Put on your shoes; we can win this one

Breakpoint commentary by Chuck Colson:

March 19, 2012

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

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If they can do this, what can they not do?

Kansas City Star commentary by E. Thomas McClanahan

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?

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No mandate exemption for religious groups

Washington Times commentary by Richard Doerflinger

March 7, 2012

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

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House Judiciary Committee holds hearing on contraceptives coercion

"Executive Overreach: The HHS Mandate Versus Religious Liberty"

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

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Contraception, Against Conscience

New York Times op-ed by Michael P. Warsaw

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.

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Sen. Marco Rubio interview on contraception mandate

FOX News video

February 8, 2012

FOX News host Greta Van Susteren interviews Florida Senator Marco Rubio about the administration's coercive contraception mandate.

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