Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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GOP religious freedom bill restores free speech, not 'dark money'

The Hill commentary by Mandi Ancalle

May 9, 2017

While Rabbi Saperstein is undoubtedly an expert on international religious freedom, he and many Democrats on the Committee did not appear to be familiar with the legislative initiative to fix the Johnson Amendment, the Free Speech Fairness Act (H.R. 781, S. 264). The idea behind the Free Speech Fairness Act is to restore the First Amendment freedom of speech to pastors and other 501(c)(3) organizations' leaders, while ensuring churches and other non-profits do not become about "dark money" or transition into political action committees. The Free Speech Fairness Act is all about speech. It does not allow 501(c)(3) organizations to begin purchasing political campaign ads, or to otherwise create a cash flow of "dark money" for politicians.

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Lawmakers Miss Their Chance to Protect Religious Liberty

Daily Signal

December 1, 2016

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., realized the need to ensure that churches, religious organizations, and other nonprofits weren't forced to choose between contracting with the federal government or living by their foundational religious beliefs. He introduced the Russell Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Heritage Foundation expert Roger Severino explains the need, and simplicity, of the amendment: "The Russell Amendment is sound policy that will prevent the administration from stripping contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith. Jewish day schools and Catholic adoption centers, for example, are not liable under Title VII for being authentically Jewish or Catholic, and their staffing policies shouldn't disqualify them from federal grants and contracts either."

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Religious Liberty Protections Stripped From NDAA

Daily Signal commentary by Melanie Israel

November 18, 2016

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

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State-Sanctioned Discrimination in Georgia

Family Research Council commentary by Mandi Ancalle

November 4, 2016

Two African-American Christian men have been fired from their roles serving the state and its municipalities for holding religious views about human sexuality. People with sincere religious views are now being marginalized in Georgia, where just last year, Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a religious liberty bill saying, "I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask the government to confer upon them certain rights and protections." The legislature can easily address the concerns of Dr. Walsh, Fire Chief Cochran, and Georgians across the state, particularly as it relates to their religious views about human sexuality by passing the Government Non-Discrimination Act.

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Obama Threatens to Veto Military Bill Because It Protects Religious Groups

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino and Melanie Israel

October 27, 2016

Included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., that applies decades-old religious exemptions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to federal grants and contracts. The Russell Amendment is sound policy that will prevent the administration from stripping contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith. Jewish day schools and Catholic adoption centers, for example, are not liable under Title VII for being authentically Jewish or Catholic, and their staffing policies shouldn't disqualify them from federal grants and contracts either. But Obama's veto threat is actually the strongest proof of why the Russell Amendment is needed.

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Why a Nurse and a Pastor Object to Being Forced to Help Abort Babies

Daily Signal by Leah Jessen

September 4, 2016

A pastor and a nurse want Congress to pass legislation that would allow Americans the freedom to opt out of the abortion process. Chris Lewis, lead pastor of Foothill Church in Glendora, California, says his congregation doesn't want to be coerced into covering abortions on employee health insurance plans. Lewis spoke on Capitol Hill at a House forum in July on conscience rights, urging Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act. Among about eight others who spoke was a nurse of 26 years, Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya. "I became a nurse to help people, but not to do harm," Vinoya said. In 2014, the state of California issued an order requiring all health insurance plans to cover abortion, without a religious exemption.

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Anti-abortion centers, doctor sue Rauner over 'conscience' law

Chicago Sun-Times

August 5, 2016

The bill requires that doctors who are unwilling to perform or participate in abortions, or other procedures, such as sterilization, provide a referral for another doctor or another medical center in a timely manner. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the plaintiffs, including Dr. Anthony Caruso, who practices medicine in Downers Grove at the Bella Baby OBGYN center, as well as the Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford and Aid for Women, a Chicago non-profit that runs six pregnancy help centers and two residential programs. The suit claims the bill violates the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998, and violates Free Speech Protections of the Illinois Constitution by being "forced to speak" about services that are against their own beliefs. It also claims the bill violates the Freedom of Religion, and the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

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What Lawmakers Can Do to Protect Rights of Pro-Life Medical Professionals

Daily Signal commentary by Jana Minich and Elizabeth Slattery

August 3, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also emphasized the need for legislation like this: "There have been cases of nurses being suspended or threatened with firing solely for the offense of following their conscience. And now, the state of California requires all health insurance plans to cover abortion. ... Allowing this trend to continue will only erode our First Amendment rights even further. It will continue to push people of faith onto the sidelines of society." The troubling trend of marginalizing religious believers, attempting to restrict religious exercise to within the four walls of a house of worship, and stripping Americans of their right to conscience has been a hallmark of the last eight years, and one that will only continue if Americans do not stand up for the right to act according to their conscience.

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The First Amendment Defense Act Should Not Protect Multiple Views of Marriage

Family Research Council

July 22, 2016

Unfortunately, the latest revisions to FADA have forced FRC to withdraw its support of the bill. The new FADA language says: (a) IN GENERAL.-Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that-(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of- (A) two individuals of the opposite sex; or (B) two individuals of the same sex; or (2) extramarital relations are improper. Principled Objections to the new language: The new language of FADA would force Congress to affirm, for the first time, the construct that marriage can be between two people of the same sex. A vast majority of conscience bills based on the life issue, including the recently-passed Conscience Protection Act, protect against government discrimination for one view of abortion-the pro-life view. There is not a constitutional problem with these pro-life laws, and there should be no problem with a pro-marriage law that does not also provide protections for same-sex marriage views.

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Patients, health care providers support conscience protections

The Hill commentary by Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie

July 21, 2016

Physicians, nurses, and other health care workers throughout the US are glad to know that the erosion of their rights is being taken seriously with the passage of the Conscience Protection Act.  Their patients are also glad, as seen in a new Marist poll that shows a strong majority of Americans support conscience protections for their doctors and providers. A recent declaration by the HHS that California’s department of Managed Health Care can continue forcing all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortion, including late-term abortions, gave new impetus for passage of the law. This is a flagrant violation of the Weldon Amendment which was designed to protect medical workers, hospitals, and insurers who object to abortion from discrimination and coercion.  In a recent forum on Capitol Hill, nurses described being forced to assist in gruesome late-term abortions or risk losing their jobs, and pastors from churches in California expressed their fear of having to purchase health insurance for their employees that pays for abortion.

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Congress, we must protect Americans who disagree with abortion

FOX News commentary by Rep. Vicky Hartzler

July 14, 2016

Currently, the only recourse against this discrimination is to file a complaint with OCR. In light of its extremely slow response to straightforward complaints or its outright refusal to execute the law, something had to be done. The House this week passed the Conscience Protection Act, a bill I proudly co-sponsored. This bill stops the federal government, and any state or local government that receives Federal funds from penalizing, retaliating against, or otherwise discriminating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. Further, this bill provides a civil right to action for those discriminated against, including physicians, health professionals, hospitals, health systems, insurance issuers, insurance plans, and administrators of health plans, among others. They deserve a choice. They deserve their day in court.

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Federal Government Is Ignoring Pro-Life Consciences

The Federalist commentary by Ramona Tausz

July 12, 2016

"They were well-aware that as a faithful Catholic, I could not participate in the killing," she said. "Yet they threatened my job, and my nursing license, if I did not take part in the murder of the baby." DeCarlo said her nurse's duties, which included counting the body parts afterward, left her feeling "violated," but that she faced further discrimination when told she could not take her case to court. "The courts told me that even though the hospital broke the law, I had no right to have my day in court," DeCarlo said. "The health care Conscience Rights Act will change this. It will let doctors and nurses go to court if they are illegally coerced in assisting abortions."

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Pass the Conscience Protection Act

Washington Times commentary by Rep. Chris Smith

July 12, 2016

On June 22nd, I was part of a group of lawmakers led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who met with Health and Human Services (HHS )Secretary Sylvia Burwell and HHS Director of the Office for Civil Rights Jocelyn Samuels to respectfully ask why the Administration has refused to enforce the Weldon federal conscience law in the case of California's two-year-old draconian, coercive abortion order. The state of California forces all insurance plans under its purview-and the people and institutions that pay the premiums-to subsidize abortion on demand. Yet, the Weldon federal conscience law authored by former Congressman Dave Weldon of Florida and continuously in effect for over a decade-is explicit and comprehensive. It says in pertinent part that it is illegal for any "discrimination" against any health care entity "on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of or refer for abortions." The law's definition of health care entity explicitly includes "a health insurance plan." Despite the absolute clarity of Weldon in extending Federal conscience protection to health insurance plans, HHS's Burwell and Samuels insisted that health insurance plans weren't covered by Weldon-they said the insurance companies were covered but weren't objecting (which is irrelevant)-and on that point concluded that the injured parties including the Catholic Church lacked standing to obtain relief.

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Debunking 6 Myths About the First Amendment Defense Act

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

July 12, 2016

Several Democratic House members and their invited witnesses made some stunning claims about the bill both orally and in written remarks that merit serious fact-checking. Here are six of them. Myth 1: The bill is cover for discrimination against LGBT people. Reality: This claim is rebutted by simply stating what the bill actually does-it prevents the federal government from discriminating against individuals and institutions that follow their beliefs about marriage and what it entails. It protects supporters of both sides of the same-sex marriage debate from being stripped of nonprofit tax-exempt status, licenses, grants, contracts, or accreditation. Just as Congress protected people from being punished for declining to participate in abortions after Roe v. Wade, the First Amendment Defense Act protects people from being punished for their beliefs about marriage after the Obergefell decision, without taking anything away from anyone.

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Forum on Conscience Protections

U.S. House Representatives

July 8, 2016


Marie-Alberte Boursiquot, M.D. - Pres., Catholic Medical Association - Prepared remarks

William J. “Bill” Cox – President, Alliance of Catholic Health Care - Prepared remarks

Cathy DeCarlo – Nurse, New York - Prepared remarks

Richard Doerflinger – Former AD Secretariat Pro-Life Activities, USCCB - Prepared remarks

Pastor Jim Garlow – Skyline Church, La Mesa, California - Prepared remarks

Donna J. Harrison, M.D. – Executive Director of AAPLOG - Prepared remarks

Pastor Chris Lewis – Foothill Church, Glendora, California - Prepared remarks

Casey Mattox – Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom - Prepared remarks

Fe Vinoya – Nurse, New Jersey - Prepared remarks

Dr. Dave Weldon – former Member of Congress and author, Weldon Amendment - Prepared remarks

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43 Republicans Join Democrats to Support Obama's Transgender Agenda

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 26, 2016

On Wednesday night, 43 Republican members of Congress joined the Democrats to vote for President Barack Obama's transgender agenda. Whereas last week Congress voted to reject this proposal-known as the Maloney Amendment-last night they voted to ratify Obama's 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from what it describes as "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation and gender identity" in their private employment policies. And, of course, "discrimination" on the basis of "gender identity" can be something as simple as having a bathroom policy based on biological sex, not gender identity, as we learned last week from Obama's transgender directives. And "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation" can be something as reasonable as an adoption agency preferring married moms and dads for orphans, than other arrangements.

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Paul Ryan is in another fight he doesn't want--this time over LGBT rights

Washington Post

May 26, 2016

Conservatives are mainly taking aim at a pair of Obama directives to ensure protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors and to direct public schools to provide access to locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Also on Wednesday, a measure by Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne passed to exempt religious groups from complying with the directives. The speaker this week cautioned GOP members at a closed-door session that Democrats were likely to keep trying to force them into uncomfortable votes on LGBT discrimination, according to aides and members who were present. He floated the idea of modifying House rules in a move that would likely restrict the number of amendments that could be offered on the floor, which would allow leaders to get out ahead of controversial votes and avoid any potentially embarrassing floor fights.

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House passes resurrected LGBT measure

The Hill

May 25, 2016

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) offered a counter-amendment so that Maloney's proposal would be modified by stating that no funds could be used in contravention of the LGBT executive order except as "required by the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution." "Does anyone in this chamber seriously oppose Article I of the constitution, the First Amendment, or the 14th Amendment?" Pitts asked. Ahead of the vote, influential conservative group Heritage Action urged Republicans to oppose Maloney's amendment and said that it would be including it on its legislative scorecard. "Make no mistake: A vote for the Maloney amendment is a vote for President Obama's radical transgender bathroom agenda," the notice reads.

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Lawmaker: "Big Brother" Shouldn't Force Americans to Participate in Abortions

Daily Signal commentary by Leah Jessen

May 6, 2016

One of the groups that signed the letter, Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal aid group, has filed two lawsuits challenging the California rule that has forced churches to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans. "California is a perfect example of why this legislation is so necessary," Casey Mattox, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel, told The Daily Signal. "The administration has failed to enforce federal law and churches are left paying for abortions as a result." Other organizations signed onto the letter include the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Christian Medical Association, American College of Pediatricians, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and California Nurses for Ethical Standards.

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Attempt to Send Religious Liberty Bill Straight to the People Fails in Missouri

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

April 27, 2016

The idea behind the measure, Johnson, president of Missouri Alliance for Freedom, told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview, was to give people the opportunity to vote on the "religious freedom vs. gay marriage contest" for the first time since the Supreme Court ruled on the issue last June. Supporters say if SJR 39 were to take effect, it would ban government discrimination against people of faith because of their beliefs about marriage. Schools and charities, for example, would be protected from losing access to government programs because of their beliefs about marriage.

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Tennessee Governor Signs Religious Counseling Bill Into Law

ABC News

April 27, 2016

Tennessee's Republican governor said Wednesday that he signed a bill into law that allows mental health counselors to refuse to treat patients based on the therapist's religious or personal beliefs. "As a professional I should have the right to decide if my clients end goals don't match with my beliefs - I should have the right to say somebody else can better serve them," Gov. Bill Haslam said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "Lawyers can do that, doctors can do that. Why would we take this one class of professionals and say you can't do that?"

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Brownback signs public college, university religious freedom bill

Hays Daily News

March 23, 2016

Gov. Sam Brownback capped two years of legislative debate by signing a bill Tuesday forbidding public colleges and universities in Kansas from compelling student religious organizations to accept members or leaders who don't share the group's core beliefs. The bill approved by the Senate in 2015 and the House this session was developed because of apprehension higher education administrators could apply "accept-all-comers" rules membership and leadership rules to campus faith organizations under a threat of loss of school funding. The governor said. "Senate Bill 175 preserves intellectual diversity and religious liberty by allowing student clubs and organizations to determine the membership of their own groups."

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The Hypocrisy of Big Business Attacking Georgia's Religious Liberty Bill

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 25, 2016

Last Friday, the Georgia Senate passed a good bill that protects religious freedom in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage. And already special interest groups and big businesses are trying to pressure the governor into refusing to sign the bill unless it is significantly watered down in the House. This is yet another example of cultural cronyism. Businesses in Georgia were always free to embrace gay marriage-to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages and make floral arrangements for same-sex nuptials-and many do, but now they want the government to force everyone in Georgia to do the same.

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What Locker Rooms Should Boys Who Identify as Girls Be Allowed to Use?

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

February 19, 2016

The only reason this proposal is controversial comes back to the fight over how exactly one defines a girl or a boy. Sensitive to the emotions surrounding this issue, the bill requires schools to accommodate students who don't identify with their biological sex by providing them reasonable access to alternate facilities, such as unisex bathrooms or private changing rooms, if requested by their parents. As a result, students that identify as transgender will have more options than those who do not. Yet this reasonable balance has not placated the left, which is trying to bully South Dakota into reversing course under the charge of "discrimination."

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Amid religious freedom concerns, relief over Indiana bill's failure

Catholic News Agency

February 8, 2016

Indiana's Senate Bill 344 died "because it was a threat to freedom of religion and conscience," said Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Society at the Heritage Foundation. "Because when you elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to the same status as race, mainstream religious beliefs about sexual identity are then labeled as bigoted," he said. The broad anti-discrimination bill, introduced in the state senate in January, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or active duty military service in areas like housing, employment and education.

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Sexual Assault Victims Speak Out Against Washington's Transgender Bathroom Policies

The Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

January 25, 2016

The Daily Signal met with Simon, Triller Haver, and Flores in Washington's state capital to learn why they're breaking their silence about their past experiences to fight what they believe are dangerous new policies. "There is no doubt in my mind that many, many people will be hurt with this kind of policy," Simon said. The policies, which went into effect Dec. 26, grant individuals full access to bathrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities in accordance with their chosen gender identity instead of their anatomical sex.

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

Mosaic commentary by Bruce Abramson

August 3, 2015

In fact, the First Amendment makes no mention of either "deeply held religious beliefs" or "institutions of faith." Those terms relate to the freedom of worship: the unfettered right to pray in whatever way one chooses to pray. But the First Amendment does not guarantee the freedom of worship; it guarantees the free exercise of religion-a much broader concept that explicitly includes the right to lead a faith-based life and to behave in a manner that faith dictates and eschew choices that faith prohibits. The distinction between the two concepts is profound, and it comes into sharp focus whenever contemporary mores and religious doctrines point in opposite directions. If contemporary society can define morality, and the state promulgates a law embodying that definition, to what extent should the law also tolerate the behavior of those who follow contradictory religious codes?

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No One Should Lose Freedom After Obergefell

Georgetown U. Cornerstone commentary by Jennifer Marshall

July 27, 2015

To ensure that Americans have as much freedom after the redefinition of marriage as they did before, the law should prohibit government discrimination against those who dissent from the conclusion of five justices in Obergefell v. Hodges. During oral arguments in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli made clear that the nonprofit tax status of religious schools would be at risk if the Court decided to redefine marriage. Within days of the Obergefell decision, a New York Times columnist writing in TIME suggested that religious organizations who do not get in line with the new public policy should lose their nonprofit tax status.

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The Equality Act: Bad Policy that Poses Great Harms

Public Discourse commentary by Andrew Walker

July 24, 2015

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

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The next front in battle over gay rights

The Hill

July 5, 2015

"One of the first things that the pro-life movement did after Roe v. Wade was protect the right of conscience for all American citizens to never have to pay for an abortion or perform an abortion if it violated their beliefs," noted Ryan Anderson, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "So in the same way, the pro-marriage movement will need to protect our rights not to be coerced or discriminated against by the government into violating our belief that marriage is between a man and a woman."

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Penny Nance: Scott Walker's Push for Marriage Constitutional Amendment Exactly Right

Breitbart News

June 29, 2015

Penny Nance, the CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, is praising Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's push for a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court rulings that same-sex marriage is constitutional. "Scott Walker said it right in underscoring two points: 1) the only hope the states have of reversing this ruling is a Constitutional Amendment 2) increased conscience protections are all that stands between people of faith and job loss and discrimination," Nance said in a statement provided exclusively to Breitbart News. Walker, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling released on Friday, called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

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The Power Elite

First Things commentary by Patrick J. Deneen

June 25, 2015

Today's cultural power elite is entirely aligned with the economic power elite, and they're ready to steamroll anyone in their way. In the case of Indiana's RFRA, corporate and gay activists combined to bring to heel conservative Christians in a rural, Rust Belt state that struggles at the margins of America's global economy.  Corporate America is willing to join any coalition that advances its financial interests and ­deeper philosophic commitments, at the expense of Americans on the wrong side of history, especially those Americans living in places like Indiana who aren't part of the meritocratic global elite.

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Lee, Labrador Introduce Bill Protecting Religious LIberty

Sen. Mike Lee

June 17, 2015

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), today reintroduced legislation to clarify and strengthen religious liberty protections in federal law, by safeguarding those individuals and institutions who promote traditional marriage from government retaliation. The First Amendment Defense Act  (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. For example, the bill would prohibit the IRS from stripping a church of its tax exemption for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings. "There’s a reason the right to religious liberty appears first in our nation’s Bill of Rights,” said Senator Lee.

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Snyder signs law letting adoption agencies decline referrals that violate beliefs

FOX News

June 11, 2015

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law letting faith-based adoption agencies with state contracts decline to participate in referrals that violate their beliefs. The Republican governor told The Associated Press Thursday that the legislation codifies existing state practice for private agencies with contracts to place children and ensures as many organizations as possible are involved in helping kids be adopted

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Eyeing Supreme Court Gay Marriage Case, Mike Lee Unveils Bill Protecting Religious Schools

Daily Signal

June 4, 2015

To address the concern that religious institutions may lose their tax-exempt status if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage later this month, the Utah Republican plans to introduce legislation next week that would ban that from happening. "Discrimination by private parties against private parties-that's one issue," Lee told a small group of reporters today in a phone conference. "There is a different issue when the government is itself the discriminator ... that's a problem and that's what we're trying to protect here."

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Modest Conscience Protections in Louisiana Elicit Hysteria

Public Discourse commentary by Adam MacLeod

May 13, 2015

In light of how narrow the bill's protections are, the rhetoric of the bill's opponents seems divorced from reality. The executive director of the Louisiana chapter of ACLU warned that the bill would legalize spousal abuse. She opined that an earlier version of the bill "basically dismantles the Louisiana legal system. The whole criminal code goes out the window."

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In Illinois, Bishops and Pro-Life Groups Differ on ACLU Conscience Bill

National Catholic Register

May 13, 2015

Anna Paprocki, staff counsel for Americans United for Life and an Illinois resident, said S.B. 1564's suggested protocols turn the state's existing conscience protections into "a false promise. You can have a conscientious objection to abortion, but you still have to tell patients about abortion and the so-called benefits of abortion," she said. Paprocki explained that the consensus among pro-life organizations is that the law's requirements would involve pro-life health professionals and facilities promoting abortion by giving such information. "You have to reasonably believe that these people may perform abortions when you give out this information," she said. "So now we're asking crisis-pregnancy centers to hand out information on places they reasonably believe will perform abortions, and that violates their consciences and violates the core mission of crisis-pregnancy centers."

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House votes to overturn DC's reproductive health law

The Hill

April 30, 2015

The House voted late Thursday night to overturn the District of Columbia's law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on reproductive health choices. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) sponsored the disapproval resolution in the House, while 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a companion measure in the Senate. Republicans maintained the disapproval resolution would ensure religious employers' First Amendment rights are protected. "This is not a war on women. It is an outright war on religious liberties," said Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.).

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America was 'Founded on the Principle of Religious Freedom'

Speaker John Boehner news release

April 30, 2015

"America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and faith-based employers deserve the ability to hire people who share their beliefs. The measure passed by the D.C. Council, however, discriminates against religious and pro-life Americans, violates their conscience rights, and runs completely counter to the ‘free exercise' clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a proud pro-life Catholic, I condemn this form of discrimination and urge the president to reconsider his veto threat of our joint resolution."

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House Will Vote on Bill to Stop D.C. From Forcing Pro-Life Groups to Hire Abortion Activists

Life News

April 29, 2015

Should pro-life organizations be forced to hire pro-abortion employees? That's the question the House of Representatives will answer on Friday when it votes on a resolution to condemn a measure the District of Columbia City Council approved. A top pro-life advocate in Washington provides more background on what's happened and how RHNDA abrogates the rights of pro-life groups. "RHNDA was adopted by the D.C. City Council late last year and transmitted to Congress on March 6 for a Congressional review period of 30 legislative days. The law will be enacted at the expiration of the 30 day period unless a joint resolution of disapproval is enacted. On April 21 H.J. Res. 43 was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a party line vote of 20-16," says Jonathan Imbody, Vice President for Government Relations for the Christian Medical Association.

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House GOP Seek Challenge to DC Abortion Law that Violates Religious Liberty

April 29, 2015

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who authored the resolution to overturn RHNDA, explained: "Women are already rightfully protected from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy status and a number of other fronts through both D.C. and federal law. This resolution does nothing to change that. As a registered nurse, I have spent my career caring for women, children, and families. The claims that my resolution amounts to ‘an attack on women's healthcare' are offensive and patently false."

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Jindal defends Louisiana's 'religious liberty' bill

USA Today

April 16, 2015

At a news conference Thursday, Jindal said the bill only prevents the state from discriminating against businesses or business owners who choose to exercise their religious beliefs. Critics say the measure could sanction discrimination against same-sex couples in Louisiana. "The great thing in America is that we support the right of folks to live their lives according to their beliefs, whether we agree with them or not," Jindal said. "I think you can have tolerance and religious liberty. I don't think those two are mutually exclusive." The governor said the bill as written doesn't affect the ability of a business to serve or not serve its customers.

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The Post-Indiana Future for Christians

American Conservative commentary by Rod Dreher

April 3, 2015

On the conservative side, said Kingsfield, Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life. "The fact that Mike Pence can't articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn't care and can't articulate it, is shocking," Kingsfield said. Why can't Republicans articulate this? We don't have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can't imagine that they might be wrong about any of it."

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Indiana 'Fix' on Religious Liberty Law Creates Bad Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Law

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

April 2, 2015

the proposed "fix" amounts to nothing less than a wholesale repeal of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act with respect to those who need religious liberty protections the most. The "fix" is bad public policy that explicitly exempts sexual orientation and gender identity laws from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act except with respect to a narrow class of nonprofit religious organizations and their agents. The "fix" specifically targets the millions of other religious Americans who wish to live their lives in accordance with their faith values, free from government coercion.

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Religious Freedom Acts Have Never Harmed A Gay Person

The Federalist

April 2, 2015

It has been 22 years since President Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. In two decades of RFRAs, the world has not ended. In fact, not a single person who identifies as homosexual has been harmed by these RFRAs. None. This may come as a surprise to you if you have watched any of the media coverage or been on social media for the last several days. The unhinged claims from the Left have been entirely detached from the reality that these laws have actually existed for decades and have never resulted in any of the things they worry will happen. This is not new. Dire warnings that are unsurprisingly not confirmed by future events have been a common theme in arguments from the Left in recent years.

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Religious freedom laws are about tolerance--which is exactly why the Left doesn't like them

Daily Signal commentary by Genevieve Wood

March 31, 2015

Discrimination is going on all right but not against the groups many on the Left are claiming. Here's the bottom line: many people who support abortion or who support same-sex marriage don't just want those rights for themselves. They want society at large to approve of their actions. And they will fight any law or movement that they believe undermines that goal. Religious freedom laws, like the one coming under fire in Indiana, are needed because it is increasingly people of faith who are being persecuted.

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Faith-based organizations oppose Leahy gender bill

Dozens sign letter to senators opposing S 262

March 9, 2015

As leaders of faith-based organizations, religious-freedom advocates, and lawyers who work with faith-based organizations, we ask you to reject the misconceived nondiscrimination clause that S. 262, the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (Sen. Leahy) would attach to every grant administered by the administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. The clause will undermine the rights of faith-based social-service providers or even cause many of them to be excluded from these grants.

Download file IRFA joint ltr Senate re Leahy runaway youth and gender bill.pdf

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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 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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Senate Considering Bill That Could Wipe Out Many State Pro-Life Laws

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

July 16, 2014

"Imagine the vast majority of pro-life laws wiped out with the enactment of a single piece of federal legislation. That is the purpose behind S. 1696," summarizes Bill Saunders of Americans United for Life. The misleadingly named "Women's Health Protection Act," S. 1696, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would do just the opposite of its euphemistic title. Effectively, it would strip states of the ability to protect the health and safety of women and defend the lives of unborn children.

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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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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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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes controversial religious freedom bill

Washington Times

February 26, 2014

Doug Napier, senior counsel for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, said the veto represented a defeat for freedom and victory for fear and a national campaign that the bill's proponents said had wildly distorted the bill. "Freedom loses when fear overwhelms facts and a good bill is vetoed. Today's veto enables the foes of faith to more easily suppress the freedom of the people of Arizona," Mr. Napier said in a statement.

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We Need a Real Women's Agenda, Not Government-Funded Abortion

Public Discourse commentary by Helen Alvare

January 13, 2014

I make two main points: first, that neither American lawmakers nor citizens, especially women, understand abortion as a public good meriting funding. And second, that abortion is not a part of any genuine "women's health" agenda according to the federal government's own statements.

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Stop your taxes from subsidizing abortions - support No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

January 10, 2014

This bill simply extends a long-held principle favored by most Americans--that our tax dollars should not fund abortions, which continue to divide our nation while denying the right to life to over a million babies a year. Since abortion rights advocates insist that abortion should be a personal choice free from government involvement, let them follow through on that assertion by keeping our tax dollars out of that choice.

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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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