Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

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Cake Wars And The Coming Conflict Over Religious Liberty

August 4, 2017

This context makes the thoughtful and engaging book Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, by John Corvino, Ryan T. Anderson, and Sherif Girgis, timely and necessary. This book provides a good introduction into current debates over religious liberty, and offers genuine debate on these issues, with Corvino taking one side, and Anderson and Girgis, writing jointly, the other. Of course the authors are not in total opposition. They all proclaim that it is important to maintain religious liberty and to oppose unjust discrimination. But they differ dramatically regarding emphasis and implementation, illuminating the contours of debate over cases like those above. A crucial difference is that for Anderson and Girgis, anti-discrimination laws are primarily pragmatic, while for Corvino they are principled. That is, Anderson and Girgis see these laws as proportionate remedies for injustices of a certain sort and severity, with state-enforced racial segregation being the classic example. In contrast, Corvino seems to see them as essential because of the message they send, regardless of the extent of existing injustice.

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The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty

National Review commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

August 3, 2017

While there has always been disagreement about what religious liberty requires in particular cases, the idea of religious liberty as a fundamental human right has more or less been a consensus in America. It became controversial only in recent years as the government tried to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage, and as liberal advocacy groups decided that civil liberties aren't for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution. That's why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns' attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control - including forms of birth control that prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortion. The HHS mandate garnered the most headlines, but it's far from the only flashpoint. In several jurisdictions, Catholic Charities and other faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to abandon their invaluable work simply because they want to place needy children only in homes with married moms and dads. The government calls that discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Supreme Court to Review Case of a Baker Told He Must Bake Gay Wedding Cake

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

June 26, 2017

the court also agreed to review ("granted cert" in the legal jargon) a case about religious liberty, free speech, and government coercion to support gay marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, and whether he must create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings, even if doing so violates his beliefs. The case goes back to 2012, when a same-sex couple received a marriage license in Massachusetts and asked Phillips to bake a cake for a reception back home in Colorado, a state that in 2006 constitutionally defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Phillips declined to create a wedding cake, citing his faith: "I don't feel like I should participate in their wedding, and when I do a cake, I feel like I am participating in the ceremony or the event or the celebration that the cake is for," he said.

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Circuit Court Win for Religious Freedom on Gay Marriage

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

June 22, 2017

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Thursday that a Mississippi law that protects religious liberty and the rights of conscience in light of the redefinition of marriage may go into effect. So, what does the Mississippi law do? As previously explained at The Daily Signal: Religious organizations, like churches, cannot be forced to use their facilities to celebrate or solemnize weddings that violate their beliefs. Religious convents, universities, and social service organizations can continue to maintain personnel and housing policies that reflect their beliefs. Religious adoption agencies can continue to operate by their conviction that every child they serve deserves to be placed with a married mom and dad. Bakers, photographers, florists, and similar wedding-specific vendors cannot be forced to use their talents to celebrate same-sex weddings if they cannot do so in good conscience.

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Republicans in Congress push for religious liberty executive order

USA Today

April 25, 2017

Beyond the workforce protections, the widely circulated draft order would have eliminated the contraceptive mandate that requires religious institutions to provide health insurance for birth control. Republicans lawmakers are also pushing for the order to allow for doctors to refuse to perform abortions based on religion. They also want to see protections for religious non-profits to be able to express political opinions without losing their tax-exempt status. The letters signatories, all men except for Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler, include some of the Republican caucus’ most conservative members. A similar letter was sent by Senate Republicans earlier this month. “An executive order requiring federal government agencies to protect the right to religious freedom is necessary, and directing agencies to adhere to existing federal laws protecting religious freedom is sound policy,” the letter reads.

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Gay rights organizations hail court ruling as "game changer"

Washington Post

April 5, 2017

In an opinion concurring with the majority, Judge Richard Posner wrote that changing norms call for a change in interpretation of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex. "I don't see why firing a lesbian because she is in the subset of women who are lesbian should be thought any less a form of sex discrimination than firing a woman because she's a woman," wrote the judge, who was appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan. The dissenting opinion - written by Judge Diane Sykes, a conservative who was on Trump's list of possible Supreme Court appointees - said the majority were stretching the meaning of the law's text too far. "We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions." The dissent alludes to the judicial philosophy of Trump's high-court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who advocates sticking with the original legislative texts in deciding legal disputes.

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"Fairness for All": Evangelicals Explore Truce on LGBT and Religious Rights

Christianity Today

March 6, 2017

In recent months, the CCCU and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) have discreetly led the charge to get evangelical institutions to think through potential legal options to safeguard their Christian distinctives as they look ahead to 2017. They met with more than 200 leaders in 9 cities to discuss Fairness for All, an approach that would bring together religious liberty defenders and LGBT activists to lay out federal legislation to secure rights for both. Still, several prominent religious liberty advocates-including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention-that opposed the Utah compromise model aren't on board with Fairness for All either. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Bristow noted the ERLC's "longstanding policy that we do not support elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to a protected class." Wilson warned against comparing potential Fairness for All legislation to existing policies that have led to high-profile "bakers and bathrooms" cases, most of which were enacted prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage and without input from both sides. "To look at these older data points and rules only shows us that legislation did not take into account religious freedom," she said. "They weren't Fairness for All. They were sexual orientation and gender identity antidiscrimination statutes that did not answer the hardest questions." (orig. pub. 12/8/16)

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Just Because Liberals Call Something Discrimination' Doesn't Mean It Actually Is

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 1, 2017

The biggest problem with current sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws-including "Fairness for All," which proposes a grand-bargain compromise between SOGI laws and religious liberty-is that they do not appropriately define what counts as discriminatory. As I explain in a new report for The Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," these are the laws that are being used to shutter Catholic adoption agencies, fine evangelical bakers, and force businesses and public facilities to allow men into women's locker rooms. ... Catholic Charities adoption agencies decline to place the children entrusted to their care with same-sex couples not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the conviction that children deserve both a mother and a father. That belief-that men and women are not interchangeable, mothers and fathers are not replaceable, the two best dads in the world cannot make up for a missing mom, and the two best moms in the world cannot make up for a missing dad-has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation.

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Trump stance on religious liberty leaves social conservatives nervous

Washington Times

February 19, 2017

Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, called on Mr. Trump to "get moving on religious liberty. The issue of religious liberty is one of the most important for people of faith, who happen to be the key voting [bloc] most responsible for electing Donald Trump as president," Mr. Brown wrote in a letter to supporters last week. "Evangelicals voted over 80 percent for Mr. Trump, and Catholics went for him by 52 percent. Now it's time for the administration to act to protect people of faith from being discriminated against because of their faith." The primary source of frustration for the religious right is Mr. Trump's inaction on former President Obama's executive order requiring some religious groups, including charities and relief organizations, not to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to receive federal contracts. A draft of an executive order repealing that mandate circulated in the media and immediately drew the ire of the LGBT movement. Politico reported the repeal effort was squashed by the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

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How to Think About Discrimination: Race, Sex, and SOGI

Witherspoon Institute commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 14, 2017

In a new report for the Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," I argue that current proposals to create new LGBT protections with varying types of religious exemptions will not result in what advocates claim is "Fairness for All." Instead, they will penalize many Americans who believe that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other-convictions that the Supreme Court of the United States, in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognized are held "in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world." As I explain in the report, current SOGI laws, including "Fairness for All," lack the nuance and specificity necessary for cases they seek to address. They take the existing paradigm of public policy responses to racism and sexism and assume that this paradigm is appropriate for the policy needs of people who identify as LGBT. This is misguided for both conceptual and practical reasons.

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

Focus on the Family commentary by Jake Roberson

January 30, 2017

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

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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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Therapists Addressing Same-Sex Attractions are Joining the SAFE-T Patrol

FRC blog by Peter Sprigg

November 1, 2016

If you follow news about the LGBT movement, you may have heard that there are major efforts underway to ban "conversion therapy." There are a number of serious problems with this effort-one of which is that no one who engages in the process of helping people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions refers to it as "conversion therapy." The new term is Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy-or "SAFE-T" for short. By stressing therapeutic exploration, the new term accurately conveys that the therapist is not being coercive but merely assisting individuals in a client-centered examination of their sexual attractions. Scientifically, the fluidity of sexual orientation (and, for our purposes, especially same-sex attractions) for many men and women is now beyond question. The language of SAFE-T highlights this reality and points to human experience that cannot be denied.

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Creative professionals relate cases of discrimination for their religious beliefs

C-SPAN video

October 25, 2016

VIDEO: Religious Freedom and Civil Rights: The Alliance Defending Freedom held a discussion on the tension between religious freedom and civil rights. Speakers included small business owners with deeply-held religious beliefs who face civil penalties, loss of their business, and retaliation from some in their communities for refusing service to same-sex couples.

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Key findings about Americans views on religious liberty and nondiscrimination

Pew Research Center pub. 9/28

October 1, 2016

Americans are evenly divided (49% to 48%) over whether wedding-related businesses, such as caterers and florists, should be required to serve same-sex couples who want to marry, even if the owner of these establishments objects to homosexuality for religious reasons. Americans are also closely divided over whether transgender people should be able to use public restrooms that correspond to their current gender identity. Two-thirds (67%) of Americans say employers should be required to provide birth control to employees through their health insurance plans, even if the business owner has religious objections to contraception.

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College Football Becomes Latest Goal Line for LGBT Activists

Daily Signal commentary by Genevieve Wood

August 10, 2016

Considering the above, of all the schools thought to be in contention to join the Big 12, Brigham Young University should be a top contender. It most certainly has a larger national following than several other teams said to be in the running, such as Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, or Memphis. But there is just one problem. Brigham Young, a university run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has an honor code that, shocker of shockers, aligns with its religious beliefs. One of those Mormon beliefs is that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the church's religious tenets. That has the LGBT bully community all aflutter and demanding that the Big 12 not allow BYU to enter the conference because, in their view, the university has an "express policy of discriminating against same-sex couples and LGBTQ students." Well, let's take a look.

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Christian Mingle settlement: Using laws to reduce marketplace choices

IRFA commentary by Stanley Carlson-Theiss

July 22, 2016

A group of religious dating sites has agreed to stop restricting users to opposite-sex matches after being charged under California's Unruh Act that prohibits sexual-orientation discrimination in public accommodations.,, and are now required to facilitate searches for same-sex partners, whatever the business model of the parent company or the convictions of its owners concerning intimate relationships. And yet the outcome of the court settlement is a less diverse marketplace.

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Evangelicals increasingly say it's becoming harder for them in America

Pew Research

July 14, 2016

Some of this feeling may stem from the fact that the country is becoming more secular: A rising share of Americans do not identify with any religion, while a shrinking portion of the population is Christian. Another factor may be the spread of legal same-sex marriage nationwide and increasing social acceptance of homosexuality, developments with which many conservative Christians disagree. And other clashes with the values many conservative Christians hold continue to play out across the country, whether it be over the teaching of evolution in public schools, the presence of religious displays on public property for Christmas or whether public school cheerleaders can put Bible verses on their banners.

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The dark pessimism of American Christians

The Week commentary by Michael Brendan Dougherty

June 28, 2016

In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its EnemiesMary Eberstadt finds a dark pessimism settling over many American Christians when they contemplate the future. They perceive a foreboding shift in public attitude. Once there seemed to be a broad and liberal respect for the free exercise of religion, even in public life. But now, the very cultural forces promoting tolerance and diversity treat Christians and their institutions with broad suspicion, and demand absolute conformity with an egalitarian ethos that has only recently even announced its own existence. But what if the zeal that Eberstadt uncovers in her book is motivated by something deeper? 

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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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Resist or Accommodate Evil: There is No "Third Way"

Witherspoon Institute commentary by Jeffery J. Ventrella

May 1, 2016

[orig. pub. 1/27/15] The simple truth is this: one need not be required to take innocent life before one ought to be able to stand firm in one’s conscience against an unjust law. As the tradition teaches, even the tiniest pinch of incense to Caesar is too much compromise for a well-formed conscience. Indeed, stopping an unjust law before it leads to innocent bloodshed is morally preferable, is it not? Ask King—or, if you prefer, St. Thomas More, Maximilian Kolbe, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When conscience flirts with the idea of accommodating an unjust law, it must politely, yet firmly, reject the sirens of seduction. Any other result would be—in a word—compromise.

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US Commission on Civil Rights Fails to Understand Religious Liberty Laws

Daily Signal commentary by Jane Clark Scharl

April 27, 2016

The commission says Tennessee's H.B. 1840, which was passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor's decision, "will permit mental health professionals to deny counseling services to LGBT people based upon ‘sincerely held religious beliefs."' The dissent more accurately describes the bill, which allows counselors or therapists whose beliefs "conflict with a potential client's ‘goals, outcomes or behaviors' to decline to offer counseling/therapy to that potential client, provided that he or she refers the potential client to someone who will." Far from denying service, the bill actually "decreases the likelihood" that someone seeking counseling or therapy will be "saddled with a counselor or therapist" whose beliefs don't align with the potential client's counseling goals.

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Christian baker loses appeal in same-sex wedding cake case

World magazine

April 26, 2016

"We asked the Colorado Supreme Court to take this case to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people's freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living," Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal group representing Philips, said in a statement released Monday. In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins requested Philips bake them a custom wedding cake to celebrate their Massachusetts marriage. Philips declined, citing his religious convictions, but recommended another bakery nearby. Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which eventually ruled against Philips in 2014.

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Why corporations are wrong about the Mississippi law

Religion News Service commentary by Jennifer Marshall

April 11, 2016

Confusion around the new law seems to come from media coverage that fails to distinguish its protections for religious organizations - which do not apply to businesses - from its much narrower policy concerning a handful of small businesses in a specific circumstance: wedding-related vendors in the context of participating in wedding ceremonies. The only provisions that apply to businesses generally are the assurances that private employers can set their own bathroom and employee dress policies based on their particular circumstances. Most of the new law is about protecting religious groups and individuals who have a different perspective on marriage. It guarantees their religious freedom while not taking anything away from anyone else. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of differences.

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Don't punish religious belief

USA Today commentary by Tony Perkins

April 10, 2016

Nearly a half-million children are in the foster care system, and roughly a quarter of them are available for adoption. Over 1,000 non-profit agencies, many of them faith-based, work to find safe and loving homes for these children. States such as Mississippi are being pressured to end their relationships with these faith-based organizations because the government doesn't like the organizations' beliefs about natural marriage. This is just one example of how states are being used to discriminate against people with deeply held religious beliefs. This penalizes more than the religious organization; it hurts society as a whole

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Dignity v. Freedom

First Things commentary by Peter J. Leithart

March 11, 2016

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

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Conservative Gay Marriage Advocates Urge Tolerance for Religious Objectors

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

March 4, 2016

Right-leaning advocates of gay marriage called for acceptance at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference, urging liberals to display more tolerance when addressing the issues of gay marriage and religious liberty. "This conversation that we are having right now literally couldn't happen at a left-wing conference, because we'd all be hounded off the stage and booed," Guy Benson, Fox News contributor and editor, said during a religious liberty panel. Benson, who came out as gay last year, told his three fellow panelists that he was "personally gratified" by the the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision but that he disagrees with the "mandatory celebration" of gay marriage. By "mandatory celebration," Benson was referring to the small businesses owners who he believes have been forced by the government to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples against their religious convictions.

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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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Oregon Bakers Get New Legal Representation From Former H.W. Bush White House Counsel

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

February 23, 2016

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Oregon bakers who were ordered to pay $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, have assembled a new legal team to take their case through the appeals process. On July 2, 2015, Brad Avakian, commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 for the emotional, physical, and psychological damages they caused a lesbian couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, for refusing to make a wedding cake. "They've assembled a world-class team of appellate attorneys including Boyden Gray," Jeremy Dys, a senior counsel at First Liberty, formerly known as Liberty Institute, told The Daily Signal.

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The Left's Attack on Religious Liberty Could Break America

National Review commentary by David French

December 15, 2015

To understand the level of contempt for religious liberty, consider - for example - the words of Chai Feldblum, a commissioner of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whose message for those who seek to exercise their religious freedom in the marketplace was chilling: "When someone has not been educated [about tolerance of LGBT individuals] and wants to keep discriminating . . . there is only one federal government, there is only one state government, one local government that can say: We will not tolerate this in our society." [But] since Obergefell, the Evangelical community has redoubled its commitment to orthodoxy. Those Christians who’ve fought back against domestic political repression — especially on college campuses — tend to emerge from the fight spiritually revitalized. A sense of resolve is spreading across the Evangelical world, a resolve every bit as strong as the resolve on the LGBT Left.


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Medical Malpractice in an Age of Gender Denial Disorder

Salvo commentary by Terrell Clemmons

December 1, 2015

"Medicine is a hard place for Christians these days," she observed. One can almost hear her sigh. "It seems to me that the battle is already lost. In the generation I am part of (I'm in my late 20s), I'm very much [in] the minority, especially in my field. The indoctrination they've put university-educated people through, and the discrimination against Christians and other social conservatives, both make my world feel very toxic at times. All discussion ends at "You bigot!"

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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws Threaten Freedom

Heritage Backgrounder by Ryan T. Anderson

November 30, 2015

America is dedicated to protecting the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, while respecting citizens' equality before the law. None of these freedoms is absolute. Compelling governmental interests can at times trump fundamental civil liberties, but sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws do not pass this test. Rather, they trample First Amendment rights and unnecessarily impinge on citizens' right to run their local schools, charities, and businesses in ways consistent with their values. SOGI laws do not protect equality before the law; instead, they grant special privileges that are enforceable against private actors.

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Can Christians Change the World After Obergefell?

TGC commentary by Hunter Baker

November 25, 2015

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

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No Tenure for Tolerance

FRC Washington Update commentary by Tony Perkins

November 18, 2015

English Professor Robert Oscar Lopez was already on the hot seat in California. His crime? Inviting students to an optional conference on family matters. A student has since complained, alleging that she was “coerced” to attend the event and “traumatized” by a discussion of LGBT issues. In reality, no one mentioned the subject -- and Lopez submitted the tapes to prove it. What was actually behind the conflict, Lopez thinks, has nothing to do with his class -- and everything to do with his personal story. This summer, Lopez became a key figure in the same-sex marriage debate when he shared his personal story of the devastating effects of growing up in a lesbian home in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court.

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What Makes This Houston Ballot Measure So Threatening

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

November 2, 2015

HERO would impose new, and potentially ruinous liability on innocent citizens for alleged "discrimination" based not on objective traits, but on subjective and unverifiable identities. HERO would further increase government interference in markets, potentially discouraging economic growth and job creation. And, as to issues surrounding "gender identity" and "transgender" teachers, students and employees, HERO could require education and employment policies concerning schoolhouse, locker room, and workplace conditions that undermine common sense.

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Becket Defends Christian Printer Ordered to Print Shirts for Gay Pride Festival

Becket Fund news release

November 1, 2015

"Americans disagree about sex and religion. That's nothing new. But this case is about whether the government will allow people who disagree to live side-by-side in peace, or whether the government will instead pick one ‘correct' moral view and force everyone to conform," said Luke Goodrich, Deputy General Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "Fortunately, the Supreme Court has already resolved this question and held that the government can't force people to promote views they disagree with."

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21 Questions With Washington Florist Who Refused to Serve Gay Wedding

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

October 5, 2015

A judge in Washington state ruled this week that a 70-year-old florist who declined to make flower arrangements for a gay couple's wedding violated the state's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Barronelle Stutzman said the decision-and its accompanying fines-will put her flower shop out of business, or worse. After the fines and legal fees, "There won't be anything left," Stutzman said. "They want my home, they want my business, they want my personal finances as an example for other people to be quiet."

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Clerk's gay marriage protest divides the Republican field

The Hill

September 2, 2015

Gov. Mike Huckabee:"She's a Democrat, and I salute her today. I stand with her."
Carly Fiorina: "When you are a government are agreeing to act as an arm of the government."
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fl): "While the clerk's office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.): "As a public official, comply with the law or resign."
Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.): "I think one way to get around the whole idea of what the Supreme Court is forcing on the states is for the states to just get out of the business of giving out licenses."
Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.): "Someone who works in the government has a bit of a different obligation than someone who's in the private sector."

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Duke University freshmen refuse to read 'Fun Home' for moral reasons

USA Today

August 25, 2015

Incoming freshman at Duke University are reportedly refusing to read their summer novel, Fun Home- an LGBT, graphic novel by Alison Bechdel - due to their Christian and moral beliefs. According to the Duke Chronicle, freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page that he would not read the book "because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality." "I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,"Grasso added. Many other students shared Grasso's beliefs, saying that they were against reading the novel which details Bechdel's tumultuous relationship with her father, a closeted gay man, while coming to terms with her own sexuality.

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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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The trouble with the 'dignity' of same-sex marriage

Washington Post commentary by Jonathan Turley

July 2, 2015

[Justice Kennedy found] the right of everyone to the “dignity” of marriage. The uncertain implications of that right should be a concern not just for conservatives but also for civil libertarians. [T]he use of a dignity right as a vehicle presents a new, unexpected element, since it may exist in tension with the right to free speech or free exercise of religion. Obergefell would be a tragic irony if it succeeded in finally closing the door on morality and speech codes only to introduce an equally ill-defined dignity code. Both involve majoritarian values, enforced by the government, regarding what is acceptable and protectable. Substituting compulsory morality with compulsory liberalism simply shifts the burden of coercive state power from one group to another.

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CMA Physicians: Marriage Mandate Requires Congress to Pass Legislation Protecting Conscientious Dissenters

Standard Newswire

June 26, 2015

"This administration and others may well use the Court's ruling as an occasion to ramp up its drive to enforce ideological conformity, as it is requiring already in federal grants programs. Discrimination against dissenters could easily include physicians who, on the basis of professional expertise or ethical convictions, counsel their patients to save sex for natural marriage, or teach about the health risks of same-sex activity, or decline to recommend a same-sex couple for adopting children. Congress once again needs to protect our First Amendment freedoms of thought and belief, by quickly passing legislation to protect conscientious dissenters from discrimination regarding marriage. We urgently need to pass the federal First Amendment Defense Act."

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Rubio Warns of 'Clear, Present Danger' to Christianity

CBN News

June 1, 2015

"If you think about it, we are at the water's edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech," Rubio told CBN News. "Because today we've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater. So what's the next step after that?" he asked. "After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech and there's a real and present danger," he warned.

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The 'Party of CEOs' and Religious Liberty

National Review Online commentary by Maggie Gallagher

April 10, 2015

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

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You Will Be Made To Worship Their god

Red State commentary by Casey Mattox

April 8, 2015

Of all of the principles that the left is suddenly willing to sacrifice on the altar of same-sex marriage - free speech, free exercise of religion, the rule of law, the right to vote, etc. - the most surprising to me is that it is now demanding compulsory participation and support of religious services. The opponents of RFRA are still quick to deploy their "separation of church and state" cliché, but one side is demanding that the state fine people for declining to participate in a religious service. It isn't mine. It's the ACLU and its allies who are ready to use the power of the state to compel unwilling people to participate in religious services.

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Who will stand?

First Things commentary by Robert P. George

April 5, 2015

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

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The Church of the Left

National Review commentary by Yuval Levin

April 3, 2015

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

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Life, Sex, and Religion: It All Matters in Washington, D.C.

Human Life Review commentary by Connie Marshner

March 30, 2015

In the nation’s capital, religious freedom is being attacked in the name of "reproductive health decisions." The City Council has enacted a Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, under which, for example, a Catholic school or a pro-life organization in D.C. would have to cover elective abortions in its healthcare plan and could not fire an employee who had an abortion and bragged about it to students. They’re not satisfied that abortion is legal—their idea of freedom is to force religious institutions not only to pay for the procedure but to promote it as well. The City Council has also enacted a “Human Rights Amendment” which compels religious schools to support the LGBT agenda with recognition and funding (think Georgetown University).

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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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Congress Should Protect Religious Freedom in the District of Columbia

Heritage Foundation commentary by Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D. and Sarah Torre

March 9, 2015

The two euphemistically titled acts are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA). These policies will saddle religious organizations and employers with a choice between complying with coercive laws that force them to violate their religious beliefs and organizational missions and staying true to their beliefs in defiance of unjust laws. RHNDA discriminates against pro-lifers and HRAA violates religious liberty. The former could force employers in the nation's capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality and recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus.

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Washington floral artist's home, savings at risk of state seizure

Alliance Defending Freedom

February 18, 2015

A state judge ruled Wednesday that Washington floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman must provide full support for wedding ceremonies that are contrary to her faith. The court claims that Stutzman's referral of a long-time customer to another business for floral design and support for a same-sex ceremony violated Washington law. The court also ruled recently that both the state and the same-sex couple, who each filed lawsuits against her, may collect damages and attorneys' fees not only from her business, but from Stutzman personally. "The message of these rulings is unmistakable: the government will bring about your personal and professional ruin if you don't help celebrate same-sex marriage," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who argued before the court in December.

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School Ground Bullies in the Nation's Capital

Wall Street Journal commentary by Patrick Reilly

December 26, 2014

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

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Michael Lindsay on Covenant and Conflict at Gordon College

Christianity Today

December 9, 2014

Since July, Michael Lindsay, the 42-year-old president of Gordon College near Boston, has faced the firing line. Due to public allegations that his college supports discrimination against LGBT students and faculty, Lindsay spent much of the past five months defending Gordon's long-standing policy calling students and faculty to refrain from sex outside Christian marriage. Earlier in 2014, Lindsay and other Christian leaders signed a letter supporting a religious exemption from the presidential executive order prohibiting employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity in the federal government and for federal contractors.

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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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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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Homosexual Marriage: A Watershed Issue for Evangelicals

The Christian Post commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 20, 2014

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

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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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Appeals Court Bans Orientation-Change Therapy for Minors

Citizen Link

September 15, 2014

A New Jersey law passed in 2013 that bans therapy for minors struggling with same-sex attractions was upheld today in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liberty Counsel represented two licensed mental health professionals who provide counseling to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions. "The laws banning counseling in this area are simply unconstitutional violations of free speech," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.

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USCCB chairmen respond to unprecedented and extreme executive order

USCCB news release

July 21, 2014

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

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Response to Obama's LGBT Executive Order

National Review Online commentary by Ryan Anderson

July 21, 2014

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

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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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Nobody Expects the Rainbow Inquisition

Breakpoint commentary by Eric Metaxas

April 11, 2014

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

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What Mozilla Means

First Things commentary by Robert George

April 3, 2014

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

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