Equal Rights Means Equal Rights

Breitbart.com posted an article yesterday about a religious liberty bill passed by Arkansas this week.

The article reports:

Meanwhile, while everyone was focused on Indiana, Arkansas honored both the founding of our country and the First Amendment by giving legal standing to the conscience of the Religious. In the coming years, as the Left and media ramp up their attacks on Christians, it is going to be important for us to have a place to go if necessary.

The government forcing the Faithful into participating in the sacramentalization of sin (like a same sex marriage) is intolerable to people of many faiths. Now faithful Muslims, Jews, Christians and others have 21 states where they can escape persecution from those trying to tell us that the government forcing you to violate your religious conscience is equality and freedom.

As previously stated, “Everyone has equal rights, or no one does.

The campaign in the mainstream media against the Indiana law giving equal rights to Christians was unsuccessful because the new media exposed the lies. Not all of America actually heard the truth, but enough people did to blunt the anti-Christian lies of the mainstream media.

What Do Equal Rights Mean?

On Sunday the Independent Journal Review posted an article about Indiana‘s ‘Religious Freedom’ Act. There has been an outcry from gay and lesbian groups that say that the law will discriminate against them. I would like to point out that 21 states already have similar laws, and that the goal of the law is to protect EVERYONE’S rights.

When you open a business, you do not give up your First Amendment rights. According to the First Amendment you are guaranteed the right to practice your religion. There is also a right of association–you have the right to choose who you will do business with. Christians who hold a Biblical view on homosexuality have as much right to practice their beliefs as anyone else. The law in Indiana will protect these rights.

This is the map of the states that have passed laws similar to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA):

RFRA Existing graphic

Incidentally, the RFRA was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton–not by a Republican.

The article concludes:

In other words, not only can the Christian owners of a bakery refuse to write an inscription on the wedding cake of a gay couple, but the black owners of a T-shirt business don’t have to print the KKK’s burning crosses on shirts, and Jewish owners of a gift shop don’t have to put Nazi symbols on coffee cups.

Everyone has equal rights, or no one does.

What About The Right To Practice Your Religion?

The Daily Signal posted an article yesterday about Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two ordained ministers who run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.

The article reports:

Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

I hope the Knapps have good lawyers working on this–it is blatantly unconstitutional.

The article explains the balance that is needed in this case:

States must protect the rights of Americans and the associations they form—both nonprofit and for-profit—to speak and act in the public square in accordance with their beliefs. It is particularly egregious that the city would coerce ordained ministers to celebrate a religious ceremony in their chapel. The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion arguing that this action “violates [the Knapps’s] First and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, substantive due process, and equal protection.”

Citizens must work to prevent or repeal laws that create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We must also insist on laws that protect religious freedom and the rights of conscience.

It is not my concern whether or not homosexuals marry. It is my concern when the rights of Americans are violated in order to give special privileges to any group. We need to get back to the place where the rights of all Americans are respected–the rights of religious people and the rights of homosexuals.

 

 

 

 

The People Who Control The Language Control The Argument

The people who control the language control the argument. This was made very clear recently in the debate over Arizona SB 1062. The bill was designed to protect the rights of Christians in the marketplace. The legislature of Arizona felt that the bill was necessary because of various incidents resulting in lawsuits in other states. When the State of Arizona passed the bill through its legislature, the state was threatened with boycotts, loss of the Super Bowl, and various other forms of economic harassment. The bill was labeled ‘anti-gay,’ ‘Jim Crow, and various other things. The opponents controlled the language. The bill is only two pages long. It is written in legalese, but is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.

Power Line posted a link to the bill on Tuesday.  Here is the bill:

State of Arizona

Senate

Fifty-first Legislature

Second Regular Session

2014

 SB 1062

Introduced by

Senators Yarbrough: Barto, Worsley

 

 

AN ACT

 

amending sections 41‑1493 and 41‑1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to the free exercise of religion.

  (TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)

 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1.  Section 41-1493, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.  Definitions

In this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

1.  “Demonstrates” means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion.

2.  “Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion, including the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

3.  “Government” includes this state and any agency or political subdivision of this state.

4.  “Nonreligious assembly or institution” includes all membership organizations, theaters, cultural centers, dance halls, fraternal orders, amphitheaters and places of public assembly regardless of size that a government or political subdivision allows to meet in a zoning district by code or ordinance or by practice.

5.  “Person” includes a religious assembly or institution any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity.

6.  “Political subdivision” includes any county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district, any board, commission or agency of a county, city, including a charter city, town, school district, municipal corporation or special district or any other local public agency.

7.  “Religion‑neutral zoning standards”:

(a)  Means numerically definable standards such as maximum occupancy codes, height restrictions, setbacks, fire codes, parking space requirements, sewer capacity limitations and traffic congestion limitations.

(b)  Does not include:

(i)  Synergy with uses that a government holds as more desirable.

(ii)  The ability to raise tax revenues.

8.  “Suitable alternate property” means a financially feasible property considering the person’s revenue sources and other financial obligations with respect to the person’s exercise of religion and with relation to spending that is in the same zoning district or in a contiguous area that the person finds acceptable for conducting the person’s religious mission and that is large enough to fully accommodate the current and projected seating capacity requirements of the person in a manner that the person deems suitable for the person’s religious mission.

9.  “Unreasonable burden” means that a person is prevented from using the person’s property in a manner that the person finds satisfactory to fulfill the person’s religious mission.

Sec. 2.  Section 41-1493.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

41-1493.01.  Free exercise of religion protected; definition

A.  Free exercise of religion is a fundamental right that applies in this state even if laws, rules or other government actions are facially neutral.

B.  Except as provided in subsection C, government of this section, state action shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.

C.  Government State action may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it the opposing party demonstrates that application of the burden to the person person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance is both:

1.  In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.

2.  The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

D.  A person whose religious exercise is burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, and obtain appropriate relief against a government regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding.  The person asserting such a claim or defense may obtain appropriate relief.  A party who prevails in any action to enforce this article against a government shall recover attorney fees and costs.

E.  In For the purposes of this section, the term substantially burden is intended solely to ensure that this article is not triggered by trivial, technical or de minimis infractions.

F.  For the purposes of this section, “state action” means any action by the government or the implementation or application of any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies, whether statutory or otherwise, and whether the implementation or application is made or attempted to be made by the government or nongovernmental persons.

 

I have posted the bill in order to allow readers to draw their own conclusions about what the bill said and what the bill didn’t say. Those of us who support family values and religious freedom need to be very aware of what happens when those who oppose these values control the vocabulary.

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Taking The Free Exercise Of Religion Out Of The Marketplace

There are many people in America who allow their faith to play a major part in decisions in all areas of their lives. In the U. S. Constitution, that is described as the free exercise of religion.

The First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Obama Administration is denying Hobby Lobby the free exercise of their religion. CNS News posted a story on Friday stating that the new proposed regulation under the Obamacare law offers no exemption at all to Christian individuals or business owners who object to providing sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. The Obama Administration has changed the law slightly, but not solved the problem.

The article reports:

The new proposed regulation redefines a “religious employer” to mean only those institutions organized under the Internal Revenue Code section used by houses of worship. “The Department believes that this proposal would not expand the universe of employer plans that would qualify for the exemption beyond that which was intended in the 2012 final rules,” said a statement HHS released Friday.

…When a non-profit that “holds itself out as a religious organization” is self-insured, the third-party administrator would be required to work with a health insurance provider to have that provider create a free policy that gives the covered employees free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

When providing their employees with a health-care plan, these religious non-profits would be required by the government to trigger the provision of free abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations to their employees and an insurance provider who would be forced by the government to provide those things for free.

The bottom line here is simple–you may practice your religion in your church but not in the marketplace. That is totally contrary to the intent of the First Amendment. There are currently more than 40 lawsuits filed against this aspect of Obamacare. I just hope the good guys win.

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Losing Our First Amendment Rights

Townhall.com posted an article today about Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based corporation, a business owned and operated by the Newland family, that manufactures heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment.

The article reports:

The Newlands believe the morality the Catholic faith teaches them must animate their lives not only within the walls of the churches they attend, but literally everywhere else, as well — in the way they deal with their families, their neighbors and, yes, their business.

The Newlands sued to protect their free exercise of religion in this regard because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a regulation, under the Obamacare law, that requires virtually all health care plans to cover — without cost-sharing — sterilizations, artificial contraception and abortifacients.

Unfortunately, the family lost the lawsuit. The article reports:

In response to the Newlands’ complaint that ordering them to violate the teachings of the Catholic Church in the way they run their business is a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, the Obama administration told the federal court that a private business has no protection under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause — especially if the business is incorporated.

“The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church,” said the Justice Department. “Nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer.”

“By definition,” said the Justice Department, “a secular employer does not engage in any ‘exercise of religion.'”

“It is well established that a corporation and its owners are wholly separate entities, and the Court should not permit the Newlands to eliminate that legal separation to impose their personal religious beliefs on the corporate entity or its employees,” said the Justice Department.

The message here is very simple. You are free to practice your religion in your church. The government will no longer allow you to exercise your beliefs anywhere outside of that church building. This is a far cry from the early days of America when churches were routinely meeting in the Senate and House of Representatives and public prayer by elected officials was accepted and expected. The attack on the First Amendment rights of religious people is one of the main characteristics of Obamacare. Obamacare needs to go away as quickly as possible!

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