Taking Away The Freedoms Guaranteed In Our Constitution

The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:

Amendment I

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.

Laws passed by Congress and state legislators are supposed to be in line with the U.S. Constitution. However, there is a bill currently in the House of Representatives that not only undermines the First Amendment, it also cancels out The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. H.R. 5 is a nightmare for those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of religion.

The Heritage Foundation lists seven problems with the bill:

1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology.

2. It would compel speech.

3. It could shut down charities.

4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.

5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.

6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children.

7. It would enable sexual assault. 

All of these problems have already arisen. Please follow the link to The Heritage Foundation to view the details.

The Liberty Counsel posted an article on May 10 detailing one major aspect of H.R.5. The article states:

HR 5, in the U.S. House, and S. 788, in the Senate, misnamed the “Equality Act,” takes the unpreceded step of eliminating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as a claim or defense to the application of many federal laws. This bill drastically alters religious freedom in all cases, not just those involving LGBT.

For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits houses of worship to make employment decisions based on religion. This recognizes the essential right for houses of worship to employ those who align with their religious doctrine. The “Equality Act” would abolish this fundamental right. Catholic and Christian churches could be forced to hire atheists. If a synagogue preferred a Jew over a Muslim, it would not be able to raise RFRA as a claim or defense.

RFRA is a federal law that protects religious freedom. Specifically, it “prohibits any agency, department, or official of the United States or any State (the government) from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that the government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person.” 

However, HR 5 clearly forbids raising RFRA as a claim or defense to the application to the “Equality Act” and many other federal laws that would be amended by this bill.

This “Equality Act” extends the federal protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, i.e. abortion. HR 5 applies to employment, housing, rental, public accommodation and more. In addition, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” will be defined to mean “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” In other words, under the terms of this bill, “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition… shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” The “Equality Act” also expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.”

After passing the House Judiciary Committee recently, the “Equality Act” will now go to the House next week and then be sent to the Senate, where the bill number is S. 788.

If you value religious freedom in America, please call your Senator and tell them to vote against this bill. It will probably pass in the House of Representatives, but needs to be stopped in the Senate. If you are not a religious person and don’t think this is a problem, remember that if the government can undo religious freedom, it can also undo other freedoms. You might not be impacted this time, but if this bill passes, there will be more to follow.

Losing The First Amendment

Since the 1960’s (and possibly before that) our schools have been undermining the moral fiber of America. It began with teaching young children ‘situational ethics’ and introducing the idea that there really is not right and wrong–everything simply depends on the circumstances. The sexual revolution of the 1060’s further undermined the moral fiber of our culture. Meanwhile, colleges went from signing out of the dorm to go on a date to co-ed dorms. Many of the college students of the late 60’s had their traditional moral values destroyed during their college years. They then had children of their own and raised them accordingly. Our public (and at times, private) education system is largely responsible for destroying the moral fiber of America. Now California wants to pass a law that will accelerate the process and take away one refuge for parents who still believe in traditional morality and are raising their children that way.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about a new law being proposed by the California legislature.

The article explains:

California is considering a new bill that would remove a longstanding exemption from anti-discrimination lawsuits for religious colleges and universities.

The bill could potentially expose schools to civil rights lawsuits from students and employees, according to a report in the Associated Press.

Opponents of the bill, which include some schools, say it is an attack on religious liberty as the exemption allows them to craft campus policies in line with their faith. Religious institutions can currently assign housing through sex, and not on gender identity, and institute moral codes that include sexuality provisions.

How about creating a safe space for people who hold traditional values? A student does not have the right to attend any college he chooses–the college has the final say on who is admitted. By the same logic, if a parent or student does not like the social or moral policies or a college, they have the option of attending school somewhere else. The idea that a school has to bend to the will of a small minority that does not share its values and probably would not want to attend that school is somewhat illogical.

This is an infringement on the First Amendment rights of private schools and colleges. The problem occurs when these institutions accept federal or state money–‘free’ money always comes with strings attached.

The article reports:

Heads of religious colleges told the AP that the legislation would prevent them from signing an agreement with the schools to get state funding for low-income students.

The bill comes as red states have considered or approved laws that conservatives say strengthen religious freedoms. Supporters say such laws enable people to deny services that would violate religious beliefs, while opponents say they enable discrimination against LGBT individuals.

The proposed law illustrates two problems–first, the strings attached to any ‘free’ money, and second, the assault on those Americans who hold to traditional values. It is not my desire to discriminate in any way against members of the LGBT community, but in return, I expect them not to discriminate against my beliefs as well. The First Amendment says that the government cannot limit my freedom to practice my religion. The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act was supposed to further insure that freedom. The fact that Congress thought it was necessary to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act actually tells us all we need to know about the current direction of America.

 

Laws That Really Don’t Make Any Sense

Just when you think state legislators couldn’t pass any more weird laws, someone comes up with a new idea. The law I am about to describe is not only unnecessary and useless, it doesn’t even apply where it might matter.

Hot Air is reporting today that California has politically gone off the deep end.

The article reports:

A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban government-funded travel to states with laws that he says discriminate on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

“No one wants to send employees into an environment where they would be uncomfortable,” said Democrat Evan Low, Jon Ortiz, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, reported this week.

Low said he decided to introduce the bill after Indiana signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in March 2015.

Does the law include government-funded travel of women to Saudi Arabia and other countries where they do not have equal rights?

I believe that America is made up of states. The last I heard, each state had the freedom to make laws that applied in that state. California is perfectly within its rights to limit the travel of government officials or employees to places where they will not be uncomfortable. Obviously, being within your rights does not mean that what you are doing can be described as logical or sensible.

It gets worse. The article explains:

Low said he doesn’t know which states his bill would apply to yet. He said it would not cover lawmakers and political trips but would affect administrative travel.

So what, pray tell, is the point of this legislation?

 

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.

Hobby Lobby At The Supreme Court

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties case about the companies’ right to manage their businesses according to the religious beliefs of their owners. Breitbart.com has a summary of some of the dialogue that went on in the Court.

Some of the highlights:

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, arguing for the plaintiffs, began, “When a federal government agency compelled employers to provide something as religiously sensitive as contraception, it knew that free exercise and RFRA claims would soon follow.”

He went on to quote RFRA’s language applying its protections to all federal statutes and regulations unless Congress specifically provides otherwise, both those already on the books and those to be enacted in the future. Congress later broadened RFRA to protect “any exercise” of religion, unless the government can show the burden on faith is the least restrictive means to accomplish a truly compelling public interest. This test is called “strict scrutiny” in constitutional law, an extremely demanding standard that few government actions survive.

…Sotomayor also pointed out that organizations have the option of dropping all insurance coverage and paying $2,000 per employee, per year, for violating what is called the ACA’s employer mandate. Clement objected that the Green family—owners of Hobby Lobby—consider it a form of Christian ministry to provide healthcare for their employees. He also said this was a choice for Hobby Lobby of between paying a $475 million penalty for violating the abortion mandate or a $26 million penalty for violating the employer mandate.

…Although it’s certainly not definite who won the case, at least four justices seemed to side with religious objectors over the Obama administration’s mandate, and very likely a fifth with Kennedy. (Even Justice Stephen Breyer said several supportive comments during argument, but it’s probably too much for the plaintiffs to hope they picked up a sixth vote.)

There are other issues regarding which millions of Americans are currently asserting religious objections. Hobby Lobby could include pronouncements on several principles which could tip those issues one way or the other in court.

The decision on the case will not be released until June.

The thing to remember in watching this case is that the case is not about birth control–it is about abortion. Healthcare plans at Hobby Lobby already provide for birth control–at issue is ‘after the fact’ birth control, which simply causes an abortion. The mandate in ObamaCare is the government’s first step toward federally-funded abortion, which is now illegal under the Hyde Amendment. If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties can be forced to include abortion pills in their healthcare plans, despite the religious beliefs of their owners, the government will be able to limit the religious freedom of all Americans.

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Protecting Religious Liberty

Yesterday CNS News reported that the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that both the owners of a company and their company have religious liberty rights that are burdened by the HHS mandate.

The article reports:

The (American Center for Law and Justice ACLJ) represents Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., a family owned, full-service construction contractor located in Highland, Illinois. The company provides a group health insurance plan for its non-union employees, which number about 20. Cyril B. Korte and Jane E. Korte own a controlling interest in the company and contend the HHS mandate violates their Catholic faith. The ACLJ filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of both the individuals and the company in October 2012.
Below is an excerpt from the ruling:

We hold that the plaintiffs–the business  owners and their companies — may challenge the mandate. We further hold that compelling them to cover these services substantially burdens their religious-exercise rights.

Under RFRA the government must justify the burden under the standard of strict scutiny. So far it has not done so, and we doubt that it can.

Because the RFRA claims are very likely to succeed and the balance of harms favors protecting the religious-liberty rights of the plaintiffs, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter preliminary injunctions barring enforcement of the mandate against them.

This decision is good news for those attempting to preserve religious freedom in America.

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