The Coming Threat To Religious Liberty

The Federalist posted an article today contrasting the Trump administration’s handling of religious liberty in America with the plans the Biden administration has for religious liberty. Joe Biden has already stated that he intends to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor again because they refuse to follow the contraception guidelines of Obamacare. Doesn’t the government have better things to do than sue a charitable organization that is doing good work?

The White House issued a proclamation yesterday marking the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket.

The proclamation declared:

We pray for religious believers everywhere who suffer persecution for their faith. We especially pray for their brave and inspiring shepherds—like Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu—who are tireless witnesses to hope.

To honor Thomas Becket’s memory, the crimes against people of faith must stop, prisoners of conscience must be released, laws restricting freedom of religion and belief must be repealed, and the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed must be protected. The tyranny and murder that shocked the conscience of the Middle Ages must never be allowed to happen again. As long as America stands, we will always defend religious liberty.

A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure—because justice, goodness, and peace cannot prevail without the grace of God.

The article contrasts that statement with statements made and policies supported by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris:

Although he professes to be Catholic, Biden has already indicated he will once again target religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, as the Obama administration did, in an attempt to force such religious orders to participate in state-funded abortion.

And Biden’s soon-to-be vice president, Kamala Harris, is an open anti-Catholic bigot. She infamously imposed an unconstitutional religious test on a nominee for the federal bench in 2018. When Brian Buescher was nominated as a District Court judge, Harris inveighed against him for being a member of the Knights of Columbus, asking, “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

Of course, the Knights of Columbus (of which, full disclosure, I’m a member) has no special position or focus on abortion. The charitable organization simply adheres to the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, marriage, and everything else. Harris’s obvious implication was that adhering to orthodox Catholic moral teaching somehow renders a person unfit for positions of public trust, such as the federal judiciary.

Aside from this appalling incident, Harris has a long record of going after organizations whose positions are in line with Catholic moral teaching, especially on abortion. As California attorney general, she authorized a raid on the home of David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, which had exposed the illegal trafficking of organs from aborted children by Planned Parenthood.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. Things are not looking good for religious freedom in America during the next four years.

 

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.

Symbolism Over Substance?

There is a conflict in America right now as to the exact meaning of the First Amendment as regards to religious freedom. One of the questions being asked is whether or not Christians who choose to enter the business world still have the right to act according to their Christian beliefs. Does a Christian businessman have the right to choose who he does business with? In January I posted a story about a couple who is required to do re-education training because they refused to host a homosexual wedding. I had never considered re-education training as an American concept.

The latest chapter in the war against Christian ideas in the marketplace has occurred in Oklahoma. Eagle Rising posted a story on February 27th about a law proposed by an Oklahoma Democrat in the state legislature.

The article reports:

Democrat state Rep. Emily Virgin believes that Christian businesses should be forced to post a public notice that they will be discriminating against homosexuals, if those businesses are to be allowed to claim the right to refuse service based on religious beliefs.

That’s right, if you’re a Christian businessman in Oklahoma and you don’t believe that you should be forced to participate in a gay wedding, Democrats want to force your business to post a public scarlet letter detailing your “bigoted” beliefs!

This is the text of the law:

“Any person not wanting to participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites. The notice may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race.”

The law was suggested in response to a Republican bill that would allow Christian businessmen to operate their businesses in accordance with Biblical principles.

The article further notes:

The right to practice your faith as you see fit (as long as you aren’t infringing on the rights of others) is the cornerstone of our nation’s stability and health. Along with that, the right to choose who we do business with and when we do business is the very foundation of free market capitalism. The moment we allow the government (or some fascist group of rabid socialists) to force us to act against our religious beliefs, or force us to work as indentured servants at the beck and call of others… that is the moment that we have LOST our nation.

Something to consider as we approach this election season.

Countering The Move To Push Christians Back Behind The Doors Of Their Churches

If you listen to the debate that took place last week about same-sex marriage, you realize that those who hold a Biblical view of marriage will be protected–as long as they stay within the walls of their churches. Christian business owners who hold that belief will not be protected–the ‘free exercise of religion’ clause in the Constitution has been quietly changed (in the mind of much of the public) to the ‘freedom to believe what you want to believe inside your church.’ There was another recent example of that in our military.

Yesterday the America Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) posted an article on its website about a recent incident in the U.S. Air Force.

The article reports:

Recently, I told you about Major General Craig Olson, USAF, and how he was attacked by the anti-Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and its founder “Mikey” Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein claimed that because General Olson publicly shared that he was a Christian believer who valued prayer and gave God the credit for his successes at a National Day of Prayer event, he should be court martialed. Yes, court martialed for expressing his Christian faith.

To Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF, General Olson’s publicly giving God credit for personal successes crossed the line.  Yet, they were flat wrong, and the Air Force fully agreed with us that “Maj Gen Olson did not violate Air Force policy . . . .”

In response to Mr. Weinstein’s demands that General Olson should be “aggressively and visibly brought to justice for his unforgiveable crimes and transgressions,” the ACLJ took action.

We immediately sent a letter to General Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, pointing out the outlandish tactics employed by Mr. Weinstein (and the MRFF) when he is offended by the religious sentiments expressed by those with whom he disagrees.

As founder of the Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF),  Mikey Weinstein has fought to keep the Christian faith out of the military. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and claims that the Air Force Academy and the military are hostile to Judaism. I have no idea whether or not his claims are true, but he has definitely declared war on letting Christians express their faith. The message the charges sent to General Olson is that he was not legally allowed to talk about his faith–it was okay to be a Christian in the church, but not in the public square.

The article continues with the content of the letter that the ACLJ wrote:

Mr. Weinstein’s allegations that General Olson violated the Establishment Clause is ludicrous on its face. General Olson gave a personal testimony about the importance of prayer in his life. No one was required to do or believe anything. The coercive force of the United States Government was not behind his remarks, and no one was compelled to accede to his beliefs or change theirs. . . .

General Olson’s own words indicated without a doubt that he was giving his personal story. He was not acting as a government official when he made his remarks. Hence, it would be unreasonable for anyone to draw the conclusion that he was “officially” endorsing anything.

The article reports that the Director of the Administrative Law Directorate (Office of the Judge Advocate General), Conrad M. Von Wald, responded with the following:

We have thoroughly reviewed the facts and circumstances involving Maj Gen Olson’s participation at the National Day of Prayer Observance held on May 7, 2015, at the Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC.  Maj Gen Olson did not violate Air Force policy by participating in this Congressionally-supported event.  His remarks were his own personal opinions and did not represent the views of the United States Air Force.

Our military used to allow people of all faiths to express their faith. I think we got along better when people listened instead of deciding to be offended. We were founded as a Christian country with a legal system based on a Judeo-Christian ethic. Unfortunately, we have forgotten that and as a result have wandered down a lot of paths that have damaged our legal system and our nation. We would be a better nation if all of us realized that we were accountable to something bigger than ourselves–regardless of what we believe that something is.

The Next Step In Obamacare

On August 1, business owners must change their health insurance offerings to include abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization services.

Heritage.org reports today:

But for many employers, offering the types of services required under the HHS mandate violates their consciences. It conflicts with their deeply held religious beliefs. And the government is telling them that doesn’t matter—what’s more, it’s telling them that their beliefs are inconsequential, and they must pay.

Just last Friday, a judge in Colorado gave one business’s owners the first glimmer of hope that their religious freedom may survive this attack.

On Saturday I reported the story of Hercules Industries (rightwinggranny.com). The owners of the company went to court because the mandate to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization services violated their religious beliefs. The court has halted the implementation of that part of Obamacare that would violate the religious beliefs of the company’s owners until the  court case is settled.

The article at Heritage.org reports:

How did it come to this? During the legislative battle over Obamacare, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) famously said that Congress would need to pass the law to see what was in it. She was right about one thing: Obamacare as it passed was not fully formed. The law gave unprecedented new powers to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fill in countless details, directing the ways Obamacare would affect all Americans. With this law, Congress handed over immeasurable authority to HHS. And Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been hard at work trying to convince Americans that this is all in their best interest.

There is no reason to believe it will end here, which is why it is vital to halt this attack on religious freedom as quickly as possible. As Ludvigson explains, this first HHS mandate “raises significant questions about what more Obamacare will require on other matters of deeply personal religious and moral significance, such as prenatal care, end-of-life issues, and parental authority for minors’ health decisions.”

More than 50 plaintiffs—for-profit and non-profit alike—have gone to court against the HHS mandate. In winning an injunction that prevents the mandate’s enforcement on its business while the case goes to trial, Hercules has demonstrated the strength of the religious liberty challenge to Obamacare.

If we value our religious freedom as Americans, we need to vote for people in November who will repeal Obamacare.

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