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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Marriage and Religious Freedom Act gets boost from pro-family groups

A bill to protect citizens from coercion and censorship for their views on marriage, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, got a boost recently from myriad pro-family groups urging its passage. Their letter is below:

Senator Mike Enzi
379A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Mike Lee
316 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senators Enzi and Lee:
We, the undersigned, representing hundreds of thousands of Americans, want to thank you for your leadership in reintroducing two key pieces of legislation designed to ensure that charities, non- profits, and small business owners with religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage are not penalized by the government for their beliefs.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would prevent the federal government from discriminating in programs, grants, contracts, and tax treatment against individuals who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Such protections are urgently needed in light of new federal agency conditions requiring endorsement of same-sex relationships in order to compete for certain federal grants. In addition, the President’s problematic July 2014 Executive Order jeopardizing the ability of businesses and faith-based organizations that contract with the federal government to hire and administer programs according to their religious beliefs is deeply troubling. The government should not deem longstanding providers of important public services ineligible to compete for federal funding simply because of their beliefs about marriage. This bill would stop these harmful and arbitrary government penalties.
Similarly, S. 667, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, would ensure that faith-based adoption and foster care providers working with birth moms, parents, and community stakeholders to serve needy children can continue to provide services in their respective locales. S.667 would address discriminatory actions like those taken by Illinois, Massachusetts, D.C. and San Francisco to force faith-based providers to halt services simply because of their belief that kids do best with a mom and a dad. Indeed, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act reflects its nameit ensures the inclusion of all providers and particularly those faith-based entities who have offered the bulk of orphan care since our nation’s founding. States that choose to discriminate against faith-based organizations despite this bill’s prohibition would face a reduction in federal funding under this bill, an important deterrent to future targeting.
We as individuals and organizations wish to remain active participants in and contributors to our communities. These bills ensure that we can continue to do so while also living in accordance with our beliefs about marriage and the family. Significantly, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree that we should have this freedom. Just last month, new polling from WPA Opinion Research and Family Research Council showed that 81% of Americans believe that individuals like us should be able to live and work in accordance with our belief in marriage as between a man and a woman.
While Americans in general continue to debate the meaning of marriage in the lead up to Supreme Court review of state marriage laws this spring, one thing is clear: millions of Americans who continue to affirm the historic understanding of marriage should remain free from government discrimination.
Again, we thank you for your leadership in introducing and advocating for this important legislation.
Sincerely,
Tony Perkins
President
Family Research Council
Gary L. Bauer
President
American Values
David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
CEO
Christian Medical Association
Tom Minnery
President and CEO
CitizenLink
Richard A. Viguerie
Chairman
ConservativeHQ.com
Mathew Staver
Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel
Brian S. Brown
President
National Organization for Marriage
Michael A. Needham
CEO
Heritage Action
Dr. Ron Crews
CH (COL) USAR Retired Executive Director
Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
Most Reverend Thomas Wenski
Archbishop of Miami
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
Chairman, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty
Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone
Archbishop of San Francisco
Chairman, USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage
Russell D. Moore
President
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Penny Nance
President and CEO
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
Chairman
High Impact Leadership Coalition
Star Parker
President
Center for Urban Renewal and Education
Carrie Gordon Earll
Vice President, Government and Public Policy
Focus on the Family
Rick Scarborough
President
Vision America Action
Keith Wiebe
President
American Association of Christian Schools
Thomas J. Cathey, EdD
Director for Legal Legislative Issues
Association of Christian Schools International
Dan Weber
CEO
Association of Mature American Citizens
Joel Grewe
Director
Generation Joshua
Susan A. Carleson
Chairman/CEO
American Civil Rights Union
Andrea Lafferty
President
Traditional Values Coalition
William J. Murray
Chairman
Religious Freedom Coalition
Austin Ruse
President
C-FAM
Elaine Donnelly
President
Center for Military Readiness
C. Preston Noell III
President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
Robert Knight
Senior Fellow
American Civil Rights Union
Colin A. Hanna
President, Let Freedom Ring
Co-Chair, The Weyrich Lunch
Curt Levey
President
The Committee for Justice
Nicole Theis
President
Delaware Family Policy Council
David Fowler
President
Family Action of Tennessee, Inc.
Dale Bartscher
Executive Director
Family Heritage Alliance Action (SD)
Julie Lynde
Executive Director
Cornerstone Family Council, Idaho
Phil Burress
President
Citizens for Community Values Action
Allen Whitt
President
Family Policy Council of West Virginia
Jim Minnery
President
Alaska Family Action
John Helmberger
CEO
Minnesota Family Council
Kent Ostrander
Executive Director
The Family Foundation (KY)
Michael Geer
President
Pennsylvania Family Institute
Peter Wolfgang
President
Family Institute of CT Action
Rev. Jason J. McGuire
Executive Director
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms
Joe Ortwerth
Executive Director
Missouri Family Policy Council
Gene Mills
President
Louisiana Family Forum
Andrew Beckwith
President
Massachusetts Family Institute
Jonathan Saenz
President
Texas Values
Len Deo
Founder & President
New Jersey Family Policy Council
Jonathan Gardner
Executive Director
New Mexico Center for Family Policy
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Fact v. Fiction on religious freedom laws

If you're generally favorable toward protecting religious freedom but are wondering what the story is about newly enacted state laws that parallel the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), below are some helpful resources from the Family Research Council.
Many are short enough to use as tweets along with the hashtag #RFRAfacts

New Short Backgrounder on RFRA from FRC: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF15C119.pdf  

Why are state RFRAs needed today?

- State RFRAs have been needed to protect against undue state/local govt interference in religious exercise http://ow.ly/L4PKx

What do RFRAs actually do?

- RFRAs give courts tried-and-true balancing test for weighing individual sincerely held relig beliefs against legitimate state interests.
- All RFRAs protect people with sincerely-held religious beliefs from over-intrusive government regulation http://ow.ly/L4QMW
- RFRAs winnow out those using religion as a pretext to escape application of general laws.

How does the RFRA balancing test work?

- RFRAs allow a person to ask a court to consider their religious beliefs as a basis for claim or defense in a judicial proceeding.

Who does RFRA protect?

- Whom does RFRA protect? (Hint: Everyone.) http://ow.ly/L4RHm 
- When federal RFRA passed in 1993, a coalition of groups from across the religious, political, and legal spectrum came together to support it.
- RFRA laws advance conscience rights for all in the face of ever larger & more intrusive government--no more, and no less.

But aren't RFRAs just an excuse to discriminate or hide behind my religious beliefs?

- RFRAs do not allow businesses to turn away customers or engage in discrimination as they see fit. http://ow.ly/L4TXx
- In no cases do RFRAs allow people to automatically appeal to religion to opt out of obeying a law. http://ow.ly/L4U5Z
- RFRAs do protect people of all faiths whose sincere beliefs are in danger of being unnecessarily burdened by the government.
- RFRAs are the best protection for everyone, allowing people of all beliefs to continue living free of intrusive government.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A pro-life campaign for a pro-life president

A colleague recently asked me to sketch out a pro-life campaign for the next president. Here are some initial thoughts; I'd welcome your additions and comments:

“Life for All”

Emphasis

Protecting life in law while addressing the underlying pressures and concerns that contribute to life-dishonoring actions such as abortion, lethal stem cell research and assisted suicide.
  • Nominate SCOTUS judges who will respect Constitutional originalism, apply equal protection of law to unborn, disabled, elderly, vulnerable
  • Appoint pro-life personnel in key positions (Chief of Staff, HHS, State, USAID, Educ, CDC, AG, Surgeon General, faith-based offices)
  • Throughout speeches, use personal stories, quotations, evidence and contemporary examples to illustrate the worth of all human beings from beginning of life onward

Beginning of Life Issues

  • Work with Congress to make permanent Hyde, Weldon, and similar laws and also provide private right of action
  • Restore and enforce conscience regulation in healthcare, accompanied by nationwide campaign (as planned but not implemented in time by GWB HHS)
  • Rescind HHS abortion pill mandate
  • First Lady campaign highlighting work of pregnancy centers
  • Funding programs for medical pregnancy centers that offer ultrasound
  • Enforce Dickey-Wicker, increase funding for embryo-safe stem cell research
  • Get abortion subsidies out of international programs: restore programs such as Mexico City Policy, defund UN support of China’s one-child policy, etc.

Life-Related Issues

  • Exec. orders across agencies in line with RFRA (would have prevented, e.g., HHS mandate)
  • Work with Congress to rescind Obamacare and replace it with state high-risk pool safety nets to increase access; allow interstate insurance competition; encourage HSA’s; reform malpractice; adequately reimburse for Medicare
  • Fund sexual risk avoidance (abstinence) programs as most effective way to reduce unplanned pregnancies
  • Put real faith-based personnel in faith-based offices across agencies and make sure they have significant WH influence
  • Shift international health focus away from gender/abortion ideology and onto saving lives
  • Institute critical evaluation of international contraceptives programs safety, effectiveness and diplomatic implications

End of Life Issues

  • Work with Congress to update appropriately aggressive Rx of pain meds while outlawing use of federally regulated lethal meds for suicide (e.g., PRPA)
  • Increase focus on, possibly funding of, mental health and other programs that can prevent suicide and also highlight reasons to live
  • Surgeon General anti-suicide campaign combined with initiatives re: counseling and support programs
  • Work with Congress to pass laws prohibiting assisted suicide incentives

Specific legislation

Monday, March 23, 2015

Memo to DC Council: Intolerance does not advance tolerance



A provocatively entitled Washington Post news article ("Sen. Ted Cruz seeks to upend D.C. laws on contraception coverage, gay rights") suggests that recently enacted DC "laws would restrict the ability of private groups to discriminate based on religious beliefs. In fact, the laws target and discriminate against religious groups by dictating that they must hire individuals who directly contradict the groups' tenets, standards and mission.
That's a flagrant violation of First Amendment freedoms, as upheld by a unanimous Supreme Court in the Hosanna Tabor case and by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
What the ironically entitled Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 actually does is repeal a measure that for decades had advanced tolerance by ensuring that the DC Human Rights Act could not be used to coerce religiously affiliated schools into violating convictions of conscience.
The DC Council apparently has decided, however, that there is not enough room in the District for religious dissenters who question the Council's edicts on sexual morality. Their discriminatory laws inject unconstitutional governmental coercion that subverts the democratic process of free speech and debate that historically has shaped American public opinion and values.
Intolerance does not advance tolerance.

Friday, March 20, 2015

My commentary on human trafficking bill and abortion, published in the Washington Post


Human trafficking victim
In annual appropriations bills since 1976, Democrats routinely have united with Republicans in passing the Hyde Amendment, which simply prevents taxpayer monies from funding abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Americans overwhelmingly oppose opening public coffers to the abortion industry.
Nevertheless, Democrats increasingly have been injecting abortion partisanship into human trafficking programs. Congressional hearings revealed how Obama administration officials denied a grant to a faith-based organization over abortion and other morally objectionable issues.
Many would note that abortion would only add to the trauma that human trafficking victims have already experienced. Yet even the Hyde Amendment does not disallow government-funded abortions in cases of rape, nor does it prevent abortions paid for with nongovernment funds. So protests over the Hyde Amendment in this trafficking-victims program are little more than partisan politics designed to enforce a radical abortion ideology.
Jonathan Imbody, Ashburn
The writer is vice president for government relations for the Christian Medical Association.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faith groups call for Senate passage of religious freedom measures on marriage, adoption

The following letter expresses the concerns of many in the faith-based community regarding First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech:

March 17, 2015
Sen. Mike Enzi
Senator Mike Enzi
Senator Mike Lee

Dear Senators Enzi and Lee:

Sen. Mike Lee
We, the undersigned, representing hundreds of thousands of Americans, want to thank you for your leadership in reintroducing two key pieces of legislation designed to ensure that charities, non-profits, and small business owners with religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage are not penalized by the government for their beliefs.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would prevent the federal government from discriminating in programs, grants, contracts, and tax treatment against individuals who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Such protections are urgently needed in light of new federal agency conditions requiring endorsement of same-sex relationships in order to compete for certain federal grants. In addition, the President’s problematic July 2014 Executive Order jeopardizing the ability of businesses and faith-based organizations that contract with the federal government to hire and administer programs according to their religious beliefs is deeply troubling. The government should not deem longstanding providers of important public services ineligible to compete for federal funding simply because of their beliefs about marriage. This bill would stop these harmful and arbitrary government penalties.
Similarly, S. 667, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, would ensure that faith-based adoption and foster care providers working with birth moms, parents, and community stakeholders to serve needy children can continue to provide services in their respective locales. S.667 would address discriminatory actions like those taken by Illinois, Massachusetts, D.C. and San Francisco to force faith-based providers to halt services simply because of their belief that kids do best with a mom and a dad. Indeed, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act reflects its name—it ensures the inclusion of all providers and particularly those faith-based entities who have offered the bulk of orphan care since our nation’s founding. States that choose to discriminate against faith-based organizations despite this bill’s prohibition would face a reduction in federal funding under this bill, an important deterrent to future targeting.
We as individuals and organizations wish to remain active participants in and contributors to our communities. These bills ensure that we can continue to do so while also living in accordance with our beliefs about marriage and the family. Significantly, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree that we should have this freedom. Just last month, new polling from WPA Opinion Research and Family Research Council showed that 81% of Americans believe that individuals like us should be able to live and work in accordance with our belief in marriage as between a man and a woman.
While Americans in general continue to debate the meaning of marriage in the lead up to Supreme Court review of state marriage laws this spring, one thing is clear: millions of Americans who continue to affirm the historic understanding of marriage should remain free from government discrimination.
Again, we thank you for your leadership in introducing and advocating for this important legislation.
Sincerely,
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Gary L. Bauer, President, American Values
  • David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics), CEO, Christian Medical Association
  • Tom Minnery, President and CEO, CitizenLink
  • Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
  • Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
  • Brian S. Brown, President, National Organization for Marriage
  • Michael A. Needham, CEO, Heritage Action
  • Dr. Ron Crews CH (COL) USAR Retired, Executive Director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
  • Most Reverend Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
  • Most Reverend William E. Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore, Chairman, USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty
  • Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, Chairman, USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage
  • Russell D. Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
  • Penny Nance, President and CEO, Concerned Women for America
  • Legislative Action Committee, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., Chairman
  • High Impact Leadership Coalition, Star Parker, President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
  • Carrie Gordon Earll, Vice President, Government and Public Policy, Focus on the Family
  • Rick Scarborough, President, Vision America Action
  • Keith Wiebe, President, American Association of Christian Schools
  • Thomas J. Cathey, EdD, Director for Legal Legislative Issues, Association of Christian Schools International
  • Dan Weber, CEO, Association of Mature American Citizens
  • Joel Grewe, Director, Generation Joshua
  • Susan A. Carleson, Chairman/CEO, American Civil Rights Union
  • Andrea Lafferty, President, Traditional Values Coalition
  • William J. Murray, Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition
  • Austin Ruse, President, C-FAM
  • Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness
  • C. Preston Noell III, President, Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
  • Robert Knight, Senior Fellow, American Civil Rights Union
  • Colin A. Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring, Co-Chair, The Weyrich Lunch
  • Curt Levey, President, The Committee for Justice
  • Nicole Theis, President, Delaware Family Policy Council
  • David Fowler, President, Family Action of Tennessee, Inc.
  • Dale Bartscher, Executive Director, Family Heritage Alliance Action (SD)
  • Julie Lynde, Executive Director, Cornerstone Family Council, Idaho
  • Phil Burress, President, Citizens for Community Values Action
  • Allen Whitt, President, Family Policy Council of West Virginia
  • Jim Minnery, President, Alaska Family Action
  • John Helmberger, CEO, Minnesota Family Council
  • Kent Ostrander, Executive Director, The Family Foundation (KY)
  • Michael Geer, President, Pennsylvania Family Institute
  • Peter Wolfgang, President, Family Institute of Connecticut Action
  • Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms
  • Joe Ortwerth, Executive Director, Missouri Family Policy Council
  • Gene Mills, President, Louisiana Family Forum
  • Andrew Beckwith, President, Massachusetts Family Institute
  • Jonathan Saenz, President, Texas Values
  • Len Deo, Founder & President, New Jersey Family Policy Council
  • Jonathan Gardner, Executive Director, New Mexico Center for Family Policy