|Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran|
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
It's not hard to imagine a decade or so ago an Atlanta fire chief getting himself fired for writing a book that advocated for same-sex marriage, basing his argument on the LGBT-endorsing position of his Episcopal Church. Protestors would have rightly defended the chief's First Amendment freedom of speech and free exercise of religion.
If the state at the time had passed a law mirroring the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a hugely bipartisan measure signed into law by Bill Clinton, a court case could have determined whether the government could demonstrate a compelling interest in firing the chief, and whether it had taken the least restrictive means to fulfill that interest.
Perhaps the courts would have ruled that the government either lacked a compelling interest or had taken a harsher path than necessary to enforce its interest, and the chief could have been reinstated on the First Amendment grounds of religious freedom.
The key is to view First Amendment speech and religious freedoms not through the lens of what particular belief is being expressed or exercised, but as a cornerstone of our freedoms in this democratic republic.
A Supreme Court case over an Arizona town's discriminatory treatment of church signs serves as a reminder of the inseparability of First Amendment free speech and religious exercise.
In an effort to cabin the influence of faith values in the public square and to force compliance with faith-violating government policies and ideologies, some have suggested that the First Amendment merely protects the right to privately hold beliefs about God or to pray.
That would be a meaningless protection. Even the most oppressive government cannot possibly regulate our private thoughts or prayer; it can only regulate the expression and the exercise of our beliefs through public speech and actions.That's why the First Amendment provides that government may not prohibit the free exercise of faith, whether in speech or in actions. Public policy advocates of all stripes do well to remember that if the government can restrict, coerce and punish one group or viewpoint today, it can restrict, coerce and punish the opposite tomorrow.
As an imprisoned Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Thursday, January 8, 2015
|Rep. Marsha Blackburn|
Reps. Trent Franks (AZ-08) and Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) have introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HR 36) to protect unborn babies beginning at the sixth month of conception.
I have worked on a number of issues with Rep. Franks and have noted his passionate dedication to the unborn. He made the following comments about this bill yesterday:
“More than 18,000 ‘very late term’ abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America. These are innocent and defenseless children who can not only feel pain, but who can survive outside of the womb in most cases, and who are torturously killed without even basic anesthesia. Many of them cry and scream as they die, but because it is amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air, we don’t hear them.
“Late term Abortion in America has its defenders, but no true or principled defense. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act seeks to afford basic protection to mothers and their unborn babies entering the sixth month of gestation.
|Rep. Trent Franks|
“Throughout America's history, the hearts of the American people have been moved with compassion when they discover a theretofore hidden class of victims, once they grasp both the humanity of the victims and the inhumanity of what is being done to them.“America is on the cusp of another such realization.”
Rep. Blackburn said the following:
“We have a moral obligation to end dangerous late-term abortions in order to protect women and these precious babies from criminals like Kermit Gosnell and others who prey on the most vulnerable in our society,” Blackburn said. “The United States is one of the few remaining countries in the world that allows abortion after 20 weeks. That is why today we renew our efforts to protect the lives of babies and their mothers with the introduction of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Rep. Franks and I have been a good team moving this legislation through the House as we continue to lead the fight to ensure the unborn are provided the same protections that all human life deserves.”
Click here to take action and urge your lawmakers to support this bill.