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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

US House to take up measure to block DC's abortion ideology coercion of faith-based groups

Rep. Diane Black
US House of Representatives leadership has added H.J. Res. 43 to the schedule for floor debate tomorrow and a likely vote either tomorrow or Friday.
H.J. Res. 43 is a resolution of disapproval sponsored by Rep. Diane Black to prevent implementation of the Reproductive Health Nondiscrimination Act (RHNDA). RHNDA was adopted by the D.C. City Council late last year and transmitted to Congress on March 6 for a Congressional review period of 30 legislative days. The law will be enacted at the expiration of the 30 day period unless a joint resolution of disapproval is enacted. On April 21 H.J. Res. 43 was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a party line vote of 20-16.
RHNDA could restrict the First Amendment freedoms of pro-life organizations in two ways:
1.       Force a religious or pro-life advocacy group to make personnel decisions inconsistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about the sanctity of human life.
2.       Mandate that religious and pro-life advocacy organizations provide insurance coverage for surgical abortion.

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.
Tony Perkins
Family Research Council
Gary L. Bauer
American Values
David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
Christian Medical Association
Tom Minnery
President and CEO
Richard A. Viguerie
Mathew Staver
Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel
Brian S. Brown
National Organization for Marriage
Michael A. Needham
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
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Penny Nance
President and CEO
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
High Impact Leadership Coalition
Star Parker
Center for Urban Renewal and Education
Carrie Gordon Earll
Vice President, Government and Public Policy
Focus on the Family
Rick Scarborough
Vision America Action
Keith Wiebe
American Association of Christian Schools
Thomas J. Cathey, EdD
Director for Legal Legislative Issues
Association of Christian Schools International
Dan Weber
Association of Mature American Citizens
Joel Grewe
Generation Joshua
Susan A. Carleson
American Civil Rights Union
Andrea Lafferty
Traditional Values Coalition
William J. Murray
Religious Freedom Coalition
Austin Ruse
Elaine Donnelly
Center for Military Readiness
C. Preston Noell III
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
The Committee for Justice
Nicole Theis
Delaware Family Policy Council
David Fowler
Family Action of Tennessee, Inc.
Dale Bartscher
Executive Director
Family Heritage Alliance Action (SD)
Julie Lynde
Executive Director
Cornerstone Family Council, Idaho
Phil Burress
Citizens for Community Values Action
Allen Whitt
Family Policy Council of West Virginia
Jim Minnery
Alaska Family Action
John Helmberger
Minnesota Family Council
Kent Ostrander
Executive Director
The Family Foundation (KY)
Michael Geer
Pennsylvania Family Institute
Peter Wolfgang
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
Louisiana Family Forum
Andrew Beckwith
Massachusetts Family Institute
Jonathan Saenz
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:  

Why are state RFRAs needed today?

- State RFRAs have been needed to protect against undue state/local govt interference in religious exercise

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
- 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.) 
- 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.
- In no cases do RFRAs allow people to automatically appeal to religion to opt out of obeying a law.
- 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.