Posts tagged with: religious liberty

For George Washington’s birthday, Julia Shaw reminds us that the indispensable man of the American Founding was also an important champion of religious liberty:

All Presidents can learn from Washington’s leadership in foreign policy, in upholding the rule of law, and—especially now—in the importance of religion and religious liberty. While the Obama Administration claims to be “accommodating” Americans’ religious freedom concerns regarding the Health and Human Services (HHS) Obamacare mandate, it is actually trampling religious freedom. President Washington set a tremendous example for the way that Presidents should handle such conflicts.

Washington knew that religion and morality are essential to creating the conditions for decent politics. “Where,” Washington asked, “is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?”

Religion and morality are, Washington wrote, essential to the happiness of mankind: “A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.”

Read more . . .

According to the Becket Fund, there are currently 44 active cases against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate requiring employers to include abortion, sterilization and abortifacients as “health care”. There have been 14 for-profit companies that have filed suit; 11 of those have received temporary injunctions against implementing the mandate.

Hobby Lobby‘s case was denied (as were Autocam‘s and Conestoga Wood Specialties‘.) Hobby Lobby has filed an appeal:

“Hobby Lobby will continue their appeal before the Tenth Circuit,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing Hobby Lobby in the case. “The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the Tenth Circuit.”

Duncan said Hobby Lobby will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees.

However, to remain true to their faith, Duncan added, “it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.

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“The Constitution protects your right to believe and worship, not force your beliefs on others.” That’s a response Acton received via Twitter regarding a blog post on the HHS Mandate. This type of statement is a typical one in our society: you can believe whatever you want, but don’t force your beliefs on anyone else. Religious belief and worship should be a wholly private affair; bringing your beliefs into the public square constitutes “forcing” them onto others.

In the latest issue of Faith and Justice from Alliance Defending Freedom, twelve women talk about what happened when this very scenario happened to them. As nurses working at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey elective surgery unit, these women were told by their employer that they must assist in elective abortions. Despite an employment clause that said nurses were exempt from this except in emergency situations if they believed abortions were immoral, the hospital stood its ground, and the nurses were told they would lose their jobs. Their union declined to help. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the nurses. (more…)

On Friday the Obama administration proposed a rule that it says will appease the concerns religious organizations have about the controversial abortion/contraceptive mandate issued last year by the Department of Health and Human Services. Here’s what you should know about the mandate and the proposed changes.

the-pillWhat is this contraception mandate everyone keeps talking about?

As part of the universal health insurance reform passed in 2010 (often referred to as “Obamacare”), all group health plans must now provide—at no cost to the recipient—certain “preventive services.” The list of services includes sterilization, contraceptives, and abortifacient drugs.

If this mandate is from 2010, why are we just now talking about it?

On January 20, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that that it would not expand the exemption for this mandate to include religious schools, colleges, hospitals, and charitable service organizations. Instead, the Administration merely extended the deadline for religious groups who did not already fall within the existing narrow exemption so that they will have one more year to comply or drop health care insurance coverage for their employees altogether and incur a hefty fine. For example, Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned company that is opposing the mandate, is facing fines up to $1.3 million per day.

Is there a religious exemption from the mandate? If so, who qualifies for the exemption?
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The Emperor Constantine with his mother Helen, both traditionally commemorated as saints.

The Emperor Constantine with his mother Helen, both traditionally commemorated as saints of the Church.

This month marks the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan. While much debate surrounds the relationship of Church and state in Christian Rome, even key figures like the Emperor Constantine (traditionally considered a saint by both East and West), the Edict of Milan is something that anyone who values liberty, religious liberty in particular, ought to commemorate as a monumental achievement. While a previous edict in 311 had offered some toleration to Christians, who spent almost their first 300 years having to fear for their lives any one of many local outbreaks of persecution that periodically plagued Pagan Rome, the Edict of Milan for the first time granted the Church the same status, including property rights, as other religions. It did not establish Christianity as the state religion (that would not happen until the end of the fourth century). Even then, the history, like all history, is messy. Often different emperors had widely different practical perspectives toward their role (or lack thereof) in religion. As Lord Acton has stated, liberty is the “delicate fruit of a mature civilization,” and that includes religious liberty and Christian Rome. In all cases, it was not a total separation of Church and state, but it was an achievement, a maturation if only for a time, that marked the end of centuries of martyrdom for Christians in the Roman (now Byzantine) empire. (more…)

Rick-Warren-PhotoIn response to the Hobby Lobby lawsuit, Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church, has released a statement at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty:

…The government has tried to reinterpret the First Amendment from freedom to PRACTICE your religion, to a more narrow freedom to worship, which would limit your freedom to the hour a week you are at a house of worship. This is not only a subversion of the Constitution, it is nonsense. Any religion that cannot be lived out … at home and work, is nothing but a meaningless ritual.

Some flippantly say ‘A business cannot be a Christian’ but the truth is, every business is either moral or immoral, ethical or unethical, depending the values they base their business on. When the government starts coercing businesses to violate their religious, moral, and ethical values, that is a flagrant violation of our Constitution.

I predict that the battle to preserve religious liberty for all, in all areas of life, will likely become the civil rights movement of this decade…Regardless of your faith, you should pay attention to this landmark case, and pray for a clear victory for freedom of conscience.”

Read the full statement here.

USA Today has a piece today on the HHS mandate battle. What I noticed was not so much the story, but the photo the newspaper chose to run. It’s an AP photo by Derik Holtmann from a rally held last spring, about the same time as numerous other rallies were taking place around the country. Since there is nothing in the story about the photo, I can only assume it was chosen “randomly.”  Here it is:

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I don’t know what you notice, but here’s what I see: A lot of older people. Grey hair. Elderly. The photo — I believe — is meant to give the impression that a few old people showed up to protest against birth control … clearly an issue they don’t have to worry about, right?

Yet, when I Google “HHS Mandate rally,” I get photos like this:

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I didn’t dig for these — they are on the first page of the Google search. I can also attest that at the rally I attended last spring, there were families, high school students, young adults and older folks — a wide range of people from various faith traditions deeply concerned about religious liberty in this country.

Oh, USA Today? I think your media bias slip is showing. Cover up and get with it.

Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, talks about the need for vigilance in defending religious liberty around the world.

While its depressing that not being forced to violate one’s conscience is considered a victory, you take what you can get in the age of ObamaCare. So I’m thankful for the news that an appeals court imposed a temporary injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing its contraception mandate on a privately owned business:

Missouri business owner Frank O’Brien, who employs 87 people at O’Brien Industrial Holdings, alleged in the lawsuit that led to the injunction that the mandate unconstitutionally infringes on his religious beliefs.

On its website, the company says its mission is “to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” O’Brien is a Catholic.

The order by the three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prohibits HHS from forcing O’Brien to comply with the mandate, until the court issues a substantive ruling on the matter. The injunction order is not a final determination on the merits of O’Brien’s case or the constitutionality of the mandate.

Read more . . .

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have launched a new website, First American Freedom. The website aims to inform readers on issues surrounding religious liberty, current threats to religious liberty, and actions one may take to uphold this liberty.

Religious freedom is our first American freedom. It is a founding principle of our country, protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It’s a fundamental human right, rooted in the dignity of every human person—people of any faith or no faith at all. It’s not a Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue—it’s an American issue, a civil rights issue.

Religious liberty includes your freedom of belief, speech, and worship. But it also protects action—the freedom to serve the common good in accordance with your faith. It means that you and your community—not the government—define your faith. It means the freedom to help the needy in accordance with the principles of your faith. It means the freedom to participate fully and equally in public life, regardless of your faith. It means the freedom to work in business without checking your faith at the door.

In short, it means that nobody should be forced to act in a manner contrary to their own religious beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, unless it is necessary to keep public order.

The website also features media and print resources that can be shared.

Visit First American Freedom here.