Freedom of faith, conscience and speech

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Recent assaults on our freedoms:

--a federal regulation forcing health professionals to comply with transgender ideology or lose funding;
--a coercive contraceptive mandate;
--the gutting of the only federal conscience regulation in health care;
--the denial of federal funds to a ministry because it opposes abortions;
--the administration's court case to restrict faith-based organizations' hiring rights;
--forcing health professionals to participate in sex reassignment procedures and abortion;
--firings, discrimination and coercion of life-honoring health care professionals.

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Tell how you are impacted by the new regulation on transgender ideology, or how you have experienced discrimination in healthcare because of your conscience and convictions.

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Faith Steps: How to winsomely engage on controversial public policy issues. 

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In the News

Medical Groups Sue Over Vermont Requirement to Counsel Patients on Assisted Suicide

Christian News

July 23, 2016

wo medical groups have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge language in the Vermont's assisted suicide law that they believe requires physicians to counsel patients about ending their lives. The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and Tennessee-based Christian Medical Association were represented in the suit on Tuesday, along with several doctors in the state who are concerned about how the government interprets the "Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act," also known as Act 39. "The government shouldn't be telling health care professionals that they must violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine," Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Steven Aden said in a statement announcing the suit. "These doctors and other health care workers deeply believe that suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves. The state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that sincere and time-honored conviction."

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Filed under: Alliance Defending FreedomHealthcareEnd of life

The First Amendment Defense Act Should Not Protect Multiple Views of Marriage

Family Research Council

July 22, 2016

Unfortunately, the latest revisions to FADA have forced FRC to withdraw its support of the bill. The new FADA language says: (a) IN GENERAL.-Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that-(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of- (A) two individuals of the opposite sex; or (B) two individuals of the same sex; or (2) extramarital relations are improper. Principled Objections to the new language: The new language of FADA would force Congress to affirm, for the first time, the construct that marriage can be between two people of the same sex. A vast majority of conscience bills based on the life issue, including the recently-passed Conscience Protection Act, protect against government discrimination for one view of abortion-the pro-life view. There is not a constitutional problem with these pro-life laws, and there should be no problem with a pro-marriage law that does not also provide protections for same-sex marriage views.

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Filed under: Family Research CouncilMarriageLegislation

Religious, pro-life conscience unwelcome in healthcare

First Things commentary by Wesley J. Smith

July 22, 2016

Healthcare is quickly becoming about much more than the provision and reception of medical treatment. To a disturbing degree, healthcare public policy is becoming a means of imposing a secularist, anti-sanctity-of-life ideology on all of society. The ACLU is suing to prevent Catholic hospitals that follow Church teaching from receiving federal funds. Most recently, in Vermont, Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit to try to prevent state authorities from forcing doctors to counsel their terminally ill patients about assisted suicide (which is legal in the state) even if they consider it a profound moral wrong to participate in doctor-prescribed death. This is the message being sent by the secularist attempt to stifle medical conscience: Sanctity of life has no place in healthcare.

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Filed under: Conscience freedomHealthcareEnd of life

Patients, health care providers support conscience protections

The Hill commentary by Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie

July 21, 2016

Physicians, nurses, and other health care workers throughout the US are glad to know that the erosion of their rights is being taken seriously with the passage of the Conscience Protection Act.  Their patients are also glad, as seen in a new Marist poll that shows a strong majority of Americans support conscience protections for their doctors and providers. A recent declaration by the HHS that California’s department of Managed Health Care can continue forcing all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortion, including late-term abortions, gave new impetus for passage of the law. This is a flagrant violation of the Weldon Amendment which was designed to protect medical workers, hospitals, and insurers who object to abortion from discrimination and coercion.  In a recent forum on Capitol Hill, nurses described being forced to assist in gruesome late-term abortions or risk losing their jobs, and pastors from churches in California expressed their fear of having to purchase health insurance for their employees that pays for abortion.

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Filed under: AbortionLegislationHealthcare

Congress, we must protect Americans who disagree with abortion

FOX News commentary by Rep. Vicky Hartzler

July 14, 2016

Currently, the only recourse against this discrimination is to file a complaint with OCR. In light of its extremely slow response to straightforward complaints or its outright refusal to execute the law, something had to be done. The House this week passed the Conscience Protection Act, a bill I proudly co-sponsored. This bill stops the federal government, and any state or local government that receives Federal funds from penalizing, retaliating against, or otherwise discriminating against a health care provider on the basis that the provider does not participate in abortion. Further, this bill provides a civil right to action for those discriminated against, including physicians, health professionals, hospitals, health systems, insurance issuers, insurance plans, and administrators of health plans, among others. They deserve a choice. They deserve their day in court.

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Filed under: Religious freedomCongressLegislation

Evangelicals increasingly say it's becoming harder for them in America

Pew Research

July 14, 2016

Some of this feeling may stem from the fact that the country is becoming more secular: A rising share of Americans do not identify with any religion, while a shrinking portion of the population is Christian. Another factor may be the spread of legal same-sex marriage nationwide and increasing social acceptance of homosexuality, developments with which many conservative Christians disagree. And other clashes with the values many conservative Christians hold continue to play out across the country, whether it be over the teaching of evolution in public schools, the presence of religious displays on public property for Christmas or whether public school cheerleaders can put Bible verses on their banners.

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Filed under: Religious freedomPollingHomosexuality

Becket's Arriaga sworn in at U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

July 14, 2016

My father fled Fidel Castro's Cuba and lost everything. My father did not stew on his losses. Instead, he stayed focused on the horizon, on the future, and he taught his kids to do the same. Sitting around our kitchen table at night, he would speak about what was possible, not what was lost. He filled me with excitement when he would tell me that in this new country, a young Latina woman from Cuba could do whatever she set her mind to. Speaking to the next generation in Denver and taking the oath of office for USCIRF-both experiences brought me back to that kitchen table. In taking on this role for USCIRF, I want to carry on that spirit of possibility and optimism for all people who suffer, especially for their beliefs.

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Filed under: Religious freedomBecket FundPersecution

Federal Government Is Ignoring Pro-Life Consciences

The Federalist commentary by Ramona Tausz

July 12, 2016

"They were well-aware that as a faithful Catholic, I could not participate in the killing," she said. "Yet they threatened my job, and my nursing license, if I did not take part in the murder of the baby." DeCarlo said her nurse's duties, which included counting the body parts afterward, left her feeling "violated," but that she faced further discrimination when told she could not take her case to court. "The courts told me that even though the hospital broke the law, I had no right to have my day in court," DeCarlo said. "The health care Conscience Rights Act will change this. It will let doctors and nurses go to court if they are illegally coerced in assisting abortions."

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Filed under: AbortionLegislationHealthcare

Pass the Conscience Protection Act

Washington Times commentary by Rep. Chris Smith

July 12, 2016

On June 22nd, I was part of a group of lawmakers led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who met with Health and Human Services (HHS )Secretary Sylvia Burwell and HHS Director of the Office for Civil Rights Jocelyn Samuels to respectfully ask why the Administration has refused to enforce the Weldon federal conscience law in the case of California's two-year-old draconian, coercive abortion order. The state of California forces all insurance plans under its purview-and the people and institutions that pay the premiums-to subsidize abortion on demand. Yet, the Weldon federal conscience law authored by former Congressman Dave Weldon of Florida and continuously in effect for over a decade-is explicit and comprehensive. It says in pertinent part that it is illegal for any "discrimination" against any health care entity "on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of or refer for abortions." The law's definition of health care entity explicitly includes "a health insurance plan." Despite the absolute clarity of Weldon in extending Federal conscience protection to health insurance plans, HHS's Burwell and Samuels insisted that health insurance plans weren't covered by Weldon-they said the insurance companies were covered but weren't objecting (which is irrelevant)-and on that point concluded that the injured parties including the Catholic Church lacked standing to obtain relief.

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Filed under: AbortionConscience freedomLegislation

Debunking 6 Myths About the First Amendment Defense Act

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

July 12, 2016

Several Democratic House members and their invited witnesses made some stunning claims about the bill both orally and in written remarks that merit serious fact-checking. Here are six of them. Myth 1: The bill is cover for discrimination against LGBT people. Reality: This claim is rebutted by simply stating what the bill actually does-it prevents the federal government from discriminating against individuals and institutions that follow their beliefs about marriage and what it entails. It protects supporters of both sides of the same-sex marriage debate from being stripped of nonprofit tax-exempt status, licenses, grants, contracts, or accreditation. Just as Congress protected people from being punished for declining to participate in abortions after Roe v. Wade, the First Amendment Defense Act protects people from being punished for their beliefs about marriage after the Obergefell decision, without taking anything away from anyone.

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Filed under: Heritage FoundationMarriageLegislation

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