Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

Read: Faith Steps: How to winsomely engage on controversial public policy issues. 
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It's time to restore the First Amendment and stop attacks on religious free exercise:

--Coercing health professionals and redefining sex discrimination: the 2016 HHS transgender mandate;
--Squelching First Amendment freedoms on campuses: barring campus faith expression;
--Forcing nuns to violate religious tenets: the Obamacare contraceptive mandate;
--Threatening pro-life doctors and health care access: the 2009 gutting of the federal conscience regulation;
--Denying federal human trafficking grants to pro-life programs for victims: HHS grant scandal;
--Forcing churches to participate in abortion through state insurance mandates to cover abortion;
--Government intrusion on churches' hiring freedom: Supreme Court Hosanna Tabor case;
--Firing and coercing life-honoring health care professionals and students: personal stories of discrimination.

Faith_Steps_Cover_for_KindleSMALL.jpgWatch the webcast discussion at Family Research Council on
Faith Steps: How to winsomely engage on controversial public policy issues. 

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In the News

What Congress and the Administration Can Do to Protect Conscience Rights

Heritage Foundation commentary by Melanie Israel

December 14, 2017

"The freedom to live in accordance with one’s conscience is a fundamental principle of American life. Though issues like abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide will undoubtedly remain contentious, robust conscience protections in the context of health care safeguard the rights of individuals and entities to dissent on morally sensitive issues. Congress and the Trump Administration have the opportunity to further protect conscience rights through legislation and administrative action. To halt ongoing assaults on America’s first freedom and prevent future violations of conscience, they should do so without delay."

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Filed under: Heritage FoundationConscience freedomHealthcare

University of Iowa kicks Christian group off campus for its religious beliefs

Washington Examiner

December 13, 2017

The University of Iowa kicked a small Christian group of students, Business Leaders in Christ, off campus recently, because they regularly share their religious beliefs. In response, the group sued. The dean of students told BLinC that if it wants to be back on campus, it must "revise" its religious beliefs and submit an "acceptable plan" for selecting its leaders. In BLinC v. University of Iowa, BLinC asks the court to stop this religious discrimination and allow it to choose leaders who embrace its mission, just like every other student group on campus. Becket, a legal organization that specializes in religious liberty, is representing the student group. "This is 2017, not 1984," Jacob Estell, the student president of BLinC, told Becket in a statement. "Our beliefs weren't made by us, and they can't be changed by us either - certainly not just to satisfy Orwellian government rules." "This is premeditated religious discrimination, plain and simple," said Eric Baxter, senior counsel at Becket."A state school cannot demand a change to students' faith any more than the U.S. President could demand a change to the Bible."

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Filed under: Religious freedomBecket LawEducation

Not Rights, But Power

First Things

December 11, 2017

"Jack Phillips claims to be an artist—and he is. Photos of the beautiful hand-decorated cakes he has created, each one as different as the brides and grooms who commission them, abound in legal briefs and all over the internet. Far less beautiful is the legal case in which Phillips is embroiled."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomConscience freedomFree speech

Line Drawing in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

National Review commentary by Jordan Lorence

December 11, 2017

"During the Masterpiece Cakeshop oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the two attorneys opposing cake artist Jack Phillips argued that the justices should not protect Phillips’s freedom to abstain from creating expression he disagrees with. Their primary argument was that, in their opinion, it is too difficult to draw lines protecting people’s First Amendment right against compelled speech, so the high court should not protect Jack’s rights. But the correct answer cannot be “it is too difficult to draw a line, so no line will be drawn.” That would mean the government could force businesses to create messages, including words and symbols, that they oppose. The Supreme Court has never ruled that way."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomConscience freedomFree speech

The Baker and the Empire

The New York Times commentary by Ross Douthat

December 11, 2017

"There are fine constitutional lawyers who can argue back and forth about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case the Supreme Court heard last week, which will determine whether a Christian baker can decline to make a same-sex couple’s wedding cake. The court’s decision will either limit antidiscrimination law or limit First Amendment protections, so it’s not surprising that you can find deeply-footnoted legal arguments on both sides. Nor is it surprising that I’m on the side of the baker. But I’m not going to make a constitutional argument for his rights. I’m going to make a political argument for why our country would be better off if he were left alone to bake his cakes."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomConscience freedomFree speech

Support Grows for Air Force Colonel Suspended Over Religious Beliefs on Marriage

The Daily Signal commentary by Tony Perkins

December 8, 2017

"When Heather Wilson was picked to be secretary of the Air Force, she told the Senate: “Air Force policy must continue to ensure that all airmen are able to choose to practice their particular religion.” Now, she has a chance to prove it. On Wednesday, the Family Research Council’s Lt. General Jerry Boykin and Travis Weber gave Wilson 77,024 reasons to reconsider the action taken against Col. Leland Bohannon. A distinguished combat pilot, Bohannon has served his country for more than 20 years. In May, the reputation he’d built in the Air Force came crashing down when his superiors decided that the colonel’s decision not to sign a “certificate of appreciation” for a same-sex spouse was enough to suspend him from duty."

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research CouncilMilitary

Judge denies churches' emergency FEMA request

Houston Chronicle

December 8, 2017

"A federal judge in Houston has denied an emergency request by three Texas churches to apply for relief moneyto rebuild sanctuaries damaged during Hurricane Harvey in a case that tests the constitutional boundaries separating church and state. U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller, who has presided over the case for one week, denied the churches' motion Thursday for a temporary injunction to access Federal Emergency Management Agency funds. The case will proceed to trial on the question of whether nonprofit groups affiliated with a religious organization can use federal money to rebuild structures where community aid is provided in the same location where religion is practiced."

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Filed under: Religious freedom

The Christian Baker Need Not Have Ended Up at the Supreme Court

National Review

December 7, 2017

"On December 5, the Supreme Court heard the case of Jack Phillips, the Christian baker who can’t in good conscience design and create wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages. The justices now will decide whether states, consistent with the First Amendment, can force citizens to express support for same-sex marriage through their artistic products. But this case needn’t have ended up at the Court. And future cases like it can be avoided."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomConscience freedomFree speech

ADF Defends Jack Phillips at the Supreme Court Today

Alliance Defending Freedom

December 5, 2017

"Today’s the day. Today, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristen Waggoner will represent Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips before the U.S. Supreme Court. She will ask the Court to uphold Jack’s artistic freedom. It was five years ago that Jack was sued because he politely declined to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. As a Christian, he believes that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. He offered to sell the couple anything else in his store, or to design a cake for a different event. He serves everyone, but he cannot celebrate every event. Jack’s faith is of the utmost importance, and he believes he should honor God in everything he does."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomAlliance Defending FreedomConscience freedomFree speech

Artistic freedom in a cake at stake

The Washington Times commentary by Kristen Waggoner

December 5, 2017

"Jack Phillips is an artist. He has always loved drawing, sculpting and painting. Designing custom wedding cakes allowed him to do all three in a setting that inspired him as a person of faith. And Jack excelled at his work. The local newspaper called his shop “an art gallery of cakes,” and his designs received acclaim from the well-known wedding website The Knot. But an order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has forced Jack to stop creating the wedding art he loves. A victory for the state threatens great harm to the freedom of all who create expression for a living. That is why Jack’s case, which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Tuesday is so important for all of us. Jack wants to live out his faith by creating art that honors God. He chose the name of his shop, Masterpiece Cakeshop, to reflect not only that he creates artistic cakes, but that he lives all of his life, including his professional life, for his ultimate Master."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomAlliance Defending FreedomConscience freedomFree speech

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