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Life, Sex, and Religion: It All Matters in Washington, D.C.

Human Life Review commentary by Connie Marshner

March 30, 2015

In the nation’s capital, religious freedom is being attacked in the name of "reproductive health decisions." The City Council has enacted a Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, under which, for example, a Catholic school or a pro-life organization in D.C. would have to cover elective abortions in its healthcare plan and could not fire an employee who had an abortion and bragged about it to students. They’re not satisfied that abortion is legal—their idea of freedom is to force religious institutions not only to pay for the procedure but to promote it as well. The City Council has also enacted a “Human Rights Amendment” which compels religious schools to support the LGBT agenda with recognition and funding (think Georgetown University).

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Filed under: AbortionReligious freedomHomosexuality

Navy forces chaplain to choose between faith and job


March 17, 2015

Five months ago the Navy called him the "best of the best." But now, Chaplain Wes Modder could be kicked out of the military over issues of intolerance and insensitivity to other cultures. Lt. Cmdr. Modder has been accused of failing to show "tolerance and respect" in private counseling sessions regarding issues pertaining to faith marriage and sexuality - including homosexuality. On March 16 the Navy rejected Modder's claim that he was being singled out because of his Christian faith. LTG (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, who now serves as executive vice president at the Family Research Council, said a chaplain isn’t worth anything if he isn’t allowed to minister and counsel according to his faith. "The Navy has to decide whether it wants a chaplain corps or social workers only.”

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research CouncilMilitary

Tennessee affirms opposite-sex marriage, not bigotry

The Tennessean commentary by Jonathan Imbody

March 14, 2015

A Chicago resident complains in a letter to the editor that Tennessee does not recognize in law the fact that Illinois considers him married to another man; he labels Tennessee's legal definition of marriage a matter of discrimination and inequality. The state of Tennessee retains a constitutional right, highlighted in the Supreme Court's recent Windsor decision, which deemed a federal definition of marriage as usurping states' rights, to determine by objective qualifications and definitions who qualifies for a marriage license. Tennessee also uses objective qualifications to determine which of its citizens can vote, practice medicine, own a gun or teach in public schools.

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Filed under: CommentariesChristian Medical AssociationMarriage

Memo to Supreme Court: State Marriage Laws Are Constitutional

Heritage Foundation

March 10, 2015

To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage that our law has long applied equally is just wrong: that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely. The U.S. Constitution, however, is silent on what marriage is and what policy goals the states should design it to serve, and there are good policy arguments on both sides. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the U.S. Constitution any more than the Justices in Dred Scott should have written into the Constitution their own policy preferences in support of slavery.

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Filed under: CommentariesHeritage FoundationMarriage

Lawmakers fight to close abortion insurance coverage loophole

World Magazine

March 10, 2015

"Religious freedom is a bedrock value of our society but, on President Obama's watch, this time-honored principle is under assault," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. "From Obamacare's coercive HHS mandate to the unlawful, pro-abortion directive by the state boards in California, it is clear that Congress must act where the White House will not and reverse this infringement of our First Amendment rights." Pro-life lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation similar to HR 940 for several years. But this year, Black, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., and Rep. John Fleming, R-La., plan to combine HR 940 with an appropriations bill to increase its chances of passing.

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Filed under: AbortionReligious freedomCongress

Supreme Court to lower court: Reconsider decision against Notre Dame

Becket Fund

March 9, 2015

Today, the Supreme Court vacated the Notre Dame decision entirely, and sent the case back to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its aberrant ruling in light of the recent ruling in Hobby Lobby protecting religious freedom. "This is a major blow to the federal government’s contraception mandate. For the past year, the Notre Dame decision has been the centerpiece of the government’s effort to force religious ministries to violate their beliefs or pay fines to the IRS." said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in the case. "As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty."

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Filed under: ObamacareContraceptionBecket Fund

Faith-based organizations oppose Leahy gender bill

Dozens sign letter to senators opposing S 262

March 9, 2015

As leaders of faith-based organizations, religious-freedom advocates, and lawyers who work with faith-based organizations, we ask you to reject the misconceived nondiscrimination clause that S. 262, the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (Sen. Leahy) would attach to every grant administered by the administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. The clause will undermine the rights of faith-based social-service providers or even cause many of them to be excluded from these grants.

Download file IRFA joint ltr Senate re Leahy runaway youth and gender bill.pdf

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Contact your senators to preserve religious freedom


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Filed under: Institutional Religious Freedom AllianceLegislationHomosexuality

Congress Should Protect Religious Freedom in the District of Columbia

Heritage Foundation commentary by Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D. and Sarah Torre

March 9, 2015

The two euphemistically titled acts are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA). These policies will saddle religious organizations and employers with a choice between complying with coercive laws that force them to violate their religious beliefs and organizational missions and staying true to their beliefs in defiance of unjust laws. RHNDA discriminates against pro-lifers and HRAA violates religious liberty. The former could force employers in the nation's capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality and recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus.

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Filed under: Religious freedomHeritage FoundationHomosexuality

Former SEALs chaplain could be kicked out of Navy for Christian beliefs


March 9, 2015

Michael Berry, a military veteran and attorney with Liberty Institute a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is representing Modder. "We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs," Berry said. "They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?' They want chaplains to be glorified summer camp counselors and not speak truth and love into people's lives. There are some anti-religious elements in our military. Anytime somebody wants to live their faith out - there are people who say that is offensive."

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Filed under: Religious freedomMilitaryLiberty Counsel

Campus ministry wins job discrimination case

World Magazine

March 5, 2015

These two points-that InterVarsity qualified for the ministerial exception and that it could not waive its constitutional rights-were the most significant outcomes of the case, according to David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, the firm that defended InterVarsity. "It matters not whether the plaintiff is claiming a specific violation under Title VII or any other employment discrimination statute," the court wrote. "The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses do not permit federal or state courts to adjudicate such matters when the defendant properly asserts the ministerial exception as an affirmative defense."

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomACLJ

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