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What Trump can do to secure religious freedom

The Hill commentary by Thomas Farr

February 15, 2017

As a candidate, Donald Trump said very little publicly about rising threats to religious freedom abroad. But recent reports suggest that President Trump may be moving quickly to nominate the official charged by law to lead that element of United States foreign policy: the ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom. Given that President George W. Bush took well over a year to get his nominee in place, and President Barack Obama took more than two, it appears that Trump may be placing a higher priority on international religious freedom than his predecessors. He has ample reason to do so. Studies show that religious freedom can make substantial contributions to democratic stability, economic growth and the undermining of religious violence and terrorism. Unfortunately, studies also show that religious freedom is in global decline, while religious persecution and terrorism are spreading.

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Filed under: CommentariesReligious freedomPersecution

How faith-based organizations are transforming our nation's incarceration system

Washington Examiner commentary by Steven Hawkins

February 15, 2017

This same belief in the power of faith drives some of the country's most remarkable rehabilitation programs. Faith affirms the dignity and significance inherent in all human life, but especially to lives that society marginalizes. Prison Fellowship reports that, in multiple instances, participation in their Bible studies reduced recidivism by 66 percent. Similarly, a 2003 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that re-arrest was far less common after prisoners completed an Inner-Change Freedom Initiative program, a faith-based re-entry program spanning incarceration and release.

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Filed under: Religious freedom

Free Indeed: The Biblical View of Freedom and its Economic, Political and Religious Implications

FRC Mar. 7 presentation by Art Lindsley

February 15, 2017

The Christian ideal state of living includes more than just an experience of inner freedom, it involves an external effort to promote the freedom and flourishing of others. In his talk, theologian and author Dr. Art Lindsley will explain the biblical view of freedom and how it differentiates from other secular views. He will further discuss the societal implications of the biblical view of freedom on the political, economic, and religious spheres. In particular, he will explain how free market principles of private property, limited government, and the freedom to innovate are grounded in biblical freedom. Dr. Lindsley will challenge those who adhere to these biblical values to follow their external implications and work toward a flourishing society. Click here to Register for this event

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research CouncilFree speech

How to Think About Discrimination: Race, Sex, and SOGI

Witherspoon Institute commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 14, 2017

In a new report for the Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," I argue that current proposals to create new LGBT protections with varying types of religious exemptions will not result in what advocates claim is "Fairness for All." Instead, they will penalize many Americans who believe that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other-convictions that the Supreme Court of the United States, in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognized are held "in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world." As I explain in the report, current SOGI laws, including "Fairness for All," lack the nuance and specificity necessary for cases they seek to address. They take the existing paradigm of public policy responses to racism and sexism and assume that this paradigm is appropriate for the policy needs of people who identify as LGBT. This is misguided for both conceptual and practical reasons.

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Filed under: Heritage FoundationHomosexualityGender

RSC Members Highlight Community Benefits of Faith-Based Organizations

RSC America Without Faith project

February 14, 2017

What would a portrait of America look like, if we were a nation without faith? On a cold winter night, would there be enough warm beds to shelter the men, women, and children suffering from homelessness? The Republican Study Committee's America Without Faith project aims to shine a spotlight on this essential knowledge base for Members of Congress and the American public. RSC Members from across the country are telling the stories of faith-based groups in action:

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Filed under: Religious freedom

Free pastors from the Johnson Amendment

RNS commentary by Tony Perkins

February 9, 2017

In essence, the Johnson Amendment prohibits tax-exempt 501(c)3 organizations from engaging or speaking on matters related to political campaigns. In 1954, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson wanted to weaken organizations politically opposed to him - so he conditioned all such organizations' tax-exempt status on their remaining silent in political matters. Since that time, the amendment has been used to muzzle anything remotely perceived as political speech from tax-exempt organizations, religious and nonreligious, on both sides of the aisle. This overly broad muzzling has included comments of pastors speaking from the pulpit about candidates as well as policy matters. Simply put, the Johnson Amendment has been used to censor speech - something that should never have occurred.

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research CouncilFree speech

Why Religious Freedom Matters

Luke Goodrich, Becket Law

February 3, 2017

"First, religious freedom matters because it benefits society. It allows religion to flourish, which produces moral virtue that is necessary for self-government. It also produces good works that benefit all of society. It also protects the right of minorites to dissent from the majority view. And it reduces social conflict." This speech was given by Becket Law Senior Counsel, Luke Goodrich, at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law's Religion and Law Symposium on Saturday March 12, 2016.

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Filed under: AudiovisualsReligious freedomBecket Law

No, Religious Liberty Won't Yank Health Care From Trans And Post-Abortive People

The Federalist commentary by "Joseph Turner"

February 3, 2017

By Mark Joseph Stern's Slate account, the ACA regulation in question merely "forbade doctors from discriminating against transgender patients or women who've previously had abortions." He mocks O'Connor for defining "sex" as a binary biological reality. He asserts: "[U.S. District Court Judge Reed] O'Connor held that treating transgender patients-and even insuring transgender patients-‘substantially burdens' insurance companies and hospitals' ‘exercise of religion.'" After reading these accounts, one might find the actual text of O'Connor's order rather anticlimactic. The first thing they might notice is that the decision is clearly, unmistakably focused on protecting religious objectors from performing or supporting sex changes and abortions. That's it. What you won't find anywhere in the order's 46 pages is any mention, or even the slightest hint of a suggestion, that the ruling is intended to allow doctors to refuse treatment to patients for no other reason than because they identify as trans or have had abortions. 

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Filed under: Christian Medical AssociationBecket LawGender

Mr. President" Don't Cave to Liberal Fearmongering. Protect Religious Freedom

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 2, 2017

The religious freedom executive order instructs the secretary of the treasury to ensure that it does not revoke nonprofit tax status because a religious organization's ordinary religious speech deals with politics, or because it speaks or acts on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife, that a person's sex is based on immutable biology, or that life begins at conception. And to avoid any potential conflicts, the executive order explicitly states that it "shall be carried out ... to the extent permitted by law" and that any accommodation must be "reasonable." With those two clauses alone, the hyperventilating criticisms of the LGBT left are immediately rendered void. These protections take nothing away from anyone-they simply ensure that the public square remains open to all religious voices, even when those voices diverge from the government's view on contested questions. They protect diversity and pluralism and tolerance.

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Filed under: Religious freedomContraceptionHeritage Foundation

Transgender movement's new frontier: The War on Medicine

Conservative Review commentary by Nicole Russell

February 1, 2017

Last May, the Health and Human Services Department implemented a mandate, which would have required doctors perform gender transition procedures on children - even if they think it would be harmful - and forced "all private insurance companies and many employers to cover gender transition procedures or face severe penalties and legal action." It applied to almost nearly every doctor in the U.S. and would have cost health care providers and taxpayers approximately $1 billion. However, a Catholic hospital system, several states, and an association of nearly 18,000 doctors challenged this regulation and on New Year's Eve, a Texas court struck down this harmful mandate. In a press release, Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the regulation commented,"This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures on children that the government itself recognizes can be harmful and exempts its own doctors from performing." (orig. pub. 1/25/16) 

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Filed under: Christian Medical AssociationBecket LawGender

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