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The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty

National Review commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

August 3, 2017

While there has always been disagreement about what religious liberty requires in particular cases, the idea of religious liberty as a fundamental human right has more or less been a consensus in America. It became controversial only in recent years as the government tried to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage, and as liberal advocacy groups decided that civil liberties aren't for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution. That's why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns' attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control - including forms of birth control that prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortion. The HHS mandate garnered the most headlines, but it's far from the only flashpoint. In several jurisdictions, Catholic Charities and other faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to abandon their invaluable work simply because they want to place needy children only in homes with married moms and dads. The government calls that discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Filed under: ContraceptionHeritage FoundationHomosexuality

Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions

Pew Research Center

August 2, 2017

The partisan differences in views of the impact of churches also have remained fairly stable: 73% of Republicans and Republican leaners say churches and religious organizations have a positive effect, compared with 50% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. Democrats' views of the effect of the national news media have grown more positive over the past year, while Republicans remain overwhelmingly negative. Orig. pub. 7/10/17.

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Filed under: Religious freedomPollingEducation

Six Ways Governor Brownback Can Prioritize International Religious Freedom

FRC commentary by Travis Weber

August 1, 2017

1. Integrate and prioritize religious freedom protections in foreign policy. 2. Fully implement the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act throughout the U.S. government. 3. Protect refugees and asylum seekers with proper attention given to persecution on the basis of religion. 4. Provide foreign assistance to protect the human right of religious freedom. 5. Ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to the suppression of religious freedom abroad. 6. Engage international organizations in defending religious freedom. Religious freedom is not to be segmented off in compartments in our lives, and it is not confined to the four walls of our places of worship. The United States used to hold to this robust vision of religious freedom, both at home and abroad.

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research CouncilPersecution

Millennials approve of religious freedom as a choice, but don't know what it means

Deseret News

July 30, 2017

Emily Hardman, president of Amicus Communications, highlighted in a presentation last week on results from a survey looking at millennial and religious freedom that she was surprised by data showing millennials accepting religious freedom in an abstract way but considerably less supportive of religion and faith when presented in real-life terms. "They think it (religious freedom) is merely just a choice, and it's troubling to see that so many don't know what it means more than just choosing - it means practicing that faith in a meaningful and authentic way," said Hardman. Hardman pointed out the following: 58 percent of millennials agree that "Religion is personal and should not play a significant role in society." Millennials are 13 percent more secular than older generations. Religious liberty considered by millennials as "very important" is a rate significantly less - by 8 percent - than older Americans.

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Filed under: Religious freedom

Christian doctors association lauds appointment of Sam Brownback as religious freedom ambassador

Christian Medical Association News Release

July 28, 2017

"The 18,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, today hailed as a "signal of new hope for persons of faith enduring persecution and oppression" the presidential appointment of Samuel Brownback of Kansas to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State. Mr. Brownback has been Governor of Kansas since 2011." CMA Vice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody said, "Having worked for many years with Gov. Brownback when he served as a US Senator from 1996-2011, I saw up close his commitment to the unalienable right of every person to worship, serve and honor God according to conscience. "As a person of deep faith who respects persons of all faiths and persuasions, Gov. Brownback brings to this role an empathy, understanding and passion that will advance religious freedom abroad and also serve as an example at home, where religious freedom faces new and significant challenges. This appointment is a tremendous encouragement for religious freedom advocates everywhere, and most importantly, serves as a signal of new hope for persons of faith enduring persecution and oppression."

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Filed under: Religious freedomChristian Medical Association

Transgender Americans Won't Be Allowed to Serve in Military, Trump Announces

The Daily Signal

July 28, 2017

"President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that the U.S. military will not accept openly transgender individuals, reversing an Obama administration policy directive. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis had said he would delay new admissions of openly transgender Americans into the military until Jan. 1, on the advice of military brass. But Trump’s announcement appeared to seal the matter, at least for the time being."

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Filed under: MilitaryGender

Trump's new religious freedom chief has his work cut out for him

The Hill commentary by Andrea Picciotti-Bayer

July 27, 2017

Brownback was a key sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. IRFA was watershed legislation at the time in recognizing the important leadership of the United States in advancing global religious freedom. Brownback will have his work cut out for him. Religious persecution across the globe is vast and growing fast. Typical estimates indicate that almost 3 out of 4 people in the world live in countries with high or very high governmental restrictions or hostilities toward religion. Many religious communities are threatened with extinction in certain regions. President Trump's choice of Governor Brownback as IRF ambassador at-large is a welcome reminder of the importance this administration - and our country - places on religious freedom. The Senate would do well to quickly confirm their former colleague.

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Filed under: Religious freedomThe Catholic AssociationPersecution

Religious Freedom Attorneys Tell White House They Want Broader Exemptions for Contraceptive Mandate


July 26, 2017

The attorneys met with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney this week, where they handed out a letter explaining the need to make the draft final. "Our clients have been litigating against the government's effort to punish business owners and ministry leaders for following their religious beliefs and moral convictions since 2013," said Matthew Kacsmaryk, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty, in a statement. "As President Trump recognized in the Rose Garden on May 4, it is time to reaffirm ‘America's leadership role as a nation that protects religious freedom for everyone.' That starts by finalizing this draft interim final rule and ending years of litigation." One of the most notable cases to come out of the HHS mandate controversy was the Little Sisters of the Poor five-year battle with the Obama administration.

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Filed under: Religious freedomContraceptionFirst Liberty

House Conservatives Try Again to Block Funding for Transgender Treatments in Military

The Daily Signal

July 26, 2017

"Some House Republicans are taking another shot at blocking funding for gender transition surgeries in the military, projected to cost about $3.7 billion over the next decade. Earlier this month, 23 House Republicans joined Democrats to defeat an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., to block the funding for transgender treatments in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The NDAA sets priorities for military spending."

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Filed under: Family Research CouncilMilitaryGender

New Report Shows Increase in 'Religious Freedom Violations' in Recent Years

The Daily Signal

July 26, 2017

"Hostility toward religion is on the rise in the United States, according to a new report.  The report, which was recently released by the Family Research Council, shows an increase in the number of incidents involving “religious freedom violations” since the first report was released in July 2014. The original report spanned over a decade and contained 90 incidents. In the last three years, 69 new incidents have been added."

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research Council

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