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Should the Supreme Court Prioritize the Safety of Non-Religious Preschoolers?

Alliance Defending Freedom

March 1, 2017

Saying everyone but churches can participate in a state program is blatant religious discrimination. The Constitution protects the rights of religious people to exercise their religion and not be punished for it. Just because these kids attend a preschool run by a church doesn't mean their safety on the playground is less important than that of students who do not attend religious schools. "As far as I know...the Lutheran kids and the neighbors around there, their kids, bruise just as easily as kids going to secular daycare centers. The lower courts basically said, under current Supreme Court precedent, the State of Missouri is allowed to say everybody gets the eligibility for these rubber grants except the churches." said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. Thankfully, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case.

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomAlliance Defending Freedom

Just Because Liberals Call Something Discrimination' Doesn't Mean It Actually Is

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 1, 2017

The biggest problem with current sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws-including "Fairness for All," which proposes a grand-bargain compromise between SOGI laws and religious liberty-is that they do not appropriately define what counts as discriminatory. As I explain in a new report for The Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," these are the laws that are being used to shutter Catholic adoption agencies, fine evangelical bakers, and force businesses and public facilities to allow men into women's locker rooms. ... Catholic Charities adoption agencies decline to place the children entrusted to their care with same-sex couples not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the conviction that children deserve both a mother and a father. That belief-that men and women are not interchangeable, mothers and fathers are not replaceable, the two best dads in the world cannot make up for a missing mom, and the two best moms in the world cannot make up for a missing dad-has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation.

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Filed under: Religious freedomHomosexualityAdoption

In Religious Freedom Debate, 2 American Values Clash

NPR

February 28, 2017

The commission report sparked a protest letter signed by 17 faith leaders, arguing that the report "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens." One of the signers, Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington, says religious conservatives are entitled to make claims of conscience. "We may not like the claim of conscience," Haynes says, "but you know, we don't judge claims of conscience on whether we like the content of the claim. We are trying to protect the right of people to do what they feel they must do according to their God. That is a very high value." Haynes himself says LGBT rights and same-sex marriage "are very important" but that supporters of those causes "cannot simply declare that one side wins all. Nondiscrimination is a great American principle - it's a core American principle - as is religious freedom," Haynes says. "When you have two important American principles coming into tension, into conflict with one another, our goal as Americans is to sit down and try to see if we can uphold both."

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Filed under: Religious freedomConscience freedom

Trump Returns Authority Over School Transgender Policies to States and Localities

The Stream commentary by Peter Sprigg

February 26, 2017

Contrary to almost all the news reporting on this story, the real question addressed by the new administration's guidance is not (at least not directly), "Which restrooms or locker rooms should students who identify as transgender use?" Instead, it is something much simpler - "Who gets to decide?" The answer that President Trump's administration has now given is also simple: "Not us. Not the federal government."The Trump administration policy will open the door for such accommodations to ensure that the legitimate needs and concerns of all students are met.

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Filed under: CommentariesFamily Research CouncilGender

Trump's draft executive order on religious freedom would free people of faith to serve those in need

Washington Examiner commentary by Jim Campbell

February 23, 2017

Notably, the order makes clear that the executive branch is to uphold religious freedom for "persons of all faiths." While it expressly protects (in limited situations) people that speak or act consistently with specific beliefs about marriage and humanity, that is neither surprising nor troublesome. Those particular beliefs (like the conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman) were demonstrably targeted and disfavored by the prior administration. The Constitution allows the government to alleviate the most pressing and palpable burdens on religion, which is precisely what this order would do. Trump should sign it, the first of many steps to fulfill his promise to protect religious freedom. If he does that, it would welcome people of faith back into public life and free them to serve their neighbors, especially the most vulnerable, with love and compassion.

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Filed under: Religious freedomAlliance Defending FreedomMarriage

Trump Reverses Federal Bathroom Folly. Will Fairfax Follow?

The Stream commentary by Cathy Ruse

February 23, 2017

Earlier this month a high school freshman named "Katie" (a pseudonym) was forced to sit through a highly politicized LGBT lesson at the beginning of Math class, via closed circuit TV. Her parents were not given the opportunity to opt her out. They weren't even given notice. "After watching the video, it was my impression that the Fairfax County school district was attempting to force me to believe in something that doesn't respect my beliefs," Katie told the Fairfax County School Board at a recent meeting. "The whole situation made me feel stressed and uncomfortable." For its reversal of the Obama edict, the Trump administration earns high marks in Biology, Social Studies, and Comparative Religion. Unfortunately, the Fairfax County School Board seems to care only about being politically correct.

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Filed under: Religious freedomFamily Research CouncilGender

Trump stance on religious liberty leaves social conservatives nervous

Washington Times

February 19, 2017

Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, called on Mr. Trump to "get moving on religious liberty. The issue of religious liberty is one of the most important for people of faith, who happen to be the key voting [bloc] most responsible for electing Donald Trump as president," Mr. Brown wrote in a letter to supporters last week. "Evangelicals voted over 80 percent for Mr. Trump, and Catholics went for him by 52 percent. Now it's time for the administration to act to protect people of faith from being discriminated against because of their faith." The primary source of frustration for the religious right is Mr. Trump's inaction on former President Obama's executive order requiring some religious groups, including charities and relief organizations, not to discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to receive federal contracts. A draft of an executive order repealing that mandate circulated in the media and immediately drew the ire of the LGBT movement. Politico reported the repeal effort was squashed by the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

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Filed under: MarriageHomosexualityGender

The State of Religious Liberty in America

House Judiciary Committee hearing - video

February 16, 2017

Witnesses: 

  • Kim Colby, Director Chrisitan Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom 
  • Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel, Becket Law
  • Rabbi David Saperstein 
  • Casey Mattox, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom's Center for Academic Freedom

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Filed under: Alliance Defending FreedomBecket LawChristian Legal Society

Religious intolerance at USDA latest example of need for religious freedom order

Alliance Defending Freedom news release

February 16, 2017

Under a policy issued by the Obama administration's agriculture secretary, a USDA official threatened to remove all USDA inspectors if West Michigan Beef Company owner Donald Vander Boon didn't permanently refrain from placing in the company's breakroom religious literature supporting marriage between one man and one woman that the department deemed "offensive." After Vander Boon placed a faith-based article concerning marriage on his facility's breakroom table in 2015, Dr. Ryan Lundquist, USDA's public health veterinarian and the inspector in charge on-site at West Michigan Beef, read the article, removed it, and reported it to USDA Frontline Supervisor Robert Becker. They held a meeting with Vander Boon, at which Becker threatened three times to remove USDA inspectors if Vander Boon didn't agree to refrain from placing the article in the breakroom. Becker explained that the ultimatum was based on expanded agency rules against offensive and harassing speech.

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Filed under: Religious freedomAlliance Defending FreedomFree speech

Neil Gorsuch's Proven Track Record of Protecting Religious Liberty

The Daily Signal commentary by Travis Weber

February 16, 2017

Gorsuch voted with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in its en banc decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, which sided with the religious challengers and articulated a strong view of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In that same case, he wrote a concurring opinion explaining how the Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) themselves are also entitled to protection under the same statute. In addition, when the en banc 10th Circuit rejected the Little Sisters' claims in Little Sisters v. Burwell, Gorsuch joined the dissent, clearly stating that their religious beliefs had been substantially burdened under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Yet he won't allow the religious liberty law to be used as an excuse for all behavior. In United States v. Quaintance, he rejected drug smugglers' claims that their marijuana distribution was motivated by religious belief as insincere and thus not protected by the statute.

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Filed under: CourtsReligious freedomFamily Research Council

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