Freedom of faith, conscience and speech

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Happy Birthday, Charitable Choice - 20 years of success

IRFA commentary by Carl Esbeck & Stanley Carlson-Thies

August 22, 2016

Charitable Choice anticipated by five years this revised understanding of when and how government may resource faith-based service providers. The provision was added by Senator John Ashcroft, R-MO, to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act-comprehensive welfare reform-signed into law by President Clinton exactly 20 years ago. Charitable Choice instructed regulators not to eliminate grant applicants simply because they were intensely religious in character, but rather to ask, "Can you do the job?" In turn, Charitable Choice guaranteed faith-based providers that they would not have to forfeit their religious nature to obtain the funding. That said, explicitly religious activities by faith-based charities would have to take place outside the government-funded program. The law also guaranteed that beneficiaries of the assistance would not have to be served by a religious provider. If they objected, they would be reassigned: the "choice" in Charitable Choice.

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Filed under: Religious freedomInstitutional Religious Freedom Alliance

Is Distributing Pornography Illegal? Obscenity Law Explained

NCOSE video by Dani Pinter

August 20, 2016

Dani Pinter from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation's Law Center explains obscenity law and it's implications for Internet pornography today. All speech is presumptively protected under the First Amendment. However, "obscene pornography" is not. There are large categories of speech that are unprotected, for example child pornography, blackmail, or defamation. Obscenity falls into this category of criminal speech. That is why federal law is acting within the bounds of the First Amendment in its law that prohibits the distribution of obscene adult pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, through the mail, and by common carrier.

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Filed under: Free speechNational Center on Sexual Exploitation

Catholic Hospitals Should Not Have to Sterilize Patients

National Review commentary by Alexandra Desanctis

August 19, 2016

But it establishes a dangerous precedent to pressure those with conscientious objections to perform what they believe are grossly immoral acts. In fact, the day may come when those on the left appreciate the protections that our Constitution, and our civil society, afford to conscience. They would do well to recognize the value of these protections while they can.

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Filed under: AbortionReligious freedomHealthcare

Air Force rules officer can keep Bible on desk

Washington Times

August 18, 2016

The Air Force has ruled an officer broke no rules by keeping his Bible on his desk after receiving a complaint last week about the presence of the holy book. The Scriptures had been removed from the workstation of Maj. Steve Lewis of the 310th Space Wing, following a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), alleging the presence of the book violated the First Amendment's establishment clause. But an investigation into the incident found "no abuse of liberties has occurred," said Lt. Col. David Fruck, chief of public affairs at the 310th Space Wing. Mr. Fruck said keeping a Bible on one's desk is "well within the provisions" of Air Force regulations regarding religious expression.

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Filed under: Religious freedomFree speechMilitary

USCCB, others oppose HHS gender-bender proposed rule

Official comment

August 12, 2016

The proposed regulations would forbid discrimination on the bases of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." In these comments, we identify and discuss four problems relating to this prohibition. The first concerns the statutory authority under which CMS claims to be promulgating the regulations. The second concerns interpretations of the proposed prohibition that could interfere with a hospital's professional judgment about what procedures or services are ethical, medically appropriate, or in a patient's best interest. The third concerns interpretations of the proposed prohibition that could compromise the health, safety, or privacy of other patients. The fourth concerns the right of religiously affiliated hospitals to carry out their mission free from government coercion to violate their religious beliefs, a right safeguarded, sometimes with reference to particular procedures and sometimes in more general terms, in federal law. Download file 1608 USCCB et al comment CMS gender bender rule.pdf 

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Filed under: U.S. Conf. Catholic BishopsGenderHealthcare

College Football Becomes Latest Goal Line for LGBT Activists

Daily Signal commentary by Genevieve Wood

August 10, 2016

Considering the above, of all the schools thought to be in contention to join the Big 12, Brigham Young University should be a top contender. It most certainly has a larger national following than several other teams said to be in the running, such as Cincinnati, Northern Illinois, or Memphis. But there is just one problem. Brigham Young, a university run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has an honor code that, shocker of shockers, aligns with its religious beliefs. One of those Mormon beliefs is that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the church's religious tenets. That has the LGBT bully community all aflutter and demanding that the Big 12 not allow BYU to enter the conference because, in their view, the university has an "express policy of discriminating against same-sex couples and LGBTQ students." Well, let's take a look.

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Filed under: Religious freedomHomosexualityEducation

A speech code for lawyers bans viewpoints that express 'bias'

Washington Post commentary by By Eugene Volokh

August 10, 2016

So say that some lawyers put on a Continuing Legal Education event that included a debate on same-sex marriage, or on whether there should be limits on immigration from Muslim countries, or on whether people should be allowed to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity rather than their biological sex. In the process, unsurprisingly, the debater on one side said something that was critical of gays, Muslims or transgender people. If the rule is adopted, the debater could well be disciplined by the state bar: 1. He has engaged in "verbal . . . conduct" that "manifests bias or prejudice" toward gays, Muslims or transgender people. 2. Some people view such statements as "harmful"; those people may well include bar authorities. 3. This was done in an activity "in connection with the practice of law" - Continuing Legal Education events are certainly connected with the practice of law.

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Filed under: CommentariesFree speech

U.S. Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse in her workspace

First Liberty

August 10, 2016

United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling was court-martialed after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and for reposting the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. A trial court ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. Sterling appealed to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, but the appeals court also ruled against her. First Liberty Institute stepped in and appealed Sterling's case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)- the highest military court. On August 10, 2016, the CAAF ruled against Sterling, denying her constitutional right to religious freedom. First Liberty announced they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Filed under: CourtsMilitaryFirst Liberty

Anti-abortion centers, doctor sue Rauner over 'conscience' law

Chicago Sun-Times

August 5, 2016

The bill requires that doctors who are unwilling to perform or participate in abortions, or other procedures, such as sterilization, provide a referral for another doctor or another medical center in a timely manner. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the plaintiffs, including Dr. Anthony Caruso, who practices medicine in Downers Grove at the Bella Baby OBGYN center, as well as the Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford and Aid for Women, a Chicago non-profit that runs six pregnancy help centers and two residential programs. The suit claims the bill violates the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998, and violates Free Speech Protections of the Illinois Constitution by being "forced to speak" about services that are against their own beliefs. It also claims the bill violates the Freedom of Religion, and the Equal Protection Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

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Filed under: AbortionAlliance Defending FreedomLegislation

Video: Title IX & Transgender Bathrooms in Public Schools

Federalist Society video featuring Roger Severino

August 5, 2016

Roger Severino oversees the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he focuses on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues. In this video, Severino comments on a joint guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on how schools should apply Title IX to the bathroom choices of transgender students.

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Filed under: Heritage FoundationEducationGender

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