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Posts tagged ‘Religious Freedom’

Supreme Court to Review Case of a Baker Told He Must Bake Gay Wedding Cake


Reported by  Ryan T. Anderson / / June 26, 2017 /

URL of the original posting site: http://dailysignal.com/2017/06/26/supreme-court-review-case-baker-fined-not-baking-gay-wedding-cake/

A lower court ruling had forced Jack Phillips to choose between obeying the government and following his religious beliefs. (Photo: iStock Photos)

Today was a good day for religious freedom at the Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision, the court upheld religious liberty by saying that a state cannot exclude a church from a public program just because it’s a church. That was the big case at the court.

In a less-noted move, the court also agreed to review (“granted cert” in the legal jargon) a case about religious liberty, free speech, and government coercion to support gay marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, and whether he must create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings, even if doing so violates his beliefs. 

The case goes back to 2012, when a same-sex couple received a marriage license in Massachusetts and asked Phillips to bake a cake for a reception back home in Colorado, a state that in 2006 constitutionally defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Phillips declined to create a wedding cake, citing his faith: “I don’t feel like I should participate in their wedding, and when I do a cake, I feel like I am participating in the ceremony or the event or the celebration that the cake is for,” he said.

The couple later obtained a wedding cake with rainbow-colored filling (illustrating the expressive nature of event cake-baking) from another bakery.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop with the state, alleging violations of Colorado’s public accommodation law.

Administrative Law Judge Robert N. Spencer ruled against the bakery on Dec. 6, 2013, concluding that Phillips violated the law by declining service to the couple “because of their sexual orientation.”

Phillips objected to this characterization and responded that he would happily sell the couple his baked goods for any number of occasions, but creating a wedding cake would force him to express something that he does not believe, thereby violating his freedom to run his business in accordance with his faith.

Phillips is right. As Sherif Girgis and I explain in our new book from Oxford University Press, “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination,” acting on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife does not in itself entail “discriminating” on the basis of sexual orientation. Indeed, part of the problem is that liberals are simply calling anything they disagree with “discrimination.”

This overbroad definition of “discrimination” is part of what creates the problems for the free exercise of religion and free speech. And here a pattern holds: Legally coercing professionals serves no serious need, but works serious harms.

Conservative wedding providers are few and dwindling due to market pressures—and most important, they don’t refuse to serve LGBT patrons. In case after case, bakers have had no problem designing cakes for gay customers for every other occasion. It’s just that an exceedingly small number can’t in good conscience use their talents to help celebrate same-sex weddings by baking a cake topped with two grooms or two brides—or, as in this case, with rainbow filling.

Coercing these cultural dissidents has vanishingly small effects on the supply of products for any given couple, but it impinges seriously on particular vendors’ freedoms of speech, conscience, and religion. If any harm remains in leaving these wedding professionals free, it is only the tension we all face in living with people who disagree with us on the most personal matters.

As Girgis and I explain in our new book, America is in a time of transition. The Supreme Court has redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Now, the Supreme Court has the chance to protect the right to dissent and the civil liberties of those who speak and act in accord with what Americans had always previously believed about marriage—that it is the union of husband and wife.

Such a ruling would help achieve civil peace amid disagreement. It would protect pluralism and the rights of all Americans, regardless of what faith they may practice.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ryan T. Anderson/

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation, where he researches and writes about marriage, bioethics, religious liberty and political philosophy. Anderson is the author of several books and his research has been cited by two U.S. Supreme Court justices in two separate cases. Read his Heritage research.

Today’s Politically INCORRECT Cartoons from TOWNHALL.COM


Meet the New Leader of One of the Biggest Religious Liberty Organizations


waving flagAuthored by Rachel del Guidice / / February 16, 2017

Michael Farris, a veteran of the conservative movement, is the new president of Alliance Defending Freedom. (Photo: Alliance Defending Freedom)

“I am the guy that runs to the fight.”

For Michael Farris, the decision to lead one of the biggest organizations advocating religious liberty was motivated by thinking that threats to religious liberty were reaching a crisis point in America.

“If religious freedom falls, then other rights [will fall],” Farris tells The Daily Signal. “Free speech is going to fall, free press is going to fall, parents’ rights are going to fall.”

Farris has been named the new president, CEO, and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal defense organization launched in 1994 that works to safeguard religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family, according to its website.

Farris is no stranger to working for conservative causes. He was the founding president of both the Home School Legal Defense Association, a homeschooling advocate, and Patrick Henry College, a Christian college that promotes classical education.

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III says he is “excited” about what Farris will do at ADF.

“He has done an outstanding job for the homeschool movement and education,” Meese, who serves as the Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “As an educator and an innovator, he has been in the forefront of the successes in conservatism and building a civil society.”

Michael Farris has worked in the conservative movement since 1982. (Photo: MIKE CARDEW/AKRON BEACON JOURNAL)

 

As president of ADF, Farris says he will defend religious liberty, something over time he had become “more and more concerned about.”

Farris has used his law degree to serve as a constitutional appellate litigator. He has argued before the Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and appellate courts in 13 states. Alliance Defending Freedom has represented Supreme Court cases pertaining to religious liberty, including Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, which took issue with the Obamacare mandate for employers to provide abortion coverage and abortifacients. ADF won the case.

ADF also represented Barronelle Stutzman’s case at the Washington Supreme Court. She is the owner of a flower shop in Washington state and is facing fines for violating Washington’s anti-discrimination law by declining to provide flowers for a gay wedding.

The organization has additionally represented Kelvin Cochran, a fire chief who said he was dismissed from his job because of his faith. Cochran had written a religious book that included his beliefs about sexual morality.

“Alliance Defending Freedom is leading the fight to ensure that Americans remain free to live their faith, not just inside a church or on holy days, but in all aspects of life, including at work, school, and in the public square,” said Jim DeMint, a former South Carolina senator who now serves as the president of The Heritage Foundation.combined

‘Sitting Silently on the Sidelines … a Bad Idea’

Early in life, Farris developed the belief that he needed to be involved in preserving America’s traditional values.

“I read some articles about the start of the Moral Majority,” Farris said. “And I was very interested in that and really got involved in those days. I saw the evangelical Christians that I had grown up with sitting silently on the sidelines and I knew that was a bad idea.”

Farris graduated from Western Washington University in 1973 with a political science major and received his law degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in 1976. He then moved to the District of Columbia in 1982 to help open the office for Concerned Women for America, an organization that has become the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization. It was through Farris’ work for Beverly LaHaye, the founder of Concerned Women for America, that he became inspired to start the Home School Legal Defense Association, a “nonprofit ministry to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.”

“When I was working for Concerned Women for America, the LaHayes had a television program for awhile and I was there with them at the studio,” Farris said. “One of the episodes was a guy talking about homeschooling. He cornered me … into homeschooling.”

Advocating Homeschooling

Farris said that he went home to talk to his wife, Vickie, about the possibility of homeschooling their children. She agreed, and the couple spent over three decades teaching their 10 children.

“Our youngest now is at [the] University of Virginia getting a physics degree, [and] his next older brother is at Notre Dame getting a Ph.D. in biochemistry,” Farris said.

Had it not been for his decision to homeschool, Farris said he would likely not have started the Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983.

“We started homeschooling, and given what I was doing in the public policy and religious liberty world, I started getting a lot of calls from homeschoolers,” Farris said.

He founded the Home School Legal Defense Association to help unite homeschool families and offer them legal services and a supportive community, anticipating it would work “like a teacher’s union for homeschoolers—that, if they came and attacked one of us, that the whole movement would stand up and fight back.”

‘A Great Coach and Teacher’

As Farris built a community of advocates for homeschoolers, parents began to ask him to recommend Christian colleges with high standards for their children. Not only did parents want a faith-based institution to send their children to, but they also wanted a college that would be intellectually stimulating with a focus on a classical education.

“They wanted [colleges] with real high academics,” Farris said.

Farris sought to meet that demand by founding Patrick Henry College in 2000.

“The first and only major originally was government and so getting people ready for law school, getting people ready for Capitol Hill was essentially the initial mission. But that quickly expanded once we saw all the benefits of the classical foundation, [and] it just blossomed into a whole bunch of other things over time,” Farris said.

Today, Patrick Henry College offers seven majors, including a major in strategic intelligence in national security, journalism, and history.

Farris founded Patrick Henry College in 2011. (Photo: MIKE CARDEW/AKRON BEACON JOURNAL)

Michael Farris founded Patrick Henry College in 2000. (Photo: Mike Cardrew/Akron Beacon Journal)

“Michael Farris was a great coach and teacher,” Megan Compton, a 2015 graduate of Patrick Henry College, told The Daily Signal in a statement.

“He led the school well and whenever he was on campus, he always took time to eat lunch with the students,” Compton said.

Greg Scott, the vice president of media communications for Alliance Defending Freedom, said Farris’  leadership will be well utilized as Alliance Defending Freedom enters “a time of dynamic growth under his leadership.” Scott said Farris’ past has equipped him for his new role.

“Michael has said that he has come here to win, and everything about what he has already accomplished indicates that he is [a] leader more than able to follow through,” Scott said.

Heritage Foundation’s DeMint is also optimistic about what Farris can do.

“ADF is a true American treasure and under the leadership of Michael Farris, it will continue to be an indispensable legal advocacy organization securing victories for our first freedom, as well as the sanctity of life, marriage, and families,” he said.

Farris said he will do all he can to protect religious liberty in his new position.

“When I was approached about applying for ADF …  I just said, ‘I want to do what I can do to save our religious freedom,’” he said. “And leading ADF was about the best possible option to do that.”

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Religious Freedom Advocates Urge Trump to Sign Executive Order


waving flagAuthored by Fred Lucas / / February 03, 2017

URL of the original posting site: http://dailysignal.com/2017/02/03/religious-freedom-advocates-urge-trump-to-sign-executive-order/

“I want to express clearly today to the American people that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land,” President Trump said. (Photo: Aude Guerrucci /upi/Newscom)

<!– “I want to express clearly today to the American people that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land,” President Trump said. (Photo: Aude Guerrucci
/upi/Newscom)
–>

Conservatives and religious groups are calling on President Donald Trump to stand firm on a draft executive order asserting the federal government recognize religious freedom as not only the right to worship but the right to express one’s religion.

The draft of the executive order, reportedly called “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” tells federal agencies to accommodate religious practices “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law,” would no longer require religious employers such as Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their beliefs by providing contraception and abortion-inducing drugs to employees, and prohibits penalizing employees because of personal religious views.picture7

But after the draft leaked, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News on Wednesday, “We do not have plans to sign anything at this time but will let you know when we have any updates.”

The Nation, a liberal magazine, first reported on a leaked version of the draft, prompting some liberal and LGBT groups to attack the order.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, wrote:

Let’s make it clear to President Trump: you were not elected by gay activists, you were elected by people of faith (81 percent support among evangelicals and 52 percent among Catholics). Do not throw people of faith under the bus in order to curry favor with LGBT groups and the leftist media …

President Trump seems focused on fixing the so-called Johnson Amendment that prevents pastors from endorsing candidates and preaching about partisan politics. That’s fine as far as it goes, but this is a much smaller concern than protecting actual religious liberty and preventing people from being discriminated against by the government simply because they are pro-marriage, pro-life and live out biblical principles in their daily lives. The Johnson Amendment has never been enforced, not even by President [Barack] Obama who was openly hostile to religious conservatives and is far less of a priority.


Gregory S. Baylor, the senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty legal group, strongly backs the draft order, noting that during the 2016 president campaign, Trump said that the “first priority of my administration will be to preserve and protect our religious liberty.”

Baylor said:

The president appears to be following through on that promise so that all Americans can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms without fear of being maligned and discriminated against by the cultural and political elites. The executive order being discussed simply reaffirms the American commitment to the First Amendment and requires the government to respect its legal and constitutional obligation to ensure that Americans are free to peacefully live and work consistent with their beliefs without being punished by the government.picture8

Trump reiterated support for religious freedom during his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

“I want to express clearly today to the American people that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land,” Trump said. “America must forever remain a tolerant society where all faiths are respected, and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure. We have to feel safe and secure.”picture9

In a commentary earlier this week on The Daily Signal, Ryan T. Anderson, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called for Trump not to give into “fearmongering” from the left. He wrote:

But the president should not cave. He should stand up to the liberal outrage and hostility to ordinary American values that fueled his rise in the first place.

The executive order is good, lawful public policy. And it makes good on several promises then-candidate Trump made to his supporters.

In a statement Friday, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said:

It properly recognizes that religion should not be confined to a home or house of worship alone, but to ‘all activities of life,’ such as those that involve social services, education, health care, employment, obtaining ‘grants or contracts,’ or otherwise participating in the ‘public square.’ Religious expression has every right to exist in the public square as do other forms of expression … The free exercise of religion has suffered greatly under the policies and orders of President Obama. I am confident that the Trump administration will protect this first and most fundamental freedom.

picture10

Trump delivers for religious right


waving flagAuthored

Religious conservatives’ gamble on President Trump is paying off.

The last several days have brought a slew of victories for evangelicals, many of whom set aside their reservations about Trump to back him during the presidential campaign.

From the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, to Trump’s affirmation of support for allowing tax-exempt churches to engage in politics, to the appointment of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to an education task force, evangelicals are seeing the new president quickly deliver on a number of fronts.

“I never doubted his sincerity or his commitment. There were, obviously, those who did. Not just in the evangelical community or in the faith community, but more broadly,” said Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

“Certainly even for those doubters, this week has laid any of those concerns to rest.”

Trump, a thrice-married business mogul who once expressed support for abortion rights, hardly fit the mold of a conventional conservative candidate. Some evangelicals were hesitant to fully embrace Trump, particularly after a leaked “Access Hollywood” video showed him bragging about using his celebrity to get away with touching women without their consent. He dismissed the tape as mere “locker room talk.”

Yet Trump won the voting bloc decisively in the election, with 80 percent of white evangelicals supporting him over Hillary Clinton, according to an exit poll conducted by NBC News.

Trump is repaying their support in spades, with promises to repeal the Johnson amendment, which prevents tax-exempt religious organizations from engaging in political activity, and his nomination of a conservative jurist to the Supreme Court.

“I think if you really go back and you look at the campaign, it’s undeniable. He received an astonishing 81 percent of the evangelical vote in no small measure because of ironclad commitments he made that were explicit and unambiguous in areas of policy and personnel,” Reed said.

Religious conservatives in Congress are eager to capitalize on having an ally in the White House. On the same day Trump reaffirmed support for getting rid of the Johnson amendment, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) introduced legislation to do just that.  While Trump declared he’d “totally destroy” the law, Hice and Scalise’s bill would allow only political activity by tax-exempt religious organizations in limited circumstances, though they would still be banned from giving to campaigns.  Hice told The Hill he expects his bill to come up for a vote in the House sometime in the near future, though a specific timeline hasn’t been finalized.

“We have great momentum,” Hice, a Southern Baptist pastor, said of Trump’s support. “I think that this is going to send a great, positive message to the evangelical community throughout the country that strongly supported him.”

It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing, however. Trump this week announced he’d uphold an Obama-era executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation.  Former President Obama’s 2014 order stirred fierce debate in the House last year when Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) offered amendments to annual spending bills to ensure the order’s enforcement. Its adoption caused one spending bill to collapse on the floor, in large part because of Republicans who opposed the amendment.

Trump, the first GOP presidential candidate to mention the LGBTQ community at a party nominating convention, made a point of emphasizing his support for gay rights when announcing he’d keep Obama’s order in place.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the White House said in a statement.

Conservatives expressed disappointment in Trump’s move, though they are still hopeful he will sign an executive order to ban retaliation against religious groups and businesses opposed to gay marriage.

“Trump can and should protect all Americans from violence and oppression, but he should not go along with Obama’s policies of elevating ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ to a protected class,” Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Ryan Anderson wrote.

But it’s Trump’s selection of Gorsuch for the Supreme Court that has generated the most excitement among religious conservatives.  One of Gorsuch’s most notable rulings was siding with Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor in 2013, when they challenged a provision in the healthcare law requiring them to include contraceptive coverage in their employees’ insurance plans. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in a 5-4 decision a year later that closely held for-profit corporations should be exempted for the contraceptive mandate if its owners have religious objections.

“Things that he promised, he followed through on. The biggest one being this past week with the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), another Southern Baptist pastor serving in Congress.

“I mean, when you look at that from all rounds and all sides, especially from the professional conservative point of view, the court pick was the one that I think helped voters come through [for] Trump.”

kick-em-out-of-office

Washington AG Claims that Religious Expression Must Remain Inside the Person


waving flagAuthored By Michael Ware November 18, 2016

URL of the original posting site: http://constitution.com/washington-ag-claims-religious-expression-must-remain-inside-person/

We have all lived under a delusion. Many if not all Americans CP 01thought that our First Amendment Right to freedom of religion covered the exercise of religion.

Apparently, we have all been wrong. Our freedom of religious expression must be contained within ourselves, and this freedom cuts off once you have a business.

We have found this to be the case as Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued his case before the Washington State Supreme Court. He was defending the verdict of the law suit against florist Baronelle Stutzman.

Christian News reports

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told the court that Baronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers may believe what she wishes in her heart and mind, but cannot live out her convictions when it comes to a public business.

“Ms. Stutzman for her religious expression is free to believe what she wishes,” he argued. “But when she engages in public accommodations and avails herself of the protections and benefits that come with being a business, there are of course responsibilities that flow from that.”words of another christian hater

Would this mean that a Muslim restaurant owner must sell pork if a customer wanted a Cuban sandwich? What about a Jewish deli? Would they be required to slaughter a pig if a customer asked?

No, this is foolish.

This same Attorney General would demand the opposite he has demanded of Stutzman. He would stand and say that this was an infringement of the Jew’s and the Muslim’s rights.

The point that is at issue is the fact that the left, including Ferguson, wants to punish those who disagree with them on this issue. Lawsuits are a means of coercion. It is the first step in moral and ethical conformity. You believe what they say, or you pay the price.

What’s next?free-speech definition-of-terms

House Panel Set To Consider Law Protecting Religious Americans From Discrimination


waving flagAuthored by Randy DeSoto June 30, 2016

Over a year after it was introduced, the First Amendment Defense Act, designed to protect Americans from being discriminated against by the federal government based on their religious beliefs, will soon get a hearing in the House of Representatives. The Daily Signal reports that the hearing is set for July 12 in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.Happy Happy Joy Joy

The proposed legislation, H.R. 2802, prohibits;

“The federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that:

(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or

(2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

 

H.R. 2802 lists specific discriminatory acts the federal government may not take, including:

  • Altering the federal tax treatment of, cause any tax, penalty, or payment to be assessed against, or deny, delay or revoke certain tax exemptions of any such person.

  • Disallowing a deduction of any charitable contribution made to or by such person.

  • Withholding, reducing, excluding, terminating, or otherwise denying any federal grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, loan, license, certification, accreditation, employment or similar position or status from or to such person.

  • Withholding, reducing, excluding, terminating or otherwise denying any benefit under a federal benefit program.

 

The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republican, save Rep. Daniel Lipsinski, D-Ill.

Dan Holler, with the conservative advocacy group Heritage Action for America, is encouraged that the committee is finally moving forward with a hearing and hopes the legislation will now be expedited. “Given the bill’s broad support, both on the committee and within the Republican conference as a whole, there is no reason for delay,” he said.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign, said of the bill when it was introduced, “Once again, House Republicans are pursuing an extreme agenda that is designed to harm LGBT families under the guise of religious freedom. The right to believe is fundamental. The right to use taxpayer dollars to discriminate is not.” Leftist Propagandist

Clearly, the organization would not be willing to accept the federal government denying a businesses or individuals contracts or tax benefits because they believed in or advocated for LGBT issues; however, it is supportive of allowing the federal government to do just that to people of faith.

A related issue came up in the House of Representatives in May when Rep. Sean Maloney, D-N.Y., offered legislation seeking to codify an executive order by President Obama barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers, with no exception for those with sincerely held religious beliefs.

The amendment passed with 40 Republicans joining the Democrats in a 223-195 win for Obama; however, the overall bill it was attached to was soundly defeated, so the amendment did not become law.

H.R. 2802 may be able to garner broader support because it zeroes in on specific discriminatory acts by the federal government against religious Americans. Liberal objections to religious liberty measures passed in certain states in recent years have centered on concerns that business owners, based on their religious beliefs, would be allowed to discriminate against LGBT customers.

fight Picture1 true battle Picture1 In God We Trust freedom combo 2

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