Family Policy Blog
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by Joseph Backholm | November 26, 2013
The abortion lobby isn’t pro-choice, they’re pro-abortion. I suspect that isn’t true of most people who consider themselves to be pro-choice, but it’s definitely true of those who make money off abortion and make abortion policy.
The law in Washington State is probably the best illustration of that.
Washington has earned an A+ rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and when you look at the law you see that it has gone far beyond making it available to women who want it.
The law in Washington provides for abortion on demand, paid for by taxpayers, without the benefit of a waiting period, counseling, or an ultra-sound, and if the abortion involves a minor the abortion can be performed without the parent’s awareness.
Planned Parenthood has been given the ability to accredit its own facilities and Washington State has been in court for years attempting to force a pro-life pharmacy to sell abortion drugs in violation of their conscience.
In recent years, the abortion industry in Washington has also been working hard to pass regulations to close pro-life pregnancy centers that receive no tax dollars and require every insurance policy to cover abortion.
Earlier this year, Washington’s Attorney General issued a ruling stating that it was illegal for a hospital district to contract with a Catholic Hospital because of their unwillingness to perform abortions was discrimination.
But that’s still not enough.
The abortion industry is apparently concerned that mergers with Catholic Hospitals is reducing the number of medical facilities willing to perform them.
So, today, November 26th, at 1:00 pm, the abortion industry is asking Department of Health to identify and publish a list of hospitals that are pro-life. The new rules would require medical providers to post their policies on abortion and assisted suicide on their website. They would also be required to submit those policies to the Department of Health which would also post them online.
One need not be all that creative to imagine the consequences of being on this particular naughty list.
We’ve already seen federal laws targeting the Catholic Church and businesses like Hobby Lobby for their beliefs about contraception. We’ve seen IRS audits targeting conservative groups and lawsuits against florists, bakeries, and pharmacists based on their beliefs.
It seems unlikely that the abortion industry would be content simply knowing who it is that doesn’t want to perform abortions.
Regardless, having the government keeps lists based entirely on businesses beliefs about controversial issues can’t possibly be good for individual rights or religious freedom.
From the perspective of the abortion industry, because abortion is a right it must also be easy to get. Which is also why the left believes handguns should be so accessible. Wait. Nevermind.
Their commitment to making abortion convenient and free means purging streams of commerce of people who don’t like abortion.
This explains why business owners who don’t want to buy abortion insurance, pharmacies that don’t want to sell abortion drugs, and hospitals run by people morally opposed to abortion are not part of the diversity that makes for rich tapestry-that’s so 1990’s-they’re problems to be solved.
The first step to solving a problem is understanding it.
The uniqueness of this approach also exposes its vindictiveness. There is no precedent for requiring private businesses to disclose the services they don’t provide. Why would there be? Making everyone publish a list of the things they don’t do wouldn’t be reasonable.
But that only matters if you’re interested in treating everyone the same. They’re clearly beyond that. In fact, they’re hoping to make lists that prove it.
by Joseph Backholm | November 22, 2013
Over the last couple years, the abortion industry in Washington has done a lot of hand-wringing over the possibility that some insurance plans sold in Washington would not cover abortion.
When it was passed, the Affordable Care Act gave states the right not to cover abortion in their health care exchanges.
Eighteen states passed legislation specifically prohibiting abortion coverage in their exchanges.
Of course Washington was not one of them.
We continue to have an A+ rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League for our unambiguously pro-abortion policies.
However, because of the prohibition on federal funding for abortion, (which the Obama administration is apparently not interested in enforcing) there was uncertainty about how abortion coverage would be treated in the Obamacare exchanges.
The abortion industry's response was to promote an abortion insurance mandate and require every insurance policy to cover abortion.
And why not?
Can you even imagine the harm that would result if a woman wanting abortion coverage inadvertently purchased a policy without it?
What? You think women are smart enough to figure out if they are buying abortion coverage or not?
You obviously hate women.
Regardless, we no longer have to discuss hypotheticals, because Obamacare is here now. We passed it so now we get to find out what’s in it. And hasn’t that been like an early Christmas present.
Here in Washington State, there is only one insurance policy on the exchange that doesn’t cover abortion. That plan is the Blue Cross Multi-state options administered by Premera.
Every other plan? You guessed it. They cover abortion. And a mad scramble is underway to make sure everyone knows it.
Now that the facts are in, a mandate to force everyone to buy abortion insurance as a way of making abortion insurance available appears to be unnecessary.
It would be like a mandate to run beer commercials during football games. They got it covered.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t revive the mandate. And the reason why is buried in the name of the legislation...the Reproductive Parity Act. They aren’t primarily concerned with making sure women have access to abortion. That’s status quo. They want to create parity between birth and abortion. They’re angry that moral disapproval of abortion exists and that people have the right to express that through their purchasing decisions.
So they want to take that right away. After all, they’re "pro-choice".
If you’re pro-choice in the true sense, and you’d like more choices than the current Obamacare exchange offers, consider Samaritan Ministries, a Christian cost sharing ministry that my family and I are part of.
We made the switch when our monthly premium reached $1,800/month. Now we pay $350/month to cover our family of 6.
Membership in this ministry allows you to avoid the Obamacare fine/tax and is much less expensive than what people are paying through Obamacare.
It works too. I have a two-year old son that is a danger to himself and others. He has been to the ER three times and we pay only the first $300 of every incident. The remainder is covered by checks from families all over the country who are helping to share the burden.
We are also blessed with the chance to send our prayers and a check to another family with medical costs every month as well. It’s people helping people, and the government isn’t even involved. Who ever heard of such a thing?
Yes, it’s a commercial. No, I wasn’t asked to plug them nor are we compensated in any way for doing so. But it might be a blessing for your family.
by Joseph Backholm | November 11, 2013
We break from our routine to be thankful to those who sacrificed years of their lives, and in some cases their health, in service to our country. I hope each of us takes the time to thank someone who served. But as we do, I hope we take a moment to think beyond the person and consider what it is about service to our country that we admire.
The pledge of allegiance isn’t actually allegiance to a flag-a piece of cloth arranged in a particular way-it is allegiance to a set of ideas we share. In the same way, it isn’t just their legal status as a “veteran” that we honor, but the values that their example represents.
Through their service, veterans teach us lessons that are instructive to all of us if we allow them to be. Lessons like:
As we honor veterans today, allow the lessons of their example to inspire each of us in whatever “battle” we are engaged in.
Happy Veterans Day.
by Joseph Backholm | November 6, 2013
In a State Senate race that was one of the most expensive legislative races in Washington State history, Republican Rep. Jan Angel is narrowly leading Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher in the 26th district covering Kitsap and parts of Pierce County.
While only 770 votes currently separate the candidates, that margin is expected to hold.
This was a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Derek Kilmer when he was elected to Congress.
If Angel wins, this result will have significant implications for the balance of power in the State Senate. It would bring the Republicans within one vote of a majority in the Senate at 25-24. However, since two Democrats joined with the Republicans in the last session to form a Majority Coalition, this would actually expand the current functional majority to 26-23.
For several years, the dynamic in the state legislature is that the Senate is the place where far left ideas from the downtown Seattle led House of Representatives go to die. This result will only increase the likelihood of that continuing, at least for one more year.
For example, the abortion industry’s priority legislation, which would force every insurance policy bought and sold in Washington State to cover abortion even if the consumer doesn’t want it, was narrowly defeated in the Senate during the last session. It now appears to have an even tougher road in 2014. Angel voted against that bill in the House while Schlicher had signed a public letter indicating his intention to support it.
Schlicher, a physician and strong proponent of the Affordable Care Act, was also opposed to a law requiring parents to be notified if their minor daughter intended to get an abortion; an idea Angel supports.
Another bill, giving a third-party a cause of action to get visitation with other people’s children over the objection of the parents, will also find a more difficult path forward as a result of this election.
The difference of 770 votes once again highlights the reality that relatively small groups of people have a significant impact on the public policy for the whole state.
The Majority Coalition that prevented passage of several of these bills in the last session was only possible because Don Benton, from Vancouver, won his Senate race by 37 votes in 2012.
This race was unusual because it also involved a California billionaire, environmentalist dumping hundreds of thousands of his own dollars attacking Angel. It remains to be seen whether he will be back in 2014 when this seat will once again be up for election-this time for four years.
In lower profile races involving only Republicans, two other special elections for the state Senate were held yesterday as well.
In those races, Sen. Sharon Brown defeated Phillip Lemley for election to a seat she had been appointed to in the 8th district, in Tri-Cities. In the 7th district, covering northeastern Washington, Ferry County Commissioner Brian Dansel defeated Sen. John Smith, who had served one year after being appointed to replace former Sen. Bob Morton.
by Joseph Backholm | October 25, 2013
Does the punishment fit the crime?
This question addresses an issue of proportionality. Greater offenses should have greater punishments. It wouldn’t be just to punish jaywalking in the same way we punish murder.
In most cases, you can tell how serious an offense is based on the severity of the penalty.
That’s why the penalties built into ObamaCare are so curious.
As you know, ObamaCare has a number of mandates. Individuals are required to purchase health insurance and businesses with more than 50 employees are mandated to buy insurance for them.
In addition, the policies that the businesses purchase for their employees must include contraceptive coverage. This has been a point of serious contention for the Catholic Church and businesses like Hobby Lobby that are morally opposed to contraceptives.
Still, businesses are required to buy insurance for their employees and it must cover contraceptives.
Of these two requirements,which is most important?
Another way of asking this question is, will you be punished more severely for providing no insurance at all or for providing insurance without contraceptive coverage?
The answer might surprise you.
If a company does not pay for health insurance for its employees, it is fined $2,000 per employee, per year. So a company that provided no insurance for 50 employees would be fined $100,000 a year.
However, the fine for purchasing health insurance that does not include contraceptive coverage is $100 per employee, per day, which works out to be $36,500 per employee, per year. So, if that same company with 50 employees purchased great health insurance for its employees but choose not to purchase contraceptive coverage, they would be fined $1,825,000 a year.
According to the penalties built into ObamaCare, providing insurance without covering contraceptives is an offense 18 times more serious than providing no health insurance at all.
That makes sense, right?
Ok, not really.
In isolation, you might chalk this kind of thing up to rushed legislation; a detail missed in the spirit of “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
But it would be irresponsible to view this in isolation.
When you view the bizarre punitive system built into ObamaCare with the stories of florists, photographers, bakers, and nurses, who have all faced legal or professional penalties because of their views about controversial social issues, a theme begins to develop.
The goal is not simply to create the policy they prefer, but to embed within the policy ways to punish those who disagree.
They don’t simply want to allow same-sex couples to get “married”. They want to close businesses owned by people who disagree with their view on marriage.
They don’t simply want women to have access to abortion and contraception. They want to make sure every medical professional and business person supports the agenda.
This is why the top priority of the abortion industry in Washington State is a bill to mandate that every insurance policy bought and sold in Washington will cover abortion. Even though every insurance company in Washington already covers abortion for those who want it, the prospect that someone might choose not to purchase abortion coverage is problematic.
They are frustrated that moral disapproval of abortion lingers despite decades of insistence that it’s just another health care service and, frankly, they don’t want to deal with it anymore.
The goal of creating a world in which everyone thinks like them will never be accomplished if people are allowed to express ideas that are different from theirs.
Because of this, providing excellent health insurance without abortion or contraceptive coverage is actually worse than providing no insurance at all.
That’s why they have to make sure the punishment fits the crime.
by Joseph Backholm | October 21, 2013
Last month I read an article about New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara who is apparently referred to by some as the Black Tim Tebow because of his faith and commitment not to have sex with women he isn’t married to.
The story wasn’t negative, but the fact that it existed as a story at all was an indication of how an over-sexualized culture feels about people who believe sex is for marriage.
Isn’t that cute.
Then, last week, another story surfaced about a different NFL Player. Adrian Peterson is generally regarded as the best running back in football today. Last year he had the second most rushing yards in NFL history in a season that started nine months after surgery for a torn ACL.
He’s a very, very impressive athlete.
But in this case he made headlines because of the tragic death of his two-year-old son; a son he didn’t know he had until only a few months prior. He never even met the boy until he was in a coma as a result of the head injuries that took his life.
The man who thought he was the boy’s father wasn’t. A third man, the mother’s recent boyfriend who had a history of domestic violence, inflicted ultimately fatal wounds to the boys head.
Reports suggest that Peterson has between 5-7 children with at least four different women, none of whom he ever married.
After reading about the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of this little boy, I was reminded about reaction to the Prince Amukamara. Fellow Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley said, “He’s doing it for a reason, for something that he believes in, that he feels is right for him. I respect that.”
Respectful bewilderment. It’s cool to be boring, if that’s your thing.
But here’s the problem. Amukamara’s choice isn’t simply one choice of many equally good options, it’s better.
If you’re unconvinced, ask yourself this question. Would the world be a better place if more people acted like Adrian Peterson or Prince Amukamara?
The answer to that question is so obvious it isn’t even worth asking.
If men all decided not to have sex with women they weren’t married to, suddenly fatherlessness, with its tremendously negative impact on poverty, crime, suicide, and lack of educational achievement, is no longer an issue. Not to mention the benefits of a world without sexually transmitted infections, abortions, and infidelity.
But they assure us it isn’t realistic. Boys will be boys.
The truth is, we’d rather lower the standard than feel like hypocrites.
So instead of applauding the Tebow’s and Amukamara’s of the world for being the examples they are, we put a bounty on their virginity. We hope for their failure because their success makes us feel oddly bad about ourselves.
No, not every abandoned child is going to be beaten to death. Thankfully, many turn out well because of the heroic efforts of single mothers, grand-parents, and others who fill the void. But here’s the reality:
- Children in a single-parent household are twice as likely to suffer physical abuse
- 63% of youth suicides involve children from fatherless homes
- 90% of runaway children are from fatherless home (32 times the national average)
- 85% of all children with behavior disorders are from fatherless homes (20 times the national average)
- 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes (9 times the national average)
Dad’s, when we abandon our children we put them in danger.
Our children’s mothers, many of whom were abandoned by their dads before they were abandoned by us, deal with the emotional pain of a life experience that tells them they aren’t worth anything to a man unless they’re pleasing him sexually.
They try their best to be good moms, but it sure would be great to give their boys an example of what a man should be and give their girls a standard for what to look for in a man.
The fatherlessness problem is assisted by our cultural unwillingness to point out the bad decisions that have helped create it.
We can’t eliminate the law of cause and effect, but we can ignore it. In our pursuit of “tolerance”, that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have created a group morality in which we all get to sit mutely while people do incredibly harmful things.
Prince Amukamara and Adrian Peterson are not just providing examples of two different, but perfectly acceptable options. They’re illustrations of the difference between good decisions and bad decisions.
No need to be spiteful or angry about it, but we should stop letting obvious teaching moments pass us by.
And as fate would have it, it turns out that little episode between two consenting adults a few years ago actually did affect someone else.
Men, don’t look for people who will help you feel better about your bad decisions. Look for people who will help you discover the satisfaction that results from not being a slave to your urges. Set the standard. Do things that will make you proud of yourself.
Be Prince, not Adrian. It’s not just different, it’s better.
by Rebecca Faust | October 17, 2013
A Superior Court judge in Washington State recently received a misconduct sanction for saying he was unwilling to “marry” same-sex couples. Judge Gary Tabor, in Thurston County, had asked his fellow-judges last year if they would be willing to handle same-sex “marriages,” as he did not wish to conduct them. After Judge Tabor’s request became a matter of public controversy, he decided he would stop performing marriages altogether.
In Washington State, while judges are empowered to solemnize marriages if they choose, they do not have a legal responsibility to do so.
Washington’s Commission on Judicial Conduct, responsible for ensuring judges’ compliance with the required code of ethics, gave Judge Tabor a formal admonition for [allegedly] bringing into question the impartiality of the judiciary. As part of an agreement with the Commission on Judicial Conduct, Judge Tabor conceded that he had “created an appearance of impropriety.” Judge Tabor was ordered to refrain from repeating his conduct.
This provides yet another example of how tolerance has been turned on its head. In the name of diversity, a politically correct ideology is imposed and those who dare to express a politically incorrect ideology are punished. Under the guise of inclusiveness and individual liberty, those who hold traditional values are punished and excluded.
It is important to note that Judge Tabor was not preventing any same-sex couple for “marrying.” He has no legal or professional responsibility to officiate at weddings. He was punished for demonstrating bias, specifically a politically incorrect bias.
In a similar display of intolerance, a florist in Washington is facing a state lawsuit for declining to provide her services for a same-sex “wedding.”
Please contact your legislators and ask them to take a stand for religious freedom. You can contact your legislators here or by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000. Thanks for taking the time to consider this important issue.
by FPIW | October 16, 2013
Are you part of a church?
Are you interested in helping influence the culture on behalf of truth?
Are you willing to become part of a statewide network that will reduce the number of abortions, protect conscience rights, and restore a culture of marriage and religious freedom in Washington State?
If you answered yes to those three question, we need you and we want to affirm you.
In 2012, we identified nearly 4,000 churches who told us that they share our worldview and God’s perspective on life and marriage.
That’s a lot of churches.
But there’s a problem.
While we know who these churches are, we haven’t identified a point of contact within those churches that would like to partner with FPIW to be a resource to each congregation when it comes to biblical and cultural issues.
That’s where you come in. It’s likely if you are receiving this email today that you attend one of those churches.
We are looking for people like yourself, in as many of the 4,000 churches as possible, who will partner with FPIW to equip others in your church for responsible civic stewardship.
What does that mean exactly?
- You’ll create a list of friends in your church that you already talk to about these issues and who, like you, want to know how to make a difference in public policy.
- When you get information from FPIW about critical legislative battles, you’ll make sure they know what’s happening and what they can do about it.
- We’ll teach you how to administer this role according to the protocols set forth in scripture, for exercising one's spiritual gift for the edification of the Body.
- You become a critical part of a broader statewide effort by helping us inform and motivate legislators to create good public policy.
- We’ll teach you how to expand your reach in other areas of spiritual service, such as how to identify registered voters and help you increase that number.
- You become a member of the extended FPIW Team and, as such, can bring an FPIW representative to join you in a conversation about religious liberty or a training on effectively engaging with the legislature.
If this sounds like something you’re interested in, we want to know.
With an investment of only a few hours a month, you’ll become a blessing to your Pastor and church family as you serve as a “conduit” of information between them and the public square (FPIW).
We here to help you make that happen.
All you have to do is click here and fill out our volunteer form indicating your desire to become a church liaison. Or simply reply to this email with contact information and an FPIW representative will be in touch with you.
If you have friends who want to be part of a dynamic citizen network, send this to them as well.
If you can’t be a church liaison, your financial support enables us to identify and train those who can.
Be the change.
by FPIW | October 9, 2013
You probably know that religious freedom and conscience rights is under threat from government at all levels. You’ve heard about the federal government trying to force Hobby Lobby and the Catholic church to pay for contraception in violation of their Catholic beliefs. But there are so many more examples from around the country that you may not have heard about. Once you’ve read this sobering list, join us in the effort to protect religious freedom here in Washington.
1) Spokane Falls Community College officials threatened a young female student and members of a Christian student group with disciplinary measures, including expulsion, if they chose to hold a pro-life event on campus to share information with other students because the message was "discriminatory" and did not include a pro-abortion viewpoint.
2) In 2013, a Washington Florist, acting on her religious beliefs and convictions, refused to provide service for a same-sex wedding. The gay couple accepted her refusal. The Washington State Attorney General then filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the florist and wants to fine the business. Soon after, the ACLU, representing the couple, filed a lawsuit against the florist as well for denied service, and is seeking damages on behalf of the gay couple.
3) A family owned bakery in Oregon had refused service for a same-sex couple’s wedding ceremony, based on the owners religious beliefs. The couple filed a discrimination complaint against the bakery, and soon after, the bakery was attacked by gay activists. The bakery ended up closing down after receiving threats to the owner’s family.
4) A family owned Vermont Inn was sued by the ACLU on behalf of a lesbian couple for the Inn’s refusal to host the couple’s wedding. The innkeepers lost the lawsuit and were forced to host gay and lesbian weddings, contrary to their religious beliefs.
5) In 2006, a New Mexico photographer was asked, and refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony. Because she refused to provide the service based on her religious belief, the photographer was fined by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. They took the issue to the New Mexico Supreme Court, who ruled in 2013 that photographers can be forced to take pictures of a same-sex “wedding” as the “price of citizenship.”
6) In Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a United Methodist Association lost its property tax exemption and was subjected to a state investigation for declining to rent its private facility as a location for a same-sex “civil commitment” ceremony.
7) In Mt. Juliet, Illinois, students and their parents were ordered to cover up references to God and prayer and any Scripture passages on the posters they made or else they could not be posted. Each year, students and parents have placed posters in the hallways of the school informing students of the “See You at the Pole” event on the National Day of Prayer. Court ruled school could not require references to be excluded.
8) In May 2009, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that summary judgment was not warranted for the state hospital defendants who demoted and penalized a nurse for stating a religious objection to dispensing the “morning after” abortion pill. The case is proceeding to trial.
9) On some Louisiana college campuses, draconian “speech code” policies prohibit religious persons from sharing a biblical view on controversial social issues without fear of disciplinary action.
10) At Southeastern Louisiana University campus police prohibited four students from sharing their faith on open areas of campus without applying for a speech permit, and perhaps paying a fee, at least one week in advance.
11) Students in public secondary and elementary schools are commonly prohibited from starting pro-life student organizations, and sometimes bible clubs, on the same basis as all other student organizations. Student-organized and initiated See You at the Pole and National Day of Prayer events are routinely proscribed.
12) In Norfolk, Virginia, Christians were prohibited from engaging in some forms of public speech during the annual Harborfest event, including wearing sandwich boards and the distributing religious literature.
13) In Pensacola, Florida, police recently halted Thursday night fellowships at a local Catholic church because the picnics were attracting too many "undesirables" (i.e., local homeless people).
14) In Balch Springs, Texas, a senior center used its facility for social programs and recreational events. A group of Christian seniors had also gathered at the center to sing gospel songs and hear the Word of God from a retired pastor. These seniors quietly say a word of thanks to the Lord when they receive their meals at the center. In August 2003, the city of Balch Springs enacted a new policy demanding that all mealtime prayers, gospel music, and “religious messages” cease immediately. No other group was silenced, only Christians.
15) While distributing literature on several occasions at the City College of San Francisco’s Ocean Campus in 2007 and 2008, a Jews for Jesus employee was approached by campus security officers who told him he couldn’t distribute literature without a permit and threatened him with arrest if he continued. Wertheim did not comply. Police arrested and handcuffed him, searched him and detained him for more than three hours. The charges were dropped the next day.
16) Local authorities in the village of Fife Lake, near Grand Rapids, Michigan, have graciously made the town's Municipal Building meeting room available for free to local community organizations. However, Forest Area Bible Church was required to pay rent. With the public room now closed to them, and no other suitable alternative, the church has stopped meeting.
17) On March 3, 2005, an FAA’s civil service supervisor received a letter of reprimand from his regional manager. The document accused the supervisor of engaging in “unbecoming conduct” for several friendly conversations he had with un-offended co-workers regarding his Christian beliefs. For his actions, the supervisor was punished with a seven-day suspension without pay and a forced relocation from his position in Louisville, Ky. to Birmingham, Ala. A settlement agreement cleared the supervisor’s record and required the government to pay attorneys’ fees and costs.
18) A Christian man reached a favorable settlement with the New York Department of Transportation, which agreed to allow his trailer donning a gospel message to remain on his private business property along a public highway. The trailer had previously been cited as a "public nuisance," and NYDOT warned the man that it would be forcibly removed if the Christian message remained visible from the highway. Settled.
19) In November 2004, a Montana Baptist church hosted a pro-marriage simulcast and allowed volunteers to circulate petitions to place a marriage amendment on the state ballot. Advocates of homosexual behavior filed a complaint with the state's commissioner of political practices, accusing the church of violating state law by acting as an "incidental political committee." A Montana federal district court ruled against the church. The 9th Circuit reversed the district court calling the law's application to the church unconstitutionally vague and a violation of the church's First Amendment rights.
20) American Atheists sued the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Transportation Department seeking a court order to remove roadside cross memorials placed to honor fallen state highway patrol officers.
21) The San Diego Fire Department forced 4 firefighters’ to take part in the city’s “Gay Pride Parade” celebrating homosexual behavior -- despite numerous objections -- and retaliated against them for later complaining about the harassment they endured during the event. The firefighters were sexually harassed through lewd catcalls and obscene gestures at the event, which was replete with sexual displays and graphic images. Jury verdict for firefighters and against city.
22) While people on the US Military are not permitted to proselytize their religion (convert another’s faith), they are allowed to talk about their faith, as long it is not uncomfortable for others. However, an Air Force officer has been asked not to have their Bible on their desk.
23) In the US Military, Bibles have been banned at an Army medical center. At a military Terrorism Center, pro-lifers are linked to terrorism. At an Army briefing, Christians and Catholics were included in a list of extremists along with Al-Qaeda and Hamas.
by Joseph Backholm | September 24, 2013
In 1990, the Supreme Court’s Employment Division v. Smith decision lowered the bar for religious freedom protections. Three years later, Congress responded by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which restored the higher standard of religious freedom protections that existed prior to the Smith case.
The RFRA required the government to have a “compelling government interest” before doing anything that would restrict religious freedom.
This did not mean you could do anything in the name of religion, but it prevented the government from punishing an individual’s religious expression simply because they didn’t like it. It would not allow someone to beat their children as a matter of religious expression because the government has a compelling interest in the protection of children. But it would allow Native American’s to use peyote in their religious ceremonies despite the fact that it is generally illegal. The compelling governmental interest in stopping the ceremonial use of peyote could not be demonstrated.
Significantly, when congress adopted this standard it wasn’t even controversial. Everyone believed in religious liberty
The bill was sponsored by Chuck Schumer, still one of the most prominent leftists in Washington DC. It passed the House of Representatives unanimously and passed the Senate 97-3. President Clinton, who signed it into law, called the bill one of his greatest accomplishments as President.
A later Supreme Court decision said that the federal government could not force the states to abide by the standard in RFRA so 18 states have subsequently adopted their own state version.
However, when the Washington State Senate began a debate over RFRA-like language two weeks ago, it was apparent that it will be controversial.
Questions during the hearing indicated that the proposal will face significant, if not insurmountable opposition, in the legislature.
This begs the question, what exactly has changed since 1993 that makes a formerly uncontroversial proposal suddenly so controversial? If RFRA was supported by Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, and John Kerry, why can’t they support it today?
In 1993, the left still cared about individual rights.
They could still remember the 1970’s when modern liberalism cut its teeth on the idea that it is better to allow people to be offensive (e.g., burn flags, be profane, create and distribute pornography) than to allow the government be the judge of what kind of speech or behavior was acceptable.
Freedom, they argued, is the right to do and say things other people disagree with.
While a belief in individual rights used to be the hallmark of liberalism, it has since been replaced by a commitment to amorphous concepts like “equality” and ending “discrimination”. While they never define those terms in a way they could be held accountable for, what is obvious is that their pursuit of those values leaves no room for people to disagree. After all, how can we have a tolerant world if people are allowed to do things that are intolerant?
The new left wants government to officiate all of our interactions to make sure no one “discriminates”.
This explains why, in 1993, Chuck Schumer was the prime sponsor of the RFRA, but in 2013, he is a vocal opponent of efforts that would allow the Catholic Church not to pay for contraception in violation of its beliefs.
It also explains why in 1993, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), co-chaired the lobby committee that helped make RFRA federal law. However, in 2013, they filed a lawsuit against a florist in Washington State because they did not want to provide floral services for a same-sex “wedding”. The ACLU now opposes RFRA language in Washington State specifically because it could allow business owners the freedom to make decisions consistent with their religious beliefs.
Going back even further to 1973, abortion advocates argued for an understanding of the right to privacy that would allow a woman to have an abortion. In 2013 they argue for the right to force other people to pay for their abortions and the right to demand professional services from people who are morally opposed to it.
They used to support people’s right to buy a car. Now they argue for the right to hijack someone else’s car and force the owner to take them where they need to go because they believe the destination is that important.
Of course the loss of individual freedom is only a regrettable and temporary means to an end. Once everyone agrees with them, individual rights won’t be quite as dangerous as they are right now.
Still, the fact that they now value a “tolerant” world free of “discrimination” more than individual rights explains why previously uncontroversial concepts like religious freedom are now viewed so skeptically. Their value system has changed.
As a result, during the hearing in the Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee two weeks ago, two State Senators expressed serious concern that such a bill would allow pharmacists not to sell abortion drugs or a florist not to provide floral services for a same-sex “wedding”.
Some legislators now believe it is their job to make sure businesses owners are not free to do things they find intolerant.
In the process, those who support religious freedom protections are being characterized as people simply looking for a license to hate.
The problem with this position is that the same religious freedom protections being asked for today were once supported by less than rabid conservatives like Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, and Paul Wellstone.
The fact that religious freedom is now a controversial topic is not because prominent, new sects of dangerous, religious extremism have formed. To the contrary, religious freedom is now controversial because the voices in culture that have always said that not every impulse should be indulged are the enemy of their well-intentioned but entirely subjective concept of tolerance.
So in pursuit of a more tolerant world, they ironically seek to arm government with the power to decide which ideas are acceptable and which are not. That puts them in historically uncomfortable company where typically everyone’s ox is gored.
We need not follow that path, but we’d be foolish to deny how close we are to it.
In the process of looking for religious freedom protections, we don’t need to convince everyone to see the world like we do. What we are really doing is asking liberals to be liberals again.
To share your thoughts on religious freedom with your state legislators click here, or call the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000.
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