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Why Are Judges Only Concerned About Anti-Muslim Bias?

Central to the legal argument of those who oppose President Trump’s executive orders restricting travel to and from six Middle East nations is the idea that his campaign rhetoric invalidates the executive orders.

In her decision against the executive order, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema from Virginia wrote, “Absent the direct evidence of animus presented by the Commonwealth, singling out these countries for additional scrutiny might not raise Establishment Clause concerns; however, with that direct evidence, a different picture emerges.” Brinkema admits that the executive order would likely have been found constitutional had it been given by any other president. She goes on to explain her opinion that President Trump’s campaign rhetoric suggests that the order “was not motivated by rational national security concerns” but “religious prejudice.”

US District Judge Derrick Watson from Hawaii concurred. Watson reasons that Trump’s comments on the campaign trail represent “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the Executive Order,” and that such animus was enough to violate the Constitution, even though nothing in the order is inherently illegal.

It is concerning that the precedent being set by these court decisions is that the author’s statements about the law determines its legality, not the actual text of the laws themselves. Presumably, this means any action taken by President Trump affecting Muslims will be declared unconstitutional.

Why wasn’t this novel legal standard applied to the previous administration’s actions affecting Christians, especially considering the administration’s animus toward those holding traditional religious values?

Amid the 2008 presidential primary season, then-Senator Obama, speaking of small town Americans, said that they were “bitter” and that they “cling to guns or religion.” By clearly demonstrating “religious prejudice” and “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” toward conservative Christians, Obama’s comments could have been used to find his actions affecting conservative Christians unconstitutional, at least according the logic of the aforementioned judges.

Funny enough, Obama’s comments weren’t used to find his actions affecting Christians unconstitutional, and not for lack of opportunities. Obama administration executive orders and legislation often ended up in court on the grounds of religious freedom involving Christians, most prominently Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Martin Castro, the Obama-appointed chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights, declared that “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” were nothing but “code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.” Any reasonable person would interpret these statements as anti-Christian animus. As the head of a major federal agency, Castro’s words clearly carry weight. So why do his rhetoric and the similar statements of others in the Obama administration never seem to come up in religious freedom cases involving Christians? Why are separate standards applied in cases based on the religion in question?

The appropriate conclusion is clear: The religious liberty of Christians is not valued by mainstream America in the same way that the religious liberty of other religions is. And even more disappointing, the religious liberty of Christians isn’t valued by the courts in the same way other religions are.

As President Trump fills out the more than 100 judicial vacancies, he should make the issue of religious liberty a top priority in his selections. Judge Neil Gorsuch is a great start. Let’s hope this emphasis on religious liberty continues to be reflected in lower court appointments, too.

 

James Silberman is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog. He is a pro-life activist from Gig Harbor, WA, and a student at Whitworth University.

FPIW Joins Effort to Encourage Trump to Protect Religious Freedom

FPIW has joined with dozens of pro-family organizations asking President Trump “to swiftly sign a broad religious freedom Executive Order protecting the right of all Americans to freely live out their faith.”

In a letter to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and Majority Leader McConnell, the organizations call on the new presidential administration and Congress to reverse President Obama’s attacks on religious freedom and enact strong protections for the sacred right.

The letter evokes many high profile religious liberty cases of the last eight years, including Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, Illinois Catholic Charities, and Sweet Cakes by Melissa:

“Under his ‘hallmark achievement’ (Obamacare) alone, the Obama Administration attempted to: force Christian family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby to pay for drugs and devices that can cause early abortions, force Christian charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor to include those same drugs in their healthcare plans, and contravene longstanding federal policy protecting Americans from being forced to fund abortions against their religious beliefs. …

“Families in our states have felt the impact of the disregard and disdain for religious freedom from the federal level. Frequently, state non-discrimination laws have been used as a weapon to punish people of faith and prevent them from earning a living— unless they comport their businesses in the image of the government’s viewpoints. The Kleins in Oregon are a tragic example—Melissa Klein lost her bakery business and was forced to pay a fine of over $100,000 simply because as a family-owned business operated in accordance with the Kleins’ deeply held beliefs, they disagreed with using Melissa’s cake-decorating talents to participate in a same-sex wedding. Illinois Catholic Charities—an organization that partnered with government to serve the state’s poor and neglected children for over 40 years—was forced to shut down rather than comply with the government’s rule requiring them to abandon the core convictions that motivated their charity in the first place.”

It also details the Obama Administration’s attempts to limit religious liberty to a more restricted “freedom to worship”:

“The Administration unsuccessfully argued that the First Amendment does not exempt churches from employment discrimination laws, even when hiring their own pastors and teachers. Ironically, in the name of ‘preventing discrimination,’ President Obama issued an Executive Order in 2014 that discriminates against faith-based entities by preventing them from contracting with their own government unless they forfeit their religious beliefs about human sex and sexuality. One final example is the Obama Administration’s regular use of the term ‘freedom of worship’ instead of ‘freedom of religion’—implying a deep misunderstanding about the depth of First Amendment protections. We are guaranteed the right to freely live out our faith in all aspects of life—not just the freedom to worship our God within the four walls of our church or home.”

The letter concludes by asking President Trump to sign an executive order protecting religious liberty, much like the proposed executive order that was leaked earlier this month:

“A broad religious freedom Executive Order affirming that persons and organizations do not forfeit their religious freedom when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with local, state, or federal governments is an excellent and vital first step to truly make religious freedom great again. Congress should follow your lead to pass strong religious freedom protections into law.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Write to President Trump and ask him to sign the executive order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact#page.

Conscience Rights Debates in Olympia

The debate over conscience rights is one of the mostly hotly debated issues in America today.

Stories about fire chiefs being fired because of their beliefs about homosexuality and efforts to force businesses to participate in same-sex ceremonies often headline the conscience rights debate. But the debate over whether the government can compel someone to do something they prefer not to do is taking place in other arenas as well.

Last month the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Arkansas prison system could not prohibit a Muslim prisoner from growing a beard as he believes he is required to do.

In the Washington State legislature, three different pieces of legislation are dealing with the issue of whether individuals can be compelled to do things that violate their beliefs.

1.  Abortion Insurance Mandate

For the past three years, the abortion industry has been working to require every insurance policy bought and sold in the private market to cover abortion insurance.  This proposal would make it illegal for someone with a moral objection to abortion to purchase for themselves, their family, or their business a policy that will not subsidizing abortion.

Having been defeated for three years in a row, abortion industry advocates came back this year with a bill that is even worse.  SB 5574 and HB 1647 would not only require every policy to subsidize elective abortions and controversial forms of contraception, but would also require coverage for voluntary sterilization as well.

The number of legislators co-sponsoring these bills has declined significantly over previous years.  This could be a reflection of the fact that some legislators are growing tired of justifying their attempts to force people to pay for things they believe are wrong.

However, a public hearing in the House of Representatives on this issue is expected soon.

2. Overturning Hobby Lobby

Last summer, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruled that privately held companies could not be forced to pay for contraception coverage that violated their conscience.  The Court said that such a mandate violated the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because there are ways for the government to make contraception available without violating the freedoms of business owners.

In response, Washington State legislators have introduced SB 5026 and HB 1502 which would make sure the religious freedoms protections recognized by the Supreme Court would not extend to Washington businesses.

The bill would require every Washington State employer to pay for objectionable forms of contraception even if they are willing to provide other forms of contraception.

3.  Accommodating the Rights of Religious Objectors

As you probably know, many jobs in Washington State require union membership. For the privilege of educating children, teachers in Washington are required to pay around $1,000 per year to the teacher’s union.

Teacher’s unions in Washington State support many far left causes that are inconsistent with the values of many teachers. For that reason, the law recognizes the rights of religious objectors to opt out of paying union dues and instead contribute the funds that otherwise would go to the union to a charitable cause.

However, employees attempting to exercise these rights have run into challenges.

First, the law states that the beliefs of a religious objector must be “based on bona fide religious tenets or teachings of a church or religious body of which such public employee is a member.” This language allows unions to force employees to prove that their beliefs are explicitly written in the governing documents of a church they are part of.

Secondly, the law requires the union to agree with the employees choice of charity they would like to contribute to in lieu of paying union dues.  This has led to unnecessarily complicated negotiations when a particular union boss wants to control which charity an employee supports.  One religious objector who testified in support of this legislation yesterday was told the only approved charity was the far left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Senate Bill 5552 strengthens conscience rights and makes it harder for unions to harass employees who disagree with how the union spends money.

First, it allow a religious objector to opt out of membership simply for having a “personally held religious belief” and thereby eliminates the need to prove that it is an official religious tenet of a specific religious organization.

Secondly, it allows the employee to direct their union dues to any non-profit that participates in the Washington state combined fund drive program and thereby eliminate the ability of the union to choose which charity the religious objector supports.

Both changes would further expand conscience rights and make it harder for people to be harassed because of their beliefs.

If you are part of a union and would like to know how to stop supporting causes you disagree with click here.

Each of these bills is currently being debated in the state legislature and each of them will help determine the trajectory of the conscience rights and religious freedom debate in Washington State.

The homosexual lobby, the abortion industry, and union interests are all powerful political forces that each have their own reasons for wanting to restrict your conscience rights.

In addition, their significant campaign contributions have earned them a great deal of political influence despite their strong opposition to individual freedom and conscience rights.

It is up to us to be a counterbalance.

If you have thoughts about any of these issues, contact your legislator through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Remember, freedom is not the status quo. It has been earned at a great price and must be defended with vigilance. Every day, those who want to take away your freedoms are busy in Olympia trying to do so.  The least we can do is make a phone call.

Washington Leadership Targets Hobby Lobby

Late last week, Gov. Jay Inslee and a group of Washington State Senators held a press conference  near a soon-to-be-opened Hobby Lobby store in North Seattle to assure voters they will do whatever they can to force businesses in Washington State to violate their conscience.

For the last two years, the Washington State Senate has been controlled by a Majority Coalition of Republicans and two Democrats. As a result, the Governor’s most radical proposals have failed to reach his desk.

In attempt to solve this problem, Gov. Inslee is pulling out all the stops.

Once again, he recruited his friend, billionaire Tom Steyer from California, to spend at least $1 million on Washington State legislative races.

Now, he’s hoping to persuade votes of the need to force businesses like Hobby Lobby to violate their convictions about abortion.

By way of review, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated that every company provide 20 specific kinds of contraceptives in their health plans. Hobby Lobby was willing to pay for 16 forms of birth control but objected to four. The Supreme Court agreed with Hobby Lobby that federal law protects the rights of people not to violate their conscience even if they become employers.

The fact that you have a right to something, does not mean you have the right to make someone else buy it for you.

These lawmakers, however, believe Washington’s non-discrimination laws allow them to force businesses to buy abortion drugs in violation of their conscience.

Senator Karen Keiser believes Hobby Lobby’s freedom to choose is a real problem. “This has real effect on tens of thousands of Washington employees who are now at risk of losing access to their choice of birth control.”

Of course that’s just stuff you say at an election year press conference. No one actually thinks women are about to lose their birth control.

The Center for Disease Control’s own health statistics from 2013 show that 99% of women between the ages of 12-44 have used birth control. This was all before the ACA mandate. If 99% of the people are using it before anyone thought they could force their boss to buy it for them, there isn’t a crisis of access.

In the most ironic statement of the day, Sen. Kevin Ranker said that, “This partisan politics around women’s reproductive rights and core values is unacceptable.” Actually, that’s something we can agree on, but probably not for the reasons he’s thinking.

Sadly, efforts to force people to pay for abortion against their will is kind of an old story. For three years in a row, the Washington State legislature, led by Sen. Steve Hobbs in the Senate, has pushed a bill that would make it illegal to purchase an insurance policy that doesn’t cover abortion.

Fortunately, sanity has prevailed and-for now-women in Washington still have the choice of what kind of health insurance they want to purchase.

Still, the fact that our state’s leadership is mounting another assault to force people to violate their conscience and participate in abortion shows a disturbing lack of empathy.

Someone should propose legislation forcing them to idle their car for no reason at all, cut down a tree, or throw an aluminum can into the waste bin rather than the recycle container.

If you care about the freedom to run your business according to your beliefs, your freedom is on the ballot this November. At least they warned us.

So make sure you know which candidates on your ballot support conscience rights, religious freedom, and the autonomy of people to choose for themselves whether they will participate in controversial activities.

And then use Vote Finder to help your friends do the same. With Vote Finder you can find out if your friends, family, or fellow parishioners have voted before the election is over.

If we all make sure just 10 other people who share our perspective vote, the close elections will be decided in favor of people who value your freedom as much as you do. Or, you can do nothing, be frustrated, and watch Gov. Inslee and his billionaire friend toast to how much more control over your life and business they now have.

The Tyranny of Good Intentions

A couple weeks ago I was part of a debate with a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  We discussed the impact of the Hobby Lobby decision in which the Supreme Court said that a family owned business could not be forced to pay for contraceptives that violated their sincerely held beliefs.
 
I argued that it was a good decision and the ACLU argued that the government should be able to force people to violate their faith so contraception will be even more available than it already is. 
 
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research arm, more than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. There isn’t exactly a crisis of access.
 
While the ACLU’s position may not be surprising, the justification is horrifying.
 
In a statement defending her position, the lawyer I was debating wrote the following: “A free and pluralistic society requires everyone, including corporations with religiously observant owners, to comply with laws intended to advance public health and the general public interest.”
 
I suggest you go back and read this statement again…slowly.
 
Keep in mind, the ACLU is not on the fringes of the left, they are part of the nucleus. 
 
According to them, a free society requires people to do what they’re told as long as the people ordering them around have good intentions.
 
I guess we’re redefining what it means to be free now as well.
 
Our founding fathers had a very different understanding of what a free and pluralistic society required.
 
They believed a free and pluralistic society required the understanding that government was a tool to secure the rights of the people.  
 
They knew that governments are tempted to invade people’s privacy in the name of keeping them safe, so they drafted the Fourth Amendment which prohibits search without cause regardless of what the intentions are.  They recognized that government would be tempted to restrict people’s speech believing certain ideas were harmful, so they drafted the First Amendment and limited government’s power to restrict speech even if they meant well.
 
C.S. Lewis explained the tyranny of good intentions well. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
 
What the ACLU and their friends on the left apparently have forgotten is that proponents of internment, segregation, book bans, blue laws, compulsory church attendance, and prohibition all believed they were acting in the public interest.
 
Even ISIS believes they are making the world a better place.
 
The entire reason you establish bright lines regarding what is and is not acceptable is so that fools (or worse) with good intentions can be stopped.
 
At least internment camps were created in the name of keeping the country safe from traitors.  Yes, they were a gross violation of human dignity, but you can at least see the argument.
 
But now they want to take away constitutionally guaranteed rights… so it’s easier to get birth control? C’mon.
 
And, most importantly, you should like it because they “intend to advance the public health and general public interest.” 
 
At least they are putting it in writing now. We cannot say we were not warned.

She Was for It Before She Was Against It

Yesterday, in the United States Senate, Washington Sen. Patty Murray voted with fifty-five other Senators to roll back religious freedom.

Specifically, she voted for legislation that would force businesses like Hobby Lobby to pay for contraceptives that violate their sincerely held beliefs.

While Hobby Lobby pays for sixteen different forms of birth control in their coverage, Sen. Murray and others are frustrated that businesses have the freedom to make choices they disagree with.

In the Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court said that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because there are ways for the government to make the objectionable forms of birth control available without forcing people to violate their conscience.

If it’s really that important, the government could simply pay for it.

However, instead of proposing legislation to make the objectionable forms of birth control available to Hobby Lobby employees that might want them, Sen. Murray drafted legislation that would make it easier for her to force people to violate their beliefs.

Her website claims that the legislation would “restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits.” (emphasis added). 

Oddly, it appears that saying “no” to someone who asks you for something is imposing your beliefs on them.

However, forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do is not.

Her legislation would is intended to be a “legislative fix” to the Hobby Lobby decision and repeal significant protections in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  Curiously, RFRA was itself a “legislative fix” to the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in City of Boerne v. Flores.

In the time we’ve moved from “Hammer pants” to skinny jeans, Congress has moved from being alarmed when the Supreme Court takes away the people’s freedom to being alarmed when the Court limits the government’s ability to control the people.

Religious freedom wasn’t always seen as a problem on the left.

In 1993, RFRA passed the House of Representatives 425-0 and passed the Senate 97-3.  Vast right-wing, co-conspirator Bill Clinton signed it into law and later called it one of his greatest accomplishments as President.

Sen. Murray voted for it as well.

Her shift on this issue is symbolic of the left’s shift on individual liberty generally. Nothing about RFRA changed in the last twenty years.

What changed is the urgency with which the left feels the need to control people’s lives.

In 1993, the idea that employers can be forced to pay for their employees abortions would have been greeted with a universal raise of the eyebrow.

Now that Sen. Murray believes that forcing people to violate their conscience is not only permissible but desirable, she is being forced to undo the protections for individual liberty she once championed.

When it comes to religious freedom, at least she can say she was for it before she was against it.

If you want to share your thoughts with Senator Murray, you can contact her at (202) 224-2621 or click here to send her a message.

Why Do Nuns Need Birth Control?

When the Supreme Court released their decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius on Monday it started the race to understand what it means for the other challenges to the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare.

The Hobby Lobby case established that the mandate violates the religious freedom of private, family owned companies, but a number of religiously affiliated non-profit organizations have challenged the mandate as well.

Obamacare includes an exemption from the mandate for churches, but that does not extend to thousands of religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals, colleges, universities, religious schools, and charities.

For example, Tyndale House Publishing, which is owned by the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation and is the largest Bible publisher in the world, has been deemed not religious enough to be exempt.

Another non-profit organization that does not want to be forced to purchase contraception in their insurance plans is Little Sisters of the Poor, an international organization of Catholic nuns that cares for elderly poor people.

They have filed a lawsuit claiming that the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage violates their religious freedom.

In an effort to accommodate religious organizations without exempting them, the Obama Administration has told Little Sisters to sign a letter that the organization’s employees (nuns) could then use to obtain birth control coverage.

However, Little Sisters has argued that signing a letter that someone else would use to obtain birth control makes them complicit in something they believe is wrong.

The Department of Health and Human Services responded by claiming that Little Sisters should not object to signing the letter because it does not make them a party to the transaction but only releases them from the obligation of providing birth control themselves.

But the premise is wrong.

If the free exercise of religion means anything, it means the government doesn’t get to tell the people what is important to them as a matter of conscience, they get to honor it.

When the government tells you what beliefs are approved, that looks much more like an establishment of religion rather than the free exercise of it.

The good news is that the Hobby Lobby decision rejected the idea that government can decide for individuals when an action is morally objectionable.

Justice Alito, in the majority opinion, wrote, “[The objection to the mandate] implicates a difficult and important question of religion and moral philosophy, namely, the circumstances under which it is wrong for a person to perform an act that is innocent in itself but that has the effect of enabling or facilitating the commission of an immoral act by another.  Arrogating the authority to provide a binding national answer to this religious and philosophical question, HHS and the principal dissent in effect tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed.  For good reason, we have repeatedly refused to take such a step.”

He continued, “it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial.”

This seems like good news for Little Sisters of the Poor.

The government’s argument that religious organizations should be content with the accommodation being offered appears to have been rejected on the grounds that the government doesn’t get to dictate to its subjects err… the people…what is acceptable to them on moral grounds.

If, as we hope they will, the Supreme Court agrees that the contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of non-profit organizations as well, then we can go back to figuring out who thought it was critical to guarantee birth control coverage for an order of nuns in the first place.

Hobby Lobby: What It Means for Arlene’s Flowers

The ink was hardly dry on the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius before the left trotted out their well-worn talking points about the “war on women”.

Don’t want to pay for her abortion?  War on Women.

Don’t want to pay for her contraception? War on Women.

The whole feminist movement used to be about recognizing that women weren’t dependent. But now it appears to have taken a bizarre u-turn to a place where a fundamental tenant of women’s rights is that women will be hopelessly lost if someone else doesn’t furnish accessories for her sex life.

If I were a woman, I think I’d be a little offended.

But since I am a apparently a chauvinist, I will just continue believing that women are capable of getting  their own birth control if it’s that important to them.

As one tweeter pointed out in response to the social media firestorm, “if you can afford a device to tweet, you can also afford $8 a month for your own contraception”.

How disenfranchising.

Regardless, the Supreme Court has spoken and family owned businesses can decline to pay for some things that violate their beliefs.

But in no way does this settle the much larger debate over religious freedom.  It’s important for us to understand how this decision affects the numerous other cases working their way through the courts.

One of the nation’s most significant religious freedom cases involves Arlene’s Flowers, a Richland, WA florist who declined to provide the floral services for the same-sex “wedding”.

Since Hobby Lobby is a business that was told they couldn’t be forced to violate their conscience, it would be nice if we could simply conclude that Arlene’s Flowers also can’t be forced to violate their religious beliefs.

But as is often the case in the world of law, it’s not quite that simple.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the Green family successfully argued that the contraception mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), because it burdens religious liberty without having a compelling reason to do so.

The problem for businesses like Arlene’s Flowers is that the Supreme Court, in Boerne v. Flores, ruled that RFRA cannot be applied to the states.  Since Arlene’s Flowers is being sued by Washington State, the statute that protected Hobby Lobby from a federal law is not available to protect a business from state action.Washington State could adopt their own version of RFRA and offer greater protections for religious freedom-as eighteen other states have done.

However, that idea was met with strong opposition in 2013 specifically because many legislators do not want businesses to have the freedom to choose how they operate.

In addition, the lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers has been brought under the Washington non-discrimination statute, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  There is no federal equivalent.

Of course Arlene’s Flowers does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  She had knowingly and cheerfully served the customers involved in this lawsuit for nearly a decade and employed people with same-sex attraction.

But at this point, Attorney General Bob Ferguson does not recognize the difference between declining to provide a certain service and declining serve gay people generally.

Because of this, Arlene’s Flower’s cannot simply rely on the encouraging ruling from the Hobby Lobby case.

Unfortunately, many on the left believe the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, which was invented 10 years ago, trumps the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion that has existed since the founding of our country.

Even more strangely, they believe it is a greater affront to personal freedom to ask Sally to find another florist than it is to force Jane to do something that violates her beliefs.

In any other context, this argument doesn’t pass the straight face test.

No one would accuse a tattoo artist who refuses to place a swastika on the arm of a client of imposing his narrow views on someone else.

So what can we do to protect businesses like Arlene’s Flowers in Washington?

The first thing you can do is call Bob Ferguson at 360-753-6200 and ask him to recognize the rights of business owners to exercise religious freedom and drop the lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers.

Then, you need to find out how your elected officials feel about religious freedom and the lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers. You can email them here.

If religious freedom matters to you, it needs to be an issue that determines how you vote in every election.

Remember, friends don’t let friends vote for people who sue grandmothers because of their beliefs.

In the end, politicians respond to their constituents or get replaced by the same.

It is our job to make sure the voices supporting religious freedom are stronger than those opposing it.

Yesterday was a good day for religious freedom, but it is up to us to make sure that there are more good days in the future.

Your contribution of $5 or more make it possible for us to protect religious freedom here in Washington State.

Press Release: FPIW Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Religious Freedom

LYNNWOOD, Wash. – The Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) praised today’s decision by the Supreme Court upholding conscience rights and religious freedom of family owned businesses who object to paying for sterilization, contraception and drugs that cause abortions.

FPIW Executive Director Joseph Backholm said, “This is one of the most significant decisions of our generation.  Everyone who cares about freedom should be encouraged by the fact that individuals don’t surrender their religious freedom simply because they become job creators.”

“The government’s mandate gave family owned businesses two on-choices: either violate your deeply held beliefs and pay for something you believe is wrong or pay a fine of $100, per employee, per day.  In the case of Hobby Lobby, that is $1.3 million per day. It is sad that the government would want to do this to its citizens, but it is encouraging that the Supreme Court affirmed that they cannot.  It is simply unkind to conclude that because I have the right to buy something I also have the right to force you to provide it for me.”
 
“In a free and diverse society, we respect the freedom to live out our convictions, not just in private, but in the way we conduct our lives in public as well,” Backholm concluded.

 

The Family Policy Institute of Washington is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy organization committed to uniting national and local organizations for the purpose of creating public policy that recognizes the significance and the sanctity of the family. For more information, visit www.fpiw.org.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Decision Expected Soon

As soon as tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will release their decision in lawsuits involving Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, two family owned businesses who have challenged the Obamacare mandate requiring employers to pay for contraceptives that cause abortions for their employees.

The businesses object to paying for four of the 20 types of contraceptives the mandate requires employers to provide because of their belief that they cause abortions.

The mandate threatens the existence of these businesses which employ more than 14,000 people.

In the case of Hobby Lobby, the fine for failing to comply with the mandate is as much as $1.3 million per day.

The plaintiffs have asked the Supreme Court to find the mandate unconstitutional claiming it violates their First Amendment Right to the free exercise of religion and their Fifth Amendment right to due process and equal protection under the law.

In its decision, the Supreme Court will first determine whether a for-profit corporation can “exercise religion”.

While it is undisputed that individuals have the right to the exercise of religion (though there is much debate about what that means as well) the government is arguing that corporations cannot claim the religious freedom protections at all.

In essence, the Obama administration believes the government can force Hobby Lobby to do things they could not force the Green Family, owners of Hobby Lobby, to do if they did not have a business.

Of course, the Green Family sees their business as an extension of themselves and do not believe they surrendered their right to make decisions consistent with their faith once they built a business and started employing people.

If the Supreme Court agrees with the families that corporations can claim religious freedom protections, the court will then decide if the mandate restricts their religious freedom.  If they conclude that it does, the court will then decide whether the burden is justified by a “compelling government interest” in providing contraception and whether there is a way to accomplish the same goal without restricting religious freedom.

Put another way, “could the government make contraceptives available to employees in a way that did not take away people’s religious freedom?”

The answer to that question is almost certainly, yes.

As with the floristsphotographers, and bakeries, these cases are just another example of government attempting to force people to do things that violate their conscience as a condition of doing business.

Religious groups and business owners should not have to violate their faith in order to be in compliance with the law.  Nor should families have to choose between their faith and their livelihood.

People of faith do not forfeit their religious freedom when they choose to start a business.

Some argue that they don’t understand the big deal about providing contraceptive coverage for employees, but that is beside the point.  It’s not the role of government to define what people believe or what our faith includes.  That’s the role of the church.

If the left is going to really care about the separation of church and state, they will stay out of the business of telling individuals and companies what their faith requires.

It is worth noting that the government has exempted 100 million employees from these mandates for commercial and political reasons.  But for companies that want out of the mandates for conscience reasons, the government is arguing that there is a “compelling government reason” to force them to comply.

While our ability to influence the Supreme Court’s decision in this case is limited, we have significant influence over the future of religious freedom in Washington State and around the country generally.

There are elections this fall in every part of our state, and we encourage you to ask those who are on your ballot how they feel about religious freedom.  Do they support these mandates against businesses that don’t want to pay for contraceptives that cause abortions?  Do they support lawsuits against small businesses like Arlene’s Flowers because of their belief about marriage?

Then allow their answers to inform your vote.  Make sure your friends and neighbors who care about religious freedom know whether the candidates on their ballot support religious freedom as well.

The lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers could be done away with in a single legislative act, but the legislature will only protect religious freedom if the people who elect them insist on it.  That means those of us who support religious freedom need to be the squeaky wheel, in the most pleasant way possible.

To ask your legislators how they feel about these issues, click here.   If you would rather ask these questions over the phone, you can reach all your legislators at the same time through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.  Even if you don’t know who your legislators are, just provide your address to the operator and they will tell you.

We want to know what you learn as well because every citizen should know how every legislator feels about religious freedom.

To paraphrase the lesson from the Little Red Hen, if we don’t help protect our religious freedom, we should not expect to enjoy the benefits of it. And given the aggressive nature of those wanting to take away religious freedom, if we do nothing, we can be quite confident we won’t.