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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.

Kim Davis and the Rule of Law

Yesterday, a woman named Kim Davis went to jail.

She is a Court Clerk in Rowan County Kentucky where it is her job, among other things, to issue marriage licenses. Recently, the Supreme Court invented a constitutional right to marry someone of the same gender, but, as a recent convert (four years she says) to Christianity, Ms. Davis believes same-sex “marriage” is wrong.

Therefore, she refused to issue the licenses.

There have been lots of similar situations.

Businesses who do not wish to participate in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony are sued.

Private sector employees like Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla, have been forced out of their jobs for supporting the idea that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

Public sector employees like Kelvin Cochran, the former fire chief from Atlanta, have been fired for those same beliefs without any accusation of mistreating employees or discriminating against anyone.

But Kim Davis’ situation is different because she holds elected office. She doesn’t have a boss who can fire her. A court ordered her to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses but she refused. So yesterday, she was sent to jail for contempt of court.

Despite the insistence from the left that the redefinition of marriage would have no impact on religious freedom, many see this story as just further evidence of freedoms being lost.

The left, however, has moved away from pretending to care about freedom of religion. They now express full-blown, outrage at the idea that people shouldn’t lose their freedom if they don’t support same-sex “marriage”. After all, who needs freedom of conscience when you can have tolerance and equality?

In Kim Davis’ case, however, their outrage is a little different. They aren’t simply outraged that she doesn’t like same-sex “marriage”, they are outraged by her shocking disregard for the law.

Shocking, I tell you.

Suddenly, the progressives are organizing lectures to remind the world that our system of government is predicated on our laws being enforced equitably, regardless of the preferences of the individuals. Even Hillary Clinton got into the act this week tweeting that, “Marriage equality is the law of the land. Officials should be held to their duty to uphold the law-end of story.”

And you thought Animal Farm was satire.

Of course their point about the importance of the rule of law is a good one. But given the context of the Kim Davis controversy, it seems a brief lesson in the history of same-sex “marriage” is in order.

  • Once President Obama finished his evolution on marriage, the U.S. Department of Justice, whose job it is to defend the laws of the United States in Court, refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.
  • In 2013, D. Bruce Haines, an official in Montgomery County Pennsylvania, started issuing same-sex “marriage” licenses when the law did not permit it.
Apparently the concern with strict adherence to marriage laws is a new passion of progressives.

“We’ve progressed,” they insist. “The law has changed to be good so we care about the rule of law now.”

About that.

Let’s remember how this new “law” was actually changed. Was it lawful?

The states did not come together with Congress in the constitutionally prescribed manner to amend the constitution and change the law for the whole nation. While a few states actually did use the democratic process to redefine marriage, the vast majority (thirty-eight) had a new definition forced upon them by judges who liked the new definition better than the old one.

When the Supreme Court invented a constitutional right to marry someone of the same gender in Obergefell, they overturned their own precedent from Windsor less than two years previously when they said states had the right to define marriage for themselves.

Whatever that is, it’s not the rule of law.

It’s not just about marriage laws either.

Did you know that it’s illegal for teachers to strike in Washington State? Doesn’t seem to stop them.

Or how about sanctuary cities who advertise the fact that they ignore state and federal laws on immigration?

The Supreme Court did what they thought was the right thing to do despite what the law said and Kim Davis is doing the same. Kim Davis is no more lawless than half of Washington DC, she just has less powerful friends.

We may have never fully left the world in which might makes right, but our desire to bear-hug might, because we like what it is doing so much, seems to be a new impulse.

Love or hate the result, but be intellectually honest enough to lose the indignation.

If you punch someone in the face, you may end up winning the fight. But no one is going to take you seriously if you ask, “How could you?” when they try to punch you back.

Why Defend Planned Parenthood?

To date, the Center for Medical Progress has released nine videos. The most recent was released this morning.

They’ve been called “troubling.”

After all, the videos depict the CEO of Stem Express joking about what happens when lab technicians open up a box of baby heads, show planned Parenthood employees sifting through a pile of body parts declaring, “Another boy!“, and Planned Parenthood executives negotiating the appropriate price for each body part — or “specimen.”

“Troubling” is the word we use when something looks awful but we want to give the person involved a chance to defend themselves before we rush to the gallows.

“Perhaps there’s more to the story,” we tell ourselves.

Oddly, there are many who can’t even bring themselves to call these allegations “troubling.”

The White House referred to the videos (not the content in the videos) as “fraudulent” and rejected calls to stop public funding to Planned Parenthood. The videos, they say are the work of extremists. Extremists are not those who dissect babies and sell their parts, but those who have a problem with it.

The White House did not mention the fact that in 2012, Cecile Richard, the President of Planned Parenthood, took a leave of absence from her job to campaign for President Obama full-time.

Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee, issued an unambiguous defense of Planned Parenthood and also condemned the “extremists” who were calling for an end to taxpayer funding of their practices.

His wife, Trudi, prominently features her volunteer work for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood on her state bio.

Even after the videos, Hillary Clinton is “proud to stand with Planned Parenthood” and cites the fact that they do other things besides kill and dissect babies. Apparently, that should make us feel better.

In every case, those defending Planned Parenthood point out that “tissue donation” programs are perfectly legal as long as the programs “recover costs” instead of generating a “profit.”

What makes one defend the indefensible?

Some consciences have been so seared that they genuinely don’t understand what the problem is. Others are so politically invested that truth just doesn’t matter.

But for millions of others, they understand the point.

It is becoming harder to deny the obvious. These are babies being killed.

The idea that babies can be killed if their mothers want them dead is not morally defensible. As those so outraged by the death of Cecil the Lion demonstrated, we all understand that just because something is legal does not make it right.

On the issue of abortion, the gap between legal and right is cavernous. That may be why more than 80% of Americans support “significant restrictions” on abortion.

Psychologically, however, there is a step between knowing the truth and admitting the truth because when we admit we are wrong, we implicate ourselves.

Fifty-percent of Americaincluding the President, still haven’t seen the videos.

We have all chosen willful ignorance at one time or another in our lives. Whether we delayed opening our college rejection letter or avoided the call from the doctor, we want to hold on to the hope that the reality we fear may not be real.

But in this case it is real. Horrible things are happening to the most innocent while millions upon millions of us are celebrating it.

It may be a long time before President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Jay Inslee come around on this. They have too much invested in the tragedy.

But each day, millions of Americans are seeing the light and their hearts are changing in exactly the right way.

Those of us who are celebrating this progress must be careful we don’t stunt it with our gloating.

We have all had moments in our lives when we realized we were wrong about something. The last thing we needed at that moment was someone with their wrists on their hips tapping their toes indignantly saying, “I told you so.”

If we are pro-life, we are also pro-hope. We are hopeful that even bad decisions and difficult circumstances can have beautiful endings. Let’s be consistent.

America’s embrace of abortion will never be something to be proud of, but our collective realization that we were wrong can be.

As our friends and neighbors come to the realization of how evil the abortion industry is, may our words and actions always communicate that we understand what it means to be forgiven despite being wrong. May our kindness also lead others to repentance.

If we turn them away, they may just decide to continue defending Planned Parenthood.

Please continue to contact your legislators about these videos and about the public funding of Planned Parenthood. You can call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or you can email them here.

Be kind and respectful, but be heard.

Executive Order: Bow to the Golden Image

Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order to prohibit the federal government from contracting with anyone who “discriminates” on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In short, it forces the 24,000 entities who contract with the federal government and employ 28 million workers -about one-fifth of the nation’s work force-to promise that they will never decline to hire someone based on their sexual activity or desire to be a different gender.

As a result, any church, non-profit organization, or business that believes marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman – a position the President agreed with only two years ago – could be ineligible to compete for public contracts or grants.

The executive order also bans “discrimination” against federal employees based on their gender identity.

In recognition of the fact that every major religion has taught that sexuality is best confined to natural marriage for thousands of years, a request for religious exemptions from the mandate was made.

That request was denied.

Explaining why the religious exemption was not included, one administration official said, “You can use religion to only hire people who share your religion, but you can’t discriminate against someone who is of your faith who happens to be LGBT, unless they fall within the ministerial exception.”

In other words, if a job applicants says he is part of your religion, the church cannot conclude that his lifestyle shows otherwise.  The federal government now says the individual, not the church, determines whether a person is in good standing with the church.

This is the new, progressive understanding of the separation of church and state where the state tells the church how to operate.

The full impact of this executive order remains to be seen, but it could be significant.

Catholic, Mormon, or Christian colleges who require employees to refrain from sexual activity outside of natural marriage could see all their student’s lose access to federal student aid.

Religiously affiliated hospitals and social services organizations, like Catholic Charities USA that have served the most destitute, could find their government unwilling to partner with them any longer.

Para-church organizations or non-profit organizations that would like to apply for federal grants to run mentorship programs, adoption services, or convict re-entry programs could find themselves automatically ineligible.

Businesses that would like to compete to work on federal highway projects, provide school lunch programs, or fill defense contracts could be required to affirm the government’s statement of faith to be eligible.

It remains to be seen whether the government will ask entities to affirm the state’s sexual values as a condition of partnering with them or if they will simply cut-off those who have been part of a controversy.  But no one should feel particularly safe.

If the left is good at anything, they are good at sniffing out people who disagree with them and making it harder for them to live their lives.

Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the President is ordering American believers to bow to the golden image he has erected or be thrown into the proverbial fire.

This executive order raises a myriad questions, not the least of which is, who will the government partner with to help serve the needy if the churches are disqualified?

To my knowledge, neither the Freedom From Religion Foundation nor the American Atheists have a robust national network that exists largely to serve the less fortunate.

Perhaps that isn’t as important as making sure your child’s Christian college can’t object if her male teacher begins showing up in class as a woman.

Of course the loss of funds will not stop the church from being the church.  Being disentangled from government will likely be a good thing in the long-run.

But it is not encouraging that the disentanglement is happening as the government forces people who want the freedom to follow their faith into ghettos where full participation in the market place is not allowed.

Unfortunately, this executive order may only be a foreshadowing of things to come.

A logical next step will be to condition a church’s tax-exempt status on their willingness to affirm a non-discrimination statement that is likely inconsistent with their faith.

It would be no small irony if all the churches lost their tax-exempt status because they weren’t involved in politics.

In the same way, business licenses may soon be conditioned upon agreement with a non-discrimination statements that orthodox believers would be unwilling to sign.

There isn’t much that can be done about this executive order in the short-term because Barack Obama will be President until January, 2017.

But there is a tremendous amount that can be done to delegitimize this war on pluralism and conscience rights moving forward. Politicians have taken away religious freedom because those affected have not, en masse, been willing to defend themselves.

The American church gets to decide if they prefer to be patted on the head and congratulated for their commitment to being non-political or if they want their grandchildren to be free.

Yes, it would be more comfortable and perhaps better for our reputation to focus all our energy inside the four walls of the church.  But we don’t always get to choose our battles.  Sometimes they’re chosen for us by virtue of the time in history God ordained for us to live in.  The choice we do have is whether to engage or surrender.  As the 19th century novelist Elizabeth Rundle Charles once wrote:

If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”