Family Policy Alliance® applauds the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and Little Sisters of the Poor. Both cases dealt with the freedom of religious institutions to follow their convictions, and in both cases the Court dealt strong rulings in support of religious freedom. The two cases asked can courts interfere with the employment decisions of religious institutions and can the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) force religious employers to cover contraceptives in their health plans? In both cases, the answer was a resounding “no.”
Here are our takeaways.
- Religious institutions, such as faith-based schools, are protected from court interference in their employment decisions.
Our Lady of Guadalupe centered around a Catholic school that simply made an employment decision about one of its teachers – and got sued for it. The case asked whether the First Amendment prevents courts from interfering in situations like the one faced by the Catholic school. Yesterday, the Court took a stand on the side of freedom for religious institutions.
Courts have often recognized the freedom churches have when they make employment decisions, particularly about those positions that include teaching or more public aspects to them. It’s a concept known as the “ministerial exception,” that ensures religious institutions are free from court interference in their constitutionally protected operations. As yesterday’s majority opinion described the exception:
“Without that power, a wayward minister’s preaching, teaching, and counseling could contradict the church’s tenets and lead the congregation away from the faith. The ministerial exception was recognized to preserve a church’s independent authority in such matters.”
Yesterday the Court extended that exception to apply when a religious institution makes employment decisions about staff who may not be labeled as “ministers” but who are otherwise involved in teaching or sharing the faith. In the case of the Catholic school, it affirms their freedom to make employment decisions about their teachers, who are vital to sharing the faith in the school’s ministry.
The Court explained the importance of this ruling as it relates to schools:
“When a school with a religious mission entrusts a teacher with the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith, judicial intervention into disputes between the school and the teacher threatens the school’s independence in a way that the First Amendment does not allow.”
This is a major win for the First Amendment freedoms of religious institutions!
- The government can’t force employers to cover contraception on their health plans when they have a religious or moral objection to it.
The Little Sisters of the Poor are an order of nuns, who take a vow of chastity, who serve the elderly poor, and who believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all human life. Under Obamacare, the nuns would have been forced to pay for contraceptives in deep violation of their beliefs. When faced with the decision to pay a steep fine or compromise their beliefs, the nuns sued over the Obamacare regulations. The Court ruled in their favor twice and required the Obama administration to find a solution that recognized the nuns’ religious beliefs. The Obama administration failed to do so.
When President Trump came to office, his administration quickly used a regulation to temporarily solve the problem the Little Sisters faced under Obamacare. However, some left-leaning leaders couldn’t let the nuns have any peace, and tried to block the Trump Administration’s regulation.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court hopefully settled the nun’s case once and for all by affirming the Trump administration’s regulation protecting religious freedom for the Little Sisters. Because of yesterday’s ruling, people will not be forced to pay for contraception against their moral or religious convictions.
Once again, it’s a huge win for Constitutionally-protected religious freedom. And it affirms that President Trump is thoroughly pro-American. After all, America ceases to be America without religious freedom – and the Trump administration understands that.
After mixed news from the Court the last few weeks, we are grateful for the good news yesterday!
“If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government, which does not believe in rights for anyone except the state.”
President Harry Truman
Attorney General’s Conference, 1950
This Tuesday, Nov 5, the contentious LGBT curriculum, the legalization of recreational marijuana, the assault against parental rights, the safety and dignity of preborn life, and the violation of religious liberty will be at stake. This off-year election will either prevent or hasten the moral collapse of our state. The New Jersey Assembly, serving two-year terms, is up for grabs once again.
In the current legislative session, our state Assembly:
- Mandated LGBT curriculum be taught in all public schools (S1569*Assembly passed Senate version) Click Here for Roll Call
- Passed the Physician Assisted Suicide bill (A1504) Click Here for Roll Call
- Removed the religious exemption that protected conscience rights of churches not to pay for abortion. (A5508) Click Here for Roll Call
- Had enough votes to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, the Senate prevents its passage
The candidates who win on Nov 5 will commence a new two-year legislative session in January 2020. These elected officials will make decisions that have extraordinary consequences on families and people of faith. The results of voting will start the trajectory towards a state where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished; or the dreaded opposite – the unhindered promulgation of anti-family values in education, the reckless and destructive impact of neighborhoods saturated with pot-shops, and the calloused insistence to violate human rights by allowing late term abortions in NJ that are banned in 96% of nations.
If you believe in the dignity of human life, the rights of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs, and the beauty of the traditional family, then November 5th is your greatest moment of advocacy. Historically, voter turnout is low in years when neither the President nor Governor is on the ballot. Therefore, your vote carries significant weight!
Do not approach elections with despair or hopelessness despite your district. Even if your preferred candidate does not win, a closer than expected outcome sends a clear message to incumbent leftist politicians. I urge you not to allow radical ideologies to set the agenda in Trenton in 2020. Turn out and vote on November 5 for pro-life, pro-family candidates.
Director of Advocacy
Family Policy Alliance of new Jersey
Director of Alliances Northeast Region, Family Policy Alliance
Founder & Past President, New Jersey Family Policy Council
On March 4, 2019, the Trump Administration published a new rule on the Title X Family Planning Program. Referred to as the “Protect Life Rule,” it ensures that recipients of Title X federal funds do not provide or refer for abortions.
For more than four decades, Title X grants have provided low-income and uninsured Americans with access to family planning and preventative health care services.
On Monday, all recipients of Title X dollars were required to submit a written statement to the Department of Health and Human Services confirming that they do not perform abortions and they will comply with the Protect Life Rule. Instead of doing so, Planned Parenthood announced it will withdraw from Title X.
What does this tell us about Planned Parenthood? Well, perhaps nothing new — we were already keenly aware of their unwavering support for abortion on demand. But this move does signal a new level of boldness by the nation’s largest abortion provider. It’s hard to hide behind a mantra of “our mission is to provide comprehensive health care” while thumbing your nose at funding to provide comprehensive family planning and other health care services!
It also reveals that the $60 million per year Planned Parenthood receives from Title X is insignificant to the organization. This notion is confirmed by our friends at the Heritage Foundation who analyzed the 2018 Government Accountability Office report which found Planned Parenthood received more than $1.5 billion in federal funding (including $1.2 billion from Medicaid) over a three-year period.
When compared to $500 million per year, $60 million is just a drop in the bucket. However, it’s $60 million less of taxpayer dollars being used to kill innocent human lives. And that’s certainly worth celebrating, even as we work to remove all taxpayer dollars flowing to abortion providers.
We can also celebrate the Trump Administration’s commitment to pro-life policies as demonstrated by the Protect Life Rule. The president’s actions to preserve and defend human life are in stark contrast to those of his predecessor, and many others who occupied the Oval Office before him. Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, Title X taxpayer dollars will now return to their original intent and not be used to prop up the abortion industry. That’s a win for life!
Vice President of Strategy
Earlier today, on the National Day of Prayer and during the White House Rose Garden Ceremony, President Trump announced the finalization of a federal rule that would protect the right of health care workers, providers, and employers to refuse to participate in acts that violate their religious and moral convictions.
The President underscored the importance of the new rule stating, “Every citizen has the absolute right to live according to the teachings of their faith and the convictions of their heart. This is the bedrock of American life. To protect this heritage my Administration has strongly defended religious liberty.”
The long-awaited 400- paged rule, was published by the Department of Health and Human Services today and will ensure those working in the health care industry are not persecuted or fired for their faith. This means if you’re a hospital you can’t be forced to provide abortions; if you’re a doctor you can’t be required to prescribe assisted suicide drugs; if you’re an employer you can’t be forced to provide insurance coverage for controversial operations. The best thing is the Final Conscience Rule Protecting Health Care Entities and Individuals makes certain the government has the power to remove federal funding from violators who refuse to comply.
Roger Severino, Director of the Office of Civil Rights at DHHS, declared today it is an appalling injustice for a government to “require religious organizations and hospitals to place their religious identity on the shelf when it is often their religious identity that drives them to offer their gifts to the world [like] giving free health services with love and care to those that need it most.”
This truly is an answer to prayer on this National Day of Prayer for all Americans in the health care field. They will no longer feel required to check their beliefs at the door when they go to work every morning or be forced to make a choice between professional accreditation or religious conviction.
We applaud the herculean efforts of DHHS to write a thorough and robust rule that will ensure the constitutional rights of all citizens in the health field are protected in a nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
On Monday religious believers’ rights were confirmed in a big way by the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Seven out of the nine justices on the Court vindicated Christian cake baker, Jack Phillips’, right to live out his faith in his business. The Court was tasked with deciding whether Colorado could force a business owner to make a product and support a message that he disagreed with based upon his religious belief. The Court based their ruling on the fact that the specific cake baker in question did not get a fair hearing because of the hostility the government showed to his religious beliefs throughout the proceedings.
The ruling yesterday is very good news. The ability of all Americans to live out their religious beliefs was strongly reinforced. Regarding Jack, the Court ruled that the government was wrong to punish him for living consistently with his sincerely held religious beliefs. Nationally, the decision recognized the inherent tension between religious beliefs and the sexual revolution, legitimizing the concerns of religious believers across the country about the growing hostility against any belief concerning God’s design for marriage.
There are several positive things to take away from the decision, and a few hints about challenges that remain.
The Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission unconstitutionally violated the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution because it showed clear hostility towards Jack’s religious beliefs and applied state law unfairly. The Court noted that the Commission showed their hostility against religion in two ways. Their hostility was shown in their abusive and dismissive language when discussing Jack’s beliefs. Secondly, the Commission showed hostility by applying Colorado anti-discrimination law differently in different cases based upon whether it believed the claim in question was valid.
First, in his majority opinion, Justice Kennedy rebuked the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that adjudicated Jack’s case for comparing his religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust, calling such rhetoric “clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.” Sadly, this sort of rhetoric is regularly used to characterize advocates of religious freedom. This language has been used to describe defenders of religious freedom in Idaho repeatedly over the last several years. We reject these repulsive comparisons and we are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has our back. In Jack’s case, the court ruled that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and, in some instances, protected forms of expression.”
Second, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of business owners to bring their religion with them to work. Justice Kennedy rejected the Commissions’ view “that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain”.
Third, Justice Kennedy reminded us that the government doesn’t get to protect only the conscience rights it agrees with. His opinion criticizes the different treatment Jack received before the Commission compared to treatment of other bakers who declined to create cakes with messages to which they objected, including those with anti-gay marriage messages. In a concurring opinion, Justice Gorsuch exposed this inconsistency, stating, “the Commission allowed three other bakers to refuse a customer’s request that would have required them to violate their secular commitments. Yet it denied the same accommodation to Mr. Phillips [Jack] when he refused a customer’s request that would have required him to violate his religious beliefs.”
The Supreme Court was never meant to be the determiner of all issues of conflict. Issues where reasonable people disagree were intended to be worked out in the legislative branches, particularly in the state legislatures. The Court’s decision in Masterpiece just cements the need for the state legislatures to do their job and legislate. The Idaho legislature has taken many steps to preserve the fundamental right to religious freedom and conscience, like enacting a RFRA in 2000.
Other avenues that the Idaho legislators could take in the coming legislative session to further protect religious believers is to pass an Adoption Protection Act like was just passed by Kansas and Oklahoma or a Government Nondiscrimination Act.
We must also take seriously the threat to our freedoms posed by so-called “anti-discrimination” ordinances and unelected, bureaucratic entities like Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission. We must continually fight against measures like “add the words” in our state so that we don’t find ourselves in a situation like Colorado where a run away commission is allowed to attack religious believers with antidiscrimination statutes.
Rest assured, Family Policy Alliance of Idaho will not grow weary in our defense of your right to live and work in line with your faith. It is important that you talk with those in your sphere of influence and explain to them the importance of the Supreme Court’s ruling and its effect on their lives. Encourage your legislators to pass bills that will strengthen your religious freedom. Continue to support Family Policy of Idaho in our ongoing fight to ensure that all people have the right to do business in Idaho and have the freedom to believe.
Interim Policy Director of Family Policy of Idaho
For years, LGBT activists have insisted that it is impossible to change so-called “sexual orientation.” But now they are trying to make it illegal.
Faced with the testimonies of thousands of people who have made the journey out of homosexuality, the powerful LGBT lobby is now trying to demonize and outlaw counseling that facilitates such change—as well as counseling that helps children struggling with gender identity.
The first step is an effort to ban professional counseling for minors who have unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity issues. Already, 34 states have been targeted with such legislation, and additional states are expected to be targeted in 2018.
But while the gay lobby has managed to pick off several states that might be considered “low-hanging fruit” – mainly West Coast and northeastern states – the vast majority of the targeted states (25) have rejected this top LGBT priority. Why?
Here are some key reasons state lawmakers have rejected these counseling bans, and why families—including families who do not have children struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity issues—should join the fight to reject this top LGBT priority.
1. It attacks free speech.
Banning this type of counseling censors the speech of licensed counselors by prohibiting them from offering acceptance, support and understanding of a patient’s own goals for change. Many state lawmakers recognize that the Constitution prohibits the government from censoring speech based upon viewpoint. Yet, these bills only allow speech that supports the viewpoint that all same-sex attraction or gender identity is healthy and good.
2. It strikes at the heart of parental rights.
These bills strip parents of comprehensive tools and resources to help protect their child from the psychological harm that comes from living with unwanted same-sex attraction – or the emotional distress that is caused by their child feeling alienated from their physical bodies (gender dysphoria). Parents know their children best and are in the best position to decide the right course of treatment and spiritual help for their children.
3. It abandons victims of sexual abuse.
One of the most common – and tragic – causes of same-sex attraction in children is sexual abuse. Opponents of these counseling bans recognize that it is wrong to compel a child to embrace an identity that was forced upon them by their abuser.
Jayson’s story is an example of a child who struggled with same-sex attraction after suffering from abuse—yet he received help.
4. The scare stories are being exposed.
With help from a largely complicit media, the LGBT lobbyists have trumpeted tales of abusive practices such as shock therapy. But even some ban supporters now admit that it has been decades since such “aversive” practices have been employed, and in most states any new attempt to use such practices would violate counseling standards. In fact, the LGBT lobby has opposed efforts to ban such practices, as it would make their scare stories moot and take away from their real target, which is basic “talk therapy” counseling.
Still, despite growing resistance to the counseling bans, they remain a serious threat, thanks to the power of the LGBT lobby and their allies in the media. And reports indicate that such bans may be pushed in a majority of states in 2018.
Family Policy Alliance and our network of 41 state groups is engaged on your behalf on this issue. In fact, since the initial 2013 surprise attacks in California and New Jersey, only one state with a Family Policy Alliance-allied group has passed a counseling ban.
What you can do: Be on the lookout for counseling ban legislation in your state, and if you receive such alerts from Family Policy Alliance or one of our state allies, be sure to take action and forward the alert to friends in your state. We need your help as parents and believers to stop this attack on parental rights.
Family Policy Alliance, a national movement of 40, state-based family policy groups, took your voice to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price this week.
Secretary Price & HHS are in the process of reviewing all the regulations that were passed by the Obama Administration to go along with Obamacare, and they reached out to family-centered ministries in the states to see how Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations were affecting them. We are grateful that Secretary Price is seeking input from state groups who represent families like yours as they consider how Obamacare is creating burdens.
Our Alliance responded to Secretary Price by sending him a letter simply asking him to rescind two of the most burdensome Obamacare regulations that are harmful to families, the sanctity of life, and religious freedom.
Just what exactly are the regulations that we asked Secretary Price to rescind? The “transgender mandate” and the “contraceptive mandate”—both of which threaten to punish health care professionals and religious groups who are pro-life or who uphold God’s design for male and female.
The “transgender mandate” redefined the term “sex” to include “gender identity.” The effect was twofold. First, the mandate makes it impossible for healthcare professionals to refuse to participate in medical services that “transition” a man into a woman, or a woman into a man, even if the refusal was based on deeply held religious beliefs—or on their professional opinion that the procedure would actually harm their patient. This is especially concerning for children because studies consistently confirm that the vast majority of children who identify as transgender do not persist with those identities into adulthood. The “transgender mandate” would require doctors to take drastic measures to alter children’s bodies, even if they believe it would be harmful or if the child would not want to identify as the opposite sex later in life.
Second, faith-based employers must now violate their beliefs by offering health insurance plans that cover gender transition services for adults—and even minors—or face punishment.
The “contraceptive mandate” is equally as burdensome to religious freedom. This regulation forces religious employers who believe in the sanctity of human life to offer health insurance plans that cover sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs. You may have heard of this mandate because organizations like Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor were forced to turn to the Supreme Court to protect their religious freedom from this harmful mandate.
But because of partners like you, Family Policy Alliance and your state-based family policy ally were able to send strong and clear message to HHS asking it to lift the unfair regulatory burden off the backs of religious professionals and organizations across our country.
Thank you for supporting us in this endeavor, and for continuing to help us build a nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. And if you aren’t connected with one of our 40 state-based family policy groups across the country, please take a moment to find a group in your state and begin partnering with us today!
What do you think of when you hear the word “legacy”? Since you’re reading this, I’d be willing to guess that the word “legacy” brings to mind something along the lines of leaving your family a better future, a better America. An America closer to what our Founding Fathers sacrificed so much to give each of us. An America where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive and life is cherished.
If I’m right about that, then I want to tell you about a book with you that also deals with the topic of “legacy.” The book, Giving It All Away…And Getting It Back Again, was written by a ministry friend of Family Policy Alliance, David Green, with Bill High. You may not know David Green’s name, but I’m sure you’ve heard of his family’s company – Hobby Lobby.
And David Green is no stranger to the need to stand up for our families and our Christian values – and the family of believers – in the public square. In fact, his family has contributed greatly to that legacy of a better America through their courageous stand against the Obama Administration’s “contraceptive mandate” in Obamacare. Their case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where their victory for the conscience rights of business owners – to not be forced to pay for or provide insurance that includes potential abortion-causing medications – is truly a victory for religious freedom in our country.
I hope you’ll read this special excerpt from Giving It All Away…And Getting It Back Again.
Standing for the family of believers,
President and CEO
What I’ve Learned That’s Most Important
I love British cricketer and missionary C. T. Stud’s poem “Only One Life.” The one line that really gets me is “Only what’s done for Christ will last.” I have committed myself fully to this. I believe that God has placed us on this earth to work, to earn, and to care for those he has entrusted to us. Yet I also believe that we are put on this earth to give, to devote ourselves to a radical brand of generosity that changes lives and leaves a legacy. To paraphrase God’s words to patriarch Abraham, we are blessed so that we can be a blessing.
But what do we mean when we talk about being blessed? In our culture, this might be interpreted as financial blessing. And certainly finances can be part of it. I believe, however, that the blessing God talks about encompasses so much more. Since I have been exceptionally blessed in my life, I have determined to give exceptionally as well. And what about the other ways in which I’ve been blessed?
I could go on. I’m sure you could too.
When I consider all of the blessings I’ve been given, it’s hard for me not to pause and thank my Lord and my God. His heart is generous. His blessings are wide and rich.
People may know my name now, but I started out like any Joe. Humble beginnings, working hard. But, as God would have it, my story took a turn. It was a turn marked by a faith that pushed me to my limits. Through it all, I learned to trust, and that trust led me onto a path of generosity. I look forward to telling some of the story of this journey in the pages of this book.
My second purpose is to offer the lessons my wife, Barbara, and I learned while trying to fashion a legacy for those who come after us in our family.
And there it is: legacy. What is a legacy, anyway?
The dictionary gives two definitions. First, a legacy is an amount of money or property passed to someone in a will. Second, a legacy is a thing handed down by a predecessor. I want to use the second definition because I believe it includes everything—from belief to right action to finances. You and I possess so much to hand to our predecessors, things seen and unseen.
My story begins in the unseen things. God took me on a wild trip that landed me where I am today, in the land of seen things—my company, Hobby Lobby. But God has taught me that with great wealth and power comes great obligation to the next generation. Knowing this, I have worked through my legacy plan more than once and have finally landed here, writing you my thoughts on the matter.
This is the story I want to recount now. My hope is that others can learn from it and that perhaps our generation can begin doing what few generations before us have done well: pass a true legacy on to those who follow us.
David Green is the founder of Hobby Lobby, the largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer in the world. He is soft-spoken, passionate about his faith, and dedicated to his family.
In 1970 David Green borrowed $600.00 to buy a molding chopper, set up shop in his garage at home, and started making miniature wooden picture frames. As of 2015, Hobby Lobby employs over 32,000 people, operates 600 stores in forty-seven states, and grosses 3.6 billion dollars a year.
David & his wife Barbara are the proud parents of two sons and one daughter, grandparents to ten, and great grandparents to eight. David writes what it looks like to leave a lasting legacy in Giving It All Away..And Getting It Back Again (Zondervan).
Bill High practiced law for 12 years before becoming the CEO of the National Christian Foundation Heartland. His mission is to change the way people think about generosity and their practice of it. He is married to Brooke and they have four children, two son-in-laws, and one grandchild. He can be found at www.williamghigh.com.
Taken from Giving It All Away…And Getting It Back Again by David Green with Bill High.
Copyright © [2017 by David Green. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.