“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance. It must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation. . .”
Ronald Reagan, Gubernatorial Inaugural Address, 1967
Religious Freedom Wins of 2020
As today is National Religious Freedom Day, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at some recent wins for religious freedom in the United States. National Religious Freedom Day is an annual observance that serves as a reminder of how important religious freedom is.
Last year, and even the beginning of 2021, have highlighted, without a doubt, how fragile our freedoms are. If you have been actively engaged, you know first-hand how Ronald Reagan’s words could not be truer. Every year, people across our nation must fight the progressive agenda to protect our religious freedoms.
2020 was no different – but it yielded many hard-fought victories from our Supreme Court.
Here are some of the highlights.
In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Supreme Court protected the right of private faith-based schools to receive public benefits. Espinoza struck down anti-religious Blaine Amendments that forbid tax-credits from going to private religious schools. The Court wrote religious organizations cannot be treated as second class citizens by being denied rights that apply equally to other groups. If a public benefit is widely shared, religious institutions cannot be prohibited from benefiting just because of their faith. As we continue to fight for school choice, Espinoza will ensure states cannot enact rules that discriminate against religious schools.
In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morissey-Berru, the Court protected the right of private faith-based schools to make decisions regarding teacher employment, without government interference. Our Lady held the “ministerial exception,” (a legal principle that bars employees from suing religious employers regarding most employment decisions) also applied to teaching positions in private faith-based schools. The government must stay out of employment disputes of important positions in churches and religious institutions to preserve their religious freedoms. Justice Alito wrote that the First Amendment protects the right of religious institutions “to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.”
Little Sisters of the Poor Sts. Peter & Paul Home v. Pennsylvania upheld the right of religious employers (like the nuns of Little Sisters) to object to the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. This ruling ensures faith-based business owners aren’t forced to provide contraceptive coverage if it violates their religious beliefs. This victory was a direct result of the Department of Health, under the Trump Administration, explicitly passing rules to make sure religious employers maintained their religious freedom under the burdensome Affordable Care Act mandates.
Finally, Tanzin v. Tanvir made it clear religious discrimination by government officials would not be tolerated. If an individual can prove a government official discriminated (such as a federal agent placing a Muslim on the No-Fly list because they refuse to be an informant against their religious community) that individual can seek monetary damages from the government official that they might have to pay out of their personal bank account. This decision was only possible because of our legislatures passing religious freedom restoration acts (RFRA), which was the law the Supreme Court used to protect injured parties in this case. This Supreme Court decision should be a powerful deterrent for religious discrimination and make sure government officials think twice before they target an American because of their faith.
The battle to preserve our religious freedom for the next generation is being fought on a daily basis by organizations like Family Policy Alliance® who believe our constitutional freedoms are the bedrock of free society.
Though we have experienced great wins, we know a Biden Administration will work hard to roll-back some of these hard-fought freedoms. In addition to following our emails, please take a moment to check out Under God, One Nation. our new prayer initiative, where you can sign up to seek the Lord’s intervention on behalf of our nation, along with hundreds of others.
We can keep our freedoms from going extinct and preserving them for the next generation by first starting on our knees and imploring the One who granted our freedoms from the beginning.
Sign up today! Thank you for joining the fight!
Did you miss it? Last Thursday was Religious Freedom Day—a day commemorating the Virginia legislature adopting Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom, which eventually led to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the guarantee of religious freedom for all Americans. It wasn’t hard to miss as the mainstream media largely focused on the preparations for the impeachment trial and the Democratic candidates for president.
President Trump celebrated Religious Freedom Day with three new areas of protection for religious freedom. Over the past three years, we have shared with you ways the Trump administration has advanced religious freedom in quite a few areas of policy. At the very beginning of the Trump administration we asked you to urge the president to begin the process to Make Religious Freedom Great Again, which the president eventually did.
We also made sure you knew when he strengthened religious freedom by addressing the abortion pill mandate in Obamacare, conscience rights for healthcare professionals, government contractors and adoption agencies, and even religious freedom abroad – all of which are vital efforts to protect and promote religious freedom for Americans from all walks of life.
Last week, the Trump administration advanced religious freedom in three more important areas.
Student Religious Freedom
The administration will now require every public school in the nation to affirmatively certify that it does not impede, stifle or hamper the religious expression of students. Among other things, the rule reiterates that schools cannot compromise students’ First Amendment rights to pray, read the Bible, be excused for religious observances, and include religious references in school speeches or academic works.
The rule also explicitly reaffirms that schools cannot discriminate against student groups’ rights to pray and organize for prayer or Bible study at permissible times on school property if other extracurricular groups are allowed to meet and organize similarly. Neither can religious groups be subject to different rules or requirements based on their religious nature.
Schools must also have a policy in place to investigate any complaints of religious discrimination and report those complaints to both state and federal education officials.
Perhaps most importantly, the rules clarify that the Equal Access Act absolutely allows student religious groups to limit those eligible to lead their groups to those who are members of their religion. This is important as, in some cases, Christian groups have been targeted because of their requirement that group leaders be Christians and live according to a faith-based morality policy.
Schools that cannot annually certify compliance with this rule risk losing federal funding.
Repealing Obama Administration Anti-Religious Rules
In a second action last week, the Trump administration revoked a discriminatory Obama-era rule that impacted religious organizations unfairly.
The Obama rule placed a burdensome requirement on any faith-based organization providing government-backed social services such as adoption, foster care and homeless assistance, among others. The organizations were required to inform all clients that they were a religious/faith-based provider. If the potential client was then uncomfortable or offended by this, the service provider was required to provide a list of alternate, secular service providers.
The former rule made an automatic assumption that since the provider was a religious entity, clients would immediately take offense and opt to seek services elsewhere. The Obama rule immediately prejudiced faith-based providers as suspect and therefore required them to conduct themselves differently than secular providers. There was no requirement placed on secular providers to make any such declarations about their secular status or to provide alternate referrals to potential clients who desired a faith-based provider.
The final set of religious freedom protections announced last week further clarifies that religious, faith-based entities cannot be singled out or treated differently than secular, non-religious entities in federal grant-making processes. This will level the playing field and eliminate any prejudices against faith-based organizations across nine different federal agencies.
Additionally, the rule prohibits any state or local laws or regulations from superseding this rule in the further distribution of federal grant money to local sub-grantees. In effect, the rule states that no federal money can be further distributed in any manner that discriminates against religious, faith-based organizations due to their religious nature.
The Trump Record
Don’t be surprised if this is the first you are hearing of these changes. With all the noise of partisan bickering in our nation’s capital and election-year politics dominating the headlines, it can be easy to miss the good news – and this is truly good news for our families, our nation and our religious freedom.
The Trump administration has a record of accomplishment on religious freedom and is continuing to deliver on promises to protect our First Amendment rights.
For freedom for the family of believers,
Monday, January 16, is Religious Freedom Day.
Every year, the president designates this day and calls on Americans to commemorate it with activities and events.
Our friends at Gateways to Better Education say that includes students in public school. They can pray, read their Bible and talk about their faith. They can also organize prayer groups and Christian clubs. They can even express their faith in their homework assignments.
You can learn more at and download a helpful guidebook at ReligiousFreedomDay.com.