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
Three Challenges We Will Face in 2019
How Hope and Truth will win in the new year – with your help!
Happy 2019! You are quite certainly being bombarded with requests to create new resolutions. Tis’ the season to pledge to make your life better.
Our approach to 2019 isn’t as much about resolving for change as it is about recognizing the challenges in front of us and confidently confronting those obstacles directly. We understand the realities of living in a fallen world, yet as believers we can have hope and confidence to face those realities by speaking truth and love. That’s what we will be doing in 2019.
As we look into the new year, here are some challenges we anticipate – and what we can all do to overcome them:
1. Students at public universities and even younger kids will face persecution for their beliefs. You may remember what happened last year at the University of California at Berkeley where conservative student Isabella Chow was harassed on campus after expressing her views. Our children aren’t immune, either. For years, a Wisconsin-based atheist groups has been attacking small schools in other states by trying to prevent prayer. This type of suppression of conservative thought will unfortunately continue and perhaps expand in 2019, but there are many conservatives who are energized and ready to support religious freedom and freedom of speech. Family Policy Alliance® worked to create a new policy clarifying that students and teachers have the right to pray at school.
Here’s what else we are doing:
- In 2019, we will continue to advance religious freedom for students and teachers by advocating for this new policy at state capitols. Wouldn’t you agree that we need more prayer in schools, not less?
2. Doctors and other medical professionals will face rules that will require them to provide services against their religious beliefs – and even their professional judgments. We’re seeing our own country impose rules and regulations for doctors that may go against their religious beliefs, especially those that require medical professionals to provide abortion services.
Here’s what we are doing:
- We will continue to work with the states to advance religious freedom for medical professionals so that doctors, nurses, insurance providers and others are free from being forced to provide abortions and drugs that can cause abortions.
- We are working with our ministry partners on the federal and state level to ensure government intrusion into medical decisions for children don’t gain a foothold in our country.
- In 2019, we will continue to work with states to ensure that parents have the right to know about and consent to their minor child’s abortion.
3. Faith-based adoption agencies will face additional scrutiny for their pro-family positions. Kansas and Oklahoma led the nation in helping children find forever homes and protecting religious freedom in 2018 by ensuring that faith-based adoption agencies are free to serve birthmoms and children in their states. Check out this video to see why Faith-based Adoption Agencies matter.
Here’s what we are doing to help them:
- In 2019, we will work with believers in those states to ensure that newly elected politicians don’t undo those protections, especially in Kansas where a liberal governor has pledged to do just that. Stay tuned: We are also helping new states looking to pass protections for faith-based adoption agencies in 2019.
Family Policy Alliance exists to bring light to every aspect of these issues as we develop honest ways to engage our leaders and ensure your religious freedom remains intact. We’re thankful for what you did to stand up for these issues in 2018. As we approach another round of state legislative sessions beginning this month, we hope you will partner with us in speaking truth in love – and holding our elected leaders accountable to do the same.
Supreme Court: Mandatory Union Dues Violate First Amendment
By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®
Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
And just this week, Justice Alito echoed Jefferson in a monumental opinion where the Supreme Court reversed its own prior decision: “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”
The Supreme Court in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council affirmed that the government can no longer compel the sort of funding that Jefferson abhorred through mandatory union dues for government employees. And by doing so, the Court for the second time this week, protected First Amendment rights to free speech and to freely live out one’s faith.
What is this case about?
This case challenges an established practice that allowed public sector unions to charge what is known as “agency fees.” In union states, this arrangement allows an employee to opt out of a portion of the union dues that are supposedly used for political activity. The fees are typically similar to, but a bit lower than, union dues.
This case centers around an Illinois public employee, Mark Janus. He challenged the agency fee system that was set up in the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. He argued that collective bargaining in public sector unions is inherently political and that forcing employees to pay any dues to an inherently political entity violates the First Amendment rights of public employees.
The Union, on the other hand, argued that without these fees they would not be able to survive and represent the employees well. Further, they argue that non-union employees benefit from their efforts and should at least pay some fees.
What did the Court say?
The Court decided that laws that compel a government employee to support a public sector union violate free speech rights by forcing an employee to support a message that they disagree with.
Justice Alito reiterated why free speech is so important to upholding our democratic system of government. Further he decried government-compelled speech because “individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning.”
Once again, as in Masterpiece and NIFLA, the Court protected the rights of conscience of all people. It affirmed our right to think, act, and speak on the topics that most affect us and refused to allow the government to compel us to speak when we wish to remain silent.
What does this mean going forward—for Believers and for union states?
Twenty-eight states are already right-to-work states, which means that employees do not have to pay union dues. This ruling will not directly affect those states, but it will have a huge effect on states that don’t give employees this freedom. To learn more or opt out of union dues follow this link: https://www.optouttoday.com/other-public-sector-union.
For Believers everywhere, in union states or in right-to-work states, the Janus opinion this week further strengthens our freedom to speak freely about biblical principles in the public square. We can promote the value of life, the good of marriage between one man and one woman, and the importance of religious freedom.
And, of course, we can support elected leaders and organizations who share our values. If you live in a state where you were forced to pay union dues to fund advocacy that you disagreed with, you are now free to send your dollars to organizations and causes that align with your beliefs.
If you would like to support Family Policy Alliance’s 2018 election efforts to see pro-family, pro-religious freedom candidates (who have been through our thorough vetting process) elected to office in both state and federal races, please partner with us here.
By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®
Today was a monumental day for all those who seek to freely live out their faith. In National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, the Court struck down a California state law that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for state-funded abortions, discrediting themselves in the eyes of women in need and undermining their pro-life mission.
On the heels of the Court’s opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop in which it said the government could not target Christian cake baker, Jack Phillips, for his faith, the Court has now recognized the need to protect prolife pregnancy centers from government targeting as well. In both these cases, the Court clearly said it is unconstitutional to target a person’s belief. However, the Court went even farther today and reinforced that the government cannot compel a private organization to violate its belief and speak a message that is antithetical to the organization’s very purpose.
How did we get here?
In 2015, California passed the Reproductive FACT Act, requiring that private pregnancy centers advertise for taxpayer-funded abortions and also disclose that they are not licensed for medical care. Proponents of the California law claimed that the Act applies to all facilities that provide care to pregnant women, but in reality, the law only affects crisis pregnancy centers. Ironically, the Act exempts all facilities that are California government insurance providers – which includes all abortion facilities.
Our state-based policy ally California Family Council and national ally Alliance Defending Freedom, who led the lawsuit challenging California’s law, have been fighting this law since the beginning. Family Policy Alliance, together with over 40 of our state-based family policy allies, also joined forces to submit an amicus brief on behalf of the pregnancy centers. We are grateful that a majority of the Justices agreed to uphold free speech and the centers’ right to freely live out their faith.
What the Court said
The Court was asked to determine whether the state of California can force pro-life, crisis pregnancy centers to advertise for state-sponsored abortion clinics. And the Court said no for two reasons.
Restricting pro-life speech
Forcing faith-based pregnancy centers to refer for abortions is not only outrageous, but also unthinkable. Our First Amendment was written to protect against this very situation—where the state attempts to force organizations, in this case those with pro-life beliefs, to promote values that directly oppose their very reason for being.
Even Justice Kennedy in his concurring opinion remarked that the legislature appeared to be targeting the pro-life message. He noted, “This law is a paradigmatic example of the serious threat presented when government seeks to impose its own message in the place of individual speech, thought, and expression. For here the State requires primarily pro-life pregnancy centers to promote the State’s own preferred message advertising abortions. This compels individuals to contradict their most deeply held beliefs, beliefs grounded in basic philosophical, ethical, or religious precepts, or all of these.”
Targeting pro-life people/entities and diminishing the pregnancy centers’ ability to help those in need
Just as the Court denounced the state government targeting Christian beliefs in Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Court also rejected targeting those with pro-life beliefs in this case. The Court noted that the California legislature intentionally used this law to target pro-life organizations.
Justice Thomas, in the majority opinion, wrote that this Act was targeting specific speakers rather than specific speech in violation of the First Amendment. Further, the Court recognized that the requirements of the Act would essentially drown out the pregnancy centers’ message and keep them from using certain forms of advertising. Pregnancy centers provide critical hope and support to women in crisis, and they must be allowed to participate in our culture.
Where do we go from here?
California’s law was just an indication of what is going on across the nation. Pregnancy centers have been facing harsh targeting from members of the abortion industry—and their allies in state legislatures. Activists on the Left work to undermine pregnancy centers using online bullying tactics. Legislatures have been considering bills that would restrict pregnancy centers’ ability to provide care.
The Court said today that the government cannot bully pregnancy centers to speak a message that they disagree with—and now is the time for state legislatures to protect these centers so that they can continue to serve and minister to women in a time of need. And lawmakers also must continue to ensure that the abortionists who actually perform the invasive abortion procedure are held accountable and follow the law.
We hope you will continue to partner with Family Policy Alliance and the state-based family policy council ally in your state to ensure that everyone has the ability to freely live out their faith—without unjust interference by the government.