Tag Archives: Conscience Protections

All the Arizone SB 1062 bill did was allow religious liberty to be raised as a defense

The Weekly Standard posted a letter by a group of law professors from various universities, including Harvard and Stanford, to explain what the Arizona religious liberty bill did. It turns out that all the Arizona bill did was specify how religious liberty protections apply within the state, using a federal standard that was already passed nearly unanimously by Congress during the presidency of Bill Clinton.

Here’s what the professors said about the Arizona bill:

The federal government and eighteen states have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Another twelve or thirteen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections. These laws enact a uniform standard to be interpreted and applied to individual cases by courts. They say that before the government can burden a person’s religious exercise, the government has to show a compelling justification.

That standard makes sense. We should not punish people for practicing their religions unless we have a very good reason. Arizona has had a RFRA for nearly fifteen years now; the federal government has had one since 1993; and RFRA’s standard was the constitutional standard for the entire country from 1963 to 1990. There have been relatively few cases; if you knew little about the Arizona RFRA until the current controversy, that is because it has had no disruptive effect in Arizona. Few people had heard of the federal RFRA before the current litigation over contraception and the Affordable Care Act.

SB1062 would amend the Arizona RFRA to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs. It would provide that people are covered when state or local government requires them to violate their religion in the conduct of their business, and it would provide that people are covered when sued by a private citizen invoking state or local law to demand that they violate their religion.

But nothing in the amendment would say who wins in either of these cases. The person invoking RFRA would still have to prove that he had a sincere religious belief and that state or local government was imposing a substantial burden on his exercise of that religious belief. And the government, or the person on the other side of the lawsuit, could still show that compliance with the law was necessary to serve a compelling government interest. As a business gets bigger and more impersonal, courts will become more skeptical about claims of substantial burden on the owner’s exercise of religion. And as a business gets bigger, the government’s claim of compelling interest will become stronger.

So basically, businesses have the same religious liberty right as individuals AND individuals can use religious liberty as a defense in a civil suit. That’s it. No one is being licensed to discriminate indiscriminately. The bill did not say that the defense could be used in every case, it just said that religious liberty could be used by businesses as a defense (more likely to be accepted by small businesses), and that religious liberty could be used as a defense in civil suits. Whether the defense would be effective would still be decided by the courts.

Even the libertarian Cato Institute‘s Ilya Shapiro, who favors gay marriage, thought the bill was FINE:

Even though I’m for marriage equality – next week I’ll be filing a brief supporting the challenge to the marriage laws of Oklahoma and Utah in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – I have no problem with Arizona’s SB 1062.

SB 1062 does nothing more than align state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which passed the House unanimously, the Senate 97-3, and was signed by President Clinton in 1993). That is, no government action can “substantially burden” religious exercise unless the government uses “the least restrictive means” to further a “compelling interest.” This doesn’t mean that people can “do whatever they want” – laws against murder would still trump religious human sacrifice – but it would prevent the government from forcing people to violate their religion if that can at all be avoided. Moreover, there’s no mention of sexual orientation (or any other class or category).

The prototypical scenario that SB 1062 is meant to prevent is the case of the New Mexicowedding photographer who was fined for declining to work a same-sex commitment ceremony. This photographer doesn’t refuse to provide services to gay clients, but felt that she couldn’t participate in the celebration of a gay wedding. There’s also the Oregon bakerythat closed rather than having to provide wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Why should these people be forced to engage in activity that violates their religious beliefs?

That’s a libertarian speaking, there, and they are not social conservatives.

An article tweeted by Ryan T. Anderson from The Federalist asserts that the real lesson of the loss for religious liberty in Arizona is how easily the Republican Party will capitulate to pressure even when the truth is on their side. They just don’t care about religious liberty enough to defend it.

What should gay activists do instead of using government to force their morality on Christians?

Here’s an excellent post from Michael Graham, a talk show host in New England, of all places.

Excerpt:

I know, I know—Arizona’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is the greatest act of human evil since Pol Pot’s killing fields.  So even suggesting that maybe—just maybe—the Arizona legislature has a point puts me on the same side of history as Hitler, Stalin and Robin Thicke.

But indulge me for a moment and consider how this would actually work:

A guy is at his print shop in Tempe. In walks a customer (good) who wants to give him money (even better!) to print thousands of fliers for the upcoming LGBTQ “Whip And Chain Exchange” at a local sex shop.

The printer—who has bills to pay—obviously wants to say “yes.” The reason EVERY business owner opens a business is to say “yes.”

But the guy is also serious about his religious beliefs. He sincerely believes that his faith is the most important aspect of his life. So he opened a business to care for his family, but he goes to church/synagogue/mosque because he needs to care his soul.

So he says “Uh, I appreciate the business but I’m really not comfortable being part of this event you’re having. Would you mind asking another printer? I’ll even recommend a few…”

Now, at this point what do you think should happen? Forget the law—what is the right thing for the parties involved to do?

To me the answer seems obvious: the LGBT folks should roll their eyes and say “whatever, man” and take their money somewhere else.  I wouldn’t mind if they said something snarky like “Dude—it’s your loss,” or “Can we leave you a copy in case you’d like a free spanking?”

Their integrity is in place. So is the religiously-devout business owner’s.  Why isn’t that the ideal outcome?

Oh, that’s right—because nobody gets to scream “I’m a victim! I’m a victim!”  And nobody gets to bully the person of faith.

And so instead what liberals and gay activists want is for the religiously devout printer, or baker, or wedding-band singer to be forced to participate—at gunpoint—in an event that violates their religious beliefs.

They want government agents to show up at the print shop or florist shop and order the owner to get to work. Force them to supply their labor for an event.

Seriously? That’s really what you want?  Because if you do—that’s sick.

Why do you care so much that some small business owner doesn’t support same-sex marriage? Why isn’t the jerk in this story the gay activist who doesn’t do what any decent straight/gay/bi/animal-friendly person would do and just take their business somewhere else?

The whole thing is worth reading. You might recognize Michael Graham as the interviewer on the Weekly Standard podcasts, which I highly recommend. The Weekly Standard itself posted an article on Wednesday that mentioned a letter to Governor Jan Brewer signed by 11 law professors who urged Brewer to read the bill and to see that the purpose of the bill was to protect Christians from having to participate closely in activities that were incompatible with their religious beliefs. The lawyers claimed that popular criticisms of the bill were “deeply misleading” and the bill was “egregiously misrepresented” by critics.

By the way, I noted that the National Football League and Major League Baseball were both opposed to the Arizona bill. Apple and American Airlines also opposed religious liberty. Please spend your money wisely. I never give these companies my money, and neither should you – if you can help it. Apple in particular is one of the most anti-Christian companies out there.

Fascism: Ontario education minister wants to stop Catholic schools from teaching pro-life view

Political map of Canada
Political map of Canada

From Life Site News.

Excerpt:

In what pro-life leaders are calling a stunning and unprecedented attack on religious freedom, Ontario’s Education Minister has apparently declared that Catholic schools can no longer teach that abortion is wrong.

Laurel Broten, who serves under Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty, said Wednesday that Catholic schools are barred from teaching this core moral belief because Bill 13, the government’s controversial “anti-bullying” law, prohibits “misogyny.”

“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” she told the Canadian Press. “I don’t think there is a conflict between choosing Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”

Bill 13 had already been slammed by Ontario’s bishops as an attack on religious freedom because it forces Catholic schools to allow “gay-straight alliance” clubs.

And confirmation:

 An official transcript sent to LifeSiteNews by the Ontario government confirms that Dalton McGuinty’s Education Minister told media on Wednesday that Catholic schools should not be teaching that abortion is wrong because it is a violation of the government’s newly-enacted anti-bullying bill.

[…]In her press conference, Minister Broten went beyond saying that Catholic schools cannot teach their pro-life beliefs, insinuating that they must actually adopt a “pro-choice” position. “We must ensure that women, young girls in our schools, especially highlighted during the week of the first ever Day of the Girl tomorrow, that young girls can make the choices that they make. This is not about being pro-abortion, it is about being pro-choice,” she stated.

A reporter pointed out that in the debates around Bill 13 there was no mention of abortion, and so asked why she had brought up the controversial bill.

“Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students,” she explained. “That includes of LGBTQ students. That includes young girls in our school. Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.”

“There are many, many families that send their children to Catholic school and choose that education for their children that also support a woman’s right to choose,” she continued. “And as I said, I don’t think that there is a contrast or a conflict between choosing a Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”

And reactions from pro-lifers:

Since LifeSiteNews first published the shocking comments Wednesday, they have ignited a firestorm of criticism from pro-life and faith leaders in both Canada and the U.S. and across denominational lines.

Dr. Margaret Somerville, the founding director of McGill University’s Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, called it an “appalling” violation of religious freedom. “If Bill 13 were interpreted in the way the Minister suggests, in my opinion, it would be unconstitutional as offending freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and free speech, as well as contrary to parents’ obligations and rights with respect to their children, and so on,” she told LifeSiteNews.

[…]Steve Phelan, communications director for the Virginia-based Human Life International, called it “a case of radical, secular leftists trying to take away the most basic rights of those with whom they disagree.”

William Saunders, Senior Vice-President of Legal Affairs for Americans United for Life, said the comments show the “totalitarian instincts” of pro-abortion politicians, but also stressed that “it can’t be misogynistic to oppose something that is so harmful to women, as many recent studies show.”

“That’s the dirty secret about abortion – how harmful it is to women; and so to suggest it’s misogynist is to completely miss the point,” he explained.

[…]Somerville said the Minister’s comments are a sign of abortion advocates’ desperation, which she sees as hopeful.

“The fact that they can’t discuss abortion shows how frightened they are that they cannot support their case in an open public square and get others to support it,” she said. “And now, if we take the Minister’s comments as an indicator, that fear seems to have increased: They don’t want to let anyone even disagree with them, indeed, they want to go further and have everyone ‘preach what they preach’ about abortion. So much for their stance of adopting so-called “progressive” values which is supposed to include their ideology of tolerance for diversity and manifest this in practice.”

Now, I am not a Roman Catholic. I am an evangelical Protestant Christian, and proud of it. But I do defend religious liberty for all. There is nothing that I hold to more strongly than religious liberty, the first and most precious of our American liberties. I think it is important for us here to look around the world and to see which groups are opposed to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It’s not the conservatives. It’s the progressives. And that’s why we must never vote for them, for any reason. We have to defend that right, as a matter of the first importance – not just for us, but for everyone else, too.

It’s important for social conservatives to understand never to make common cause with those who support big government and the restriction of basic liberties. We need to embrace small government and fiscal conservatism so that government never gets powerful enough to take away our freedoms. For a start, government should not be in control of education at the federal level. As social conservatives, we should be promoting state and local control of education, right to work laws and school vouchers. There is a connection between fiscal policy and social policy that both sides need to understand.

Must-see videos on education policy

Related posts

Ryan asks Biden: if you’re protecting Catholics, why are they suing you?

If you missed the debate last night, Life News can fill you in on the best question of the night.

Excerpt:

Paul Ryan had perhaps the question of the night when he challenged pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden on the issue of the HHS mandate that compels them to pay for abortion-causing drugs.

During the debate, Ryan brought up the controversial mandate that pro-life groups oppose.

“What troubles me more is how this administration has handled all of these issues. Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals,” he explained. “Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties.”

Biden try to explain away the Obama administration’s pro-abortion assault on Catholics, evangelicals and other religious groups and businesses.

“With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact,” Biden falsely claimed.

“Now, I’ve got to take issue with the Catholic church and religious liberty,” Ryan retorted.  “Why would they keep — why would they keep suing you? It’s a distinction without a difference.”

The mandate compels religious employers to pay for and refer women for abortion-causing drugs, birth control, contraception and sterilizations.

The mandate has drawn significant opposition from Catholic, Protestant and evangelical groups, pro-life organizations and others concerned that it includes no conscience protections for employers that don’t want to be required to pay for or refer women for drugs that end life and violate their faith.

Americans United for Life called the mandate a “payout for the abortion industry.”

So how does a person who claims to be Catholic explain why he supports the murder of unborn children?

CNS News explains what Biden said:

“With regard to abortion,” he said, “I accept my church’s position on abortion as a, what we call de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devote Christian and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.

“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that, women, that they can’t control their body,” said Biden. “It is a decision between them and their doctor, in my view, and the Supreme Court. I am not going to interfere with that.”

The actual position of the Catholic Church is that any law legalizing the killing of an unborn child is an unjust law that violates the natural law and is, therefore, no law at all. Vice President Biden’s church teaches that it is not acceptable even to obey such laws let alone support them as part of a political campaign.

The abortion issue can best be understood by comparing it to slavery, although abortion is worse than slavery. Slavery involves the mistreatment of an individual for your own benefit. Abortion goes further – you actually murder an individual for your benefit. What Biden is really saying is “don’t like abortion, don’t have one”. He certainly won’t have one, but he doesn’t mind if you do. Now apply that to slavery. Biden might say that he personally would never own slaves, but he doesn’t mind if you own slaves. But is that a moral view? No – the moral view is not only to not own slaves yourself, but to help people escape slavery and to make the practice illegal. The moral thing to do is to save the victims of slavery as much as possible, and that goes the same for abortion.

Recall that Biden had previously defended China’s one-child policy, which is enforced through forced abortions and mass sterilizations. That’s his view. And he calls that Catholicism.

New study finds that 86% of doctors unwilling to perform abortions

Wes from Reason to Stand sent me this article from the Freakonomics blog.

Excerpt:

A new study released by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, from main author Debra Stulberg, surveys 1,144 ob-gyns (1,800 were initially approached) to see how many provide abortion services. Though legal, abortion is much harder to come by than one might expect: while 97% of ob-gyns reported having encountered women seeking an abortion, only 14% said they were willing to perform the service.

And here is the breakdown by religious affiliation:

  • 40.2 percent of Jewish doctors say yes, compared with
  • 1.2 percent of Evangelical Protestants
  • 9 percent of Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox
  • 10.1 percent of Non-Evangelical Protestants
  • 20 percent of Hindus
  • 26.5 percent of doctors who said they had no religious affiliation

Naturally evangelical Protestants (like me!) are the best.

I do not recommend the Freakonomics book for learning about economics, and I would recommend John Lott’s book “Freedomnomics” as an antidote to anyone who has read Freakonomics, particularly on the issue of whether abortion reduces or increases crime rates. The authors of Freakonomics are liberal, while John Lott is conservative. You can read a popular article about his refutation of Freakonomics here, or read the research paper here.

But the main thing is that Democrats do not like the idea that you would be allowed to stop them from being happy by having a will of your own. For Democrats, you exist to serve the will of the state – both by paying taxes, and if necessary by killing babies. You are not there to have your own plan and your own family and your own life, as Republicans believe. And they really don’t like you making them feel bad by resisting what they think of as good. They don’t want anyone to say that what they are doing is wrong. They would just like everyone to pay for what they are doing and to help them do it and to help them feel good about doing it after they’ve done it – and they don’t care what you think.

Now consider this 2009 article from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

During the last months of the Bush administration, the feds adopted a new rule that could allow health-care workers to refuse to provide birth control on moral grounds. Now the Obama administration is moving to reverse that rule, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Existing federal law allows health-care workers to refuse on moral grounds to provide abortions. The new rule strengthened and extended those protections. While some groups, such as the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, supported the move, many others, including several state attorneys general and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, opposed the rule.

There have been recent reports of women being denied emergency contraception, which is federally approved for use within 72 hours of intercourse, the Trib says.

The Obama administration will start the process of reversing the rule today. Final action won’t be taken until after the public is allowed a 30-day comment period.

The Democrats went on record in 2009 as being opposed to conscience protections.

Excerpt:

The Senate on Thursday night rejected an amendment from a pro-life senator that would have provided conscience protection on abortion for doctors and medical centers. The amendment comes at a time when President Barack Obama is considering overturning further protections.

Sen Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, sponsored an amendment to the Senate budget bill that would protect the right of conscience for health care workers.

His budget amendment was to “protect the freedom of conscience for patients and the right of health care providers to serve patients without violating their moral and religious convictions.”

However, the Senate rejected the conscience amendment on a 56-41 vote with most of the chamber’s Democrats voting against it along with a handful of pro-abortion Republicans.

Three Democrats joined most of the Senate Republicans in voting for the Coburn amendment.

[…]The amendment comes at a time when Obama is considering rescinding the Provider Conscience Clause that further protects the rights of health workers.

President Bush put the provision into place to provide more enforcement for the three federal laws that make it so medical professionals and facilities are not required to do abortions.

However, President Obama has proposed overturning those conscience protections and will likely do so after a 30-day public comment window expires on April 9.

Earlier this year, Obama succeeding in overturning many of Bush’s protections for individuals whose morality differs with the morality of the government.

Excerpt:

After two years of struggling to balance the rights of patients against the beliefs of health-care workers, the Obama administration on Friday finally rescinded most of a federal regulation designed to protect those who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds.

Be careful who you vote for. If free enterprise and capitalism strike you as unfair, then pick up a book by Thomas Sowell or Arthur Brooks and read about it until it makes sense to you. Don’t vote to violate your own conscience because you have a mistaken view of which economic system helps the poor most. Similarly with foreign policy. If opposition to war causes you to vote Democrat, then pick up a book by Frank Gaffney or Douglas Feith and learn about how a strong military is needed to prevent war. Don’t vote to violate your own conscience because you have a mistaken view of which foreign policy helps peace most.