Thee Obama administration on Tuesday rejected a “right of conscience” complaint from anti-abortion groups in California who objected to the state’s requirement that health insurance plans include coverage for elective abortions.
The civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services said it had completed an investigation and dismissed several complaints after concluding California’s policy did not violate a decade-old rule adopted by Congress, known as the Weldon Amendment.
The office said the provision, which protects doctors, nurses, hospitals and other healthcare providers who object to performing abortions, does not extend to health insurance firms that have no moral objection to providing abortion coverage and instead are acting on the request of religious-minded customers.
The decision upholds a move by the California Department of Managed Care, which notified seven insurance providers in 2014 that state law does not allow them to offer coverage that limits or excludes abortions for some employers. The issue arose when faculty members at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Santa Clara University objected to this limitation in their insurance plans.
So, the religious schools and institutions cannot have plans that exclude abortion, because the Obama administration does not recognize the right of religious organizations to refuse to fund abortion. But the Obama administration does recognize the obligation of pro-life taxpayers to continue to pay the salaries and benefits of their Democrat overlords. You must pay the taxes for government, you just don’t get a say in what government does.
Alliance Defending Freedom reacted to the decision so:
Lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed one of the complaints, denounced the HHS decision.
“The Obama administration is once again making a mockery of the law,” said Casey Mattox, senior legal counsel for the alliance. “The state of California has ordered every insurer, even those insuring churches, to cover elective abortions in blatant violation of the law. We will continue to defend churches from this clear violation of the 1st Amendment and federal law and call on Congress to hold HHS accountable.”
I know that sometimes people vote for bigger government because they want a handout taken from their neighbors. But money isn’t everything – some things are more important. Like not violating the consciences of Christians. Don’t make Christianity harder for Christians to practice.
This article is from the Christian Post, and I’m blogging about it to warn you all about Facebook, and how to use it.
Story first, though:
A Christian student expelled from England’s Sheffield University because he quoted the Bible’s stance on homosexuality in a Facebook post supportive of controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has lost his appeal.
Felix Ngole, a 38-year-old in his second year of study for a master’s degree in social work at the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire was told that he is no longer a student at the university after a committee ruled he “may have caused offense to some individuals” by issuing a Facebook post last September quoting Leviticus on the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality.
Ngole’s post came in defense of Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who became the center of a media firestorm last year when she refused to allow her office to issue same-sex marriage licenses with her name and title on them because of her religious objection to same-sex marriage.
Although Ngole’s Facebook page is private and can only be seen by his friends, his post was brought to the attention of administrators at the university months later.
Ngole’s future at the university was then subjected to the “Fitness to Practice” committee, which ruled that his conservative Christian beliefs about marriage would negatively impact his “ability to carry out a role as a social worker” and that his post “transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.”
The committee ruled that Ngole was to be “excluded from further study on a program leading to a professional qualification.” In late February, the school informed Ngole that he would no longer be recognized as a university student.
“Your student record will be terminated shortly and your library membership and university computer account withdrawn,” Ngole was told. “You may wish to contact your funding body for advice on your financial position.”
That’s actually not such a strange thing, as similar things have happened in the United States. Alliance Defending Freedom has a post up about one case from Eastern Michigan University.
So what’s the solution to this?
Don’t post anything publicly on your Facebook account.
Don’t use your real name on your Facebook account, use an alias instead.
Don’t friend everyone who sends you a friend request unless you know them personally and know that they are sympathetic to your views on controversial issues.
Obviously, there are degrees of risk. Someone in an academic environment who doesn’t follow the news about what Christians are facing in different countries is the most at risk, especially compared to working in a private company. Not only are Christians in academia mingling with intolerant secular leftists, but you pay your money up front when you go to school, and getting into another school after being expelled is much harder than finding another job.
I actually have a friend who is a Christian apologist. He writes all about controversial subjects like intelligent design, gay marriage and Islam under his real name. And he friends pretty much anyone who sends him a friend request, including people who disagree with him on controversial issues. He likes to have a lot of friends, although I wouldn’t classify him as someone who invests deeply in other people’s lives. Publishing controversial views under his own name has actually caused him some trouble academically, where he lost a world-class PhD supervisor. And he has ignored all my warnings. Don’t be like that guy. The goal of your life is not to behave recklessly, and then get destroyed before you accomplish anything. The goal of your life is to accomplish a lot over the long term, and pray that the other side never lays a finger on you.
I used to attend an Anglican church in my home town when I was an undergraduate student. The church (St. Alban’s) was a wonderful stone building in the middle of downtown, with a frightfully small parking lot. The pastor (George) was excellent, and I remember many one-off things that he said. But most of all I remember this statement that George got out of the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
And he would always dismiss us with this blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
When I was in my early 20s, I used to scoff at this talk of “rest and quietness” and “wind always at your back”. I had already experienced persecution twice by that time – once in the workplace, and once at school. But I thought I was invincible. However, even back then I was tracking the censorship and persecution of Christians in countries like Canada. As time passed, I saw more cases in more countries where the secular left expelled students, got people fired, vandalized churches and private property, put people on trial, and I watched the government fine Christians for offending others with unwelcome speech. The limits on their desire to be praised for sinning disappeared. Every act of coercion became permissible in order to take away the shame and guilt.
Now that things have accelerated out of control, and even the pious pastors in their comfortable churches finally understand that secular leftism is on a collision course with free speech and freedom of religion, I find myself wishing more and more to pass my life in rest and quietness. I was careful to make a difference starting when I was young. But now rest and quietness seems like a wonderful idea as I get older. A word to the wise for you youngsters who think that you will never face persecution. Take it from someone who has faced it: it’s something to be avoided if you can, so long as you can still make a difference.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, my second favorite think tank behind the Heritage Foundation, is advising the Ted Cruz campaign about religious liberty issues. They’ve actually made a list of things for him to do if he is elected President. Since this issue is the core of my being – it animates my whole life plan – I was curious to see what Cruz intends to do about religious liberty.
Here is Todd Starnes of Fox News writing about it:
America’s Christian bakers and florists and wedding planners will be safe under a Ted Cruz presidency.
“I am absolutely convinced in my discussions with the senator that religious liberty will be a lot better off in America with a Cruz administration,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and Chair of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council.
The council released exclusively to me its initial recommendations for both legislative and executive actions that will restore the nation’s First Freedom – the freedom of religion.
[…]The council, made up of prominent religious leaders, recommended 15 action items that will protect Americans from discrimination by the federal government on the basis of their view of marriage and also protect employers threatened by the HHS contraception mandate.
[…]The council is also calling on Cruz to direct a review of the IRS’ treatment of religious organizations and to direct federal agencies to respect the free exercise of religion.
The list includes measures to promote religious liberty at the Department of Education, the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services, the armed forces, and in the federal government as a whole.
Cruz has a record on defending religious liberty:
Cruz has been a passionate advocate of religious liberty for years. He’s been in the front line trenches defending our First Freedom – helping secure courtroom victories to preserve the Texas Ten Commandments monument and the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial.
“As president, I have pledged on my first day in office to rescind every single one of President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions, and to direct every federal agency to respect and protect the religious liberty of every American,” Cruz said.
His vow is certainly welcome news to American Christians who have been subjected to eight years of vicious attacks by militant LGBT and atheist groups – not to mention the Obama administration.
“Our constitutional liberties should not be subject to the whims of the current administration, and – whether Hobby Lobby or the Little Sisters of the Poor – people of faith should not be made to bow down at the altar of political correctness,” Cruz said.
I took a look over the names of the people on his panel of policy advisors, and was surprised to see people I actually know on it. You probably know these names as well: Jay Wesley Richards, Everett Piper, Bishop Harry Jackson, Ken Blackwell, and Jason Benham. Jason Benham has had to face discrimination himself, when his show was pulled because of his Christian worldview. If I had to pick a scholar who has the same interests as me across the board, it would probably be Jay Richards. So, needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with this. Seems to me like we have been losing, losing, losing at religious liberty for the last 8 years under Obama and his Democrat allies in the House, Senate, federal government and Supreme Court. If Cruz wins, thins are going to change for us on this all-important issue. I just want to be free to be me, and not to be punished for disagreeing with other people on issues of morality and conscience.
I guess it goes without saying that Donald Trump is the polar opposite of Cruz on all of these issues. That’s why it’s important to me that someone with a record of standing up for religious liberty at the Supreme Court wins the nomination. I don’t want someone who only has talk – and Trump’s talk isn’t even that encouraging. He’s promised gay rights activists “forward motion” on gay rights. I think we’ve had enough of #NewYorkValues already under Obama, Mr. Trump.
By the way, if you’re not listening the Family Research Council Washington Watch Weekly podcast, please subscribe. They cover everything from social issues, to fiscal issues, to foreign policy. One of their frequent guests is retired Lt. General William G. Boykin, who is also on Cruz’s foreign policy advisory committee, which I blogged about before.
The Christian bakers taken to court for refusing to make a cake promoting gay marriage say their experience is like living in a dystopian “science fiction” world where the state orders people to say things they do not believe.
[…]The family firm, based on Newtonabbey, near Belfast, found itself at the centre of an international storm in summer 2014 after cancelling an order for a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie with the slogan “support gay marriage”.
[…]The McArthurs, who are evangelical Christians, said they could not in conscience make the cake because they believe same-sex marriage is against the teaching of the Bible.
[…]But Mr Lee, backed by the Equality Commission, a state-funded body which operates in Northern Ireland, said it amounted to discrimination under laws which ban refusing to provide services on grounds of religion, race or sexual orientation.
[…]Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that refusing to produce a cake calling for the change did amount to discrimination against Mr Lee.
She said the McArthurs did not have the right to ‘manifest’ their belief in a commercial setting.
You don’t have a right to act like a Christian outside your church. When you are outside your church, you have to act like a progressive atheist. That’s “neutrality”. Progressive atheists have to act like progressive atheists in public, and Bible-believing Christians have to act like progressive atheists in public. That’s “equality”, according to the taxpayer-funded “Equality Commission”. That’s their job, actually – converting the taxes collected by Christian taxpayers into witch-hunts against those same Christian taxpayers.
But look, there is more hope in the UK than there is here:
Speaking to The Telegraph, the couple said they had received hate mail and online abuse but had no regrets.
It came as Peter Tatchell, the veteran gay rights campaigner, emerged as a surprise supporter for the McArthurs’ appeal.
He said that, while he totally disagreed with their views on gay marriage, it is a basic “infringement of freedom” to force people to promote ideas to which they conscientiously object.
See? Now look here. I have no problem with gay people living how they want, signing contracts about wills and hospital visitation, and so on. But what I do object to is their desire to redefine marriage for all of us, so that people like me who have a different view of what marriage is have to be fired, pay fines and go to jail – all for disagreeing with their view. Well, excuse me, but I am allowed to have a different view.
At least one gay activist (Tatchell) has sense enough to be tolerant of those who disagree with him. That’s real tolerance, not like these secular leftist fascists in the UK government. I hope there are more like him.
Last point. How did the Christians feel about it?
Speaking to The Telegraph, the couple said they had received hate mail and online abuse but had no regrets.
[…]Mr McArthur said he had been bewildered to find himself up against the courts and a state equality body for supporting what is currently the law.
[…]He insisted that, rather than discriminating against a gay customer, the family were themselves effectively suffering discrimination by being denied the right to refuse to endorse gay marriage.
“For us, I think it means you have to leave your Christianity at your house and in your church, once you go out the door in the morning you can forget about your Christian beliefs,” he said.
[…]but [our faith affects] every part of our lives.
“It is impossible for us not to bring it with us during the day.”
He added: “It is our human right to live according to those beliefs and we can’t do something that goes against those beliefs, we can’t be forced to do it.
“That is basically what the Equality Commission expect us to do, they expect us to go against our Christian beliefs despite how we feel.”
“It is like something out of a science fiction book: ‘you have to do this, there is no choice … you must do this, no matter what your conscience tells you, no matter how hard, never mind that you couldn’t do that, you have to do it we demand it of you’.”
So, UK taxpayers must pay taxes to the government that wants to silence and coerce them. I wonder that anyone who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian could support overreach by a bloated secular government. We need small, limited government where government is focused on its Constitutional responsibilities – not on using force to make us all think alike.
I don’t think that most people of other religions, except perhaps Orthodox Jews, really understand what is required of Bible-believing Christians. We are expected to honor God in everything we do, and acknowledge him in all of our thinking and decision-making, including decision-making about morality. Although most secular people think morality is illusory and that truth takes a backseat to hedonism, that is not the Christian view.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
You may not believe that, but don’t push your views on us, using the power of government. Christians are not like you. We are not here to have a good time on Earth. Our religion is not a community activity that is engaged in for social cohesion of feelings of comfort. Bible-believing Christians think that Christianity is true – objectively true. You’re not just trying to get us to try a different flavor of ice cream when you push your different morality on us – you’re trying to get us to live a lie. And your “feeling offended” by our disagreement is not justification for using the government to coerce us (which is fascism, by the way). If we Christians are right, the worst thing that a non-Christian person can do is to discourage us from pursuing God in Christ. You do not want to face God if you are the person who causes a Christian to turn away from God. That is the worst thing you can do. And yet so many people on the secular left do exactly that… in the public schools, in the university, in the court rooms, in the media, in Hollywood, etc. Stop it.
This article from the Daily Signal makes me wonder why anyone would live in a garbage state like New York.
The new legal guidance, issued Dec. 21 by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, came as part of an expansion of the city’s 2002 Human Rights Law, which protects against discrimination in a range of categories. The updated policy specifically protects transgender and gender non-conforming individuals from discrimination in areas of employment, public accommodation, and housing.
[…]Under the new policy, landlords, employers, and businesses can face civil penalties up to $125,000 per violation and up to $250,000 “for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.”
[…]The guidance has the support of prominent LGBT groups, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York City Anti Violence Project, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
[…]New York City Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis promised to “aggressively” enforce the protections in order to ensure the safety of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
“Today’s guidance makes it abundantly clear what the city considers to be discrimination under the law and the commission will continue to aggressively enforce protections to make that promise a reality,” Malalis said. “Every New Yorker deserves to live freely and safely, free from discrimination.”
Her undergraduate degree is in Women’s Studies, I noticed. I wonder if that has anything to do with her sensitivity to feeling offended?
What would you have to do to get slapped with that fine?
Intentionally failing to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” when she has made it clear that she prefers female pronouns and a female title.
Refusing to allow individuals to use single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, and participate in single-sex programs, consistent with their gender identity. For example, barring a transgender woman from a women’s restroom out of concern that she will make others uncomfortable.
Failing to providing employee health benefits that cover gender-affirming care or failing to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals undergoing gender transition, including medical appointments and recovery, where such reasonable accommodations are provided to other employees. (Federal and New York laws already require certain types of insurance to cover medically-necessary transition-related care.
More people move to Texas than any other state, according to data released by the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS collects data based on year-to-year address changes from tax returns to see which states individuals leave and where they subsequently move.
From 2012 to 2013, which is the latest data available, Texas had the largest positive net migration of 152,477 individuals. This is calculated by subtracting the number of out-migrant tax returns from the number of in-migrant returns.
Following Texas, Florida ranked second with a positive migration of 73,789 people. South Carolina was third with 28,905 people, Colorado fourth with 26,380, and North Carolina fifth with 25,911.
Conversely, New York ranked last among the states with a negative net migration of 113,861 people. Following New York were Illinois, California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Look, Americans love America because they want freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom to work and earn and run your business. New York thinks that they can take away that freedom, and that people will stay to live like that. But they don’t. They move to Texas. They move for freedom.