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Category Archives: Religious Liberty

Did This Councilman Really Just Tell Millions of New Yorkers They're Unwelcome There? Yes. Yes He Did.

We've shared with you before this insightful article by Ryan Anderson at Heritage about the recent resignation of Brendan Eich from Mozilla. In it, Ryan remarked:

The debate over the meaning and purpose of marriage will continue. We should conduct it in a civil manner. Bullies may win for a while, but theirs is a scorched-earth policy. They poison democratic discourse and fray the bonds on which democracy itself ultimately depends.

Even those who disagree with each other about morally charged issues of public policy need to be able to live together.

Councilman Daniel DrommBut lest we think that Eich's ouster is an outlier, a rare case, consider this more recent news out of New York City. Via the Huffington Post, a gay city councilman is quoted as protesting the entrance of an unwanted new presence into his city. From his remarks here, who might you guess he's talking about?

"We don’t need bigots coming to New York City," Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is openly gay, told HuffPost. "They are not welcome here unless they can embrace all of New York's diverse community, including the LGBT community."

What radical group could provoke such a fiery response and merit being slurred as "bigots", you ask? Well, unbelievable as it may seem... Chick-fil-A. And yet the company hardly seems like it should be so unwelcome to a sane observer.

Of course, the reason for Dromm's intolerance of the company is that its CEO personally values biblical beliefs about marriage as solely being the union of one man and one woman.

Chick-fil-A, NYC

But what's most horrifying in Dromm's remarks is his final say on the matter. You would think that maybe his first statement of unwelcomeness was a knee-jerk and misinformed reaction. What if he were told that Chick-fil-A's CEO has repeatedly said that he has no intention of bringing the company into the political debate surrounding the issue of marriage?

From HuffPost [emphasis added]:

... Dromm, the city councilman, said there was no place for Chick-fil-A in New York, even if it remains out of the political fray.

“We don’t need bigoted people even keeping their opinions to themselves,” he said. “They need to wake up and see reality.”

Not only is the sleight of "bigot," directed toward those who hold marriage to be the union of a man and a woman, completely unfair, mean-spirited, and wide of the mark. More than that: here we have the most compelling proof one could want of Ryan Anderson's assertion that the gay rights community is engaged in a "scorched earth" policy of bigotry and intolerance.

It is a "thought policy" regime in the making, and if anyone thinks a lesson was learned with the Mozilla controversy, he or she needs only consider this later story to realize that Eich's treatment was only a template for the radical homosexual lobby's plans for the future. For now, it's chilling enough to know that an elected city councilman in New York has just told millions of his fellow residents that they are unwelcome there simply on account of their pro-marriage values.

Pope: "The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman."

From CNSNews:

Pope FrancisDuring his General Audience speech at St. Peter’s Square on Apr. 2, before a crowd estimated at 45,000, Pope Francis first cited Genesis, saying, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them. … Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh."

"The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together," said the Pope. "God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful."

"When a man and a woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony, God as it were 'is mirrored' in them; He impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love," said Pope Francis. "Marriage is the icon of God's love for us."

Read more here.

"Notre Dame, you have a voice..."

A group of plucky students at Notre Dame made news this week with a petition to the University officials "to take up the defense of marriage at this pivotal moment in the national discussion surrounding this foundational institution."

Notre DameThe Cardinal Newman Society provides more details:

The petition was created by members of the newly formed Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), made up of undergraduate and graduate students at the University...

[...]

A co-founder of the group, Tiernan Kane, told The Cardinal Newman Society that he believes the university should take the lead on marriage.

"The Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, which is universally intelligible to human reason, is informed by a tradition of philosophical reflection that reaches back at least as far as Plato," [Kane] said. "As the nation's premier Catholic university, Notre Dame has the ability, and thus the responsibility, to contribute to--indeed, to lead--public discourse about marriage."

[...]

Senior Michael Bradley, a co-founder of the group, told The Cardinal Newman Society that the administration has been "entirely mute on marriage" while publicly supporting the Dream Act and other contested political issues.  [Bradley] said, "Notre Dame, you have a voice, and it would mean a lot in defense of Church teaching."

Bravo to these brave young men and women!

Gay British Critics on Redefining Marriage: "A Disastrous Miscalculation"

The Christian Institute reports:

London, UKSame-sex marriage"fundamentally changes" the definition of the institution and only a few homosexual "protesters" even wanted the change, two gay commentators have said.

Art critic Brian Sewell and newspaper columnist Andrew Pierce made their comments as the first same-sex weddings in the UK took place on Saturday.

The article continues:

[Sewell] commented that British society is “rooted” in Christianity, and that most homosexuals "are happy to respect the deeply held belief of sincere, thoughtful and informed Christians" who support marriage between one man and one woman.

[...]

Pierce said... the introduction of same-sex marriage was "politically, a disastrous miscalculation".

He commented that politicians "offended millions of people by arrogantly redefining the meaning of the relationship between a man and a woman that has been the bedrock of society for thousands of years.

"They also placed the Church in an invidious position by suggesting it had a moral duty to perform gay marriage ceremonies when vast numbers of clergy and ordinary church-goers are opposed to them."

Read the full article.

Just the Facts: What Arizona's Religious Liberty Bill Actually Says

With the media buzz surrounding Arizona's SB1062, it's no wonder there is so much confusion and misinformation about the contents of the bill. Time for a quick fact check...

SB 1062As Ed Whelen points out today in the National Review Online, SB1062 does NOT mention, much less single out, gays or same-sex ceremonies. Rather, the bill would simply amend Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act "to address two ambiguities that have been the subject of litigation under other RFRAs."

Douglas Laycock, along with nearly a dozen law professors from Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame and other top institutions, writes in a letter to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer:

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.

...to be clear: SB1062 does not say that businesses can discriminate for religious reasons. It says that business people can assert a claim or defense under RFRA, in any kind of case (discrimination cases are not even mentioned, although they would be included), that they have the burden of proving a substantial burden on a sincere religious practice, that the government or the person suing them has the burden of proof on compelling government interest, and that the state courts in Arizona make the final decision.

Read more.

Virginia's Two Catholic Bishops issue Op-Ed on Attorney General Herring

In an op-ed piece penned for The Virginia-Pilot, the heads of the Diocese of Richmond and Arlington, Bishops Francis DiLorenzo and Paul Loverde, issue a joint call to action, writing that they "call upon the attorney general to honor the oath he took, as [they] call upon all Virginians to defend marriage."

The hard-hitting and powerful piece is worth reading in full; here is just a snippet:

VAbishopsWhile declining to defend the state constitution without even appointing outside counsel is unusual enough for the state's top attorney, his decision to actively challenge the state's definition of marriage - a definition he voted for when serving as a state senator - is shocking and reckless.

Much has been written already about the responsibility attorneys general have to defend state laws, whether they agree with those laws or not. We join many others in calling on Herring to do the job he was elected to perform.

But what is at stake here far surpasses the issue of the attorney general's role and integrity. Most fundamentally, what is at stake is the preservation of the family, the fundamental and foundational unit of society.

Though long-recognized in church and civil law, marriage did not originate in church or state but in nature. Long before nations or organized religions, the institution of marriage existed as the union of one man and one woman.

Marriage has been shown throughout history to be civilization's irreplaceable building block, benefitting children and society at large. No religion, government or individual has the right or legitimate authority to alter the original design of marriage. Likewise, neither the attorney general nor the courts have the authority to impose a new definition of marriage on society.

We applaud these heroic Bishops for standing up in defense of marriage in Virginia!

Hollywood's "New Blacklist"

HollywoodIn case you missed it, at National Review Online on December 23rd, John O'Sullivan wrote of "The New Blacklist" in Hollywood, giving a name to the elephant in the room to which the Duck Dynasty dust-up has called attention.

O'Sullivan explains:

[W]hat GLAAD has been operating is a classic blacklist operation.

Its object is not to persuade those who disagree with it over the morality of same-sex relationships to change their minds. Nor is it principally intended to prevent such views being expressed publicly (though that is one of its purposes). Its main purpose is to drive those who hold such views out of their professions and to deprive them of their livelihoods unless they recant, promise not to offend in future, and remain within the boundaries of acceptable opinion laid down by the blacklist operators. And if that is done, it should make anyone think twice or three times before using his freedom of speech to express similar views.

Read the rest here.

[A]ll good with God and the Bible when it suits their agenda and business needs, but…

The backlash against the cable channel home of “Duck Dynasty” A & E continues with fire hose pace and pressure.

Phil RobertsonWhile probably not the most recent given the torrent of criticism against the network, here’s yet another take on the inconsistency of A&E’s action against Phil Robertson.

Richie Laxton on the Tea Party Nation website writes.

My Thoughts on A&E Suspending Phil Robertson...

Aside from the silliness of A&E putting Phil Robertson in time out like he's a mis-behaving 5 year old, I find this whole thing rather curious. Phil recently released his book "Happy, Happy, Happy" and he didn't hold back on a lot of controversial topics including matters the Bible addresses as sin. A&E network chiefs had no qualms then. Perhaps they assumed Southern Rednecks don’t read books and D. C. to New York elites won’t touch anything with ‘camo’ on it. But, when Pa-Paw Phil answers a question from a GQ reporter bluntly and in accordance to his Biblical beliefs, even quoting verses from the New Testament, suddenly A&E gets weak in the knees. This is glaring inconsistency on their part. Certainly they have a right as a business to do what they feel is best for their brand, Nevertheless, they knew full and well who and what the Robertson clan was all about when they signed them up.

In Phil's book, he made it clear that they told A&E execs that prayer, Bible and Christian points of view were going to be part of the show. A&E agreed to those terms and even ceded much creative control to the family regarding the series. Now this???

So, I have to conclude that A&E is all good with God and the Bible when it suits their agenda and business needs. But, when it doesn't, put a Lady GaGa meat dress on the Christians and open the lion cages. Typical, elitist, media hypocrisy in a wretched guise they fraudulently label as 'tolerance.'

Love him or hate him, at least Phil was consistent; A&E wasn't. However, after looking at A&E's Facebook page, they are the ones who are getting bit the hardest.

Prager: "In the name of tolerance, the left is eroding liberty in America."

Writing in Human Events, author and radio host Dennis Prager observes that "'Tolerance' Now Means Government-Coerced Celebration."

Tolerance

Prager gives the opinion in reference to the recent Colorado court decision that compels a Christian baker to provide wedding cakes to same-sex 'marriage' ceremonies and other such events which he objects to on religious grounds.

Prager makes many salient arguments for why this ruling is poorly reasoned, as well as dangerous in its implications for the future. For instance, he observes:

[The baker] is not discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. He readily sells to people he knows to be gay. What he is unwilling to do is to participate in an event that he opposes for legitimate religious reasons. Until, at the most, 10 years ago, no one would have imagined that a person could be forced to provide goods or services for a same-sex wedding.

Read his entire piece today.

ICYMI: US Catholic Bishops Lend Their Voice to Chorus of ENDA Opposition

In all of the activity last week surrounding the Senate's consideration of ENDA ("The Employee Non-Discrimination Act of 2013"), we forgot to share with you this statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Emphasizing the dignity of all people, the bishops quoted Pope Francis’ statement that “Work is fundamental to that dignity.” They added that “the Catholic Church has consistently stood with workers in this country and continues to oppose unjust discrimination in the workplace. No one should be an object of scorn, hatred, or violence for any reason, including his or her sexual inclinations.”

Catholic BishopThe bishops noted, however, that ENDA goes beyond prohibiting unjust discrimination and poses several problems. The bishops explained that the bill: (1) lacks an exception for a “bona fide occupational qualification,” which exists for every other category of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, except for race; (2) lacks a distinction between homosexual inclination and conduct, thus affirming and protecting extramarital sexual conduct; (3) supports the redefinition of marriage, as state-level laws like ENDA have been invoked in state court decisions finding marriage discriminatory or irrational; (4) rejects the biological basis of gender by defining “gender identity” as something people may choose at variance with their biological sex; and (5) threatens religious liberty by punishing as discrimination the religious or moral disapproval of same-sex sexual conduct, while protecting only some religious employers.

Click here to see more from the Bishops' conference regarding their position on this bill, which passed the Senate last week 64-32. Speaker of the House John Boehner has stated firmly that the measure will not be brought up for consideration in that chamber.

The Tragedy of Inaction

Well known author and speaker Eric Metaxas continues to call the Church to action in the 21st century, urging people of faith and the Church itself to stand in the public square declaring its beliefs - not just in general, but on ‘hot button’ issues like same-sex ‘marriage’ and abortion.

Church and StateChronicling some of his work, Charisma Magazine writer Joy Allmond, notes, “Before we can take on our role as the church in areas like social justice activism and preserving society, we must be aware of our current freedoms and our position in regard to the state.”

Quoting Metaxas, she continues, “There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the separation of church and state. The church is to be protected from the state. Not the reverse," …"People have divorced faith from public life, mostly because of this misunderstanding.”

Allmond expands on this costly misunderstanding, as she explains,

“We have also confused the terms freedom of worship with freedom of religion. So, what is the difference?

Freedom of religion allows us to take our faith into the public square as we leave our corporate worship settings. “The founders have said that we can and should do that,” adds Metaxas. “That means we can exercise our faith freely in the workplace, or wherever we are.”

Freedom of worship allows us to worship within the confines of the church building. However, that freedom is not valid outside of that church building. Furthermore, that means that whatever views you have on the hot-button social issues, such as abortion or same-sex marriage must be kept within the walls your home or your church building.

“They have freedom of worship in China, and they had it in Germany in the 1930s. Today, that is we have—freedom of worship. So today, we are slowly privatizing our faith because of this great misunderstanding,” says Metaxas. “Once we leave our homes or our churches, we are expected to accept the secular humanist view of everything.” (Read More)

In America people of faith have been blessed with the right to the free exercise of their religion, not just worship.  One day we will be held to account for our stewardship of this blessing.  Let be found to have been faithful – standing for God’s truth not just in our churches but in the public square, the halls of power, and across the back fence with our neighbors.

Crisis Magazine - The Persecution of Christians

ChristianityIn the aptly named Crisis Magazine, Stephen Beale has begun to chronicle the persecution of Christians as they take public stands through their businesses against the redefinition of marriage.  NOM has chronicled many of these for you, but the article is a timely reminder of the growing threat to our free exercise of religion as marriage is redefined.  Beale quotes, Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of The Thomas Moore Law Center:

These cases represent a new battlefield in the clash between the freedoms of Christians and the “radical homosexual agenda”…Despite their relatively small numbers, radical homosexuals wield enormous power. They dominate our cultural elite, Hollywood, television, the mainstream news media, public schools, academia, and a significant portion of the judiciary…As a result of their power, homosexual activists are able to intimidate and silence opposition.

Read more here.

Suing to Prove Your Innocence

Turning the tables on the national narrative, Mennonite art gallery owners Betty and Richard Odgaard have filed suit against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission asking the Commission to rule that their refusal to participate in a religious ceremony by allowing their gallery to be used for a same-sex wedding ceremony is not a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.  From the Quad City Times

Religion and LawDES MOINES — A nationally known religious rights group is suing the Iowa Civil Rights Commission on behalf of a Grimes couple who refused to host a same-sex couple’s wedding…

“Just as the Odgaards cannot be forced to display art that violates their religious convictions, they should not be forced to host religious ceremonies that violate their religious convictions,” Hardman wrote. “To our knowledge, no Iowa or Federal court has ever forced anyone to participate in a religious activity against their will. Doing so now would abandon Iowa’s history of being the vanguard of protecting individual freedom, and out of line with state and federal law.” (Read More)

It is a sad day in America when people of faith have to sue to prove their innocence.

Thou Shall Compromise Thy Faith

Despite the fact that the Washington State Constitution reads:

SECTION 11 RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion;

Religious FreedomThat state continues to be at the forefront of sanctioning people of faith when it comes to same-sex marriage.  First the State sued a Christian florist, and now it has admonished a judge for simply saying he would not perform same-sex weddings due to his religious beliefs.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Thurston County Superior Court judge has been formally admonished for saying he wouldn’t perform gay marriages.

Judge Gary Tabor first made the comments during an administrative meeting shortly before Washington’s gay marriage law took effect late last year. He told colleagues he wasn’t comfortable performing same-sex weddings and asked if other judges would do it in his stead. (Read More)

So we ask, “What does ‘Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment…’actually mean in Washington State?”

Eviscerating our First Amendment Freedoms

"It's an evisceration of our freedom of association," said John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage...

We’ve been saying for years that one of the first casualties when you redefine marriage are our first amendment rights of religious liberty, free speech, and association.  Now even the mainstream media has picked up on the growing list of attacks on the rights of businessmen and woman who wish to run their enterprises by the tenets of their faith.  The Wall Street Journal reported,

Erasing the First Amendment

As more states permit gay couples to marry or form civil unions, wedding professionals in at least six states have run headlong into state antidiscrimination laws after refusing for religious reasons to bake cakes, arrange flowers or perform other services for same-sex couples.

The issue gained attention in August, when the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that an Albuquerque photography business violated state antidiscrimination laws after its owners declined to snap photos of a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony.

Similar cases are pending in Colorado, Illinois, New York, Oregon and Washington, and some experts think the underlying legal question—whether free-speech and religious rights should allow exceptions to state antidiscrimination laws—could ultimately wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Read more)

However, there is a easier way to resolve this issue than going to the US Supreme Court – Don’t Redefine Marriage in the first place.