First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) FAQs

What is FADA and what would it do?

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), S. 1598 and H.R. 2802, is a religious liberty protection bill introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in the Senate and Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) in the House. FADA would prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals, associations, or businesses, such as churches and religious colleges, by denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification because they believe marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

Why is FADA necessary?

FADA was introduced in Congress on June 17, 2015, shortly before the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that all laws defining marriage as the union of a husband and wife were unconstitutional. This ruling redefined marriage across the country and opened the floodgates for the government to discriminate against citizens who continue to live out their religious and moral convictions about marriage as they always have.

In oral arguments before the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether a university or college might lose its nonprofit tax status if it doesn’t abandon its views on marriage as the union of husband and wife. Verrilli’s response was telling: “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I – I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is – it is going to be an issue.”

FADA was introduced to prevent this very scenario from happening.

Doesn’t the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and other State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts already protect religious liberty?

No. RFRAs provide generalized protections that require judges to engage in a balancing test when assessing religious liberty claims. The courts first determine if a government action substantially burdens religious exercise, and if so, it then assess whether the government has a compelling justification that is implemented in a way that does the least harm to religious liberty.

In contrast, FADA provides highly specific protections and limits judicial discretion, thereby taking much of the potential for mischief from activist judges out of the equation. FADA would take the debate out of the hands of the most non-democratic branch of government and put it back into the hands of the American people and their elected officials. FADA takes a surgical approach that does the balancing on the “front end” by protecting precisely the beliefs under assault in precisely the contexts where they are most threatened.

While RFRA’s general protections are vital for countering threats to religious liberty we may not foresee, FADA’s specific protections are vital for countering threats to religious liberty that are right in front of us, right now.

But isn’t the marriage debate a politically toxic issue for Republicans? Just look at what happened in Indiana.

It is true that last year the state of Indiana watered down its newly enacted RFRA law after it was hit with a coordinated surprise attack from LGBT interest groups, the media, and some members of the business community. But recently lawmakers have regained their footing on the issue. Efforts to further undermine religious liberty rights through sexual orientation and gender identity “bathroom bills” were defeated in the Indiana state house earlier this year and by a popular vote of 61% by the people of Houston. Republican members of Congress should not be afraid of “another Indiana” because Indiana, Houston, Missouri, North Carolina, Kentucky and many others, are fighting to defend religious liberty. Momentum in support of religious liberty is gaining steam across the country. Republicans should champion this issue, not run away from it.

Why should the government be involved in religious matters at all?

Freedom of religion is our very first freedom laid out in the Bill of Rights because if we are not guaranteed the natural right to speak and act in accordance with one’s own religious beliefs, all other rights are illusory. Thousands of religious organizations and millions of Americans are doing good work in our communities by running schools, colleges, charities, churches, and adoption agencies. The same faith and moral convictions that motivate organizations and individuals to seek the good for their children and their communities, has also led many to acknowledge marriage between a man and a woman as the indispensable backbone for civil society in America. Their religious liberty deserves protection, and the Constitution charges all branches of government with the duty to protect it, especially Congress.

Why did FADA’s text change and will it be changed again?

The sponsors changed the bill text to ensure it could not be mischaracterized by opponents as Indiana’s RFRA was. According to Senator Lee, the change “makes crystal clear that we are only seeking to prevent federal government discrimination against people and institutions that define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.” Outside of the regular amendment process, the bill text is now finalized and will not be altered again.

Will FADA authorize employees of the federal government to refuse to process the tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks of same-sex couples?

No. The bill expressly excludes federal employees acting within the scope of their employment and thus does not permit government employees to refuse people any services or benefits. FADA would simply protect federal employees from losing their job for religious beliefs expressed outside of the scope of their employment.

Will FADA authorize for-profit contractors to deny services or benefits to same-sex couples and/or eliminate any anti-discrimination?

No. The bill does not permit for-profit contractors to refuse services to same-sex couples. FADA would simply protect federal contractors from losing their contracts because of religious beliefs expressed outside of the scope of their contracts. FADA also does not protect publicly-traded corporations.

Will FADA authorize hospitals to refuse care to same-sex couples?

No. The bill expressly excludes “hospitals, clinics, hospices, nursing homes, or other medical or residential custodial facilities with respect to visitation, recognition of a designated representative for health care decision-making, or refusal to provide medical treatment necessary.”

FADA ensures a hospital will not lose its tax-exempt status or have its federal benefits revoked because, for example, a doctor does not wish to provide marital counseling services in a manner that violates his or her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Will FADA undermine federal civil rights protections, such as those available to employees and customers of for-profit businesses?

No. The bill does not alter or modify civil rights laws protecting people from discrimination in, for example, housing, credit, public accommodations, voting, and does not impact the American Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and other federal civil rights laws. Employees and customers will have recourse to applicable protections under federal or state law just as before.

Will FADA preempt any state non-discrimination laws?

No. The bill applies to the federal government only and does not preempt any state or municipal non-discrimination laws, including those relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.

Will FADA grant religious individuals and institutions special privileges before the law?

No. FADA does not give special privileges to religious individuals or institutions, rather it clarifies that the federal government cannot discriminate against individuals and institutions simply because they believe and act in accordance with their religious belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. FADA is aimed specifically toward the federal government and executive agencies that are currently operating under the premise that the First Amendment no longer protects the belief in marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Will FADA take away the right of members of the LGBT community to challenge religious individuals and institutions in court?

No. FADA does not prevent members of the LGBT community from taking anyone to court. The problem we are seeing now is that the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges has left the courts in confusion, empowering liberal activist judges to rule however they desire. FADA offers specific protection to those who still believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman in order to limit judicial discretion in current cases.

We should have faith in the courts to not hold religious defendants liable for discrimination if they are innocent. FADA would just increase government intervention in our lives.

Unfortunately, it would be naive to believe liberal activist courts will rule fairly. FADA simply puts guardrails in place for judges to ensure they rule in accordance with First Amendment rights. The Constitution charges Congress, first and foremost, to protect the rights of the people to speak and act in accordance with their religious beliefs, including marriage.

On the contrary, FADA ensures the federal government stays out of the lives of American citizens. FADA helps prevent the federal government from intervening in civil society to force people, and their businesses, to provide goods or services they feel are against their religious beliefs.

Please Share Your Thoughts

16 thoughts on “First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) FAQs

  1. Religious liberty legislation is not only necessary, but required in all 50 states and here’s why. I’m neither a lawyer nor a medical scholar, but I am a Christian and it’s from this perspective that I confront this issue. As a child I knew the Spirit of God resided in me, much like I believe He resides in everyone from the womb until a person makes the personal decision to continue to identify with Him, or to embrace an opposite truth. I have often heard the phrase “from the mouth of babes come prophesies.” There is truth to that.
    All parents can perhaps recall a time when their little toddler spoke words of wisdom that an adult would be hard pressed to find, and they turned and looked at their child and thought, where did that come from? This is real, not a fairy tale or delusion as some have falsely accused the Christian’s true identity of being. Recently, we lost one of the greatest artists ever, Prince, who suffered from epilepsy as a child. In an interview with Tavis Smiley, here is a snippet of what Prince said:
    “My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said ‘Why?’ and I said ‘Because an angel told me so.’ Now, I don’t remember saying it, that’s just what she told me.”

    SCOTUS ripped off the Christian biblical divine law of male to female marriage at creation, Genesis 2, which Jesus reiterated and confirmed in Matthew 19, and redefined it through plagiarism which they had no authority to do no more than they can redefine sunrise and sunset. SCOTUS did not and could not cite any other authority for creating ssm and the only constant written source is God’s divine marriage law created and implemented in the Bible. Precedence cannot be set through plagiarism so that decision is already contrary to America’s jurisprudence, and The People do not have to follow it. The divine scripture in Genesis 2:18-25 did not simply float off the pages of the Bible through history and morph into a same sex marriage civil right that is contrary to divine scripture. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived. SCOTUS legislated from the bench, which they have zero power to do, and made a biblical falsehood the law of the land.

    For The People of faith, this is an egregious falsehood that has been imposed on the American people and has eternal consequences. SCOTUS said male to male and female to female can get married and The People of faith must facilitate or participate in these bogus marriages or risk incarceration and lawsuit, because you will be “discriminating” against homosexuals if you do not give up your civil rights, abandon your conscience, and relinquish your faith to sexual immorality. Why would they do this? Most if not all homosexuals despise religion and believe the opposite sex or some combination thereof is within them, while people of faith love their religion and their biblical divine law and believe God is within them. You are either a faith believer or you’re not. And one view should not be forced upon the other and labeled “discrimination” if you do not accept its practices as righteous. There is no middle ground. And since when does SCOTUS have authority over sexual behaviors?

    Their reasoning — no one, not even God, can tell homosexuals who they can love. Homosexuals have a right to go before God in marriage, vowing to do forever what He has called an abomination. Then they say, furthermore, men can share bathrooms with little girls if they identify as female. At the same time the so-called “PROGRESSIVE” anti-Christian government (democrats), tell The People of faith they must accept homosexual behavior as righteous because if they don’t, they have 17th century views and are “excluding” homosexuals. When The People of faith attempt to shield themselves from this tyranny through religious liberty legislation, they are bum-rushed by hypocritical anti-Christian big businesses, anti-Christian entertainers and actors, and deceptive media headlines armed with false accusations and told your religious liberty laws are really “anti-gay laws.”

    Whaaat? SCOTUS just blatantly hijacked and distorted our Biblical Divine Order for Marriage and with it our faith values and civil rights, against our free will, then spewed it in the face of America’s faith citizenry. Listen, you anti-Christian big business, and anti-Christian entertainers/actors, UNDERSTAND, our Love for God, the divine scripture, our faith values are not up for sale or compromise. As members of The People, we also have civil rights.

  2. From what I have read here, this bill does not do enough to defend our First Amendment religious liberty!. Since Obama has appointed 40% of the federal judges and appointed two anti-Christian bigots as Supreme Court justices, is there any doubt that this legislation would be overturned as “unconstitutional”!? I have not read the bill but I assume it does not contain the constitutional provision exempting it from judicial review. In any case it appears to me that there are too many openings where the lawyers for the God hating, anti-Christian bigots like the ACLU and People For The American Way to continue to bring discrimination law suits against people of faith and their businesses. I believe the only real substantial protection of religious liberty must come from an all encompassing constitutional amendment that unequivocally prevents any action by governments at any level and civil discrimination law suits and that the amendment be exempted from judicial review.

  3. I cannot believe these morons cannot read. Do they believe they are more intelligent than the the colonists who wrote out desiny. Do we have to confirm the colonists were right. It is written in stone. maybe they need more than an optometrist. I am madder than hell about how our congress and that idiot of a president is handling this country.

  4. A totally unnecessary bill that is going to waste the money we pay in taxes. I am a Christian and I don’t feel any of my rights to express my religious convictions have been compromised. I do however feel that some CHRISTIANS, sadly are taking extra steps to insure that their brand of thinking is imposed on all of us. I feel like they want to turn the USA into a Christian Saudia Arabia

  5. what the h-ll good is fada if we are still requied to cowtow the lgbt??! what a freaking joke. iwant out of this d-mn country if freedom of religion no longer means what it used to.

  6. Your :”faith” is exactly that, faith! Christians are the absolute worst people on earth. What makes you think you can shove your bigoted hatred down people’s throat at will. You have been oppressing and murdering people for thousands of years. The only reason you are upset is because you cannot spread your tyrannical views anymore. Protection from Christians is absolutely necessary.

  7. The Republican Party needs to stop embarrassing itself with this nonsense. And on the heals of the Orlando tragedy, this is incredibly insensitive and will only make people lose more respect for the party. If that’s even possible after Trump. Courts have consistently shot down these kinds of laws, which have been proposed to allow discrimination against women, Blacks and interracial marriage. This is a waste of the taxpayer dollars you pretend to care about.

  8. Pingback: Congressional Hearings Begin on the First Amendment Defense Act – truthovercomes

  9. Why does this bill apply to only one specific religious belief? Shouldn’t it apply to all actions that derive from a religious belief? What about people who won’t work on the Sabbath? Or those who won’t salute the flag? Targeting marriage is discriminatory.

  10. I know not this Scotty’s, but I know God’s Law and, when why, the right this God has to tell you this is the way it is even because of One Adam, and one rib created of to Eve, a companion to Adam. There is such a War in 10,000 b.c.called the War The God’s pitting the Christian God’s, against the Greek and Norse God’s, yes, even Odin his Brother against this abomination of Gay marriages that the Greeks, and Roman’s pursued. The Croatian God’s won out around 800 b.c., so he has every authority in the matter. Find a cop-out God’s own bloodline through Jesus of Nazareeth, and his relative John/ Jesus of Gamala married to Mary Magdalene and it traces all the good King lineage, and the bad side from Odin swell known as the Weld Dynasty and you to will know.

  11. Most of you so called Christians are GAY anyway. F*cking bigots. You will face God one day and he will send you to hell!

  12. FADA is a Christian-hates-gays-and-always-wins-law and that is unAmerican, not Christian, and not Constitutional. Just ONE of the problems with your misbegotten idea is the lack of provision of a litmus test for a monopoly or a gate-keeper situation. For example, suppose a gay, married couple lives in a city where the only healthcare system (ergo the only hospitals) are operated by a Catholic Church charity – The Adeline-Sisters of Inner Newbern (A-SIN) and the employer-sponsored health insurance the couple has uses the A-SIN hospitals as the only in-network provider. The A-SIN hospital policy is to not respect gay couples as married, coupled, they are just two single friends as far as the hospital is concerned. Therefore, when one of the men is seriously ill, the husband is told to stay out in the waiting room. The sick man protests, wanting his husband to remain; the nurse tells the couple that the hospital does not recognize their marriage, and when the doctor is consulting a patient on life threatening illnesses only family is allowed to be in the room. The couple has no choice but to be treated as though they stepped off a sorting train car in Auschwitz where families were first torn apart. The gay couple’s tax federal tax dollars are in A-SIN hospital’s bank account; their gay state and local property taxes and sales taxes are in the hospital’s bank account through an assortment of financial streams, grants, and tax exemptions the A-SIN hospital receives. In treating the sick man, they would also receive the income from treating him and filing for the insurance claim.
    FADA must have a litmus test for monopolies, like the situation I described, which would disallow all vendors to receive this “special dispensation” to discriminate, and not be told they did anything wrong in any shape, manner, or form from the feds AND they keep getting TAX dollars.

    Let’s be clear, at the heart of the FADA bill is money. Christians want to make sure they keep getting tax dollars from everyone, including gay money. In the above scenario, they are getting their money, and more money. If they didn’t want to hear anything from the feds, don’t accept any federal tax money. Problem solved. But, y’all aren’t like that, are you?!

    Perhaps the LGBT community should come up with its own version of your law. A law that enables all LGBT people to phone in to a hot line a report, or take a picture to post a report, or upload a video report any time a Christian decides to do any one of the 1,000s of highly annoying behaviors they have that are contrary to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Once reported, they would be whisked away by either a team of drag queens or bull dykes who would spend two weeks annoying the hell out of them, just to show them how much fun it is to listen to their claptrap. The law Gays Outing Christian Really Annoying Bull Shit or GO-CRABS would be funded by taxing churches that lose IRS tax-exempt status by forgetting what it really means to be a church and tax-exempt. Oh, what a blessed day that would be!

  13. This article references several specific exclusions such as for healthcare, publicly traded companies, etc. I’m not do ding those exclusions in the bill’s text. Can someone point that out more specifically?

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