Conservatives Unite to Protect Religious Freedom

Heritage Action has joined with 15 conservative organization in demanding Congress file a disapproval of D.C.’s Reproductive Heath Nondiscrimination Amendment Act of 2014 and the Human Rights Amendment Act.

Religious Freedom is under attack in Washington, DC. Two newly signed bills could set a precedent for other local governments to intervene in the religious beliefs of Americans.

  • The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act: The bill forces pro-life employers in the District to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans.
  • The Human Rights Amendment Act: This bills forces educational organizations into promoting and condoning lifestyles, orientations, or belief that go against their religious convictions. Under the Human Rights Amendment Act, a religious school could be forced to host a gay pride day, “coming out” day, or support a student group dedicated to furthering LGBT activities.

This violation of religious liberty can be stopped by Congress voting to “disapprove” these bills.

Read the full letter below:

 

February 5, 2015
The United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Senator,

We, the undersigned, represent national and local religious institutions and organizations and pro-life advocacy organizations, all of which have offices in the District of Columbia, that serve and speak on behalf of millions of people across the United States. Most of us do not engage in the city’s legislative affairs, but we must do so now with one voice against two recently enacted laws that are unprecedented assaults upon our organizations. Both laws violate the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association protected by the First Amendment and other federal law.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 prevents religious institutions, other faith-based employers, and pro-life advocacy organizations from making employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs or their moral and ethical views about the sanctity of human life. For example, the law requires our organizations to hire or retain individuals whose speech or public conduct contradicts the organizations’ missions, and could be read to require our organizations to subsidize elective abortions through their employee health plans. The law plainly violates the First Amendment, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), and possibly other federal laws and clearly contradicts the Supreme Court’s recent, unanimous ruling in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Church and School v. EEOC.

The law would also infringe the right of expressive association for both religious and non-religious pro-life nonprofit organizations. New emergency and temporary legislation proposed by the Council of the District of Columbia may address constitutional deficiencies with regard to insurance coverage if the measures are enacted, but the measures fail to resolve the “serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that the outgoing Mayor and D.C. Office of the Attorney General have acknowledged. 2 Defending this law would be a waste of federal
and local taxpayer funds.

The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 requires religiously affiliated educational institutions to endorse, sponsor, and provide school resources to persons or groups that oppose the institutions’ religious teachings regarding human sexuality. In doing so, the law violates the First Amendment and RFRA on similar grounds.

Justices Alito and Kagan wrote in their concurrence in Hosanna-Tabor that “it is easy to forget that the autonomy of religious groups… has often served as a shield against oppressive civil laws.” While we will continue to serve the city and the nation, we cannot surrender the constitutional freedoms that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution rightly reserved to all of us.

Therefore we respectfully request that you disapprove both the Reproductive Health NonDiscrimination Amendment Act of 2014 and Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 during the congressional review period. Please take this opportunity to stand for religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

We thank you for your help in this important and urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Casey Mattox
Senior Counsel
Alliance Defending Freedom

Colby M. May
Senior Counsel
American Center for Law & Justice

John L. Schlageter, Esq.
General Counsel
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

Cynthia DeSimone Weiler
Chancellor and General Counsel
Archdiocese of Washington

John Garvey
President
The Catholic University of America

Penny Nance
CEO & President
Concerned Women for America

Phyllis Schlafly
Chairman
Eagle Forum

Dr. Russell Moore
President
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention

David Christensen
Vice President of Government Affairs
Family Research Council

Michael A. Needham
CEO
Heritage Action for America

Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight
Knights of Columbus

Jeanne Monahan
President
March for Life Education and Defense Fund

Leith Anderson
President
National Association of Evangelicals

Brian Brown
President
National Organization for Marriage

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr.
Associate General Secretary & General Counsel
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Protecting Religious Freedom in D.C.

Status: The D.C. City Council is working to undermine religious liberties in its jurisdiction.  Two bills—both passed by the D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser—will saddle religious organizations and employers with a choice between upholding their beliefs as they perform their organizational missions or complying with a coercive government regulation that forces them to violate their beliefs and missions.

  • The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act: The bill would force pro-life employers in the District to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans. The Act could also force religious and pro-life employers opposed to abortion to hire openly pro-choice employees.  For private organizations to be required to hire someone with a viewpoint diametrically opposed to their core principles is a serious infringement on the right of free association.
  • The Human Rights Amendment Act: Also passed before Christmas, this bill eliminates a 1989 provision passed by Congress that protects religious educational organizations from being coerced into “promoting, encouraging, or condoning any homosexual act, lifestyle orientation, or belief.”  Under the Human Rights Amendment Act, a religious school could be forced to host a gay pride day, “coming out” day, or support a student group dedicated to furthering LGBT activities.  These infringements undermine a major reason why parents choose private schools over public schools: the fact that these institutions are often more harmonious with parents’ deeply held religious values.  The Amendment could also require these organizations to hire employees whose personal values conflict with longstanding religious doctrine.

Congress and the D.C. Government: Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District. Under that law, which remains in effect today, the D.C. City Council acts as a legislature for the district unless it is explicitly overruled by Congress.

Congressional Overrule: When D.C. passes a law, the City Council transmits the law to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.  Once the transfer is complete, a review period of roughly thirty days begins. If, within the review period, both houses of Congress pass a joint resolution disapproving the law, and the President signs the joint resolution, the D.C. law is overturned.  If he does not, the law goes into effect.

Call to Action: Religious freedom is a core American value.  Activists are encouraged to urge their representatives to use their authority over Washington, D.C.’s government to stop these intrusive and flawed laws from going into effect.

 

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ObamaExIm3

58 Republicans Embrace Corporate Welfare

This week lawmakers introduced H.R. 597 to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Stephen Fincher%House Republican Average0See Full Scorecard% authored the bill and 57 other lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors in support.  The Export-Import bank aims to facilitate trade between the U.S. and other nations. In actuality it uses tax payer dollars to provide loans for big business like Solyndra and Boeing.

The Export-Import bank adds fuel to the fire of the crony capitalist nature of Washington DC and must be reformed.

Here’s the conservative response;

“Americans didn’t give Republicans a historic majority to hand out favors to K Street lobbyists and well-connected special interests.  If they want to honor their mandate, they’ll allow Ex-Im to expire and advance policies that creates opportunity for everyone.”

Read the full bill online.

These 57 lawmakers added their names as co-sponsor to the legislation:

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ObamaPhone

Keeping Focused on Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

To:             Interested Parties
From:       Heritage Action for America
Date:         January 27, 2015
Subject:   Keeping Focused on Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Lawmakers have one month to pass a discretionary funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security that denies funding and resources for President Obama’s amnesty programs. Although the House-passed DHS appropriations bill (H.R. 240) 1 has yet to be considered in the Senate, Politico reported some Republicans were already “exploring ways of escaping their political jam on immigration, with steps that could avoid a funding cutoff for the Department of Homeland Security while letting conservatives vent their anger at President Barack Obama.”  Such actions are premature, as Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) explained to the Washington Examiner:

“You usually don’t know for sure where these fights wind up until you have them. And this is an important one for us to have. We need to have this fight, and then we’ll see where it goes.”

Win the Fight
Some may be tempted to point to vote counts in the Senate and claim that there is a need for compromise legislation. Senator Blunt’s comments bear repeating: You usually don’t know for sure where these fights wind up until you have them.

Voters demanded more than merely a fight in November; they voted to stop the President’s reckless overreach. Forcing debate the issue through votes is just the first step. If Republicans are to deliver on their mandate, they must make the case for immediate action and force the President and his allies to defend these dangerous, unlawful policies.

At least five sitting Senate Democrats have expressed opposition to President Obama’s latest executive actions, which would grant quasi-legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to those who are in the country illegally.

  • Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN): “It is clear the immigration system in this country is broken, and only Congress has the ability to change the law to fix it…I am as frustrated as anyone that Congress is not doing its job, but the president shouldn’t make such significant policy changes on his own.” (“Donnelly sees
    Obama immigration move as too much,” The Courier-Journal, 11/20/14, http://cjky.it/14T2SW9)
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): “Our immigration system is broken, and I support a comprehensive plan to fix it, but executive orders aren’t the way to do it.” (“Local Lawmakers Oppose Obama’s Immigration Action,” KOLR10 News, 11/20/14, http://bit.ly/1FHJdUy)
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “I disagree with the President’s decision to use executive action to make changes to our immigration system, and I disagree with the House’s decision to not even take a vote on the bipartisan Senate legislation that overwhelmingly passed in June 2013.” (“Obama announces immigration plan; WV reps react,” MetroNews, 11/20/14, http://bit.ly/1vbQOcM)
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND): “I’m disappointed the president decided to use executive action at this time on this issue, as it could poison any hope of compromise or bipartisanship in the new Senate before it has even started. It’s Congress’ job to pass legislation and deal with issues of this magnitude.” (“Obama fails to convince some Dems on immigration,” Politico, 11/20/14, http://politi.co/1yCcJdJ)
  • Sen. Angus King (I-ME): “I worry that his taking unilateral action could in fact inflame public opinion, change the subject from immigration to the president. I also have constitutional concerns about where prosecutorial discretion ends and unconstitutional executive authority begins.” (“GOP leaders warn ‘impeachment’ is a dirty word,” Politico, 11/19/14, http://politi.co/1F0YPlI)

Two more expressed concern before the announcement:

  • Sen. Al Franken (D-MN): “‘I have concerns about executive action,’ said Franken, who had previously declined to comment, in a statement Thursday. ‘This is a job for Congress, and it’s time for the House to act.’” (“Senate Democrats Urge President Obama To Delay Immigration Order,” Politico, 9/5/14, http://politi.co/1pwyMtR)
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): “A big issue like immigration, the best way to get a comprehensive solution is to take this through the legislative process.” (“Warner: ‘Right decision’ to delay on immigration,” The Hill, 09/08/14, http://bit.ly/1tvyVRt)

Read the entire memo.

 

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Action Alert: Take a stand for life

Today, the House should have been voting to ban abortions after five months.

Even though six in 10 Americans supported the bill, the House caved to pressure from the bipartisan liberal establishment.

The question stands: Why did they abandon a bill that would have saved 11,000 lives?

This would have been a huge step forward for protecting the lives of unborn children. Instead, the Republican-controlled House abandoned a popular, principled bill they passed without controversy in 2013.

Call your lawmaker and find out if they supported pulling this bill from the floor.

Call Now

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