The Greens of Hobby Lobby: One Family with Courage is a Majority

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There is no getting around the fact that Jesus offends some people. Nevertheless, He is too important in my life for me to cower in fear of mentioning His name. David Green, owner, founder Hobby Lobby

The Green Family (who are Okies, by the way) risked everything they had worked for all their lives.

They put everything but their lives on the line by refusing to accede to the HHS Mandate’s requirement that they pay for insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. The Greens, who are Southern Baptists, already provided insurance coverage for contraceptives for their employees.

But they would not be participants in the evil of abortion. It conflicted with their faith in Jesus Christ.

So, they took a stand that was, in terms of business, totally stupid. They refused to abide by the HHS Mandate. What’s more, they put the name of their company, which they had built themselves from a $600 dollar investment, on a lawsuit.

This wasn’t a roll of the dice. It was an act of faith. The lawsuit was turned back, then resurrected in other rulings. When it was first turned down, the Greens said they would not abide by the Mandate, even if it meant paying millions of dollars a day in fines to the government.

This was not grandstanding. It was a reality of their lives at that time. They were facing ruinous fines for following Christ. It would most likely have put them out of business.

Another court overturned the earlier ruling and they were granted a stay.

Their lawsuit made it’s way to the Supreme Court, and today, the Court ruled that the Green family, as well as other owners of privately-held corporations, are exempt from the contraceptive portion of the HHS Mandate.

I’ve been watching and reading a bit of the reaction to the news. It’s totally predictable claptrap about how this ruling allows corporations not to follow “the law” and how it “endangers women’s health.”

My reaction to this is give me a break. First, the Supreme Court’s ruling is the law, which is something the HHS Mandate has never been.

The HHS Mandate is an agency rule which has the force of law. It was never passed by elected officials. It was created by an appointed committee. To call this thing a law violates the underlying principles of government by representation on which this nation was founded.

Second, women’s health is not endangered by not being able to get insurance coverage for abortifacients. What endangers women’s health is allowing things like the morning after pill to be put on counters where everyone can buy and use them as many times a month as they want. The health consequences of using the morning after pill for birth control could be terrible for women’s health.

Also, as I just said, the stuff is available over the counter. If a woman uses it the way it’s intended, it would be a once in a lifetime deal. If they are using it repeatedly, they are endangering their health. Period.

I’ve read all sorts of comments attacking this ruling, but I think the ruling is wonderful.

It puts a couple of teeth back into what has rapidly been becoming a toothless concept of religious liberty in this country. The government — the government — does not have any business requiring people to violate their faith under threat of government penalties. The government also does not have any business passing draconian agency regulations that infringe on American liberties by the fiat of a hand-selected back-room committee and calling it “law.”

The Green family saved our First Amendment freedoms today.

They did it as an act of faith in which they put their entire life’s work on the line based entirely on their faith in Jesus Christ.

May their tribe increase.

Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey. Barbara Green, co-founder/owner of Hobby Lobby

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Is Religious Freedom Threatened? Duhhh … Is This a Trick Question?

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When the roll is called down yonder, we’ll all line up according to our politics.

At least that appears to be the situation regarding the answers to the question of whether or not religious freedom is threatened.

There’s a lot of gas expended on this question, and most of it falls so predictably into political camps that the answers look more like responses to a roll call than genuine thinking.

Liberal Democrats, say no, of course not; only ignorant fools think so. Liberal Protestants, who are also almost entirely liberal Democrats, say no; only bigots who want to cling to their bigotry say yes. Conservative Republicans say yes; only liberal flat-liners who’ve sold this country out doubt it. Conservative Protestants, who are becoming more and more a solidified conservative Republican front, say yes; only weak Christians think otherwise.

Catholics? As the religious group that is Liberal Democrats, Conservative Republicans and every single thing in between, all sitting around the same table, we answer, yes/no/what did you say? and whatever.

So what do I, a decidedly liberal Democrat who is also a decidedly devout Catholic, say?

Before I answer that, I’m going to narrow that question to whether or not religious freedom is threatened in United States of America. I think the answer for much of the rest of the world is so obviously yes that those who doubt it fall into the same intellectual space as holocaust deniers.

Even when I narrow the question to the United States, I am tempted to reply … Duhhhh … Is this a trick question?

Rather than go for the golden one-word/one-off, you’ve-got-to-be-kidding answer, let’s review the obvious, public and undeniable facts.

What did the Supreme Court do this week?

It heard three cases brought before it by people who feel so strongly that their religious freedom is being violated that they are willing to risk their businesses and life’s work to stand against it. These are not rabble rousers. They are stable, quiet, pillars-of-the-community types, who normally eschew both litigation and the spotlight. They are the people who are the foundations of this country.

These people didn’t want to be part of a Supreme Court case. They were backed into this position by an overweening government that is so bent on enforcing an agency regulation that infringes on religious liberty that it is willing to precipitate a Constitutional crisis to do it.

What is happening in court rooms all over this country? We have mom and pop businesspeople — again quiet, apolitical, non-litigious, pillars of the community types — who are being forced to risk their livelihoods rather than violate their religious beliefs. This is happening because of overweening government force.

Not one of these people wanted to do this. Not one of them is the type who loves standing in front of microphones and sounding off. Every single one of them is putting their livelihoods on the line to stand for what they believe against a government that has taken hubris as its operating standard.

According to court testimony by administration attorneys, the fiction that is driving these government attacks on religious liberty is a deliberate narrowing of the First Amendment. Instead of religious freedom that applies to every man, woman and child in this great nation, the Obama Administration is seeking to shoe-horn it into the box of a narrow “freedom of worship.” In other words, keep your faith behind the closed doors of church sanctuaries, or suffer government-mandated penalties.

The standard argument against all this is either a stubborn sophistry which simply denies the obvious, or an insulting version of the hayseed argument. The hayseed argument goes like this: We sophisticates in the know understand that these hayseeds out in the hustings are deluded fools for thinking that their rights are being violated. We morally superior denizens of right-thinking also know that the hayseeds in the hustings are so blighted morally that their outdated ideas of religious fealty need to be shut down for a greater good that is defined by — you guessed it — us.

The hayseed argument, stupid and arrogant as it is, is actually the driving argument behind all these initiatives against individual freedom. It is the insider’s view of what they think is outsider foolishness for opposing the obviously higher morality and wisdom of their betters.

A slightly different version of the hayseed argument is the moral ingrate argument. It goes something like this: Moral imperatives which have been discovered in the last five years require that the moral ingrates of this country abandon their claims to religious freedom in order to serve the higher morality that we sophisticates have fashioned for ourselves and which we are going to use government force to enforce on everyone else.

The hayseed and moral ingrate arguments often overlap in actual practice. Sometimes they merge. The subtle difference between them is that one appeals to the pretension of moral superiority on the part of those who purvey it, and the other feeds their pretensions of intellectual superiority. Both arguments are at base a pose and a sham that have far more to do with bell-jar/echo-chamber thinking than anything approaching reality.

There is one other argument that surfaces in these discussions. That is the every-kid-in-China argument. This one is familiar to mothers of previous generations who were faced with recalcitrant children who wouldn’t eat their veggies. You know: The every kid in China would love to have that spinach on your plate, so you’d better eat it argument.

Applied to the question of attacks on religious freedom in America today, it goes something like this. Christians in other parts of the world are suffering real persecution. They are being burnt, beheaded, raped, imprisoned and tortured. So how dare you complain about government oppression of your little rights?

The irony is that this particular argument is usually advanced by someone who, in other contexts, does everything they can to deny and minimize the horror of Christian persecution.

I’m going to circle back here and take another look at the original question: Is religious freedom threatened in America today?

The answer is, of course. That’s obvious. The parsing — and that’s all it is — runs along lines of party affiliation and prejudice.

 

Note: This post is my reply to the discussion about Patheos’ Public Square Question: Is Religious Freedom Threatened? 

Stupak: HHS Mandate was a Double Cross

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I’ve written several times that President Obama lied to Congressman Bart Stupak in order to get the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) through Congress.

The tactics used against pro life Democrats in order to pass this legislation totally destroyed the nascent pro life movement in the national Democratic Party. According to news reports, the Obama administration threatened to close military bases in Senator Ben Nelson’s state of Nebraska, thus putting tens of thousands of his constituents out of work. These threats were made in order to secure the 60th vote necessary to stop a filibuster in the United States Senate.

The president persuaded Congressman Bart Stupak to abandon his fight to block the bill in the House by giving him an “ironclad” promise that he would issue an executive order guaranteeing religious freedom and no federal monies for abortion under the bill. The president did issue an executive order, which I personally thought was insufficient, even at the time.

First an executive order is not a statute, and this critical issue clearly needed statutory force. Second the executive order itself was insufficient.

However, the president put the lie to his own promise when he followed this executive order by signing, promoting and putting the entire force of his presidency behind the ignominious HHS Mandate. The HHS Mandate is an egregious and direct attack on religious freedom. His administration’s arguments against court challenges to this mandate have sought to restrict First Amendment freedoms to religious practices inside church buildings.

If President Obama wins the court challenges to the HHS Mandate, using these arguments, it will be the death of religious freedom in this country. It will also set off a Constitutional crisis more serious than anything America has faced since the Civil War. That is the outcome of Congressman Stupak’s actions.

Congressman Stupak returned to private life after the session in which Obamacare passed. But he was one of the early opponents of the HHS Mandate. He signed a letter against the Mandate in which he referenced the fact that President Obama had betrayed his promises.

Now, he’s taken it a step further and publicly stated that the HHS Mandate is a double cross.

What does all this amount to?

One thing: The President of the United States is a liar. He’s not a liar on whether or not he caught a minnow that was six feet long. He’s not a liar on whether or not he had an affair with a woman. He’s a calculated, deliberate liar on matters of policy that affect the American people. He lied to a member of the United States Congress on a matter of extreme importance to this country to get the congressman’s vote.

There’s no coming back from that.

I know that a lot of pro life people want to burn Congressman Stupak in effigy. I, for one, never believed the president. I can’t find the exact word for how I felt when I watched the vote on this bill and heard Congressman Stupak’s comments. It was a mixture of pity and sorrow, coupled with grief.

I’ve experienced a bit of the pressure that is put on Democratic elected officials to get them to betray their pro life beliefs. I have a lot of sympathy for Senator Nelson, for the simple reason that he was responsible for his constituents. It’s a terrible thing to tell an elected official that if they don’t do what you want, you will destroy the lives of tens of thousands of the constituents it is their job to protect.

I’ve seen this happen on the state level, for a lot less than the Affordable Health Care Act. I’ve seen Democrats threaten to close colleges in another Democrat’s house district if they didn’t change their vote on a bill. I’ve seen a Republican speaker threaten a Democratic House member with the closure of a major industry in his district if the Democrat didn’t stop asking questions that the Speaker found embarrassing. I’ve seen pro life Republicans kill pro life bills at the behest of corporate interests. I’ve been on the receiving end of pro abortion Democrats’ demands that I kill pro life bills for party loyalty.

I’ve seen things a lot worse than what I just described, that I don’t want to write about.

I don’t doubt for one minute that the Obama administration threatened to put tens of thousands of people out of work, just simply to pass a bill. I also don’t doubt that Congressman Stupak was the object of intense hate, vilification and threats over this vote. President Obama is not only a liar, but he’s a convincing liar, and I don’t doubt that Congressman Stupak believed him.

I have never experienced the pressure that happens at the national level. I imagine it’s the difference between a 1,000-pound bomb and a hydrogen bomb. It is localized annihilation versus national annihilation.

Just the same, I can tell you that what I went through was more than enough for me. I didn’t fail. I passed the pro life bill the Democrats tried to force me to kill. I thank God for that. I mean that literally. I thank God for that.

Unlike Congressman Stupak and Senator Nelson, I had the great help of my own past. I knew what abortion was, and I knew what I had done in the past. There is no certainty quite like looking at the depth of your own depravity. It is absolutely shattering. After that, you stop trying to be smart, because you know that your own smarts have led you to do what you can never undo.

I also had the experience of having seen the lying liars of politics before. I had matriculated through the school of being in office and out of office and then back in office once again. That perspective lets you to see the lies of politics as nothing else can.

I knew that sometimes you just have to do what’s right and put the rest in God’s hands. It’s a matter of stepping out onto what looks like thin air and trusting that He will put solid ground under your foot. “Lean not on your own understanding,” the Scriptures tell us. “Trust and obey,” the hymn teaches. That is exactly what you have to do.

Bart Stupak believed a lying president, and the action he took because he believed let the genie out of the bottle. I know I’m going to get roasted and toasted by the absolutists in Public Catholic’s readership, but I feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for him at the time. He had such a magnificent opportunity to stand for life. And he gave it away for a lie.

Based on the op-ed piece he wrote for USA Today, Congressman Stupak is still trying to parse what he did. I don’t think he can accept that it was a disaster, and not just for him personally. It was a disaster for this nation, allowing as it did the formulation of the HHS Mandate.

It was an unmitigated disaster for the fight for life and for Christian values generally. The resulting purge of pro life Democrats from the Democratic Party has resulted in one of our two national parties going totally over the cliff on moral issues.

This is a terrible thing, for all Americans. Knowing what I know of politics and both of these two national parties, I can tell you that Christians no longer have a choice at the ballot box. I always get rebuffed by hard-core Republicans when I say this, but I will continue to say it, because it is true. Both parties are amoral. Without a balance of push and pull between them to keep one another honest, they will, either one of them, do terrible things. This isn’t something I’m guessing about. I’ve seen it.

By destroying the growing pro life movement within the Democratic Party, Congressman Stupak’s actions also destroyed the single best chance this country had to find legislative resolutions to the social issues that are tearing it apart. We need both parties to change this country. Congressman Stupak’s actions polarized the fight in a horrible way.

I feel sorry for him.

And for all of us.

Christians’ Dual Citizenship and Engaging the Culture for Christ


In the video below, Cardinal Wuerl discusses what he calls the “subtle” loss of religious liberty in America.

From my viewpoint, the loss of religious liberty is only subtle to those who do not want to see what is happening. In truth, it has been snowballing for quite a while.

The sign of hope is that for the first time, there is real pushback. I’m not talking about angry speechifying and partisan political demagoguery, but actual pushback in the form of court cases, marches and a public engagement in favor of religious liberty by whole groups of people who heretofore opted out of the battle.

The HHS Mandate was a watershed moment in American history in this regard. By attempting to force the Church itself to violate its own teachings in a federalized, all-fifty-states manner, the Mandate forced the war upon religious leaders who had been committed to a policy of negotiation and compromise. The Mandate pushed things past compromise and into choosing this day whom you would serve.

The administration has since backed off parts of the mandate, but the essential core of its position on religious liberty: That the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion pertains only to churches and direct church institutions, has not budged. The question that this forces on thinking people is whether or not they will support our Constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion without government interference or not.

Far too often, people allow their partisan political loyalties to make their decision in this matter for them. This is such a strong trend that I am fairly certain that if the party who was being criticized for attacking religious liberty changed from, as it is in this case, the Ds, to the (as it has been and will be again in other cases, the Rs) many people would switch their positions on the issues to follow their party.


I do not know how to get people to stop looking at the world through partisan-tinted glasses. But I know that this is essential — essential — if you want to be effective for Christ in our country’s political discussions.

One way that America is unique is that every citizen is a de facto politician. No American citizen is exempt from responsibility for the directions our government takes. Because of the great freedoms and the many powerful options to seek redress against our government that every American citizen possesses, we are all called to have opinions and engage the political world for change, at least on some level.

Our government and both political parties have become corrupted by the control of special interests and overweening government bureaucracies. I don’t know how else to say it. We, as American citizens, have a responsibility to stand back from that corruption and think for ourselves. As Christians we have an eternal responsibility to put the Gospels first in our considerations.


American Christians are citizens of two kingdoms simultaneously. We are American citizens and we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. One of the great things about America is that is has not, up until very recently, required its citizens to chose between these two kingdoms.

America has always honored the demands of conscience of its individual citizens. Those whose faith demands it are not required to fight in our wars and no one challenges their patriotism. We have never forced anyone to undergo a religious test to hold public office in this nation.

But now, there are groups which seek to push their ideas on other people to the point of abrogating their right of personal conscience. Rather than follow the time-honored American tradition of allowing those whose faith compels them to forego certain activities to do so, they are using the law and courts to force religious people to participate in everything from abortions to gay marriages. They base this on nebulous claims to their “right” to these activities which, they say, trumps the rights of other citizens not to participate in them.


The HHS Mandate is a sinister, tyrannical abuse of government power that attempts to shear the First Amendment loose from its time-honored moorings in the rights of individual American citizens to act and live according to their faith without government penalties, intervention or discrimination. It thrusts the United States government into areas where it has never gone before and into which it should not go now.

Other laws, such as those Cardinal Wuerl mentions in this video, have been bubbling up all over the country, which, at least in their local applications, set aside First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty almost entirely in favor of other new goals of government meddling in American’s private lives and religious institutions in order to force private citizens to participate in culture war objectives such as abortion and gay marriage against their will.

I am aware that a good number of the readers of this blog comfort themselves with the fiction that all they have to do to support religious liberty is to vote Republican. I am also aware of the fact that most people don’t have my experience dealing with these issues from inside government and seeing first hand what a shallow and ultimately bogus hope that is.

I can only tell you that I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, not once but many times, how completely craven both political parties truly are in these matters. I am not saying that many of the people in the Republican party are not wonderful, committed Christians. I am saying that when push comes to shove, they allow their party to tell them to back off, back down and shut up about everything from pro life to religious liberty. I have seen it happen.

In this respect, they aren’t all that different from the Democrats. There are devout Christians in the Democratic Party, as well. But they can’t withstand the pressure from their party.

The big difference is that Democratic party structure itself has become overtly hostile to traditional Christian morality as it applies to human sexuality, while the Republican party gives a lot of lip service to supporting it. The Rs do not attack Christian morality concerning human sexuality with legislation designed to undermine it. The Ds will and do.

But the Rs (again, I refer to the party structure, not individual Republicans) only take stands with words, or when they see a political advantage. In fact, in many instances, (I’m specifically thinking about the HHS Mandate here) the Rs take stands only with words and do not use their clout in Congress to effect change.

The point I am making, is that if you are a Republican, you should not stand for this. You need to stop buying the manipulative nonsense your party is pushing and demand they go at the HHS Mandate by making it a sticking point in their negotiations on budget issues or wherever else they can gain traction. People get what they want. If the Republicans wanted to stop this mandate rather than just use it for campaigning purposes, they could make a big difference.

On the other hand, Democrats like me are so isolated and besieged within our parties that only the most determined of us can stay the course at all. It is impossible to describe to someone on the outside the kind of pressures that Democratic lawmakers are under to compromise matters of faith concerning issues such as abortion, marriage and religious freedom.

If you are a Democrat, you need to step up to the plate and demand that your party stop attacking the pro-life, pro-religious freedom lawmakers in their midst. You also need to consider running for party offices, beginning at the precinct level, to replace some of these nuts who are running our party and get the thing back on track.

Americans do not have the luxury of sitting around and saying “what can you do?”

The truth is, any American, all Americans, can do a lot.

My father was a mechanic with an 8th grade education. I went to the worst schools in the poor part of town. I am a woman, from an era when women didn’t have the options we have today. And I have spent 18 years in elective office.

Why? Because I am an American citizen and I have Constitutionally guaranteed right to engage the larger culture about the things I believe.

The rest of you should try it. Politics can be both honorable and holy work. All you have to do is put Jesus first and let the chips fall.

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Same Judge Who Turned Hobby Lobby Down, Now Grants Them a Stay on HHS Mandate

 

Hobby lobby zps8425ff5aI’ve read the news reports on several outlets, and I’m not exactly sure what the judge did, except that it’s clear that he stopped the government from dropping the guillotine on Hobby Lobby next month.

The draconian HHS Mandate, which is scheduled to go into effect in August, would probably, in the judge’s own words, “cut the legs from under” any “individual or corporation” who is so bold as to say “no” to it. Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby is exempt from compliance with the HHS Mandate, at least until higher courts rule in the matter. He also put the case on hold until October 1 to give the Obama administration time to respond. 

What does this mean?

Well, it means that the government can’t start putting Hobby Lobby out of business because it won’t pay for abortifacients for its employees, at least not next month. 

It also gives the Obama administration a bloody nose. The administration originally contended that First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion only applied to churches. Then, when it began losing in court, the administration widened that out to include direct affiliates of churches. The administration has not budged in its position that the First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion does not apply to you, me or any other individual. 

I think this latest ruling puts other judges on the hot seat. Are they going to allow corporations and individuals to go down the tubes next month, or are they going to step up and grant similar stays for everyone?

One interesting fact: Judge Joe Heaton is the same judge who denied a somewhat similar request by Hobby Lobby in November 2012. His reasoning then read like Obama administration boilerplate. 

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What has happened to change his mind? 

It may be that the reasoning of other justices who did not agree with him made him re-think the issue. It may also be that he finally wised up to the fact that the HHS Mandate is a challenge to the Constitution itself. It may also be that he came to understand what I saw when I first read about the nascent HHS Mandate months before it was promulgated: This thing has the makings of a Constitutional crisis of a magnitude not seen in this country since the Civil War. 

There has been a huge overstepping of individual liberties in the culture wars lately. Whether the issue is abortion or gay marriage, those who promote these positions are not satisfied with laws that allow them to do what they want. They are pushing hard for laws that force other people to participate in doing it with them. 

The HHS Mandate, by directly targeting the Church itself, along with its many ministries, stepped up the fight and made it something that was impossible to ignore. The days of going along to get along ended for believers in religious liberty and freedom of conscience when President Obama signed that thing. 

It’s possible Judge Heaton got his wits together and realized the magnitude of what he was dealing with. It’s also possible that Hobby Lobby’s lawyers wrote a better brief this time around. 

I don’t know. 

I do know that this ruling today is a good and hopeful one for all of us who hold our Constitutional liberties dear. 

Michael Hastings’ Life and Death: Who Ya Gonna Believe?

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Michael Hastings sent this email at 1 pm, Monday, June 17:

Hey [redacted] the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ,” er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.
Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radat for a bit.
All the best, and hope to see you all soon.
Michael

By 4:30 am, Tuesday, June 18, Michael Hastings was dead.

Staff Sgt Joseph Biggs, who knew Hastings in Afghanistan, said of the email, “It alarmed me very much. I just said, it doesn’t seem like him. I don’t know, I just had a gut feeling, and it really bothered me.”

The FBI issued this statement soon after Hastings’ death denying that they were investigating him:

“At no time was journalist Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI,” agency public affairs specialist Laura Eimiller told CBSNews.com and other outlets, after the organization WikiLeaks suggested as much in a tweet.
This statement was a departure from the FBI’s policy of neither confirming or denying investigations, and earlier statements from FBI representatives, refusing to comment.

The video below contains a reaction from The Young Turks concerning Mr Hastings. The speaker gets worked up and both he and the commenters go off into the weeds. However, I think their points concerning Michael Hastings are well taken.

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It’s Easter … and the Fight for Religious Freedom Continues

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I focused on Holy Week issues last week.

I would love to continue doing the same thing this first week of Easter. In fact, it might be nice to never do anything else. But the world and our duty to engage the world for Christ goes on.

Challenges to the HHS Mandate continue to wend their way through the judicial process. 

Hobby Lobby was granted a hearing of its appeal against the HHS Mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges. Most appeals are heard by three judges. The fact that the whole panel will hear this one reflects the seriousness of the issue involved. I can think of few issues more serious than whether or not the First Amendment applies to applies to everyone.

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We need to continue to support both EWTN and Hobby Lobby, as well as all others who have stepped up to fight for our freedoms.  I got paid today. I’ll be too busy to do any shopping for a few days, but the first chance I get, I’m heading to Hobby Lobby. I may top it off with lunch at Chick Fil-A. I hope you do the same.

From CNA:

.- Christian-owned craft giant Hobby Lobby will be able to make its appeal against the federal contraception mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges, rather than the usual three.

“Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions,” explained Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a press release on March 29. The Becket Fund is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby in court.

Duncan said that the decision to grant a full nine-judge hearing speaks to the gravity of the issue.

“This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens,” he explained.

As its religious freedom case comes before a federal court, Hobby Lobby had petitioned for an “en banc” hearing, or an appeals hearing before the full bench of nine judges.

“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Duncan. (Read more here.)

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Meanwhile, EWTN’s lawsuit against the HHS Mandate was dismissed by an Alabama court because the court said the case “wasn’t ripe.” I would make a comment about the choice of the word “ripe,” but it’s too easy. EWTN has vowed to fight on.

If you’re getting the idea that going to court is a roll of the dice, you’re right. It all depends on which judge you draw and if their lunch agreed with them.

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From CNA:

.- The EWTN Global Catholic Network is “extremely disappointed” by a Monday court ruling that dismissed as “unripe” its lawsuit against a federal mandate that could require the organization to violate Catholic teaching.

“Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are not healthcare. EWTN cannot and will not compromise our strongly held beliefs on these moral issues,” EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said March 25.

On Monday Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham dismissed the Irondale, Ala.-based organization’s lawsuit until new regulations are “created and finalized.” The March 25 court decision agreed that EWTN has standing to sue, but it sided with Obama administration lawyers who contended that the case is not ripe for review. (Read more here.) 

 

Fourteen Members of Congress Sign Letter Asking that Conscience Rights Be Included in Budget Bill

Fourteen members of Congress sent a letter to the House leadership asking that conscience rights be included in the upcoming budget bill. They mentioned specific violations of the right to conscience, including the HHS Mandate. Thirteen of the 14 signers were women. This puts the lie to the claim that women support attacks on religious freedom and individual freedom of conscience such as the HHS Mandate.

This is an unprecedented move by these House members which could have far-reaching consequences for the future of religious freedom in this country. I don’t know if these Congresspeople wrote this letter in response to the call for Congress to make the HHS Mandate a bargaining chip in the sequester/fiscal cliff/budget negotiations. But I do know that this letter came shortly after grassroots lobbying efforts  for this kind of move began.

Fourteen signers out of 453 voting members of the US House may not sound like much, but I think it’s a great start. By putting their names on this letter, these Congresspeople have stepped out in front of the issue of religious freedom and used their clout as members of the majority party to urge their leadership to do the same.

I am going to contact members of my Congressional delegation and ask them to sign on to this letter, as well. Hopefully, we will get many more Republicans and a few Democrats to sign. I am also going to contact those who signed this letter and thank them.

You can contact your Congressman or woman by going here.

This is a copy of the letter in question:

Letter to boehner religious freedom

Letter to boehner religious freedom page 2

Letter to boehner religious freedom page 3

Signers of this letter are planning a press conference tomorrow. Frank Weathers has the story here.

Standing Our Ground for The First Freedom


I’ve been saving this.

I’m not a seer. I don’t have a crystal ball. But I knew a couple of weeks out that President Obama was likely to be re-elected. I also knew that if I was right, we’d all need leadership from our bishops.

I guess they thought the same thing. The USCCB launched a website for religious freedom, FirstAmericanFreedom.com just before the election. We were all so caught up in casting our votes that I thought it would be better to wait and share it with you after the dust had settled a little.

There’s a message in this website, a partial answer to the questions I’ve been asking and the things I’ve talked about here and here. The answer, the plan, the message is this:

Stay the course.

If you are Christian and you know it, stay the course. Stand your ground. Re-think. Re-tool. Re-assess. Change your tactics to fit reality. But do not back down, go away or stop standing for Christ.

In fact, I would go the other way with this. I think one thing that has brought us here is that so many Christians are, in the words of Thomas Paine, “sunshine patriots and summer soldiers” in the cause of Christ. We must always be kind. We are required to avoid slandering and attacking other people personally. But we must also not back up, give up or quit in the hard work of being the light of Christ in a fallen world.

We cannot compromise the faith for anyone; including our political parties and our friends. Now is not the time to go along to get along. Now is the time to stand our ground for Christ.

Check out FirstAmericanFreedom.com. You might also drop you own bishop a note, telling him that he has your support in this great fight for the religious freedom of all Americans.


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