Fortnight for Freedom: Defending Religious Liberty on Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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The jury’s out on our religious freedoms.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

We’re all waiting to see what the Supreme Court does to us or for us in their decision on Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. 

The Supremes are going to hand down a decision on this case soon, and the stakes are enormous.

What will the First Amendment mean next month, after they’ve spoken? How much freedom will we have to practice our faith? Will we be forced to make choices between shucking our faith when we step out the door of our churches? Is the Supreme Court going to take a giant step toward pushing faith out of the public square? Or will it uphold the First Amendment rights of Americans to practice their faith in public?

At issue is the question of whether or not the infamous HHS Mandate will be allowed to force Christian employers to provide funds, either directly or indirectly, for abortifacients and abortion. In other words, can the government force people to participate in murder?

On this day, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, I am going to suggest that you participate in the Fortnight for Freedom by following the links here to read about the case and then say a prayer.

From the Christian Post:

healthcare contraceptive mandate birth control obamacare(PHOTO: REUTERS/LARRY DOWNING)

Protesters pray at the steps of the Supreme Court as arguments begin today to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide coverage for contraception as part of an employee’s health care, in Washington March 25, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court convened on Tuesday to consider whether business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law requiring employers to provide health insurance that covers birth control.

An attorney involved in a Supreme Court case that will determine to what extent privately owned businesses can opt-out of providing certain types of birth control for religious reasons believes there are “‘high stakes” involved in the outcome.

Matt Bowman, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, has served as an attorney for Conestoga Woods Specialties, who alongside Hobby Lobby, have sued the federal government to be exempt from the Health and Human Services’ “preventive services mandate” that requires businesses to cover birth control that can lead to the early termination of a pregnancy.

“The stakes are very high in the Conestoga and Hobby Lobby case,” explained Bowman regarding the First Amendment implications in the lawsuit. “It involves fundamental issues of whether or not religious freedom belongs to every American, and whether the government can redefine freedom to force citizens to buy abortion pills for other people.”

Religious Freedom: Will the Supremes Let Us Keep It?

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Photo Source: Deseret News

Today’s the day in which the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sibelius vs Hobby Lobby.

The question at hand is not whether the HHS Mandate is Constitutional. The question which is being brought before the Court is whether or not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects Hobby Lobby against the fines and penalties of the HHS Mandate.

The Obama Administration has argued in previous court appearances that the First Amendment only applies to formal worship activities and other direct actions of federally recognized churches, within the confines of their church proper. This narrow interpretation of the First Amendment would end freedom of religion in this country. In fact, it is very similar to the kind and type of religious freedom that totalitarian states operating under communism grant.

So much is at stake with this case.

Please pray that the Supreme Court will preserve the religious liberties and religious exemptions that Americans have long enjoyed.

From SCOTUS Review:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Linked with:

Docket No.Op. BelowArgumentOpinionVoteAuthorTerm
13-35410th Cir.Mar 25, 2014TBDTBDTBDOT 2013

Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

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. 


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