Freedom of Conscience Under Fire

Cartoon_convertIn the wake of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision that imposes same sex marriage on the states, the freedom to dissent against the federal interpretation of marriage is now in jeopardy.

Could the government now deny a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

The inclination of the federal government has shifted from a position of neutrality to one of advocacy for the same-sex position, leaving faith based groups in a frightful state of uncertainty.

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To this end, The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Congressman Raul Labrador(R-Idaho) to protect the freedom of conscience for faith based organizations that are funded with federal dollars.

The urgency is increasing for those who wish to exercise freedom of conscience. Reports by Center for Family and Human Rights have suggested that the Obama Administration is quietly directing the bureaucracy to deny federal funds to groups refuse to incorporate LGBT individuals into their organizations.

The President has already telegraphed his intentions with a similar Executive Order in 2014 directed at government contractors.  Going after the much wider grant recipients is the next step in that progression.

The short term solution is simple: Congress could deny funds for the administration to discriminate against conscience objections. A simple rider to the coming continuing resolution styled after the Lee-Labrador bill could go far in binding the hands of those who would hamper faith based organizations, and being attached to the entire budget would be less likely to be vetoed by a hostile President.

Action is needed to preserve the critical work of such organizations, as a disruption in their efforts can only harm at risk communities inside and beyond the United States. Faith based charities are executing plans based on receipt of these grants, and would have to restructure to defend themselves from an onslaught by the Department of Justice. If the appropriations window is missed, they may not receive protection before another President takes office.

FADA was drafted to protect those with contrary viewpoints the Supreme Court’s marriage decision, but it would go further to create a religious conscience protection for those receiving federal monies on other issues.

But defenders of religious liberty are running short on time, as the Obama Administration is already prepared to impose its will. To protect the work done by faith based groups, the legislative window is rapidly closing this fiscal year, as the appropriations process is the surest and quickest way to enact a solution.

Our republic was founded to preserve the rights of all viewpoints from governmental intrusion. But it remains to be seen whether Congress will act to protect those views when it comes to religious conscience objections for federal grant recipients, particularly those who still believe in traditional marriage.


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Dustin Howard is a staff writer and social media manager for Americans for Limited Government. Originally from the Missouri Ozarks, Howard has held numerous positions in Republican politics, including executive director of a northern Virginia Republican party and a staffer in county government.
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  • franklinb23

    While this Supreme Court leans liberal in terms of gay rights, they are also pretty consistent in their advocacy of religious liberty (take for instance the Hobby Lobby decision which is the first that recognized a for-profit company’s claim of religious belief).

    Consider also the decision for Westboro Baptist which held that religious speech cannot be liable for tort of emotional distress, no matter how “offensive” the words are to some.

    My personal position is this: while non-profits should be able to discriminate in hiring and in their policies without having their tax-exempt status threatened, they shouldn’t necessarily expect to continue to receive federal funds from taxpayers for doing so. Federal funds are not a “right” (just like welfare isn’t a “right”).

    • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

      No, they are not a “right.”

      But as we have seen already, an immoral government can and will force an immoral agenda on the country through unbalanced access to such things as the author listed.

    • Thisoldspouse

      Federal funds belong to ME as much as they belong to you. Therefore, we have just as much right to determine how they are, and are not, distributed.

  • BigHobbit

    Here is a thought - remember the Golden Rule. Treat all of your customers as you would like to be treated, don’t discriminate. Don’t transfer your religion into a business transaction.

    • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

      Here’s a thought: according to the God-given right of religious liberty protected by the First Amendment, government has no justification for telling a private business owner not to run his business according to the moral dictates of his religion.

      Especially when every major religion recognizes that homosexual behavior is a perversion of the Creator’s design for human sexuality, and that marriage can only be accomplished by a man and a woman.

      • BigHobbit

        “government has no justification for telling a private business owner not to run his business according to the moral dictates of his religion.”

        Segregationists had a biblical theory of why they shouldn’t have to serve black folks at their restaurants, too. Yet, a black person can get lunch, anywhere in America. Why is that? Because you don’t have a religious right to violate anti-discrimination laws. If you cannot follow the law in your industry, even if it is because of your religious disability, you have the freedom to pursue a different career. You don’t have a right to a business license - that privilege is contingent on lawful behavior.

        “Especially when every major religion recognizes that homosexual behavior is a perversion of the Creator’s design for human sexuality”

        Except of course for all the Christian and Jewish denominations that are currently celebrating same sex marriages - like the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Quakers and many more.

        • DCM7

          “Segregationists had a biblical theory of why they shouldn’t have to serve black folks at their restaurants, too.”
          Actually, the kind of racism you speak of had a purely secular (specifically, Darwinist) basis, regardless of how many “religious” people may have been suckered into going along with it, contrary to Biblical principles. Thus, your bringing it up ironically makes exactly the *opposite* point from your intended one. The thinking by which black folks couldn’t be served at restaurants, regardless of the owners’ consciences, is the *same* thinking by which Christians are expected to serve same-sex couples, regardless of their consciences — *not* the opposite thinking as you’ve been misled into believing.

          “Except of course for all the Christian and Jewish denominations that are currently celebrating same sex marriages”
          Thus showing ignorance not only of principles that they profess to believe, but of many clear and basic facts besides. Again, for religious people to go along with same-sex marriage reflects the *same* ignorance by which religious people went along with racism in the past.

          • BigHobbit

            Nonsense, there was a strong religious current to segregation - one judge even used it right in his (later overturned) decision - God put the various races on different continents - interracial marriage is against God.
            You are incorrect by saying racism is purely secular - look at the example of Martin Luther’s attitude towards the Jews.

            • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

              There was no more a legitimate religious justification for segregation than there is in the promotion of sodomy today.

              Both are clearly condemned by the Christian religion (and most others). The Democrat predilection for perverting the clear teachings of the Bible to justify forcing others to conform to their immoral agenda is not in any way a valid religious tenet.

              • BigHobbit

                There is no legitimate religious justification for anything in a country that has a constitution with a provision prohibiting the establishment of a religion, period.

              • DCM7

                “a constitution with a provision prohibiting the establishment of a religion”
                As everyone should know by know, that provision was for the protection of religion from government, not vice versa.

              • BigHobbit

                As everyone knows, that is the basis of the constitution is to protect individuals - from other individuals, from the govt, and from other peoples religions.

              • DCM7

                “from other peoples religions”
                The Christian “religion” (belief system) upholds standards that have been demonstrated through history to work far better than any other standards. Your belief system tries to eliminate those standards for the sake of individuals’ short-sighted preferences — and will trample all manner of legitimate rights in the process. It’s clear what really needs protection from what.

              • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

                Yet again you reveal your amazing ignorance (I’m being as charitable as possible here) of the U.S. Constitution and its meaning.

                The primary function of the U.S. Constitution is to create the framework of the federal government, and to LIMIT that government to protect the people from GOVERNMENT. The founders had just fought a long and bloody war against GOVERNMENT interference and oppression. I would invite you to go back and read the Declaration of Independence. It had NOTHING to do with protecting individuals from individuals (the general rule of law-what we call criminal justice-can do that), but rather about GOVERNMENT TYRANNY, and making sure that the new government that we set up would not have the power to interfere in the PRIVATE actions and decisions of PRIVATE individuals and their property. a

                You and your fellow Leftists seek to completely undo the American way, and substitute government tyranny as a tool to force your moral and religious attitudes on everyone else.

                This is the epitome of anti-American tyranny. You should be ashamed of yourself.

              • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

                That could be part of your problem. You don’t even know what the U.S. Constitution says, much less what it means.

                This is what the First Amendment says;

                Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

                Notice first that the First Amendment restricts GOVERNMENT, not individuals?

                Notice also that it restricts CONGRESS from making any laws which respect (or show favoritism toward) one religious establishment over another? (It does NOT, as you said, “prohibit the establishment of a religion.” I know Leftist desperately wish the Constitution prohibited religious establishments, so great is their loathing for Christianity, but it just doesn’t say that.)

                Notice also that the First Amendment specifically prohibits the restriction of the free exercise of religion? That is what you and your fellow God-haters seek to do: prohibit the free exercise of religion, including the liberty of a PRIVATE (i.e. privately owned, paid for and run by a PRIVATE non-government person) business owner to refuse to participate in acts their religion says are immoral (e.g. counterfeiting marriage, facilitating the murder of innocent unborn children, etc.).

                You should read and note, too, that Article 1 Section 8, which enumerates the powers delegated to the federal government, don’t include the regulation of PRIVATE businesses (beyond the regulation of interstate commerce), and certainly not to the degree of forcing PRIVATE business owners to violate their conscience and surrender their First Amendment-protected religious liberty.

                Finally, regarding your fallacious claim that there is “no legitimate religious justification for anything” in our country, President George Washington would strongly disagree with you:

                Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

              • BigHobbit

                You can make up as much as you like. You still don’t get to pass a law which has no logic or basis other than YOUR particular religion. Govt’s cannot erect ten commandments or crosses on govt property. Why? Because my religious rights are protected against YOUR religious rights.
                I get that you WISH it were different, but you cannot pretend that it IS different that what is objective reality.

              • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

                The Ten Commandments are on the inner and outer walls of the U.S. Supreme Court, and an image of Moses is on the wall in the U.S.House chamber. I’ve seen them all myself, as well as a replica of the cap of the Washington Monument which bears the words “laus deo” which call for praise to God. The U.S. Capitol rotunda contains several massive paintings portraying important moments in American history that are due to our Christian heritage. The U.S. Capitol used to be used for church services for many decades. Indeed, many government buildings are filled with recognition of our nation’s Christian foundation.

                So much for your contentions regarding the so-called (and greatly perverted) separation of church and state.

                U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, one of our nation’s first Supreme Court judges (nominated for the position by “Father of the Constitution” James Madison), can enlighten you further on this (if you will allow him):

                The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.

              • DCM7

                “You can make up as much as you like.”
                You really think you can dismiss detailed and specific arguments that casually? If so, then you’re refuting your own position as effectively as anyone else could.

                “a law which has no logic or basis other than YOUR particular religion”
                In the context of this discussion, that’s sort of like saying “a math equation that has no logic or basis other than the basic, foundational laws of math.”

          • BigHobbit

            Anyways, if your argument is actually with anti-discrimination laws in commerce, it is NOT an argument against same sex marriage, merely an argument against anti-discrimination laws in business. I really don’t think that is your real objection tho……. If anti-discrimination laws were suddenly taken away, would you just as suddenly then not be opposed to same sex marriage? I didn’t think so.

            • DCM7

              The issue isn’t with discrimination or laws against such. It is with “discrimination” being prohibited where the “discrimination” is actually just — basically, “discrimination” between right and wrong.

              • BigHobbit

                If you have a problem with laws that prevent you from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, then THAT is where you have a fight. You make no argument against the right of marriage extended to all citizens, if that is what you really mean.

              • DCM7

                The right of marriage *is* extended to all eligible citizens who are willing to meet its requirements: two parties, not closely related, of legal age, not currently already married to anyone else, and of opposite genders. No justification can be given for *any* of these requirements to be waived, and none has been. Any attempted justification for waiving the “opposite genders” requirement has to literally assume that there is no meaningful difference between the sexes.

        • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

          Some Democrats (like most today) tried to pervert the plain teaching of the Bible into justification for their embrace of evil and immoral behavior.

          They were as wrong yesterday as they are today, and demonstrably so. The so-called “Christian” and “Jewish” groups who celebrate behavior which their God and their own holy book make clear is immoral do so in direct contradiction to their own foundational teaching. This makes them heretics and pagans, not Christians or Jews.

          Incidentally, it was Jim Crow laws forced on the private sector by Democrats that mandated private businesses discriminate on the basis of skin color. Democrats are so steeped in tyranny and the desire to force others to bend to their will that they will resort to unconstitutional laws to force people to join them in their immoral positions.

          Democrats are still at the tyranny game today, again seeking to create unconstitutional laws to force private businesses to participate in immoral acts that violate one’s conscience.

          The truth is simple: Democrats have for over 150 years been steeped in immoral behavior, and have a vehement desire to force others to comply with their immoral positions. They aren’t content merely to adopt immoral positions; they feel compelled to force others to conform to their immoral positions. It doesn’t get much more corrupt than that.

          Government has no justification for telling a private business owner not to run his business according to the moral dictates of his religion.

          If you like tyranny so much, you should move to a Marxist country where that sort of thing is expected. This is the United States-a nation founded on the rule of law, as well as recognition that our rights are endowed by our Creator-who made it clear that homosexual behavior is a perversion of his design for human sexuality, and that marriage can only be formed by a man and a woman.

          • BigHobbit

            It is no “tyranny” to say that businesses that are open to the public follow business regulation, including anti-discrimination.
            If your personal religious dictates involve not treating fellow citizens equally, especially when required by law, then having a public business license isn’t for you.

            • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

              Yes, it IS tyranny to force a PRIVATE (i.e. not owned by the government, not owned by you, not owned by anybody other than the owners who put forth their own capital, time and energy to start and run the business) to commit immoral acts.

              Check the U.S. Constitution. The powers granted to the federal government are laid out in Article 1 Section 8. You will not find the authority there (or anywhere else, for that matter-but you WILL find the first freedom protected by the First Amendment to be that of religious liberty) to force a PRIVATE business to conform to another person’s agenda. It is PRIVATE property. Why is the concept of PRIVATE property so hard for you to accept? I know Marxists loathe the idea of private property, but your IP originates in the United States where respect for private property goes back to the very founding of our nation. Only in Marxist nations (and some Islamic ones where religious liberty is likewise hated) do we expect to see people persecuted and driven out of business because their beliefs do not conform to the immoral ideas of those in power.

              Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. . . . [and] conscience is the most sacred of all property. – James Madison

              No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience. – Thomas Jefferson

              Consciences of men are not the objects of human legislation. – New Jersey Governor William Livingston, signer of the U.S. Constitution

              Security under our constitution is given to the rights of conscience. – John Jay, First Chief of U.S. Supreme Court, author of the Federalist Papers

              It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated. – James Madison

              Conscience is the most sacred of all property. – James Madison

              The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. – John Adams

              Again, if you bear such hostility toward freedom, morality and the rule of law, there are still a few Marxist hellholes left in the world. You’d fit in much better in one of those, rather than engaging in a campaign to trample the liberties of Americans in this one.

              • BigHobbit

                You are not PRIVATE if you are open to the public. If you are a public accommodation, then commercial regulation applies.
                You may not LIKE it, but you are arguing about regulation that has been in place since the 1960s. No body has ever won a case anywhere that allowed a business owner to violate anti-discrimination laws because of the owner’s religious beliefs. Why? Because discrimination in business is a HARM. You do not have a religious right to HARM others. You imagine that you do, you imagine that there is no harm, but you are not looking at the reality of business regulation.

              • DCM7

                “Because discrimination in business is a HARM. You do not have a religious right to HARM others. You imagine that you do, you imagine that there is no harm”
                There is no harm being done to those who are denied the benefits of something that they don’t meet the requirements for.

              • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

                I’m not aware of anything in the U.S. Constitution (or in subservient law, for that matter) which dictates that if you own a business, you are subject to government control.

                There is no HARM in a business owner refusing to commit an immoral act upon demand from a customer. If a customer doesn’t like this, in a free country, he has the freedom to seek another business that might commit his immoral act for him (and in today’s corrupt culture, he is very likely to find another amoral business very quickly who will eagerly commit immoral acts for a buck).

                Of course, it isn’t really about access to PRIVATE business goods and services, is it? If it was, an immoral goods/service seeker could go across the road or down the street and easily obtain what they’re looking for, couldn’t they? No, it’s about CONTROL, about forcing a Christian to bow down to the immoral agenda of the Left, despite the U.S. Constitution.

                Once again, I will point you to Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution which enumerates the powers delegated to the federal government. You will not find there the authority for government to dictate the business practices of PRIVATE businesses.

                You will certainly not find anything in the U.S. Constitution (or subservient law) which empowers the federal government to force a PRIVATE business owner to surrender his religious liberty and violate his conscience, merely because he owns and runs a business.

                Again, I will remind you what the men who founded this great nation said about both the sanctity of private property and of the right of conscience:

                Government is instituted to protect property of every sort. . . . [and] conscience is the most sacred of all property. – James Madison

                No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience. – Thomas Jefferson

                Consciences of men are not the objects of human legislation. – New Jersey Governor William Livingston, signer of the U.S. Constitution

                Security under our constitution is given to the rights of conscience. – John Jay, First Chief of U.S. Supreme Court, author of the Federalist Papers

                It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated. – James Madison

                Conscience is the most sacred of all property. – James Madison

                The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If `Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. – John Adams

              • BigHobbit

                You are arguing against a body of law that is decades old. If you have a public accommodation, you do not get to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, or, in some states, on the basis of sexual orientation.
                I get that you WISH it were different, but don’t try to pretend that it actually IS different.

              • http://www.americanclarion.com/ Bob Ellis

                You are arguing against a constitution that is 228 years old, and founding principles outlined in our nation’s founding document that are 239 years old. They supersede both in age and authority any body of law which seeks to contradict them, and certainly any unconstitutional edicts from black-robed tyrants which are contrary to them.

                PRIVATE individuals are free to do whatever they want, so long as they do not do affirmative injury to another person. The only affirmative injury being sought here is the trampling of one person’s God-given, Constitutionally-protected religious liberty by immoral people.

                The Constitution is the supreme law of this land. Anything contrary to it perpetrated by government is lawlessness and tyranny.

            • DCM7

              “not treating fellow citizens equally”
              There is no unequal treatment here. Those who want same-sex marriages legitimized are asking to be treated according to *different* standards than others are held to, not the *same* standards. That’s a simple reality about the whole issue that people have to ignore, deny and sneak around, but cannot change.

    • Thisoldspouse

      You haven’t the foggiest idea what the Golden Rule means. It ought to be embarrassing how ignorant you are.

      If I want to be “treated” by a beautiful woman, should I “treat” her, against her possible protests? That is your idea of the “Golden Rule.”

  • Thisoldspouse

    In one sense, I’m against any RFRA or 1st Amendment Defense Act, just like I’m against religious exemptions, because they imply that religious liberty has been conceded and that the Constitution has been neutered. But I do understand the sentiment, although I disagree with the tactic.

    “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges” is my attitude. Don’t like my exercise of religious freedom? Tough!!!! THAT should be the attitude of state governors and politicians.

    And it will be the only actionable attitude that will be effective. Most likely, it will result in secession and civil war. So be it.