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Religious Liberty

Conscience Rights are Women’s Rights: Stop the Bullying of Nuns and Other Religious Groups

By | News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Washington, D.C. -Statement by Janae Stracke, Communications Coordinator of Concerned Women for America, at the United States Supreme Court on the day of oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell in favor of Religious Liberty

CWALAC_MediaStatement

“I want to thank you all for being here on this important day to ask the United States Supreme Court to stop the government’s bullying of religious groups.

“I am here representing the half-a-million members of Concerned Women for America (CWA) from all over the country. These are women who stand squarely against the government’s assault of conscience in this case.

“One of the most insidious things about the government’s argument today is that it purports to act on behalf of “women.” Well, they do not act on my behalf and certainly not on behalf of the women of the Little Sisters of the Poor!

“You see, we women are not a monolithic group of people placing similar values in all areas of life; this includes faith and reproductive rights. But regardless, we should all be treated equally, with respect and dignity.

“The government’s ridiculous and unnecessary insistence that the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other similarly situated groups give their approval through the government’s accommodation scheme to use the Little Sisters of the Poor’s health plan to provide abortifacients, which is in direct violation of their conscience, is most definitely not treating them with respect.

“The government knows this because it has already exempted churches without requiring their consent. But apparently taking vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and hospitality, in order to serve the Lord and their neighbors is not religious enough to warrant a similar exemption. It wasn’t enough for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“It is simply ridiculous. And so unnecessary.

“The most important thing for the Justices to remember today (and I hope they hear it over and over in oral arguments) is that there are numerous least restrictive means to accomplish the government’s objectives here.

“Their petty insistence on forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups to conform to their idea of what is acceptable under the tenants of their faith is preposterous. Especially today when the government has set up these exchanges where they can easily provide for the drugs themselves.

“But no, it seems the government wants to flex its regulatory muscles against religious groups, as it has done in many other areas that I won’t mention here (the IRS…).

“The Justices should tell the government to stop the bullying and go use less restrictive means to accomplish its goals.

“Our constitutional rights should not bow down to government convenience. The Justices should tell the government to stop bullying poor nuns and other devout groups.

“Standing for women’s rights should include the right of women to live and work according to their conscience without fear of punishment or harassment from governmental authorities.

“Conscience rights are women’s rights.

“Thank you.”

For an interview please contact Janae Stracke at jstracke@cwfa.org or 712-269-1724.

Obama’s State of the Union: Little Has Changed

By | News and Events, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life, Support for Israel | No Comments

weatheredpressealObama has given his very last State of the Union address in his last year as president.  Despite a few moments of bipartisan approval, it revealed the same kind of biased rhetoric, emphatic tone, and distorted policies that we have come to expect of the president.

Regarding the economy, Obama claimed recovery and ignored that the benefits he expanded increased dependency, resulting in crippling debt down the line.  Speaker Ryan is appropriately cynical, explaining that wages aren’t increasing and that the poverty rate is near a generational high — signs of a weak economy, not a recovering one.  The Wall Street Journal reported this week that 93% of U.S. counties haven’t fully recovered from the recession.  Yet Obama says, “All the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker.”

By the time he gave the speech, developing events of the previous day had thrown into question his scheduled talking points.  Ten sailors were in the custody of Iran (later released); ISIS killed ten tourists.  The idea that the president has kept America safe is laughable.

Americans feel threatened by the looming possibility of a terrorist attack any day.  Obama is dismissing our concern, saying we are World War III extremists, but his unwillingness to face reality is increasing fears.  He simultaneously admitted this is a “dangerous time” but also claimed that this is not because of “diminished American strength,” refusing to take any responsibility for it.  He took several passes at associating ISIS with Islam in any way, saying we should simply call them what they are “killers and fanatics.” This is an implication of some exaggerated assumption that those who call ISIS radical Islam are somehow against all Muslims.  ISIS continues to commit terrorist attacks and humans rights atrocities around the world.  We cannot think America is somehow immune to them; in fact, we are a target.  Obama praised his efforts with Iran, but his Iran deal funds terrorist groups, endangers our ally Israel, and leaves American hostages behind.  Obama believes he can make a deal with those who are our enemies and cannot be trusted.

Also interesting is the social policy on which Obama didn’t dwell.  He only briefly mentioned “gay marriage.”  In addition to hurting our children, the new cultural and legislative shift has put our fundamental religious liberty in jeopardy by trying to push us beyond toleration into celebration.  He also ignored the Little Sisters of the Poor, who were featured GOP guests.  All they want is for their religious liberty to be left alone by Obama’s healthcare policies.  And Obama also neglected the issue of scandal-ridden Planned Parenthood, probably because the efforts against it are working, stalled now by his veto.  He dared to talk about how terrorists don’t “value human life” when he himself is pro-abortion.

A major theme was that Obama wanted a new politics, more civility. More “basic bonds of trust” and believing our opponents have good motivations:  “Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention.”  Much of that is true! But is Obama willing to live by this himself?  Why is he the one constantly shutting down debate, refusing to work with Republicans, and being that extreme voice?  Why did he critique a pandering to special interests and divisions when he constantly panders to and illuminates them?

But conservatives are not intimidated by Obama’s sweet-talking, self-aggrandizement.  Speaking directly after Obama, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) expressed her well-founded concern over the economy, healthcare, civil unrest, and dangerous terrorism, but also laid out hope for an alternative: an economy that truly soars while controlling debt, and a foreign policy that celebrates Israel, not Iran.

Obama says his goal, like ours, is to help America’s future, to keep it prosperous and respected.  But his solutions only make America poorer and weaker by the day.  The fact is he ignored the important social issues of marriage, abortion, and religious freedom.  But as Nikki Haley explained, we have a chance to erase liberal policies and recover the heritage of our nation.  Our true hope in these times rests in God, in praying, in actively doing His will, and in earnestly beseeching Him to still bless America.

Chaney Mullins serves as Special Projects Writer for Concerned Women for America.

This is ISIS

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katiekerschnerEditor’s Note: On the anniversary of 9/11, we make good on our promise to “Never Forget.” But we also wish to remain eternally vigilant. We don’t want what happened on September 11, 2001, to ever again happen on our soil. And so, we offer you some thoughts on ISIS, the latest incarnation of evil to rear its ugly head. May the memory of those lost on 9/11 be eternal, and may we remain ever watchful against those who would perpetrate such horrors on us in the future.

Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes in order to avoid living under ISIS rule. Those who aren’t able to flee are captured. Islamic militants sort people like livestock. Men in one group, young women in another, and a third group with children and older women. I was told by a young woman who lived through this that, “they killed all the men, right in front of our eyes. We watched as they killed our fathers and brothers.” This is ISIS.

Women and girls, some as young as eight and nine, are held and used as sex slaves. They are bound, tortured, and raped — over and over and over again. They are sold or traded to different men. Treated as mere pieces of property. They are given as prizes for fighters, or for those who win Quran memorization contests. This is ISIS.

Children are crucified for breaking the Ramadan fast. Humanitarian aid workers are kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Journalists are beheaded. Pilots are burned alive. Mass executions take place for those who refuse to convert to Islam. This is ISIS.

For what purpose? What is the motivation? What is the driving force behind ISIS? The stated goal is to “create a broader Islamic caliphate.” Their goal is to create a ruling force in the world, an Islamic government lead by the leader of Islam.

In May 2015, ISIS took credit for an attack on U.S. soil. By doing this, they brought the fight to America. ISIS made it clear that this was not a one-time attack with the release of this statement:

“We say to the defenders of the cross, the U.S., that future attacks are going to be harsher and worse. The Islamic State soldiers will inflict harm on you with the grace of God. The future is just around the corner.”

This is ISIS.

But who are we?

We, the United States of America, are hated by ISIS. When we see the news clips of what is happening in Iraq and Syria, we tend to forget that the ultimate goal isn’t just to impose Islamic law in the Middle East. The goal is bigger than that. The same people who are daily committing war crimes in the Middle East want to destroy us and our great nation.

ISIS wants to destroy America because of our foundation as a Christian nation. Some might say that the solution is to no longer be a Christian nation — to forsake the foundation on which this nation was built, so that we are no longer known as “defenders of the cross.”

John Adams perfectly stated why that isn’t a valid option when he said, “The safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him …”

America has been blessed in the past, all because of our faith in God. Throughout the years we have served as a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope to the world. We must renew that vision for America. A vision of faith and of freedom. We must again become a nation that acknowledges God, not just privately in our homes and churches, but publicly.

We must not allow the name of God Almighty to be used to further the ISIS agenda. We must fight against radical Islam. Everything ISIS stands for is contrary to what America stands for, and is contrary to the very nature of God. We must not stand by and allow radical Islam to gain traction — here or anywhere else around the world.

Late one night during my time in Iraq, I was talking with my five-year-old brother via video chat. He asked me a question. He said, “Katie, did you know that life is difficult?” I told him, “Yes, Josh, I know that life is difficult.”

This simple statement by a five-year-old is something that we should all remember. Life is difficult when you stand up for freedom. Life is difficult when you stand for truth and justice. Life is difficult when you stand up for the Biblical principles upon which this great nation was founded. Life is difficult when you stand up against radical Islam, taking a bold stand and showing the rest of the world that America will not stand by in this fight — saying that we will fight not only the physical battle, but also the battle for hearts and minds.

It may be difficult, but it is worth it. Let us not grow weary while doing good, brothers and sisters. Stand up for truth, and stand boldly for justice. Boldly stand and fight, so that this nation becomes, once again, that shining city on a hill and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. This is the United States of America. “We the people” must stand boldly for our values. If we don’t, we will lose the freedoms that make this country great. It’s already happening; don’t allow it to continue.

Katie Kerschner serves as a Young Women for America president in Lancaster, California.

 

No Christians Allowed: A New Kind of Religious Test for Public Office

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For six days, Kim Davis sat in jail because, to put it most simply, it had been found that you can’t be a practicing Christian and serve the public office of county clerk.

But for Kim Davis, and any genuine Christian, Christianity CAN’T be taken entirely out of a job; it is a whole identity. Freedom of religion is not just “freedom to worship” on Sundays, but freedom to live under Christ the King all day every day.  Gays are protected for their beliefs, and Christianity persecuted for theirs.  Gays claim gayness as their whole identity, but won’t let Christians claim Christ as theirs.  There would be a righteous outcry if a gay man was barred from public office or jailed for being gay.  What if there was a government task, like issuing a permit for a Westboro Baptist Church protest, in which the gay official was forced to participate?  This would be grave injustice! Any nation that prioritizes a belief to the point of prosecuting, instead of protecting opposing beliefs, it has fallen far from the ideal of freedom.

The founders were no stranger to religious dispute and the question of the relationship between faith and public office. They disagreed adamantly amongst themselves on many religious questions.  Deep-seated differences between Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, Quakers, Mennonites and more drove wedges into the founding of the nation that took great tolerance to overcome. To protect the interest of all parties of many religious persuasions, the founders made it unconstitutional to require any certain religious belief of a public official: “… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article VI, Paragraph 3)

This policy was intended not to make everyone who served in government irreligious, but rather to make all religions welcome in government. The clause’s principle of tolerance for diversity of belief is a better argument for getting government out of the marriage question entirely (and leaving everyone’s belief to themselves), which is exactly what this clerk has chosen to do, then it is to force her to do something against her religion.  The idea that Kim can’t be a Christian to do her job amounts to nothing less than a twisted type of religious test that ensures that Christianity isn’t present.

Testing to see if you don’t have cancer is a cancer test.

Testing to see if water doesn’t have chemicals is a chemical test.

Testing for the lack of something is the same process as testing for it.

Testing to ensure you aren’t going to follow your religion in public office is a religious test.

The policy meant that the lack or presence of any religion should not be the determining factor of public office, but has been ignored on both extremes. In times past, it was atheists who fought for their rights to serve in public office because of the promise of no religious test.  In the Supreme Court case Torcaso V. Watkins, public notary Roy Torcaso of Maryland won his appeal to the Supreme Court that his atheism could not preclude him from public office. Now America faces the other extreme.  Now it is Christians who must fight for their rights to serve in public office even though they remain religious.

Compromise would be easy, but it wouldn’t accomplish what the gay couples want.  They want our thundering applause, which we will not grant.  Neither these gay couples nor our government have the authority to test our faith and to limit our freedoms.  Instead we will face the ultimate test of answering to God for our faithfulness, and “We must obey God, rather than man.” (Acts 5:29)  Kim’s decision to do just that is what got her thrown into jail.  It’s almost like we are in ancient Rome and not America.

 

Silly Season, Serious Matters

By | Blog, National Sovereignty, News and Events, Religious Liberty | No Comments

kmuellerThere is a reason people call election time, “the silly season.”  It seems this year to have come early.   Over the top rants are getting a yawn but obvious opposition research gets treated as real.  The recent attack on Carly Fiorina I put in the latter category.   It seems that some of my friends who I respect are misinterpreting a speech she gave a few weeks after 9/11 about leadership.  The last portion of that speech recounts some history of accomplishments of the ancient Ottoman Empire as examples of leadership.  This has been grossly miscast by some people as her somehow being supportive of radical Islam or terrorism.

This is complete nonsense.   I think we should all agree this elongated “silly season” to carefully consider the entire record of the candidate we are discussing before we make a harsh pronouncement on their motives.  There are plenty of people who blatantly and emphatically deny the threat of Sharia law and radical Islam without us looking for boogey men or women who don’t exist.

We have too much at stake to play this game.

This past week’s revelations regarding the rape and torture of twenty six year-old American citizen and  aid worker Kayla Mueller and her probable murder at the hands of ISIS leader Abu Bakra Al Baghdadi should be a wake-up call to the American people.  I haven’t the words to express my disgust at this report.  Yes, I have written extensively and been broken-hearted at the vile treatment of the young Yazidi women.  The revelations on the treatment of Kayla, however, took me to a new level of outrage.  She was a U.S. citizen and innocent humanitarian worker.  Her rape, torture and murder were a direct attack on the United States.  Nothing less.

We must demand justice for her death.  And I am just going to say it.  I want Al Baghdadi dead and in hell where he belongs.  Too tough?  Well, too bad.  Radical Islam must be stopped.  They are the new Evil Empire.

We must also concentrate our rightly felt fury in the proper direction, and that is this feckless Administration who refuses to even call this particular evil by its proper name:  Radical Islamic Terrorism.  I’ve had it!  The Presidential candidate that gets my support will be the one who convinces me that these evil men (and apparently some women) will pay a price.  If Al Baghdadi isn’t already dead via our air strikes, we should finish the job and his cohorts in crime along with him. That level of evil should not be tolerated. I want to see the plan that does that.  Measured words have their place but the treatment of Kayla Mueller deserves our outrage and from me she has it!

Prime Time Debate Let Down

By | News and Events, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

No Planned Parenthood question.  Need I say more?  One of the most gruesome, shocking, hot topics of the day – a human rights crisis, and the prime time hosts decide not to bring it up.  Instead they decided to go to the left’s talking points, asking about rape, incest or health of the mother on the issue of abortion.

Here is how Gov. Scott Walker responded:primetimedebate

WALKER: Well, I’m pro-life, I’ve always been pro-life, and I’ve got a position that I think is consistent with many Americans out there in that in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out.

I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.

On same-sex “marriage” also, Gov. Mike Huckabee had to correct the bizarre framing of the question:

HUCKABEE: Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That’s a long and difficult process. I’ve actually taken the position that’s bolder than that.

A lot of people are talking about defunding planned parenthood, as if that’s a huge game changer. I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.

The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.

It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.

Then, there was the God question.  There are no words to describe it, so here it is: “I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”  The candidates tried to do what they could with it.  Here is how Senator Ted Cruz responded:

CRUZ: Well, I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures. And God speaks through the Bible.

I’m the son of a pastor and evangelist and I’ve described many times how my father, when I was a child, was an alcoholic. He was not a Christian. And my father left my mother and left me when I was just three years old.

And someone invited him to Clay Road Baptist Church. And he gave his heart to Jesus and it turned him around. And he got on a plane and he flew back to my mother and me.

I would also note that the scripture tells us, “you shall know them by their fruit.” We see lots of “campaign conservatives.” But if we’re going to win in 2016, we need a consistent conservative, someone who has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.

There are real differences among the candidates on issues like amnesty, like Obamacare, like religious liberty, like life and marriage. And I have been proud to fight and stand for religious liberty, to stand against Planned Parenthood, to defend life for my entire career.

And I will be proud to continue to do so as president of the United States.

The question was amended a bit later, maybe after the hosts notice the awkwardness:

MODERATOR: Senator Rubio, I want to ask you the same question. But I do want to mention, a woman just came here to the stage and asked, what about the veterans? I want to hear more about what these candidates are going to do for our nation’s veterans.

So I put the question to you about God and the veterans, which you may find to be related.

RUBIO: Well, first, let me say I think God has blessed us. He has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one.

And I believe God has blessed our country. This country has been extraordinarily blessed. And we have honored that blessing. And that’s why God has continued to bless us.

And he has blessed us with young men and women willing to risk their lives and sometimes die in uniform for the safety and security of our people.

Unfortunately today we have a VA that does not do enough for them. I am proud that last year we helped change the law. We changed the law to give the power to the VA secretary the ability to fire any executive that isn’t doing their job.

And it is outrageous they’ve only fired one person to date. When I’m president of the United States, we’re going to have a VA that cares more about our veterans than about the bureaucrats who work at the VA.

The biggest laugh of the night goes to Gov. Mike Huckabee who said this in closing:

HUCKABEE: It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern.

A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.

He got a big laugh from everyone.  And concluded strongly:

I think America is in trouble, but it’s not beyond repair. But it’s going to take leadership who sees the greatness of this country, and who believes that once again we can be one nation, under God.

I’ll be my best to do that, and thank you for your support.

Finally, in conclusion Ted Cruz had to force many of the issues we would have love to hear more about, like the defunding of Planned Parenthood:

CRUZ: If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama.

The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations.

The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice and the IRS to stop persecuting religious liberty, and then intend to cancel the Iran deal, and finally move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

I will keep my word. My father fled Cuba, and I will fight to defend liberty because my family knows what it’s like to lose it.

Wish we’d had more of that, as we did in the first debate earlier.


Read more posts like this on the Legal Blurb Blog on CWA’s Legal Studies Page.

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Be sure to check out Mario’s first book, “Be Spent: Winning the Fight for Freedom’s Survival,” schedule for release this Fall.