10th Circuit Court of Appeals hears Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius

This past Thursday, the full eight-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard Hobby Lobby’s request for an injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services.  Hobby Lobby, as we have noted previously, is a large company owned by Evangelical Christians.  

In December, a smaller panel of the 10th Circuit Court denied Hobby Lobby’s request for injunctive relief.  On July 1st, Hobby Lobby could be fined up to $1.3 million a day for non-compliance with the HHS mandate.  Hobby Lobby employs 13,000 people throughout the United States.  I wonder how many of those people will lose their jobs, should the HHS mandate stand and Hobby Lobby be forced to pay the fines.

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Religious Liberty in Nevada – what’s the status?

As many of you know, Senate Bill 192, the Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee this past Friday afternoon.  The committee chairman, Assemblyman Jason Frierson, did not bring the bill up for the vote of the committee.
I want to thank each of you that helped us get the bill as far along in the legislative process as it went.  Our opponents fought very hard, and they were stunned when we got the bill passes out of the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously, and even more stunned when we got the bill passed by the Senate, 14-7.  They were not pleased when we managed to get the bill scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  All of you can be proud of your contribution to this effort.  Sending emails, making phone calls, and attending committee meetings do make a difference.
Though our bill was defeated, we learned a great deal, made some great friends in the legislature, and understand better what the political environment is for this effort.  
We will continue, with your help and prayers, to fight for religious freedom in Nevada.
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Obama administration backs off on one HHS mandate case

For the first time, the Obama administration is surrendering on an HHS mandate case.  The administration asked an appeals court to dismiss its own appeal of a lower court’s injunction against the HHS.  In this particular case, Tyndale House Publishers, even though they publish  Bibles and other religious books, did not meet the administrations requirements as a “religious” organization.  

With the court’s order, the district court’s preliminary injunction against the HHS will stay in force–the HHS is ordered not to enforce its mandate against Tyndale House–as the case proceeds through the courts.

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U.S. commission paints a grim picture on international religious freedom

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has issued its 2013 report, and the picture is grim.  The report asks the Secretary of State to re-designate  Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern.”  In this year’s report, seven new countries met the CPC threshold:  Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.  In many of these countries, governments actively seek to crush religious minorities, imprisoning, torturing, and killing people of faith.  In many countries, the government stands idly by as extremists do the same.

Government intolerance of religious freedom is not only a third-world problem.  The report mentions France’s aggressive secularism and new laws prohibiting the wear of religious articles.  Read the report for an idea of what can easily happen in America should be fail to be vigilant.

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Can a Catholic school insist on Catholic teaching?

Bishop Frederick Campbell defended the firing of a lesbian teacher at a Catholic high school, which we discussed earlier.  The city of Columbus, Ohio, has an anti-discrimination ordinance, which states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and the teacher has filed an official complaint against the diocese.

However, the teacher had signed an employment contract with the high school, which clearly stated that she could be fired for immoral behavior, or violating Church teachings.  Her “spousal” relationship with her partner came into public view when an obituary notice for her mother noted her as the daughter and the partner as a spouse.

It will take several months for the city’s Community Relations Commission to complete its work, and possibly forward the matter for action to the city prosecutor.


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Update on Nevada Preservation of Religious Freedom Act

It has been a busy few weeks in Carson City!  Senate Bill 192 was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the 13th of March.  The bill was passed unanimously out of committee–on the last possible day before it would die.  Last Friday, the bill was discussed on the Senate floor.  After two senators spoke against it, a third senator asked that the bill be “referred to the Secretary’s desk,” before any supporters had a chance to speak.  This was done, because the majority leader thought that the requesting senator was speaking the will of the sponsor.  Not so–this sort of referral often kills a bill.  After much persuasion, and a barrage of emails and phone calls by supporters of religious freedom, the bill was again put on the agenda for a vote this Monday.  The bill had to be passed from the Senate by Tuesday or it would have died.

The Senate voted 14-7 to pass the bill!

Now, we are on to the Assembly.  The first stop will be the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  As soon as we have a date, we will publish that.  I hope that many readers will be able to attend the committee hearing.  The Assembly will be a much harder mountain to climb, and we will need all the help and prayers that we can get.

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High school fires teacher for violation of contract

Well, that title didn’t sound very interesting, did it?  So what?  Most people agree that employees should get fired when they break their contracts.  In Columbus, Ohio, a Catholic high school teacher accepted employment under the condition that she would abide by the morality clause in the contract.  The teacher signed a contract that said she would be terminated if she was guilty of “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.”  The teacher has lived in a long-term lesbian relationship, which is clearly against the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the Diocese of Columbus fired her.  

The teacher is suing to get her job back.  The city of Columbus has an ordinance that bars employers from discriminating based upon sexual orientation.  However, the courts have held that religious organizations, including schools, can discriminate in hiring based on their religious beliefs.  Just last year, the Obama administration tried to force a Lutheran school to rehire a fired teacher.  In the Hosanna-Tabor decision, which we wrote about here, the Supreme Court slapped down the administration 9-0.  No, you can’t fire religious schools to hire people.

This will be an interesting case to watch.

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