Julia Shaw

George Washington's example on religious liberty

Julia Shaw
By Julia Shaw
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Instead of celebrating George Washington’s birthday, today we’ve lumped him in together with no-names including Millard Fillmore and William Henry Harrison as we celebrate a generic “Presidents’ Day.”

But George Washington was not simply a president. He was the indispensible man of the American Founding. Washington’s words, thoughts, and deeds as a military commander, a president, and a patriotic leader make him arguably the greatest statesman in our history.

All presidents can learn from Washington’s leadership in foreign policy, in upholding the rule of law, and—especially now—in the importance of religion and religious liberty. While the Obama administration claims to be “accommodating” Americans’ religious freedom concerns regarding the Health and Human Services (HHS) ObamaCare mandate, it is actually trampling religious freedom. President Washington set a tremendous example for the way that presidents should handle such conflicts.

Washington knew that religion and morality are essential to creating the conditions for decent politics. “Where,” Washington asked, “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?”

Religion and morality are, Washington wrote, essential to the happiness of mankind: “A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.”

To match his high praise of religion, Washington had a robust understanding of religious liberty. Freedom allows religion, in the form of morality and through the teachings of religion, to exercise an unprecedented influence over private and public opinion. Religious liberty shapes mores, cultivates virtues, and provides an independent source of moral reasoning and authority. In his letter to the Newport Hebrew congregation—at the time the largest community of Jewish families in America—President Washington grounded America’s religious and civil liberties in natural rights, and not mere toleration.

Washington also confronted the limits of religious liberty. In one letter, Washington praised the Quakers for being good citizens but chastised their pacifism: “Your principles and conduct are well known to me; and it is doing the people called Quakers no more than justice to say, that (except their declining to share with others the burden of the common defense) there is no denomination among us, who are more exemplary and useful citizens.” Yet Washington ended his letter assuring them of his “wish and desire that the laws may always be as extensively accommodated” to their practice.

Such a true accommodation upholds the rule of law and religious liberty, because it allows men and women of religious faith to follow the law and their faith.

In his letter to the Quakers, Washington explained that government is instituted to “protect the persons and consciences of men from oppression.” Further, it was the duty of rulers “not only to abstain from [oppression] themselves, but, according to their stations, to prevent it in others.”

Washington’s advice has gone unheeded.

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We are told that religion and politics require a strict separation; that religion is a hindrance to happiness and therefore has been gradually stripped from the public square. We’re told that displays of religious faith don’t support the community but are downright offensive to non-adherents. The Supreme Court has supported and extenuated this tortured logic. Since the 1940s, the Court has put religion and religious liberty into a smaller and smaller box. At best,religion is a private good—but one that and should not be presented to others. And religious beliefs have no bearing on public life.

We can see where this logic goes. Under ObamaCare all insurance plans must cover, at no cost to the insured, abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, sterilization, and patient education and counseling for women of reproductive age. Illustrating the Obama administration’s narrow view of religion, only formal houses of worship are afforded an exemption from the coercive mandate. Many other religious employers such as Catholic hospitals, Christian schools, and faith-based pregnancy care centers are forced to provide and pay for coverage of services that, as a matter of faith, they find morally objectionable.

Even the recently proposed “accommodation” to the rule isn’t really an accommodation. As Sarah Torre explains, the suggested fix “fails to encompass many employers—and certainly all individuals—with moral or religious objections to complying with the mandate.” To comply with the mandate requires religious men and women to violate church doctrine and their consciences. Under President Obama, we have returned to religious toleration, as defined by a bureaucrat somewhere.

Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t celebrate all presidents equally. George Washington “was the directing spirit without which there would have been no independence, no Union, no Constitution, and no Republic,” as one president put it. He set the tone for what the American presidency should be. That’s why he was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

Julia Shaw is a research associate and program manager in Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Heritage Foundation.

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Brian Brown

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Supreme Court betrays us with illegitimate marriage ruling

Brian Brown
By Brian Brown

June 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Though expected, today's decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute.

Make no mistake about it: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today's ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.

In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions. Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is "a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law."

Today's decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.

This is not the first time that the Supreme Court has issued an immoral and unjust ruling. In 1857, the Court ruled in the infamous Dred Scott v Sandford case that African Americans could not become citizens of the United States and determined that the government was powerless to reject slavery. In 1927 the Court effectively endorsed eugenics by ruling that people with mental illness and other "defectives" could be sterilized against their will, saying "three generations of imbeciles are enough." And in Roe v Wade, the Court invented a constitutional right to abortion by claiming it was an integral element of the right to privacy. Over 55 million unborn babies have died as a result.

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We urge the American people and future presidents to regard today's decision just as President Abraham Lincoln regarded the Dred Scott ruling when he said in his first inaugural address that "if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

Today's decision is by no means the final word concerning the definition of marriage; indeed it is only the beginning of the next phase in the struggle. NOM is committed to reversing this ruling over the long term and ameliorating it over the short term. Specifically:

  1. We call on Congress and state governments to move immediately to protect the rights of people who believe in the truth of marriage from being discriminated against by passing the First Amendment Defense Act through Congress, and similar legislation in the various states.
  2. We also call on Congress to advance to the states for consideration a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in the law as it has existed in reality for the entirety of our nation's existence – the union of one man and one woman.
  3. We call on the American people to make the definition of marriage a pivotal issue in the 2016 presidential contest and to elect a president who will be a true champion for marriage, one who is committed to taking specific steps to restoring true marriage in the law including appointing new justices to the Supreme Court who will have the opportunity to reverse this decision.
  4. NOM will work tirelessly along with allies to help change the culture so that Americans have a better understanding of the importance of marriage to children, families and society as a whole.

While today's decision of the Supreme Court is certainly disappointing, it is not demoralizing to those of us who fervently believe in the truth of marriage and its importance to societal flourishing. Indeed, the decision will be energizing. Just as the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v Wade infused the pro-life movement with new energy and commitment, so too will the decision today reawaken the American people to join the marriage movement.

Our prayer for America is that today's injustice can be corrected quickly, sparing the nation decades of anguish of the kind that has followed the Court's decision in Roe.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
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Gay ‘marriage’ ruling opens door to polygamy and religious persecution: Dissenting justices

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The Supreme Court's conservative justices lambasted today's majority opinion that the U.S. Constitution grants an inalienable right to same-sex “marriage,” emphasizing the threat the opinion poses to religious liberty, the democratic process, and the institution of marriage even as it is redefined.

In a series of scathing dissents, each of the High Court's four conservative justices took apart Justice Anthony Kennedy's Obergefell v. Hodges decision piece-by-piece.

Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, wrote that “the majority fails to provide even a single sentence explaining” how the 14th Amendment applies to redefining marriage.

“The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent,” he wrote. “There is, after all, no 'Companionship and Understanding' or 'Nobility and Dignity' Clause in the Constitution.”

Instead, the court ignored its own precedent in the 1972 Baker v. Nelson case, which ruled there is no constitutional right to homosexual “marriage.”

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

In a separate dissent, Justice Scalia called the decision a “judicial Putsch” that is “lacking even a thin veneer of law.” He described the majority's often flowery language as “the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Roberts said the opinion took an “unprincipled approach” that he likened to the Dred Scott decision, which ratified slavery on the eve of the Civil War.

While all of the dissenting justices warned that the decision usurped the role of the people in a democratic government, each made his own distinctive critiques, as well.

Justice Roberts warned that today's ruling was not comparable to striking down laws against interracial marriage, because at no time was the ethnicity of the spouses considered a defining factor of marriage itself.

He also warned that by changing the fundamental definition of marriage, the justices had opened the door to redefining other vital components of matrimony. “It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” he wrote.

Justice Thomas wrote that the opinion holds “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.” Recognizing the threat that the government may revoke the tax-exempt status of religious institutions, Thomas added that “the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious property.”

The traditional American view of limited government was another casualty, he wrote. “Our Constitution — like the Declaration of Independence before it — was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from — not provided by — the state.”

Justice Samuel Alito alone said that marriage existed for the sake of procreation and child-rearing. The majority opinion is based on ideas of romantic love, he wrote. “This understanding of marriage, which focuses almost entirely on the happiness of persons who choose to marry, is shared by many people today, but it is not the traditional one. For millennia, marriage was inextricably linked to the one thing that only an opposite-sex couple can do: procreate.”

All of the justices had a similar concern, though: The decision substitutes the views of five unelected justices for the democratic process, much as Roe v. Wade did for abortion in 1973.

“If a bare majority of justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate,” Justice Alito wrote in his dissent.

He concluded, “All Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends.”

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Pro-traditional marriage activists march to the Supreme Court at the annual March for Marriage in Washington D.C. on March 26, 2013. American Life League
The Editors

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John-Henry Westen: U.S. Supreme Court rules against God and human nature

The Editors
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LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen, who also co-founded the international organization Voice of the Family, released the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to require states to uphold same-sex "marriage".

Today, the Supreme Court undermined marriage, effectively making it open season on religious liberty in America -- and providing the Court's blessing to a redefinition of marriage that is opposed to the Will of God, basic human nature, and the U.S. Constitution.

With its decision, the Court has found a "civil right" where none exists. Thanks to the Supreme Court's majority, LGBT activists and their allies are now free to continue their state-sanctioned discrimination against social conservatives. In fact, they have been empowered to do so. This is no surprise, however, as such policies have become the norm in the Obama administration and in states across the nation, where state-sanctioned discrimination against religious and social conservatives is fully accepted.

Perhaps the worst consequence of the Court's decision is its promotion of damaging sexual relationships -- which are, like discrimination, now empowered all across America. Contrary to what the Court's liberals and many other judges believe, opposition to redefining marriage is based upon love -- the kind of tough love that requires a parent to tell their child to not play in traffic, or to get good grades.

Urge Congress to pass a marriage protection amendment now. Sign the petition!

Science has proven that sexual relationships between persons of the same-sex, as opposed to the God-ordained man-woman marital relationships, cause terrible harm to those in them. To quote former leading Canadian LGBT activist Gens Hellquist, speaking to government officials a few years after marriage was redefined in Canada:

We have one of the poorest health statuses in this country. Health issues affecting queer Canadians include lower life expectancy than the average Canadian, suicide, higher rates of substance abuse, depression, inadequate access to care and HIV/AIDS.

There are all kinds of health issues that are endemic to our community. We have higher rates of anal cancer in the gay male community, lesbians have higher rates of breast cancer.

Hellquist closed his testimony by saying that he was "tired of watching my community die." In this country, the Centers for Disease Control has shown that while men who have sex with men are perhaps two percent of the U.S. population, they make up nearly two-thirds of all HIV/AIDS victims.

Similarly, social science -- especially the work of Dr. Mark Regnerus and Dr. Paul Sullins -- has shown that children raised by same-sex parents are more emotionally damaged than their counterparts raised in homes led by a mom and a dad.

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