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Government Watch / Politics

Federal Ruling Puts Protection of Religious Liberty in Question

religious-liberty-america

This Wednesday is National Religious Freedom Day.  Fittingly, a religious freedom issue has served itself up for the occasion.  It is worth pausing to understand what is at stake – in another ruling that puts protection of religious liberty in question.

George Orwell, in his epic book “1984,” warned the world about those in power who rewrite history, seek to erase moral conviction, replacing freedom with entitlement and coercion, deliberately obscuring truth – with government mandates. 

Now, we come to a court ruling last week.  The ruling was handed down by a 9th Circuit federal district judge.  It imposes an injunction on (read: stops) Trump regulations freeing employers from paying for birth control if the employer objects on religious grounds. 

Many employers – especially with religious affiliations – do actually object.  Any employer can object – or could – on sincerely-held religious grounds, under Trump’s narrowly tailored waiver to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) mandate.

Suddenly, the Trump waiver does not matter in 13 states – with overwhelmingly Democrat leadership.  The States sued to force the Obamacare mandate on employers.  These states – as well as Nancy Pelosi’s reconstituted majority Democratic Caucus and the 9th Circuit federal judge – do not care what your religious convictions are, or those of an employer.  Employers now must pay.

Until further notice, God – or any individual’s sincerely held religious conviction – takes a back seat to an employee’s right in those 13 states to have birth control paid for.

One wonders what Orwell would say about this.  Here are some material facts.  Obamacare – a law no one read before then-and-again-Speaker Pelosi forced a US House to vote, with every Democrat saluting smartly, every Republican questioning and resisting – is now federal law. 

While the tax penalty was stripped last year by the Republican House, that law survives.  Interestingly, another judge recently knocked out Obamacare’s tax justification for constitutionality, so we will see what the newly constituted Supreme Court makes of that.  But for now, the law is the law.

To preserve religious liberty and shield those of faith from a federal mandate that insists they violate their faith, the Trump Administration dutifully waived the “must pay” provisions tied to birth control.  These 13 states then sued, and the 9th Circuit stomped down the Trump waiver – forcing employers to pay for protection from pregnancy by employees having sex who want free birth control.

If this seems ho-hum, remember that the future is won and lost incrementally, history made and unmade by inches.  Imagine, for a moment, that an Obamacare II shows up in our future – and it mandates employers pay for abortions, self-medication with illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, synthetic opioids, or that churches report medical issues heard in confessions, maybe tape record confessions, or simply mandates employers pay for privileges an employer’s religion forbids.

You will say – as Harry Truman or John Kennedy might today of Obamacare’s employer-mandated birth control – that will never happen.  Maybe, or maybe not.  Things we thought would “never happen” happen every day.   The world we live in is changing at light speed and it would be good to recall bits of history, including the First Amendment.  We are all entitled to “free exercise” of religion.

Nevertheless, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the United States District Court in Oakland, California, has pronounced Obamacare inviolate, struck down Trump’s waiver protecting religious convictions, upheld the employer mandate to pay for whatever the federal government says employers must pay for – First Amendment provisions, convictions and protections notwithstanding.

It is a curious world.  Of course, that ruling too will go to the US Supreme Court, for certiorari, or not.  It may be reversed.  There will be other rulings like this one from the 9th Circuit, a lopsidedly-liberal bench on which I once clerked for a thoughtful Reagan-appointee.

For now, we live with this new ruling – and its import.  What it means has less to do with birth control than religious beliefs on which every American is constitutionally allowed to disagree – or was until this Obama/Schumer/Pelosi legislation and another quixotic ruling upholding it.  

The ruling is about what is paramount in our society – a federal mandate supported by one political party and universally opposed by the other, or every individual citizen’s freedom to live by sincerely-held religious convictions.

This is exactly the question Orwell posed when writing “1984,” a seminal warning about power of centralized government to crush an individual.  His warning was draconian, even if this ruling is just a dot on the line. The question, which should be on our lips after this ruling, is:  Where is that line going? 

Orwell may have the answer for us, even to this question, although I hope not.  One of his profound lines: “Now I will tell you the answer to my question.  It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently….”

In the end, individuals – and employers – must know they have rights.  These rights are not absolute, but they are constitutionally guaranteed.  One would hope that the US Supreme Court will come to the conclusion that religious convictions – of all kinds – enjoy “free exercise” and freedom from coercion in America.  That is my hope, even if this ruling exposes a different vision of America.

***

Robert B. Charles is the former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, a former naval intelligence officer, Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, and attorney. Charles is author of the recently released, widely endorsed book, Eagles and Evergreens (North Country Press, 2018), celebrating smalltown American values and the influence of WWII and Korean War veterans on a small town in Maine.

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BajaRon

There is no doubt that we are headed down a very dark road. Led by the Democrat party. Politicians elected many times by fraud and a huge number of legal and illegal citizens. The border wall is all about votes. Keep borders open and the left gets another vote every time someone crosses into this country.

Control the border, deport those here illegally, and you decimate the liberal agenda. It’s as simple as that.

PaulE

Yet another example of an Obama era appointed Judge deciding legal merits based on progressive (socialist) ideals. Amazingly, Chief Justice John Roberts continues to hold the view that there are no such things as Clinton Judges, Bush Judges, Obama Judges or Trump Judges. Only Judges, who ALL make rulings based on the law, as written. Unfortunately, time and time again what the reality demonstrates is that Judges appointed by so-called “Progressives” (Socialists), consistently opt to disregard the law as written and instead decide to invoke the progressive ideology, that they themselves believe in, to make law from the bench. This is yet another issue that now has to go through the federal appellate courts all the way up to the Supreme Court. Delay, obstruct, and deny. That is the hallmark strategy of the Democrat Party to run the clock out on virtually everything President Trump is trying to accomplish in… Read more »

Army Vet

It seems our country has decided, after sending its soldiers to fight and die around the world to keep our freedom to just let one malicious, domestic party run amuck and destroy it all. This is without even considering the possibility that this same party which was the party that kept African-Americans in slavery until the civil war, the party that perpetrated the Trail of Tears on Native Americans (Andrew Jackson), the party that was against women’s suffrage and revived the KKK at the beginning of the 20th Century (Woodrow Wilson) might just possibly be an anti-American entity and a foreign socialist plant in its current incarnation. Should such a party not be opposed at every turn to keep it from steadily undermining and destroying our country? When a party embraces such goals, refuses to debate, and obstructs measures that provide for our national security how can they claim to… Read more »

Rexford O. Ames

How very, very sad.
We the people have become the tools that allow a single Party, destroy America!

Drue

The USA was founded on the principle of Religious Freedom. Brave people sailed from Europe in search of a place to practice their chosen religion without government interference. What has happened? We need to stop this encroachment NOW!

Dennis

Get rid of the 9th court they have proved to many times they are against the Constitution and are anti-American .

Harold Verum

Thank you for your well presented, factual presentation. It represents another wake up call to the sheeple!
It is high time for an alliance of American citizens who are Freethinkers and fully understand or are willing to learn the meanings of our Constitution and Amendments and who are willing to demand and keep on demanding that our representatives understand and comply with the same !

David Campbell

There is a disease called “That can’t happen in America!” that is particularly prevelent among conservatives. Many conservatives are in denial that the political left is not “the loyal opposition” but are in fact deeply anti American. Think of the most horrific thing you can, and remember that yes, that can happen in America, if we do not vigorously defend liberty. (And, unfortunately, in modern America, I must specify INDIVIDUAL liberty, not collective liberty, not “positive” rights like “healthcare is a right” kind of stuff; that’s communism.)

Victoria

1984 is on the march in America. Robert Charles is correct. Constant vigilance is necessary for the left will take advantage of every opening to advance their agenda. As parents with an eye to the future we must raise strong, wise, young people steeped in the values of freedom and articulate enough to explain them.

I Mettlen

It is time for more of us to get to the poles in every election. Stop complaining and start voteing these people out of office. EVERY ELECTION, School boards elections. State elections, and Federal elections.

Donna Schulz

I thought this was settled with the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Hobby Lobby cases that went to the Supreme court. How is it that we are back to square one?

Ertis Crumpler

Satan has won yet again.

chaly

Here I go again! Every time I read about a decision by the 9th circuit court I have to wonder, ‘how much was the bribe this time’? There is no other reason for these decisions except money that I see. The DNC’ommunist Party runs on bribery and It has infected our whole system!

Barbara S.

fear the government that fears your religious freedom….that’s how Pol Pot controlled/killed his masses…Stalin…Hitler…in Romania…we are beginning to repeat history….Christians are being killed daily all over the world…but main media isn’t telling you about it…Christians are in hiding in China, N. Korea, Iran etc…..are we going to let this takeover happen to us? whether of not you are a church goer doesn’t matter….they fear God not the church…..and too many people in our country doen’t seem to care…..they will….

Michelle

Frightening.

Morty Tupperman

“Until further notice, God – or any individual’s sincerely held religious conviction – takes a back seat…” Really? How about Islam? They still get a pass, right?

John P

Lawyers make laws to guarantee themselves a paycheck. Give lawyers enough money and they will take either side. We need judges to forget they were lawyers. We need judges to follow the laws.

Hans S.

I wish this article would find it’s way into a liberal rag. Unless it does, Mr. Charles is preaching to the choir. I would dare say 99.9% of Amac’s readers are conservative since that was the main reason to join; i.e., an alternative to the liberal leaning AARP. So, again, unless a liberal is “re-indoctrinated” by this, nothing changes.

John

Its so scary that the Democratic party & Liberals have become (or seemed to) so Godless. We (humanity) are going in a direction that will lead to self destruction.

Phyllis poole

My answer is to stay away from gov as
much as possible Sisters hire only good catholics Use only last names for the trans gender group. We can fight the devils workers if we pray and are smart enough!