New 7th Circuit decision for religious freedom

7th Circuit religious freedom

It’s been quite the month for litigation over the new health care law’s contraception mandate and its suppression of religious freedom. And another big decision came down last Friday night.

But first, a quick review.

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Religious freedom: the beginning of the end

Woman holding homemade sign: "Your birth control $9/mo. My Religious Freedom Priceless!

(CCL On Being)

Are you paying attention? Because this is what the slow leak of liberty looks like.

Earlier this year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued regulations requiring health insurance plans to cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives, including abortifacients. The alternative? A fine of roughly $100 per employee per day.

Today–August 1st, 2012–is the day that mandate kicks in.

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The gay marriage debate: a few of my unfavorite things

CCL Dave Schumaker

Last week, I wrote–here–about the gay marriage bill being voted on this afternoon in the Washington State Senate. I opposed language in the bill which would have opened any church, synagogue or mosque to legal action for refusing to perform a gay marriage if it had ever rented any facilities to anyone.

I also opposed language which would have placed religious organizations under the thumb of the State Human Rights Commission, the Attorney General, and the Superior Court system. I said this threatened religious freedom in this state.

Commenters here pronounced my argument “terrible,” “erroneous” and “unreasonable,” assured me that (unnamed) legal scholars disagreed, etc. In other forums commenters called me a bigot, a hater, and so on.

Oddly, nobody in any forum opposed my argument based on the language of the bill itself.

Or maybe not so odd.

It turns out that both the House and the Senate Committees that heard the bill agreed with me.

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Washington’s gay marriage bill: a frontal attack on religious freedom

The gay marriage bill in the Washington State Legislature specifically claims to protect religious freedom. HB 2516/SB 6239 bills itself as:

AN ACT Relating to providing equal protection for all families in Washington by creating equality in civil marriage and changing the domestic partnership laws, while protecting religious freedom. . . . [Emphasis mine]

But, as always, the devil is in the details.

three-column stained glass window of the

CCL Danie Van der Merwe

Section 4 (2) of the proposed legislation says that:

No regularly licensed or ordained minister or any priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any church or religious denomination is required to solemnize any marriage.

Sounds good, right? The Section goes on to say that:

A refusal to solemnize any marriage under this section by a regularly licensed or ordained minister or priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any church or religious denomination does not create a civil claim or cause of action. . . .

It doesn’t create a civil claim or cause of action. A civil claim is when one private person (or group of people) sues another private person or group. Notice that the Section is silent on whether a refusal might create any other kind of legal claim.

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President finds missing bully pulpit (sort of)

The good news first: The White House yesterday condemned the conviction and death sentence against Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. He has been found guilty of the capital crime of being a Christian. Here is his story, if you’re not familiar with it.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide csw.org.uk

The bad news: It took two years. That’s how long it’s been since Nadarkhani was originally convicted of apostasy by the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the Province of Gilan. (Here is a translation of that court’s verdict.)

And it wasn’t a matter worthy of the President’s time or direct influence–it was just another brief statement by the press secretary.

But maybe I should be more generous, and just call it eleven months. That’s how long it’s been since the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the President to press for Nadarkhani’s immediate and unconditional release.

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