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June 19, 2012

Let Religious Freedom Ring: Stop the Assault on Our First Freedom

Our Heritage of Religious Freedom

  • First Freedom: Often called the “First Freedom,” religious liberty is a cornerstone of the American experiment. One of the gifts of providence to the United States is a Constitution that has successfully safeguarded the fundamental right to religious liberty.
  • The American Model: The American model of religious liberty takes a strongly positive view of religious practice, both private and public. Far from privatizing religion, the American model of religious liberty assumes that religious believers and institutions will take active roles in society.
  • Private and Public: Religious individuals and institutions should be free to exercise their religious belief within their private spheres as well as to engage publicly on the basis of religion. That includes the ability to practice one’s faith at one’s home, place of worship, and work.
  • Defend It: We all enjoy religious freedom, so we should all be prepared to defend it.

We The People Erosions of Religious Liberty

  • Obamacare Tramples Religious Freedom: The Obamacare anti-conscience mandate requires all insurance plans to cover, at no charge, abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization. Only houses of worship qualify for a religious exemption—leaving faith-based hospitals, schools, soup kitchens, and many others to provide such mandated coverage despite religious and moral objections.
  • Liberal Social Agenda Driving Out Good Samaritans: In the wake of state laws redefining marriage, faith-based adoption and foster care providers in Massachusetts, Illinois, and the District of Columbia were forced to close their doors rather than violate their deeply held beliefs about marriage and the placement of children with married couples. In Washington, the White House refused to renew a grant for a faith-based organization effectively serving human trafficking victims because the group could not, on the basis of conscience, refer their clients for abortions.

Restore Religious Freedom

  • Rescind the Mandate and Repeal Obamacare: The Obama Administration should rescind the anti-conscience mandate. The anti-conscience mandate is unprecedented and unconstitutional, and it is only the leading edge of the mandates that are likely to come as Obamacare is fully implemented. The only way to adequately protect individual liberty in general and religious liberty in particular is to rescind the mandate and repeal Obamacare.
  • Protect the Good Samaritan: By providing education, health care, and countless social services, religious groups contribute mightily to civil society. Policymakers should protect their religious freedom to hire and serve in accordance with their deeply held beliefs.
  • Restore a Robust Understanding of Religious Liberty: U.S. policymakers should understand the primacy of religious freedom in the American constitutional order and work to protect that freedom, not undermine it. A robust conception of religion is an important anchor for religious freedom—freedom not merely to believe or teach certain doctrines but to live out one’s faith in all aspects of life.

For more information, please visit http://www.heritage.org.

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