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7/18/21 Sunday Morning Service Live Stream From Council Bluffs, Iowa.
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Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia was a win for Catholic Social Services (CSS). It allows them to continue serving the neediest children without compromising their religious beliefs. However, the decision was not the strong affirmation of religious liberty for which many were hoping. As noted in FRC’s blog on the opinion:The Supreme Court did the bare minimum to protect CSS and other faith adherents. It was only because Philadelphia had other exceptions, but not religious ones, that the Court found the city in violation of the First Amendment.In his concurrence, Justice Alito warned that “[t]his decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops.” Whether a city with no exceptions for secular agencies can force a religious agency to violate its religious beliefs is yet to be decided by the Court. Therefore, more needs to be done to protect and affirm the religious liberty of faith-based agencies. Fortunately, several states are taking steps to do just that.Thus far, 10 states have Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Acts (CWPIAs), legislation that protects adoption and foster care providers from government discrimination based on protected beliefs about the nature of marriage and family. “Government discrimination” can come in many forms. Strong CWPIAs list as many of these forms as possible, with some of the most common being:Denying a license, permit, or other authorization, or the renewal thereof, or revoking/suspending such license, permit, or other authorization.Denying a grant, contract, or participation in a government program.Denying the agency’s application for funding or refusing to renew the agency’s funding.Ideally, the beliefs protected will also be clearly defined (i.e. the religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is between one man and one woman), although this has been less common in the CWPIAs introduced thus far. Many of these bills also include a strengthening provision—a civil cause of action for agencies whose rights have been violated by the government. Some bills also specifically protect child welfare agencies from being subject to civil fines or damages for acting in accordance with their beliefs.Since 2010, 49 CWPIAs have been introduced in 19 states. Ten states have enacted these bills in some form—Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The first was introduced and enacted in Virginia in 2012, and the most recent was enacted in Tennessee in 2020.In 2021, four CWPIAs have been introduced in four states—Iowa (HF 170), Kentucky (HB 524), South Carolina (HB 3878), and Massachusetts (H. 1536).Iowa HF 170 is unique in that it clearly defines the protected beliefs child welfare agencies may hold. Among these are the beliefs that “Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” and that “The terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ refer to distinct and immutable biological sexes that are determinable by anatomy and genetics by the time of birth.”Oklahoma resolutions HJR 1059 (2016) and HJR 1023 (2017) read similarly to Iowa’s bill, as they specifically protect child welfare agency’s “beliefs or the lawful expression of those beliefs, including sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage, family, or sexuality.” Most CWPIAs specifically protect the right of adoption and foster agencies (many of which have a religious mission) to decline certain placements if doing so would violate a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction. However, spelling out which beliefs warrant protection adds an extra layer of clarity for these agencies.One important thing to note: Half of the bills introduced after 2010 have only protected agencies’ “written” beliefs contained in a policy or organizing document. Some bills even include a requirement that these beliefs be written and available to be viewed. This can exclude some agencies from protection if their sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions about marriage are not spelled out in a written policy or on the agency’s website. Therefore, CWPIAs are stronger when they don’t make this stipulation and instead protect all sincerely held religious beliefs to have protection. For example, South Carolina HB 3878 (2021) prohibits government discrimination against an agency for providing or declining to provide “any adoption or foster care service. . . based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction.”Contrary to what is often said by the media, CWPIAs do not stop same-sex couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents, nor do they limit the pool of potential foster and adoptive parents. The majority of child welfare agencies in the United States are willing to place children with same-sex couples. Most faith-based agencies, such as Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia, will help these couples find other agencies willing to assist them.Forcing welfare agencies to either violate their beliefs, close their doors, or serve in a more limited capacity is detrimental to the children these agencies serve. Allowing faith-based agencies to operate alongside non-faith-based ones ensures that more children in need will receive care, not fewer. Recognizing this fact, 10 states have already enacted CWPIAs into law. Given the number of lawsuits seeking to force foster and adoption agencies to act in ways contrary to their beliefs, other states would be wise to get ahead of the problem and follow suit.
“We are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”A federal appeals court has upheld a 2019 ruling against the University of Iowa, affirming that the university discriminated against a Christian club by stripping it and dozens of other religious clubs of their registered status.A three-judge panel of the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday found that a lower federal court correctly ruled that the university can’t selectively deregister student organizations. That ruling came on a lawsuit filed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship after university administrators deregistered its local chapter along with multiple other religious groups.The university moved to deregister the groups after another faith-based group, Business Leaders in Christ, sued the university for kicking it off campus following a complaint that it wouldn’t let an openly gay member seek a leadership post.The appeals court said Friday that “we are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”The university had not allowed Christian, Muslim, and Sikh groups to appoint leaders based on their shared faith, selectively enforcing its policy requiring all clubs to offer equal opportunity and access regardless of classifications including race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.According to Becket, which represented InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the case, “the court warned that university officials who ‘make calculated choices about enacting or enforcing [such] unconstitutional policies’ should be on notice that they are not entitled to qualified immunity but instead will be held personally accountable for their actions.”Continue reading...
“We are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”A federal appeals court has upheld a 2019 ruling against the University of Iowa, affirming that the university discriminated against a Christian club by stripping it and dozens of other religious clubs of their registered status.A three-judge panel of the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday found that a lower federal court correctly ruled that the university can’t selectively deregister student organizations. That ruling came on a lawsuit filed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship after university administrators deregistered its local chapter along with multiple other religious groups.The university moved to deregister the groups after another faith-based group, Business Leaders in Christ, sued the university for kicking it off campus following a complaint that it wouldn’t let an openly gay member seek a leadership post.The appeals court said Friday that “we are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”The university had not allowed Christian, Muslim, and Sikh groups to appoint leaders based on their shared faith, selectively enforcing its policy requiring all clubs to offer equal opportunity and access regardless of classifications including race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.According to Becket, which represented InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the case, “the court warned that university officials who ‘make calculated choices about enacting or enforcing [such] unconstitutional policies’ should be on notice that they are not entitled to qualified immunity but instead will be held personally accountable for their actions.”Continue reading...
On June 28, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that California will add five more states to its travel ban. State-funded travel will no longer be permitted to states on this list because they passed bills that California considers “discriminatory.”The number of states on California’s anti-travel list has been growing over the years and has now reached a total of 17, with this new addition of Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The ban will have an impact on public school trips, universities, teacher conferences, and any other business that public employees of the state of California may need to attend around the country.Bonta justified the additions to the travel ban by claiming the moral high ground. “The states [banned] are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care, or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ community,” Bonta’s office explained in a press release. However, these laws are necessary to (1) preserve fair competition in women’s sports by requiring that athletes who identify as transgender participate in sports according to their biological sex, and (2) to prevent youth from making drastic, permanent life-altering decisions (like taking puberty blocking drugs) until they reach adulthood, such as Arkansas’ SAFE Act.The first travel ban from California was introduced in 2017. Then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra signed into law Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibited a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that has so-called “discriminatory” laws against gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation. The first state it applied to was Oklahoma.Oklahoma had signed into law Senate Bill 1140, which allowed private foster care/adoption agencies to use their own discretion when placing children into homes. For religious organizations, it meant that they could continue to place children only into families with a mother and a father. Neither adoption nor foster care by those identifying as LGBTQ is banned in Oklahoma; the bill simply upholds that private organizations are allowed to operate in accordance with their beliefs. However, according to advocates of the LGBTQ cause, SB 1140 discriminated against those identifying as LGBTQ. Allie Shin, the External Affairs Director of ACLU Oklahoma, stated that “Rather than stand up to religious fanaticism, the Governor has chosen to reinforce the delusions of those who confuse discrimination with liberty.” Shortly after, California enacted AB1887.However, Becerra didn’t stop at just Oklahoma. Over the course of the next several years, he signed laws prohibiting state-funded travel to Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. All of these states have passed laws similar to Oklahoma’s or that fall under the category of LGBTQ issues.Blocking state-funded travel to a third of the country comes with consequential economic impacts. Lisa Hermes, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in McKinney, Texas, said that “the state could lose out on as much as $1 billion dollars of economic impact if the NCAA canceled its events currently slated to take place in Texas — such as the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game set for Houston and the 2023 Women’s Final Four in Dallas.” In Louisville, Kentucky, the city lost over $2 million in revenue after two companies canceled events they were going to hold there. Even Nashville, which is a left-leaning city, was impacted after the American Counseling Association canceled a meeting they had scheduled, which would have brought 3,000 visitors to the state (and business to hotels and restaurants to boot) and would have brought in $4 million worth of tax revenue.While these new bans by California are obviously more harmful than helpful, they are also a dangerous example of the level that the Left will stoop to in order to make a large statement. It’s hard to argue against the fact that by shutting down state-funded travel to 17 states, California’s stances on issues like transgenderism are getting lots of attention. This travel ban is one of many ways that the Left is forcing culture to align with their agenda. There’s also issues like the MLB moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia because of pressure from the Left.With all of this happening in the culture around us, what is our role as Christians and conservatives? The Left is following through on what they say they’re going to do, and it’s having an economic impact. How should we respond? We need to follow through on our beliefs as well and use God’s word as the basis for our decisions and actions. As Christians, we need to firmly take a stand not just with our words, but with our actions by using our hard-earned money to make an economic impact for biblical values just as the Left is making an economic impact with their policies. As believers, we can do this by supporting companies and organizations that align with our biblical values.Gabby Wiggins is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.
Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about key provisions that states have advanced in 2021 to defend the family and human dignity.The abortion industry rakes in vast amounts of cash every year by carrying out abortions. This has always been their “M.O.” Their exploitation of fetal remains, on the other hand, is a lesser known practice that the general public has only become aware of within the past decade. Though controversy surrounding fetal tissue and abortion has existed for years, in 2015, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released undercover videos that revealed how Planned Parenthood is profiting from harvesting and selling baby body parts. The conscience of the nation was shocked, and ever since, states have taken the initiative to end this abhorrent practice.Harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted children for research purposes subsidizes the abortion industry. Furthermore, it incentivizes harmful practices such as late-term abortion, altering abortion methods for the sake of preserving the remains for sale, violating patient privacy, and possibly even killing some children born alive in order to harvest their organs.To ensure fetal remains are given the respect they deserve and can no longer be wielded for profit, lawmakers have propagated protections for fetal remains, which include:requiring abortion suppliers to bury or cremate unborn children after an abortion,prohibiting the sale of (or, in some cases, prohibiting the profiting from) baby body parts, andprohibiting the transfer of fetal remains.In addition, some states pass stand-alone bills that recognize fetal dignity in one of two other ways:providing death certificates for miscarried babies, orproviding income tax credit to parents for miscarried babies.Although fetal dignity laws vary in their particulars, they all have the effect of promoting the dignity of the unborn.Between 2015 and 2016, in the wake of the CMP videos’ release, the number of states that introduced fetal dignity laws rose by 500 percent (5 to 26 states). Since that time, a total of 48 states have introduced fetal dignity laws. A record-high seven states have already enacted such laws to date in 2021.Of the over 240 fetal dignity bills that have been introduced since 2015, Alabama’s Unborn Infants Dignity of Life Act (HB 45, 2016) stands out as one of the strongest. It contained four of the first six provisions listed above (the last two provisions have generally been run as standalone bills). In requiring the proper disposal of fetal remains, as well as prohibiting the sale, transfer, or use of fetal remains for research, Alabama HB 45 put commonsense regulations in place to bar the exploiting of fetal remains.In addition to Alabama, seven states have enacted strong legislation:Arizona (SB 1474, 2016)Idaho (S 1196, 2017)Indiana (HB 1337, 2016)Louisiana (SB 128, 2017)Michigan (SB 564/565, 2016)South Dakota (SB 24, 2016)Wyoming (HB 116, 2017)Like Alabama’s bill, these seven prohibit the sale, transfer, or the use of fetal remains for research. They do not, however, mandate the proper disposal of fetal remains—the burial or cremation of fetal remains, a strengthening protection ensuring fetal remains are not discarded as mere medical waste. However, four of these seven states have enacted additional bills mandating the proper disposal of fetal remains:Arizona (HB 1457, 2021)Idaho (SB 1404, 2016)Indiana (SB 299, 2020)Louisiana (HB 618, 2020)Four other states—Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, and Texas—have enacted legislation that only prohibits the sale and transfer of fetal tissue. However, Iowa’s (SF 359, 2018) only addresses the transfer of fetal tissue, whereas Tennessee’s (HB 2577, 2016) only addresses the sale of fetal tissue, while additionally mandating the proper disposal of fetal remains. Florida (HB 1411, 2016) and Texas (SB 8, 217) enacted legislation that prohibits both the sale and transfer of fetal tissue, although failing to address the final disposition of fetal remains. Three additional states have all passed measures solely mandating the proper disposal of fetal remains:Ohio (SB 27, 2021)Oklahoma (SB284, 2019)Utah (SB 67, 2020)Another six states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that take a different approach, ensuring that parents can receive death certificates in the tragic event of a miscarriage or stillbirth:California (AB 114, 2019)Delaware (SB 3, 2017)Florida (HB 101, 2017)Louisiana (HB 177, 2019)Nebraska (LB 1040, 2018)Tennessee (SB 1389, 2019)District of Columbia (B23-0529, 2020)Interestingly enough, these unique pieces of legislation have consistently received bipartisan support, unifying both sides of the aisle. Similarly, five other states have enacted bills providing income tax credit to parents who have experienced the miscarriage or stillbirth of a child:Arkansas (HB 1457, 2021)Louisiana (HB 146, 2021)Michigan (HB 4522, 2018)Missouri (HB 2540, 2018)North Dakota (HB 1239, 2017)Granting death certificates and/or tax benefits for miscarried children reenforces the principle that children in the womb possess the same human dignity and deserve the same level of respect as those outside the womb.Although fetal dignity laws vary in their particulars, they all promote the dignity of the unborn. Following the release of undercover videos in 2015, the growing realization that stronger protections are necessary has motivated some lawmakers to make a difference, contributing to the enactment of 38 bills spanning 21 states and the District of Columbia. These laws move us one step closer toward honoring the unborn, who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. With over 240 bills introduced since 2015, a record number of enactments this year, and some bills seeing bipartisan support, the fight for fetal dignity has never been stronger.
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