October 12, 2017

Positivity: Robert George reflects on Trump admin’s latest religious liberty moves

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Washington:

Oct 9, 2017 / 03:59 pm

Two sets of announcements by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued Friday both promise to broaden religious freedom protections in the United States.

The first announcement, by the HHS department, broadens the religious freedom exemptions to the department’s contraception mandate, which has been facing federal lawsuits from conscientious objectors since its introduction in 2011.

The second announcement was a memo issued by the Department of Justice, in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained 20 legal principles all government agencies should consider when dealing with religious freedom concerns.

Neither announcement will automatically resolve religious freedom cases currently within the court system.

In an Oct. 6 interview with CNA, Robert George, a professor of constitutional law at Princeton University and visiting professor at Harvard University, explained the implications of these two announcements for religious freedom supporters throughout the country.

Can you walk us through an overview of what the new HHS mandate adjustment and Department of Justice rules mean for religious freedom?

I think this is a big day for religious freedom. I see much greater value in the guidance that has been issued today than in the executive order on religious freedom from a few months ago, which I was very disappointed in. I felt that order was essentially meaningless. [Ed. note: On May 4, 2017, the White House issued the “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.]

The guidance given today is, I think, genuine, and I think it is very likely to make a positive difference.

The administration goes clearly on the record and instructs all relevant agencies of the government that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies even where a religious entity seeks an exemption from a requirement that the entity confer benefits on third parties. This is a big point in dispute between the two sides in the debate over religious freedom. The administration comes down squarely in favor of what I believe is the correct view. …

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