As state legislatures gather across the country to start their 2016 legislative sessions, Americans United’s Protect Thy Neighbor (PTN) project is gearing up to monitor and fight legislation that would allow individuals, businesses and government employees to harm others in the name of religion.
Political allies of the Religious Right, like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), are trying to convince the American public that the federal government wants to force nuns to buy birth control.
“You know, every American should know about the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Cruz said during an address at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., in 2014. “You want to talk about values? Right now the federal government is suing the Little Sisters of the Poor to try to force Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”
You could say Liberty Counsel had a bad September.
When Mat Staver, founder of the Religious Right legal group, announced that Pope Francis secretly met with his client, Kim Davis, during the recent U.S. papal tour, it should have been a moment of glory for the organization.
In a September letter to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Americans United’s Legislative Department urged representatives to reject a proposed bill that would allow religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate. HR 2061, also called the Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (EACH), is intended to permit individuals to opt out of purchasing insurance. It is heavily supported by the Church of Christ, Scientist.
It seems two bakers in Oregon are positioning themselves to be the Religious Right’s next martyrs by refusing to pay a fine for discriminating against a same-sex couple.
Call it a new front in the “culture wars.”
The U.S. Supreme Court made it unequivocally clear on June 26 in Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex couples have the right to marry. But as predicted, the Religious Right has been reluctant to admit defeat.
In the wake of the verdict, certain public officials across the country refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In some cases, they stopped issuing licenses to all couples, regardless of orientation, in an attempt to skirt the ruling.
The Colorado Court of Appeals has protected the constitutional rights of same-sex couples and ruled against a baker seeking a “religious freedom” right to discriminate, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says. Americans United had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
Some Religious Right operatives have said they would rather go to jail than accept marriage equality in the states. Although Texas’ attorney general has not yet made so bold a statement, he may nonetheless spend some time behind bars for his refusal to cooperate with the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage decision.