Wednesday, February 12, 2014

HR 3133-- America Pushes Back On Religious Persecution In America

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Congressman Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) is pushing back against religious persecution in America with his bill HR 3133, which is designed to address the growing numbers of legal attacks against citizens because of their deeply held religious beliefs.

HR 3133 was specifically written "to prevent adverse treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage."

This is an expression of people of faith and conservatives pushing back against the growing tide of persecution against those with deeply held religious beliefs regarding marriage and the sanctity of life.

Those who claim to champion "tolerance" are increasingly "intolerant" toward those whose religious beliefs differ from their own beliefs and behaviors.

Intimidation and endless lawsuits against those with traditional biblical beliefs has unfortunately become common place.

Now a response has been drafted and there is bi-partisan support for Rep. Raul Labrador's HB 3133.

Labrador presented his bill to a panel of Christian conservatives this week at the Heritage Foundation.

He says the Health and Human Services contraception mandate and cases where homosexuals sue Christian florists, bakers, photographers and others because they cannot, in good conscience, participate in so-called same sex "weddings" are "creating a climate of intolerance and intimidation for citizens who believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman."

Sarah Torre, with the Heritage Foundation, told the Christian Post, "We have a fundamental misunderstanding of religious freedom going on."

She said, "The Obama administration is watering down religious freedom to just freedom of worship" by insisting that faith "is not something you bring into the work place."

Instead she says the administration's policies presume that "faith is something you keep in your home and place of worship."

This presumption is also being carried forward against military personnel who share their faith in Christ with their colleagues.

Rep. Labrador says the HHS mandate is an example of "the administration forcing religious and other faith based organizations to spend money on things like abortion pills that violate their most basic religious beliefs."

This week Hobby Lobby, who is in court defending their beliefs in the sanctity of life, told the court their case is not about women's health, it is about religious freedom.

This is in regard to Hobby Lobby's suit to protect themselves from a government mandate that seeks to force the store chain to cover various forms of contraceptives in their insurance, including the abortion pill, which is at issue.

Hobby Lobby's lawyer told the court that the company is and has been in compliance with all insurance mandates and in fact covers more than required for their employees. However they cannot, in good conscience, provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception.

The atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation has claimed to the court that Hobby Lobby is trying to impose a "radical redefinition" of the concept of religious freedom.

The concept of religious freedom is in fact under assault by those who are attempting to radically redefine it. But it isn't Christians who own businesses that seek redefinition, it is progressives who have only contempt for the principles of faith and freedom.

Rep. Labrador says that in light of the IRS targeting conservative groups, the federal government needs to be restrained from discriminating against those who uphold traditional marriage.

His bill, HB 3133, "is narrowly tailored to prohibit the federal government from inappropriately targeting organizations or individuals who hold a religious belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman."

The bill also prohibits the federal government from "making tax exempt status contingent on the group's beliefs about marriage."

Labrador says the basic premise of the bill says, "All Americans should be free to believe and act in the public square based on their belief about marriage without fear of any government penalty."

I personally believe this bill could pass if people across the country get behind it and contact their representatives.

The bill does not take anything away from anybody except the opportunity to punish Christians for their biblical beliefs about sexuality, marriage and the sanctity of life.

Activists groups will react and attempt to undermine the bill, but I believe there will be growing support for it.

The bill already has 100 co-sponsors, with 5 of the 6 House Ways and Means Sub-Committee chairmen in support---including a couple of Democrats.

The Alliance Defending Freedom supports the bill and says, "There's massive distinction between acting because of deeply held beliefs about marriage and acting because you don't like somebody who defines themselves as gay or lesbian."

Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, is an outstanding example of this.

She refused to service the celebration of "marriage" of two men who had done business with her for a long period of time.

She considered them friends, they considered her a friend. With no malicious feelings toward them she politely declined to supply flowers for their event---and explained it was about her biblical beliefs, not about them as persons.

They then filed a complaint and Washington's Attorney General Bob Ferguson has taken legal action against her. I spoke with her--- business is great, "booming" in fact, but the financial weight of defending herself against the State of Washington and its unlimited resources---at least for these kinds of matters, is almost unbearable.

I'm looking for tolerance in this matter. So is she. Where is it?

This same narrative is playing out across the country with a t-shirt company declining to provide t-shirts for a gay pride parade, a photographer, an inn keeper, a baker and a growing number of other and similar providers.

In every case, the Christian providers have explained they were acting out of deeply held biblical beliefs. In every case the desired services are readily available elsewhere.

But in most all cases, charges have been filed against the Christian provider.

A few months ago Bethany Blakely wrote in her op-ed column:

"There is an unfortunate reality sweeping across America. Homosexuals' 'civil rights' are considered to be legally greater than a Christian's claim to religious liberty. As a result of exercising their faith, Christians are being punished legally and financially. Christians are called 'bigots' for maintaining their convictions and their faith is marginalized, minimized, and mocked because they believe in the biblical view of marriage."

"At stake is whether or not Christians will risk losing their livelihood and/or pay hefty fines for holding fast to their religious beliefs."

She details a number of such cases across the country. I recommend you review her column.

Is this Tolerance?

Or Persecution?

If its tolerance in action, why, then, does tolerance only flow one direction?

HR 3133 addresses this issue.

I strongly recommend you contact your representative and ask them to support it. This is early in the process, but very important. You can contact your representative here.

We will keep you updated as this bill moves forward.

Be informed. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.