Post-Midterm optimism for religious freedom
Religious freedom and pro-life advocates will doubtless spend the next two years checking the radical left’s agenda as it unfolds in the Democrat-controlled House. But we can still be encouraged by keeping the Senate. In doing so, we keep the momentum behind the confirmation of constitutionally conservative judges who will restore our religious freedom rights.
Americans of faith will also continue to enjoy the tailwind of the administration’s pro-faith agenda, as demonstrated by the president’s Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, the attorney general’s efforts to fully mobilize federal law protections for free expression, and the State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom to combat religious persecution internationally.
It is true that we must still fight for legislation like the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which protects faith-based adoption and foster care providers from exclusion from government licensing, funding, or contracting. The act was stripped from a broader spending bill and didn’t pass, but the need remains. Already, providers are forced to end their services because they will not disobey their faith and place children in anything other than a stable home with a mother and father.
We must also remain vigilant and oppose anti-religious freedom legislation like the so-called Equality Act, which Rep. Nancy Pelosi said would be a top priority on her agenda, as well as certain provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Both involve the government mandate of policies that can be and have been used to give special priority to sexual behaviors and gender identity over religious freedom. That the Equality Act explicitly negates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- a bipartisan law signed by President Bill Clinton -- shows the bill’s hostility towards protections for religious freedom rights.
The notion that faith-based convictions -- particularly Christian ones -- must fall to the validation of another person’s sexual orientation is baked into the Democratic platform. The Democrats openly advocate for federal legislation similar to the laws used against business owners like Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, and other wedding vendors of faith to force them to either end their faith-based policies, endure expensive litigation, or close their businesses for good.
In many ways, however, Americans can still look forward to progress post-midterms in safeguarding their religious freedom. One need look no further than the new blood in the Senate, where religious freedom champion Josh Hawley has defeated incumbent Claire McCaskill. As an attorney and advocate, Hawley has defended faith-based businesses against the Obama administration’s repressive policies and has fought for the right of religious schools to remain free to operate according to their faith. He both understands and defends religious freedom --qualities we need in our elected leaders. He can also put into action his open opposition to the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that prohibits certain tax-exempt entities from campaigning for or against political candidates and that has been used to chill the free speech of pastors in the pulpit. Hawley declared his views on religious freedom and voters gave him their support.
Due to victories like Hawley’s in the Senate, this election means we can keep a positive track record on religious liberty, even if it means some obstacles from the House. There are more victories on the horizon in the fight for the freedom of every American to live their lives according to their faith.
Alexandra McPhee is Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy at the Family Research Council.