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Does Japan’s Conservative Shinto Religion Support Gay Marriage?

Shinto_worships_at_Cock_Festival_of_Hanazono_Shrine_in_Japan

TOKYO — John Matthews writes: In January 1999, a Shinto priest unofficially married two men in a shrine in Kawasaki, an industrial city near Tokyo. Literally “the way of the gods,” Shinto is officially the state religion of Japan, but it does not influence modern Japanese life the way that Christianity dominates in the United States. Rather, it’s more a matter of a shared culture — of ritual practices and belief in spirits — against which some people define themselves.

The ceremony took place at Kanamara Shrine, best known for its annual Festival of the Steel Phallus, during which participants pray for easy childbirth or protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Hirohiko Nakamura, the priest who performed the rites, told local media then that this was probably the first time a wedding ceremony had been held for two men in Japan. “This may become a call to seriously think about the diversity of sex,” he said.

shinto-ceremony

“In Shinto, it says make many children, expand humanity, and be prosperous. And yet, it’s not explicitly written anywhere that homosexuality is wrong or a sin.”

— Hisae Nakamura

Fast-forward 16 years. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, overturning decades of often active and religiously motivated government discrimination against a minority of Americans. In Japan, gay marriage remains illegal — except for in one district, or ward, in Tokyo, which began recognizing same-sex marriages in March. A month earlier, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been arguing for revising Japan’s Constitution to allow a more assertive military, said that 41xdqF8bMlL._SL250_reforming the Japanese Constitution to allow for gay marriage would be difficult.

[Check out Louis Crompton‘s 2003 book “Homosexuality and Civilization” at Amazon.com]

Across Japan, opinions about gay rights diverge. Technically, homosexuality is legal, Kazuyuki Minami, a lawyer in Osaka, reminded a journalist from the Associated Press, “but the atmosphere is such that most people feel homosexuals should not exist.” Reuters, citing a mid-2013 poll by the research firm Ipsos, reported that while 60 or 70 percent of people in most Western nations say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, only 5 percent of Japanese do. Kanae Doi, the Japan director for the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch, told Foreign Policy that while many Japanese are not opposed to homosexuality, “they don’t really see it.”

[Read the full text here, at Foreign Policy]

And while Shinto doesn’t have a clear stance on homosexuality, it “advocates that it’s not natural,” as one Shinto priest told me in Tokyo’s prominent Meiji Shrine in early June, a few weeks before the Supreme Court ruling. The Association of Shinto Shrines, the administrative body that oversees Japan’s estimated 80,000 shrines and 20,000 priests, tend to be conservative on social issues, the priest said. Read the rest of this entry »

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules Obama Administration Can’t Make Catholic Group Obey Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate

SUPREME-court

WASHINGTON D.C. – Steven Ertelt reports: The Supreme Court issued an order today preventing the Obama administration from forcing a Catholic group in Michigan to obey the HHS mandate that requires them to pay for abortion-causing drugs for their employees. This is the fifth time the staffphotos-482-rienziSupreme Court has rebuked the Obama administration and prevented it from making such a mandate.

“The government keeps making the same bad arguments and the Supreme Court keeps rejecting them – every single time. This is because the government can obviously come up with ways to distribute contraceptives without the forced involvement of Catholic ministries.”

— Mark , Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

For the sixth time in a row, the Supreme Court took steps to protect another religious objector from the HHS mandate. It ordered a lower court to reconsider its ruling that denied a group of Catholic ministries in Michigan the freedom to follow their faith.staffphotos-601-e1414080373406

“That argument has always been absurd. Every time a religious plaintiff has gone to the Supreme Court for protection from the government’s discriminatory mandate the Court has protected them. That’s what happened to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Wheaton College, Notre Dame, and Hobby Lobby.”

— Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

“The government keeps making the same bad arguments and the Supreme Court keeps rejecting them – every single time. This is because the government can obviously come up with ways to distribute contraceptives without the forced involvement of Catholic ministries,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus brief in the case.

Little-Sisters-of-the-Poor

“How many times must the government lose in court before it gets the message? For years now the government has been claiming that places like Catholic Charities and the Little Sisters of the Poor are not ‘religious employers” worthy of an exemption.’”

“As with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby, this is a strong signal that the Supreme Court will ultimately reject the government’s narrow view of religious liberty.

sisters-poor

[Read the full text here, at LifeNews]

And it makes it less likely that lower courts will accept arguments the Supreme Court has rejected over and over and over again.”

Birth-control-debate

“The government really needs to give up on its illegal and unnecessary mandate. The federal bureaucracy has lots of options for distributing contraceptives–they don’t need to coerce nuns and priests to do it for them.”

— Lori Windham

As the Becket Fund noted, the Michigan Catholic Conference and other Catholic ministries brought their request to the Supreme Court after a surprising lower court decision that would have allowed large IRS fines against the ministries because they, based on their religious beliefs, cannot provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans. Read the rest of this entry »


Religious Freedom Laws: True & False

Sarah TorreTorre_Sarah_TDS_lo1 writes: The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

RFRAFacts

….By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection….(read more)

The Daily Signal


Mollie Z. Hemingway: How to Be a Really Lousy Journalist for Fun and Profit

From Intercollegiate Review, May 2013, a timeless classic. Read the whole thing here. Career advice from my newsroom hero, supreme champion pugilist of punditry, brilliant bombshell of bodacious badassery:

old-school-newsroom

There has never been a better time to consider a career in journalism.

mollieNewspapers are thriving, magazines are innovating, online journalism listicles are becoming more substantive, and cable-news talking heads are shouting at holograms.

Journalists are living up to our reputation as the country’s most trusted profession (at least compared to IRS agents and American Airlines customer-service representatives). Whether it’s our nuanced and thoughtful analysis of hot-button topics such as gay marriage or our tenacious coverage of the terrorist attack in Benghazi and Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic in Philadelphia, people know you can count on us to get the story right.

Would you like to succeed in this environment? As a long-time reporter and media critic, I’m happy to share tips on what to do if you want to make it in modern journalism.

Don’t Sweat the Details

Is there a difference between an Evangelical and an evangelist? Who cares? Don’t know the technical reason why Christians celebrate Easter? Will anyone really notice? Do you confuse the author of Hebrews with Paris booksellers?We all do! Whether you’re reporting on important U.S. Supreme Court decisions or how many people died in a terrorist bombing, what’s most important is getting the story first, not getting the story right, particularly under the pressure of a 24-hour news cycle.

Don’t Question Authority

If the powers-that-be suggest that a terrorist attack on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 was the spontaneous and direct result of an unseen YouTube video with junior high school production values, who are you to be skeptical?

If these same authority figures suggest that therefore it’s dangerous for Americans to speak freely, share their religious views, and express their artistic sensibilities however they want, you should probably just join them in calling for restrictions on these First Amendment freedoms.

Likewise, if a politician suggests that the reports of scandal surrounding his administration are overblown, leave him alone already. Would he lie? One good thing to remember is that, generally speaking, only Republican politicians mislead. The sooner you figure that out, the more quickly you’ll be on your way to working at the New York Times.

Recently, some journalists asked the military about reports that the armed services were cracking down on Evangelical Christians. Military spokesmen assured the reporters that there was nothing to worry about. The good reporters figured that meant the case was closed.

Remember Your Job Is to Advance Narratives, Not Report Facts

CNBC’s John Harwood said recently, “Those of us in political-media world should just shut up about ‘narratives’ and focus on what’s true.” Spoken like a real nobody. We’re in the Golden Era of narratives. Facts are for old-timers. Take the story about the Health and Human Service Department’s Obamacare-inspired regulation requiring all employers (regardless of religious objections) to provide employee insurance covering birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients at no cost to the employee. Would you rather report the actual details about this, including claims that it is an unprecedented restriction on religious liberty, or simply call any attempts to fight it part of a “war on women”? Exactly. You know the right thing to do.

Want to write, say, a Biblical Case for Gay Marriage? Push forward, no matter what trouble the Bible gives you in making that case. The narrative is what’s key. Read the rest of this entry »


Headline of the Day: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Illiberal Identity Politics Problem

HotAir-head-appv

For Hot Air, Noah Rothman writes:

…Liberal outlets dubbed her “Notorious R.B.G.,” whiny folk artists converted her opinion into a terrible but nevertheless widely shared song, and The New Republic laughably dubbed Ginsburg “the most popular woman on the internet.” Take that, Kate Upton.

All this hero worship was entirely unearned, but the left is eternally in search of a totem. Ginsburg revealed just how misplaced the deluge of liberal idolization was on Thursday when she let all that celebrity go to her head.

funny-typo-vag-sandwich

In an interview with Katie Couric, Ginsburg embraced the toxic, disrespectful, and illiberal identity politics that has so intoxicated the left when she said that the five male Justices who decided Hobby Lobby really cannot understand the law in this case because they do not possess her reproductive organs.

Ginsburg began by insisting that the decision in Hobby Lobby meant that “women would have to take care of that for themselves, or the men who cared.” Oh, the tyrannies of free will and independence(read more)

Hot Air


Obama Playbook: How To Smear Opponents, Divide the Country, and Raise More Money

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

“That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive.”

Yuval Levin‘s post at The Corner is bracing, and revealing, noteworthy not only because of the insights expressed here, but as an example of what team NRO does best: the most lucid writing on these matters you’ll find anywhere.

From Legalization by Edict:

“…the notion that the president can respond to a failure to get Congress to adopt his preferred course on a prominent and divisive public issue by just acting on his own as if a law he desires had been enacted has basically nothing to do with our system of government.

In one sense, the approach the president is said to be contemplating does fit into a pattern of his use of executive power. That pattern involves taking provocative executive actions on sensitive, divisive issues to isolate people he detests, knowing it will invite a sharp response, and then using the response to scare his own base voters into thinking they are under assault when in fact they are on the offensive. That’s how moving to compel nuns to buy contraception and abortive drugs for their employees became “they’re trying to take away your birth control.” This strategy needlessly divides the country and brings out the worst instincts of people on all sides, but it has obvious benefits for the administration and its allies. Liberals get both the substantive action and the political benefit of calling their opponents radicals and getting their supporters worked up. Obama’s legalization of millions would surely draw a response that could then be depicted as evidence of Republican hostility to immigrants, rather than of Republican hostility to illegal executive overreach that tries to make highly significant policy changes outside the bounds of our constitutional order.

But while the legalization now being talked about fits into that pattern in a sense, the sheer scope of its overreach would put it in a different category as a practical matter…(read more)

The Corner


Laws: Maybe We Should Write Them Down

Disdain for the letter of the law is complexly intertwined with the progressive imagination.

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Kevin D. Williamson — no slouch when it comes to precise language himself — has a must-read in this weekend’s National Review, reminding us that the “ancients understood something that has been neglected in recent centuries: Grammar is the foundation of logic.”

There will always be occasions for discretion and interpretation on legal questions, but it is not the case that such discretion should presumptively empower the IRS to do things that the IRS is not legally entitled to do simply because Barack Obama wishes it to be so. If history teaches us anything, it is that a system of law that presumptively sides with political power soon ceases to be any sort of system of law at all. Rather, it becomes a post facto justification for the will to power, an intellectual window dressing on might-makes-right rule.

Prologue_Hammurabi_Code

The matter addressed in Halbig is hardly the Obama administration’s first attempt to circumvent the law as written — see Hobby Lobby, etc. — nor is it the progressives’ only attempt to impose what they imagine to be enlightened ad-hocracy on the American people. The disdain for the letter of the law is complexly intertwined with the progressive managerial imagination: The law, in their view, is not something that limits the ambitions of princes, but something that empowers them to do what they see fit… (read more)

obama-signing-law

From Halbig and Hammurabi

[Also see: Progressives Learn the Hard Way that the Constitution is Obstructionist]

[Kevin Williamson’s book “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure” is available at Amazon]

National Review Online


[VIDEO] Carly Fiorina Unloads: ‘The War on Women Is Shameless, Baseless Propaganda’

Carly-Fiorina-quote

Carly Fiorina dismissed claims of a “War on Women” Sunday, saying the concept was an unsubstantiated political ploy and even drawing on ancient Chinese wisdom to scold contemporary Democrats.

Fiorina then pulled out a fortune she said she’d received recently in a fortune cookie.

“‘Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause,’” Fiorina read. “And that’s exactly right. The War on Women is shameless, baseless propaganda. There’s no fact to it. But it’s worked because it’s scared women to death. Enough.” (read more)

National Review Online


‘Weakness & Dependence’ Quote of the Day

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Follow John Hawkins on Twitter


Jonah Goldberg: ‘The Left’s Anger is Palpable’

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Resenting the Republic

For National Review Online, the frequently-insightful Jonah Goldberg writes:

You wouldn’t think, five years into the Obama presidency, that so many liberal Americans wouldn’t like America.

A new Pew survey found that 44 percent of Americans don’t often feel pride in being an American, and only 28 percent said that America is the greatest country in the world. Respondents who “often feel proud to be American” were overwhelmingly conservative (from 72 percent to 81 percent, depending on the kind of conservative). A majority (60 percent) of “solid liberals” said they don’t often feel proud to be an American.

“To listen to some of the hysterical responses to the court’s decision, you’d think the government in Washington is the only thing thwarting the desire of millions of businessmen to drape their female employees in burqas.”

The polling data only prove what has been obvious for a while.

Georgia representative John Lewis recently said that “if the Civil Rights Act was before the Congress today, it would not pass, it would probably never make it to the floor for a vote.”tyranny-cliche

[Jonah’s book, The Tyranny of Cliches, is available at Amazon]

Lewis is right. If it came before the Congress today, it wouldn’t pass. You know why? Because we passed it 50 years ago. The GI Bill wouldn’t pass today either, because that was enacted in 1944. If, somehow, we had Jim Crow today, the American people — and Congress — would vote to abolish it in a landslide.

In fairness, Lewis was primarily condemning congressional gridlock, not GOP racism.

Primarily.  Read the rest of this entry »


Hold On, Yes, You, We’re Not Done Yet: More Legal Challenges Coming Against Obamacare

Barack Obama

Ben Shapiro has a good roundup of what’s in the Obamacare legal dispute pipeline:

With the Obama administration’s defeat in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, all eyes now turn to further Obamacare challenges. Chief Justice John Roberts shockingly greenlit Obamacare itself by converting it into a tax from a stated penalty, but he has also shown a partial willingness to chip away at the law.

There are two more upcoming cases on Obamacare worth watching. We can only hope that such lawsuits are just the beginning when it comes to the implementation of a law with regulations stacking up to eight feet tall.

Halbig v. Burwell: This case seemingly turns on a technicality, but it could completely sink the workability of Obamacare itself. The law allows for federal subsidies for those who buy their care through state exchanges; if subsidies are unavailable, those people can claim exemption from Obamacare penalties for hardship reasons.

There is one major problem for the Obama administration: 34 states refused to start state healthcare exchanges, and the law makes no provision for subsidies for those who buy their coverage through the federal exchange. That means that millions of people who applied for coverage through the federal exchange could be left without subsidies, freeing them of Obamacare penalties and destroying the base upon which Obamacare is based. Read the rest of this entry »


Charles C. Cooke: What Does the Left Think the Supreme Court Is?

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Hobby Lobby exposes mass incomprehension of the role of courts in a constitutional republic. 

A question for readers: Do public schools teach civics? They did when I was in school, but it’s been a long time. Has basic civics been fully removed from public education? Or still taught, but overridden by progressive counter-programming? I’d like to hear.

I read this last night, and marveled. NRO‘s Charles C. Cooke writes like the last sane man in America. I enjoy Cooke’s thinking, but I sometimes forget how funny his writing is. The left’s reaction to the SCTOTUS decision was expected to be exaggerated, dishonest, political, and theatrical, that’s a given. But I didn’t imagine it would become this disassociated from the actual legal question involved, seemingly clueless about (or intentionally misrepresenting) the role of courts in the democratic process itself. Read the whole thing here.

“The justices are jurists not doctors — they are nine appointed attorneys whose role in the American settlement is to provide legal answers to legal questions.”

Charles C. W. Cooke writes: 

Conspicuously absent from yesterday’s post-Hobby Lobby hullabaloo was the acknowledgment on the left that the decision was the product of a court. Distilling into a single line what was a popular and widely disseminated critique, the New York Times’s Nick Kristof tweeted a picture of Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, sardonically labeling the quintet as “The experts on women’s health on the Supreme Court who ruled today against contraception coverage.” A few hours later, Senator Harry Reid’s office pushed out an assessment that was cut from the same unlovely cloth. “It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women,” Reid tweeted. Among the hysterical, that sentiment was ubiquitous.

Note: Many on the right, too, are misreading or misrepresenting the perceived ‘victory’ in this narrow decision. Obamacare’s vast regulatory reach remains undiminished by this ruling, there’s not a whole lot to celebrate.

One cannot help but wonder whether Kristof and Reid are aware of what the Supreme Court actually does — which, as anybody who has even a fleeting grasp of American civics knows, is not to set American policy, on health or anything else, but to interpret and uphold the law. In this particular case, the justices were called to judge whether a mandate that was pushed out by the Obama administration in 2012 was in conflict with another law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was added to the books in 1992. This being so, the degree to which those who decided the case are “experts on women’s health” is wholly immaterial. The justices are jurists not doctors — they are nine appointed attorneys whose role in the American settlement is to provide legal answers to legal questions. Man or woman; straight or gay; handsome or ugly; Jew, Catholic, or protestant — the law must remain the law, regardless of in whose name its intricacies are decided. The alternative would be disastrous. Does Harry Reid aspire to see Roe v. Wade, which was decided by nine men, overturned?

“Senator Patty Murray issued a wild and overwrought statement…At no point did she even come close to mentioning the legal case.”

Identity politics notwithstanding, the central implication of the Kristofs and Reids of the world — that the very involvement of the Court in this area is uncouth — is a rather strange one. Read the rest of this entry »


If birth control is “not your boss’s business,” why do you expect him to pay for it?

US Supreme Court hands down decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

Liberals’ Hobby Lobby Doublethink

I’m particularly fond of the Game of Thrones reference. Read Jonah’s entire column here.

For National Review OnlineJonah Goldberg writes:

Abortion-rights protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court building on Monday holding signs that read “Birth Control: Not My Boss’s Business.”

“The notion that denying a subsidy for a product is equivalent to banning that product is one of the odder tenets of contemporary liberalism.”

Much to their chagrin, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito agreed in his ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

double-think-clownOf course, that’s not how supporters of the government’s contraception mandate see it. They actually believe that birth control is their boss’s business, and they want the federal government to force employers to agree.

More on that later, but it’s first worth noting how we got here.

First, contrary to a lot of lazy punditry, there is no Obamacare contraception mandate. As my National Review colleague Ramesh Ponnuru notes, even President Obama’s liberal rubber-stamp Congress of 2009–10 never addressed — or even debated — the question of whether companies can be forced to provide contraceptive coverage. Department of Health and Human Services bureaucrats simply asserted that they could impose such a requirement. Indeed, “several pro-life Democrats,” Ponnuru adds, “who provided the law’s narrow margin of victory in the House have said they would have voted against the law had it included the mandate.”

“If I like to dress up as a character from Game of Thrones on weekends, pretending to fight snow zombies and treating my mutt like she’s a mystical direwolf, that’s none of my employer’s business. But if I ask my employer to pay for my trip to a Game of Thrones fan convention, I am asking him to make it his business.”

Moreover, Hobby Lobby never objected to covering birth control per se. It already covers 16 kinds of birth control for its employees. But it objected to paying for what it considers to be abortifacients, which don’t prevent a pregnancy but terminate one. The pro-abortion-rights lobby can argue that “abortion” and “birth control” are synonymous terms, but that doesn’t make it true. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Hobby Lobby Actually Lavishes Contraception Coverage on Its Employees

Supreme Court Affirmitive Action

For National Review OnlineDeroy Murdock notes:

The Left is foaming at the mouth over the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision this morning….

[Read the whole thing here]

Imagine that a woman starts work at Hobby Lobby tomorrow morning — July 1. She joins Hobby Lobby’s health care plan. It includes access, copay-free, to the following categories of FDA-approved birth-control:

  1. Male condoms
  2. Female condoms
  3. Diaphragms with spermicide
  4. Sponges with spermicide
  5. Cervical caps with spermicide
  6. Spermicide alone
  7. Birth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill)
  8. Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill)
  9. Birth control pills (extended/continuous use)
  10. Contraceptive patches
  11. Contraceptive rings
  12. Progestin injections
  13. Implantable rods
  14. Vasectomies
  15. Female sterilization surgeries
  16. Female sterilization implants (read more)

Extra credit: Hot Air’s Noah Rothman: ‘The Left Loses its Mind Over Hobby Lobby”

“I imagine the horrified shrieks that rose from the streets outside the Supreme Court on Monday as the decision in the Hobby Lobby case began to filter out into the crowd of liberal observers was reminiscent of those poor souls who watched helplessly as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claimed the lives of 146 young, female garment workers.

In fact, the similarities are eerie. It seems that liberal commentators have convinced themselves that, just as was the case in 1911, the courts and the country have deemed women to be of lesser value than their male counterparts. The distinction between these two eras, of course, is that while that argument could be supported in 1911, it exists only in the heads of progressives in 2014.” (read more)

 National Review Online – Hot Air


David French on Hobby Lobby: ‘The Left Is Weeping Hot, Bitter Tears, and It Should’

Indulgent Pulp Fiction Propaganda disguised as prestigious literature: Left-Wing Paranoia Peddling Author Margaret Atwood in a Twist

Margaret Atwood with a Twist: Margaret Atwood is the author of “Handmaiden’s Tale”: Deliciously Fun Third-Rate Trashy Left-Wing Paranoid Pulp Fiction. Hailed by Critics as Prestigious, Important Literature.

“For some time, the Left has been selling the public and the courts on the notion that somehow the act of forming a corporation and opening for business operates as an effective waiver of your most basic liberties…”

For National Review OnlineDavid French nails it:

 [Read the whole thing here]

Andrew’s and Molly’s post reflecting the hysterical reaction on the Left to the Hobby Lobby decision makes for both entertaining and instructive reading. It’s entertaining because — regarding the issue they claim to care most about, access to contraceptives — the decision blocks exactly no one from obtaining the drugs they choose to purchase. There’s just slightly less free stuff on the market. This is hardly Handmaid’s Tale territory.

It’s instructive because it demonstrates the extent to which the Left is emotionally and ideologically committed to the power of the regulatory state. For some time, the Left has been selling the public and the courts on the notion that somehow the act of forming a corporation and opening for business operates as an effective waiver of your most basic liberties, including free speech, free exercise of religion, and virtually the entire panoply of property rights. In effect, your business is not “your” business at all, but instead all aspects of its operations exist at the whim of the state, and if the state wants to draft you into its child-killing abortion crusade — or wants to muzzle you during political campaigns – then you best salute and fall in line. Read the rest of this entry »


We Told You So: Religious Liberty Trumps Federally-Mandated Employer Birth Control Requirement

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For The Associated Press, Mark Sherman reports; A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

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The justices’ 5-4 decision, splitting conservatives and liberals, means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under the health insurance plans of objecting companies.

“Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs.”

— Justice Alito

Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion, over a dissent from the four liberal justices, that forcing companies to pay for methods of women’s contraception to which they object violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He said the ruling is limited and there are ways for the administration to ensure women get the birth control they want. Read the rest of this entry »


An Atheists Case For Religious Liberty

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I’ve yet to see an atheist from the secular right emerge to make this case, it’s long overdue.

 writes:  I am an atheist, which puts me firmly on the secular right. There aren’t a whole lot of us, but we’re out here, in some surprising places.

Yet I consider the current campaign against religious liberty—the attempt to coerce Christians into providing service to gay weddings or to provide abortifacient drugs to their employees, against the dictates of their faith—to be a deep cultural crisis.

Why? Above all, because the sight of a bully using a club to force someone else to violate his conscience is inherently repugnant. As a humanist, what I regard as “sacred” is the power of the human mind to think and make judgments. To put this in terms borrowed from religion, when someone uses coercion to overrule the judgment of their victim’s mind, they are defiling my temple.

But there is another, more practical reason. History shows that the only way to fight for freedom of thought is to defend it early, when it comes under threat forothers—even people you strongly disagree with, even people you despise. So I’m willing to fight for it for people who are much worse, by my standards, than your average Christian.

Read the rest of this entry »


How Left and Right Flipped on Religious Freedom

birth controlW. James Antle III writes:  Was contraception illegal in 2010? Were people unable to purchase birth-control pills without the consent of their employers?

The answer to these questions is no, despite the repeated insistences that the Supreme Court would bring about this state of affairs by ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and against the Obamacare contraception mandate.

In fact, Hobby Lobby’s owners only object to being required to cover four of the twenty mandated contraceptives. They argue that they do not wish to be complicit in providing abortion-inducing drugs. But the same people who want to “ban bossy” now speak as if accommodating a religious for-profit employer necessitates overturning Griswold v. Connecticut.

Liberals have come a long way since 1993, when they helped pass—and Bill Clinton signed—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Back then, they were willing to endorse the principle that the government must have a compelling interest in making a person act contrary to her religious conscience—and even then, government must use the least coercive means to further that interest.

[W. James Antle III’s book, Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? is available at Amazon]

Whatever the First Amendment implications of the Hobby Lobby case, it is impossible to argue the contraception mandate meets that test. Large swathes of the American public are already exempt from the mandate, so how compelling could the government interest be? Second, there are ways to make birth control more accessible to women without making religious people pay for it.
Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: 6 Lies The Leftist Media Tells About The Contraception Mandate Cases

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The media narrative is false. Here’s the truth.

 writes:  This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether businesses and their owners must choose between paying millions of dollars in fines and violating their religious beliefs. The outcome of the combined cases, popularly styled Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, will shape how government interacts with religious Americans for decades to come. It is no overstatement to say that an adverse outcome would banish from public life many Americans who wish to go on operating their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs, as they have for decades.

But a funny thing happens if you pick up a newspaper covering these cases. The leftist papers do not mention the substantial monetary burden put on religious business owners to violate their consciences. The papers do not mention that contraception was both inexpensive and widely available before the contraception mandate, and still is. The papers omit to mention that it isn’t the businesses who have radically changed, but the mandates from government.

Quite simply, if you read a newspaper to find out about the contraception mandate cases, you will read lies. Here are the top six.

Lie 1. The contraception mandate cases are about women’s rights.

The New York Times’ Adam Liptak puts it right there in the first sentence: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that pits religious liberty against women’s rights.” This could not be further from the truth. Women will have the same constitutional rights to acquire and use contraception regardless of whether Hobby Lobby wins or loses. More than that, they’ll have the exact same rights as they had before the contraception mandate was a gleam in Sec. Sebelius’ eye. What women won’t have is the right to force other people to pay for their contraception, but that has never been a right recognized by the Supreme Court.

In the Bizarro World of the newspapers, not paying for someone else’s contraception is the same thing as prohibiting them from purchasing and using them themselves. This is an obviously false equivalence, but one that leftists are bent on telling themselves. No matter how many times you point out that the business owners in these cases aren’t preventing their employees from purchasing and using contraception, a smug leftist will smile and say “but women’s rights, you see,” as if these magic words excuse the lie.

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Federal court rules against Obamacare contraception mandate

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Chuck Ross reports:  A federal district court judge in Houston ruled Friday in favor of two Baptist universities seeking relief from the Obamacare contraception mandate.

“The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess,” reads the decision handed down in favor of East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University by Lee H. Rosenthal.

“The plaintiffs have also shown that if they do not comply with a certain requirement that they believe offends that belief, they will face onerous fines.”

“The public interest weighs in favor of granting the injunction. Protecting constitutional rights and the rights under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] are in the public’s interest,” continued Rosenthal, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Southern Texas by George H. W. Bush.

Obamacare initially required all large employers to provide for the coverage of contraceptives and other similar products in all non-grandfathered health insurance plans. The health law required that all plans provide coverage for any FDA-approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

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The Daily Hammer

TheHammer

Supreme Court More Likely to Rule in Against Contraception Mandate in Future Cases

The Supreme Court is more likely to rule in favor of explicitly religious organizations instead of large corporations when it comes to Obamacare’s contraception mandate, Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday night.

Krauthammer predicted on Special Report that after the Supreme Court had dealt with Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby — a case which he said could go either way — cases involving explicitly Catholic organizations stood a better chance of claiming victories over President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

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Court Victory: Obama Administration Mandate Violates Religious Liberty

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Kathryn Jean Lopez reports:  A court ruled in favor of religious liberty against the assault on conscience that is the Department of Health and Human Services abortion-drug, contraception, female sterilization Obamacare “preventative services” mandate. A divided D.C. circuit court panel found: “We must determine whether the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Act trammels the right of free exercise—a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties—as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The case was brought by Frank and Phil Gilardi, two Catholic brothers who own Freshway Foods in Ohio. Ed Whelan’s instant legal analysis is here.

I’ve been writing all morning for various venues, broadly speaking, on the integrated life of faith. (I talked to a cool website, the Integrated Catholic Life about such matters a few months ago here.) Today Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day, followed by All Souls’ Day tomorrow. As the pope put it this morning, we believe we’re all called to sainthood — he calls it “a vocation for everyone” — a life of holiness, and the sacraments give us the possibility of pulling it off.

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