Religious freedom in America has suffered years of unprecedented erosion. President Trump can correct some of this within the executive branch. He can restore the federal government's respect for the religious freedom of individuals and organizations by signing...
Religious freedom in America has suffered years of unprecedented erosion. President Trump can correct some of this within the executive branch. He can restore the federal government's respect for the religious freedom of individuals and organizations by signing an Executive Order that establishes a government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom.
Elements of such an Order should include:
Relief from the mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that forces the Little Sisters of the Poor and others to facilitate the provision of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their health plans.
Preservation of tax-exempt status for nonprofits that hold beliefs based on marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages.
The ability of religious organizations that partner with the federal government to act according to their beliefs regarding marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages.
A broad religious exemption to Executive Order 13672 so that faith-based organizations can continue to partner with the federal government to provide much-needed services here at home and abroad.
The ability of religiously affiliated child welfare providers to provide adoption, foster, or family support services for children in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Protection of accreditation for religious schools based on their beliefs.
Conscience protections regarding abortion in the individual health insurance market.
Any Executive Order should make it clear that religious freedom entails more than the freedom to worship but also includes the ability to act on one's beliefs. It should also protect individuals and families who run closely-held businesses in accordance with their faith to the greatest extent possible.
For additional information, read the statement from Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Lori, and Bishop Dewane.
Now is the time to contact Congress and advocate for the protection of life and freedom of conscience. The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644) has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and in the...
Now is the time to contact Congress and advocate for the protection of life and freedom of conscience. The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 644) has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and in the Senate (S. 301) by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). This much-needed, common-sense legislation will clarify federal law and ensure that those who provide health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced by government to help destroy innocent unborn children. Please take a moment to let your representatives in Congress know that we expect them to protect our most cherished liberties.
Last year, on July 13, the House passed an identical bill of the same name (S. 304), but it was never enacted into law. Therefore, we must continue to advocate for conscience protection for those who choose not to participate in abortion and remain hopeful that, with a change in the White House, our efforts will meet with success this year.
The Conscience Protection Act of 2017 will address the deficiencies that block effective enforcement of existing laws, most notably by establishing a private right of action allowing victims of discrimination to defend their own rights in court.
The need for clarification of federal law cannot be doubted. While existing federal laws already protect conscientious objection to abortion in theory, this protection has not proved effective in practice. These laws can only be enforced by complaint to the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which- despite repeated violations-has refused to fully enforce these laws.
For example, on June 21, 2016, the HHS Office for Civil Rights declared that the State of California may continue forcing all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortions-in violation of the plain text of the Weldon amendment. Violations of the Weldon amendment are also taking place in other states, such as New York and Washington.
Even HHS itself has discriminated against those who cannot in conscience facilitate abortions, as when in 2011 it implemented a new "strong preference" for grantees willing to refer human trafficking victims solely to health care providers who favor abortion. While the Weldon amendment to the annual Labor/HHS appropriation bill has forbidden such governmental discrimination since 2004, state officials have violated that amendment with impunity and claimed that any effort to enforce it would be subject to legal challenge.
For additional information, read Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori's letter to Congress addressing this issue.
The Holy Land is a place of great spiritual importance for Jews, Christians and Muslims. In recent decades it has also been the site of great conflict that takes a devastating toll on all who live there and contributes to instability in the region. Recognizing the...
The Holy Land is a place of great spiritual importance for Jews, Christians and Muslims. In recent decades it has also been the site of great conflict that takes a devastating toll on all who live there and contributes to instability in the region. Recognizing the importance of bringing peace to the Holy Land, the U.S. Government has repeatedly advocated for negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The path to peace in the Holy Land requires respect for the human rights and dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians. People of good will on both sides of the conflict want the same thing, a dignified life worthy of the human person. Israelis should not have to live in fear of Hamas' indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilian areas. At the same time, Palestinians should not have to live in fear for their lives from air and ground attacks or to suffer the humiliations of occupation. USCCB has worked with Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in the United States to make a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians a top priority of US foreign policy.
In August 2015, Israel's Supreme Court granted approval for the building of a separation barrier through the pristine Cremisan Valley. The Cremisan Valley lies in the West Bank on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, adjacent to Beit Jala and Bethlehem. The separation barrier through the Cremisan Valley will have devastating effects for the local community, confiscating Palestinian agricultural and recreational lands of over 50 Christian families. This threatens the livelihoods of the remaining Christian community of Bethlehem, pressuring even more to leave the Holy land. The barrier will also separate two Salesian institutions from their ministries.
The situation in the Cremisan Valley is a microcosm of a protracted pattern that seriously jeopardizes the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has long supported a two-state solution, secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state.
USCCB asks you to urge Congress to press Israeli authorities to stop the work on the Separation Wall in the Cremisan Valley. As the wall moves and constricts more and more communities in the West Bank, the possibility of a future two-state resolution becomes less likely, putting both Palestinians and Israeli citizens at risk.