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FFC to GOP: “”Grow a Backbone on Religious Freedom”

Leading Social Conservative Organization Decries Lack of Leadership in Defending Religious Freedom, Vows to Mobilize Its One Million Members in a Campaign to Protect People of Faith from Discrimination.

The leadership of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, one of the nation’s largest and most influential pro-family organizations, today decried the lack of political spine by Republicans in standing firm for the religious freedom of all Americans after a series of retreats or failures to act on various state religious freedom statutes nationwide. “We have watched a sad spectacle this week as one Republican elected leader after another retreated on the rights of people of faith to have space to express their religious beliefs and defend their conscience,” said Tim Head, executive director of Faith & Freedom Coalition.  “When criticized on the simple issue of the First Amendment right to exercise one’s religion, they folded like a cheap suit.  It is time for Republicans to grow a backbone when it comes to religious freedom and stand tall for religious expression, one of the most cherished rights under our Constitution.” “To see elected officials either unable or unwilling to articulate and defend the simple American principle that no one of any faith should be compelled by the government to violate their conscience and deny their most deeply-held tenets of faith is beyond embarrassing,” said Head.  “If the Republican Party and its candidates expect evangelicals, faithful Catholics, and other people of faith to turn out to the polls in large numbers in 2016, they better show more political courage, skill, and moral clarity on one of the most important issues of our time.  We are now in the seventh year of an administration that has trampled on religious freedom more than any in U.S. history, attempting to force Roman Catholic nuns to pay for the taking of innocent human life, force evangelicals to pay for medical services that assault their conscience, and deny churches and synagogues the right to select their own pastors and rabbis.  If the GOP can’t show more spine on defending religious folk, then they should not count on a large turnout of evangelicals in 2016.  Given the demographics of the electorate, that is a recipe for certain defeat.” This week Republican legislatures and Republican governors in Indiana, Georgia, and Arkansas either revised religious freedom statutes expressly modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, or failed to enact such a statute in the waning hours of the legislative session.  These statutes are not motivated by animus towards gay Americans or anyone else, and they create no right by anyone to deny services to someone because of their sexual preference.  They are designed merely to achieve at the state level what the federal act did, to create room for faith-based individuals to defend their right to religious expression.  The laws do not guarantee the outcome of any case; they simply create a higher burden for government infringement on the First Amendment right to religious expression.  Without it, Hobby Lobby and other Christian-owned closely held businesses would have been required to participate and fund the taking of innocent human life, including abortion. Head commended the many Republican presidential candidates who defended Indiana’s religious freedom law.  “People of faith are tired of platitudes and half measures. The Faith & Freedom Coalition is aware and appreciative of candidates that are speaking out and leading on defending our freedom of worship and conscience.” The federal act was sponsored by Chuck Schumer, supported by Ted Kennedy and the ACLU along with the Christian Coalition, signed into law by Bill Clinton, and is one of the great bipartisan legislative achievements of recent decades.  Faith & Freedom will continue to lobby for the passage of state religious freedom statutes, and will not rest until they are the law in all 50 states.

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