NEW: Trump Administration to End Obama’s Contraception Mandate

One of the most egregious examples of a federal attack on religious liberty in recent years may be about to come to an end. There are reports that the Trump Administration is preparing new regulations that will end the birth control mandate established by the Obama Administration as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times reports that new rules, which could be issued on Friday, would offer exemptions to certain employers who have moral objections to providing insurance that includes contraceptives to their employees. The new rules would reportedly cover employers and insurers who hold “sincerely held religious beliefs” or “moral convictions” against providing contraception.

The mandate was not part of the ACA, but was the product of regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services. While the Obama Administration did provide a religious exemption from the rules, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo noted in 2011, “Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as ‘religious enough’ for the exemption….”

Many private employers also objected to the fact that the regulation required them to purchase insurance for their employees that included not only contraceptives, but drugs that induce abortions. Others, such as employers who are Catholic, objected to contraception in general.

The mandate prompted several lawsuits. The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious charity made of nuns who practice celibacy, went to the Supreme Court to seek relief from the mandate. In 2015, Hobby Lobby won its lawsuit and the government was forced to amend its rule to provide religious exemptions. In the final rule, insurers were still forced to provide coverage for these employees, but the employers were not billed for the contraceptive coverage.

President Trump promised to end the revised mandate during the campaign, but so far has not taken steps to do so. In August, Daniel Dinardo, now the Catholic Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, wrote an op-ed in The Hill asking why the Obama-era policy was still in place.

It is important to note that changing the contraception mandate will not ban contraception in any way. It would merely mean that employers would not be forced to pay for drugs that they find morally objectionable. Their employees will still be able to get birth control and abortifacient prescriptions, they would just have to bear the cost, about $50 per month, on their own.

If President Trump does decide to roll back the Obama-era mandate, he will have fulfilled an important part of his promise to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience. The big question is why he waited so long to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

After a Review, ACLU Declares Trump’s Order on Religious Liberties “an Elaborate Photo-Op”

When the Trump administration announced that President Trump would be signing an executive order on “religious liberties” today, it was meant to unshackle people of faith from government chains on speech, supposedly. It was also thought to be a move to overturn the contraceptive mandate on religious institutions, put forth by Obamacare.

Of course, when the news of the EO was leaked, the usual suspects – and by “usual suspects” I mean the ACLU – geared up for their big sue party.

After the details of the EO were made known, however, the ACLU changed their tune.

Yup. The ACLU, probably for the first time in a very long time, have looked at an order issued by a “Republican” president and responded with a resounding, “Meh.”

Smoke and mirrors.

In a statement released after today’s signing, the ACLU said:

“Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome,” ACLU director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

“After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process. The order portends, but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services,” Romero added.

Get that?

A sue-happy, liberal ACLU lawyer is saying there’s nothing in today’s executive order worth suing over.

“President Trump’s prior assertion that he wished to ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news,’” Romero said.

“The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential future battle, but as of now, the status quo has not changed,” he continued.

“What President Trump did today was merely provide a faux sop to religious conservatives and kick the can down the road on religious exemptions on reproductive health care services.”

President Trump has said numerous times that he intends to destroy the Johnson Amendment – something I’ve actually spoke against, mainly because I don’t believe campaigning from God’s pulpit and corrupting the purpose of the house of God should ever be a thing.

What he did today, however, is sign an EO that didn’t mention candidates, but “issues.” In other words, the order reasserted a right that religious institutions already have, and that is, they’re allowed to speak about “political issues” like abortion and gay marriage. They just can’t campaign for a particular candidate.

The order also mentioned the Obamacare mandate for contraceptive services and promised to “reexamine” the issue.

No, it didn’t strike down the mandate. It didn’t change anything that isn’t already in place. It just promised that administration officials would look into it, again.

So, basically, Trump signed a nearly-100 word nothingburger,

And you know it’s pretty lame when the ACLU lose their zeal for litigation.

Smoke. And. Mirrors.

More Than Anything, This Will Help Make America Great Again

Multiple news outlets are reporting President Trump will sign an executive order on Thursday mandating religious freedom for federal agencies and contractors. More than anything else he does–arguably more than even Justice Gorsuch’s appointment–this act will begin to keep Trump’s promise to Make America Great Again™.

In February, one draft of an order to protect religious freedom was leaked, prompting the administration to hold off pending a more detailed legal and administrative review with the departments involved. That’s very wise, considering the clown show that’s proceeded from Trump’s immigration orders.

The leaked version of the order was very strong, and gave churches and non-profits protection for “moral and political issues from a religious perspective where religious speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as an intervention in a political campaign by the Department of the Treasury.”

Additionally, it protected speech and action arising out of beliefs “that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman,” along with biological sex, and the proper role of sexual relations inside marriage. Basically, it reversed the anti-Christian discrimination of the previous eight years.

Based on the leaked document, the order prevented agencies from “taking adverse action” against any federal worker or contractor for speaking their minds from a religious viewpoint, as long as it doesn’t interfere with that person’s job, and required agencies to make reasonable accommodations for that speech.

It’s possible that the version Trump is expected to sign Thursday is weaker tea than the original, but Politico reported Tuesday that sources familiar with the language of the new draft, which is being kept under tight wraps, “is still very, very strong.” This is great news.

French historian and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in the 1830s that American democracy is unique because of America’s genuine religious devotion.

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

Of course, the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that typically represents the opposite of what its name purports to defend, has vowed to sue if Trump “signs an order that would allow religious to be used as an excuse to discriminate.” As it’s almost impossible to guarantee religious liberty (or any kind of liberty) without the possibility that someone will abuse it, the lawsuit is pretty much guaranteed.

This could be the big win conservatives are waiting for. The best way to make America great again, is to protect the liberty of conscience for those who know the “secret of her genius and power.”

Religious Conservatives Can Relax A Bit

Here at The Resurgent, we’ve been wary of news that the Trump Administration has not backed down from President Obama’s insistence that religious groups cover access to family planning that violates their religious beliefs. Leonard Leo has come out to reassure everyone on this issue. Leonard would know. He has deep ties into the administration and conservative movement and served as a behind the scenes sherpa for Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation.

From Leonard Leo to Axios:

“The administration is not stepping back. It’s doing precisely what it should be doing here… because of the way people are attacking Trump executive orders, it’s very important that this thing gets done right and be as litigation-proof as possible, knowing full well they’re going to get sued anyway.”

In fact, what I am being told is the administration is keeping the lawsuit alive to see if they can structure a settlement that would be beneficial to the groups being sued and prevent other adminstrations from trodding on their religious liberty in the future.

Good to hear.

Religious Groups Shocked: Trump Administration Will Defend ACA Birth Control Mandate

At its inception, one of the most egregious elements of the Affordable Care Act… aka… Obamacare, was the employer mandate to provide birth control.

It has been contentious from the start, with religious-based employers objecting to the mandate on grounds of religious beliefs.

The offensive mandate originated as a requirement for employers to cover preventative measures and for former President Obama, that meant birth control, as well.

Little Sisters of the Poor are a group of nuns who became very much a part of the story, as they fought a highly publicized battle against the Obama administration for several years to be granted an exemption from the mandate, based on their religious beliefs.

They, as well as other religious employers thought their fight would soon be over when Donald Trump won the presidency. One of Trump’s campaign promises was that he would end the mandate regarding birth control.

Unfortunately, that’s not what is happening.

In what is a disturbing case of bait-and-switch, Trump’s Department of Justice revealed on Monday that they’re still fighting those groups who want to end the birth control mandate.

According to the Star Tribune:

The Justice Department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious schools and nonprofit groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.

Trump promised during the campaign that he’d side with the mandate’s opponents, indicating to Catholic leaders that as president he would ensure the requirement was lifted.

“I will make absolutely certain religious orders like The Little Sisters of the Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs,” Trump wrote in a letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference.

Short memory, I suppose.

For those who were certain that Trump would be the defender of Christians and religious liberty, this has to hit them the hardest, when they see that the man who publicly rejected the need for God three times would actually lie about protecting their religious liberties.

East Texas Baptist University and other plaintiffs represented by the nonprofit law firm Becket are now asking the Justice Department to drop its appeal of a district-court ruling in their favor, allowing them permanent relief from the mandate.

“This litigation has gone on long enough,” the plaintiffs wrote in a petition last week to the Fifth Circuit. “It is time for the Department of Justice to move on, and to allow the court, the universities and other religious ministries to move on as well.”

But Justice argued in its petition to the Fifth Circuit that it needs more time to litigate the case because numerous Cabinet and subcabinet positions in several federal agencies involved remain unfilled several months into the new administration.

And that may be it. Maybe they just need time to fill those Cabinet positions. When they’re full, however, is the intent to put more pressure on these religious employers, continuing the Obama-era policies, or will the effort be towards keeping his campaign promise and ending the mandate?

As things stand now, it appears that Justice plans to continue defending the way the Obama administration applied the birth-control mandate, said Eric Rassbach, a Becket attorney.

And that is unfortunate.

This is not what the people voted for.

If You Go to Church, You Need to Read This and Pass It On to Your Pastor

Whether you want to admit it or not, religious liberty is becoming more and more of a concern in the United States and few churches are prepared to deal with the issue. On top of that, more and more Christians are indistinguishable from the world at large instead of being a light in the world.

I want to pass on a new Bible study series from my friends at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The series is on religious liberty and divided into six lessons covering various aspects of religious liberty. It is designed to equip churches with the knowledge they need on the issue — it is a knowledge often lacking in the modern church.

If you are involved in Bible studies at your church or looking to start one, go here now. You need this knowledge.

DR Radio

DR Radio: Religion is Good for Society… We Think.

In this edition of Dead Reckoning Radio, we look at a new report from the Civil Rights Commission that thinks Christians fighting for religious liberty are bigots and then we look at a study that shows how religion has been good for the U.S. economy. Hadley also schools us on the options out there for maternity leave in the new Expand Your Horizons segment.

As usual, you can read the full show notes and listen to the audio over on our site —> http://deadreckoning.tv/dr-radio-religion-is-good-for-society-we-think/

DR Radio

Dead Reckoning Radio: “No Crime” Clinton, Police Shootings, and Pastoral Censorship

  • What is going on with Hillary “extremely careless” Clinton?
  • What’s up with the shootings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota?
  • Something coming from Iowa has us worried about censorship of pastors.

    Listen in!

In this episode, Hadley, Brian, and Jay discuss the FBI’s decision to not charge Hillary Clinton, the recent shootings of black me by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, the regulations on speech and bathrooms in Iowa, and more. For the full show notes check out our website.