Saturday, July 26, 2014

The 3 - July 27, 2014

This week on my week-in-review feature, "The 3," news emerging that a government agency may be checking on churches, looking for violations on regulations governing political speech and activity.  Also, the President issued an executive order that could limit free expression of religion by employees, forcing those who do business with the Federal government to accept homosexuals in the workplace.  The top story is a cause for celebration: the exit of Meriam Ibrahim from Sudan after being released from prison on charges of apostasy (wouldn't recant Christian faith) and adultery (married a Christian man).

3 - Internal Revenue Service reportedly tells atheist group it will investigate churches

The Alliance Defending Freedom discovered this week that the Internal Revenue Service had apparently reached an agreement with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, where the IRS pledged to the atheist group that it would begin to investigate churches and pastors, exercising what they regard as their free speech rights to endorse candidates and relate other political content.

For years now, ADF has been involved in trying to go to court to overturn the Johnson Amendment, which it views as unconstitutional because of its regulation of sermons, which are protected by the First Amendment.On its website, the Alliance Defending Freedom states that the Johnson Amendment authorizes the IRS to regulate sermons and requires churches to give up their constitutionally protected freedom of speech in order to retain their tax-exempt status. To that end, for a number of years, ADF has been encouraging pastors to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, on which they would preach politically-oriented sermons which could violate the Amendment.

This week, ADF asked the IRS to release all documents related to its recent decision to settle the lawsuit with FFRF, which claimed the IRS has adopted new protocols and procedures for the investigation of churches. The atheist organization had accused the agency of failing to investigate churches the way the atheist group would like, according to ADF.

Christiana Holcomb, ADF Litigation Counsel, stated, “Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups...We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day.”

The Alliance states that currently, the IRS claims it is temporarily withholding investigations of all tax-exempt entities because of congressional scrutiny of its recent scandals, but no one knows when it will decide to restart investigations based on any new or modified rules that it develops.

This year's Pulpit Freedom Sunday is October 5, 2014.

2 - President issues order saying Federal contractors cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity

On Monday, President Obama issued an Executive Order requiring that Federal contractors, companies and organizations that do business with the Federal government, grant, as a piece on the Family Research Council website puts it, "special treatment to the politically-charged categories of 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' in the workplace."  This was an apparent attempt to partially institute the provisions of the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which has failed to pass Congress year after year. This year, the Senate passed a version of ENDA that included a religious exemption.  A number of religious leaders had asked the President to include a religious exemption in his order, but that request was rejected.

Peter Sprigg, Family Research Council's Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, issued a statement, which said, in part:
"President Obama has ordered employers to put aside their principles, and practices in the name of political correctness. This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior. This order gives activists a license to challenge their employers and, expose those employers to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts."
He went on to say that:
"Religious faith is not simply a matter of intellectual affirmation but of active practice. A religious organization which is denied the power to require its employees to conduct their lives in a way consistent with the teachings of their faith is an organization which is being denied the right to exercise its religion, period. People with deeply held convictions regarding the morality of certain types of sexual behavior should not be bound by the dictates of President Obama's agenda."
Tony Perkins, President of FRC, in his daily Washington Update, said that, "The President is placing at risk not only faith-driven employers but religious groups such as relief organizations which sometimes put government dollars to work in uniquely effective ways."  He went on to point out that the American people are not overwhelmingly convinced that this type of policy is the right way to go.  Perkins cited that "a Huffington Post poll that finds only 50% of Americans support an ENDA-type law, which gives preference to homosexuals and transgenders in the workplace."

Sarah Torre, Policy Analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, provided some analysis on this Order by the President in a recent interview on Faith Radio for The Meeting House.  You can listen to or download the audio here.

Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society for the Heritage Foundation, highlighted on the Heritage website 4 reasons why the Order was problematic. In summary, those are: 1) The order undermines our nation’s commitment to reasonable pluralism and reasonable diversity, as it disregards the consciences and liberties of people of goodwill who happen not to share the government’s opinions about issues of sexuality, 2) its conscientious judgments about behavior as if they were insidious acts of discrimination akin to racism or sexism, 3) it does not contain a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) exemption, allowing employers to make employment decisions so long as those decisions are honestly related to job qualifications, and 4) it is unnecessary, because voluntary market forces are already eliminating true discrimination.  Anderson also highlights that a bill has been introduced into both houses of Congress that will protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience.

1 - Meriam Ibrahim, Sudanese woman once under a death sentence, who would not renounce her Christian faith, leaves Sudan

This week, the diplomatic process ramped up and Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who faced the death sentence for apostasy and would not recant her Christian faith, was permitted to leave the country.  She had been released from prison several weeks ago, but was rearrested at the airport due to a passport issue.  The family had travelled to the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, and the last word prior to this week was that they were in an unidentified safe place.

This past Wednesday, according to a story on the WORLD News Group website, Sudanese authorities gave Meriam her passport and she was told she could leave.   Shortly afterward, Lapo Pistelli, Italy's deputy minister for foreign affairs, arrived in Sudan to accompany her to Italy.  Earlier, the U.S. House of Representatives had held a hearing on Meriam's plight.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is quoted as saying, “This is a day of celebration.” He welcomed the family at the airport in Rome on Thursday. On Thursday morning, the family met with Pope Francis at his residence at the Vatican.

WORLD had also spoken with an American pastor, Bill Devlin, who had traveled to Sudan last week to urge Sudanese officials to release the mother and her family.  He also met with Ibrahim, her husband, and their two children in a conference room at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, where the family had lived since Ibrahim was re-arrested at the airport in June. In a phone interview on Wednesday (before news of her release broke), Devlin said the family was eager to leave Sudan but seemed healthy and in good spirits.  He also said a pediatrician had advised Ibrahim’s infant daughter appeared healthy, although the baby would need further tests to assess her health.  After her release from prison, Ibrahim said she feared the baby might be disabled due to the circumstances of her birth.

What's next for the family?  The WORLD piece speculates that they may soon travel to the United States. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen and a long-time resident of Manchester, NH.

Earlier in July, after Ibrahim's re-arrest at the airport, I spoke with Jamie Dean, News Editor of WORLD Magazine - here is a link to that conversation.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The 3 - July 20, 2014

This week in my week-in-review feature, "The 3," a Christian college in Massachusetts has encountered some retaliation because of its president's stand on Biblical principles.  Also, a brazen attempt to take legislative action against the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision occurred in the U.S. Senate this week. And, there was more court action regarding state marriage amendments this week.

3 - Christian college faces ramifications for upholding Biblical standards

A Christian college is under fire because its President signed a letter requesting a religious exemption from a proposed new policy to be implemented by President Obama that would prohibit "discrimination" on the basis of sexual orientation. reports that Kimberley Driscoll, mayor of Salem, MA, recently sent a letter to Michael Lindsay, the president of Gordon College, advising that the school could no longer manage the Old Town Hall because it opposes sexual activities between those of the same gender.

She stated that her main concern was over the college’s behavioral standards policy, which prohibits staff and students from engaging in homosexual behavior. The policy also forbids fornication, drunkenness, profanity, blasphemy, lying and other behaviors that are inconsistent with Biblical principles.

She said that Gordon College’s policies “fly in the face” of Salem’s non-discrimination law, which bars the city from working with entities that “discriminate” against others.

She told reporters recently that she made the decision to cancel the contract, which was to have expired later this year, when she discovered that Lindsay was among those who signed that letter to Mr. Obama.
In an online message to Gordon College students and staff, Lindsay explained that, “My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the College’s support of the underlying issue of religious liberty, including the right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith, and which we all have chosen to embrace as members of the Gordon community...”

According to CitizenLink, without an exemption, Gordon College — and other Christian colleges — could lose federal funding, student financial aid and accreditation. CitizenLink has initiated a petition drive in order that people can show support for President Lindsey and the Biblical principles which the college is attempting to uphold.

2 - Bill to reverse Hobby Lobby decision fails to advance in Senate

This past week, the U.S. Senate, moving with uncharacteristic swiftness, voted on a bill that, if it had passed there and been approved by the House, which would have been highly unlikely, would have essentially overruled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), according to a report on the WORLD News Group website.  RFRA is the law the Supreme Court cited when it ruled the federal government cannot force a family-owned business to provide contraceptive coverage that goes against its religious beliefs.   The bill also would have required employers to cover all forms of contraception and other healthcare mandated in the Affordable Care Act, regardless of conscience objections.

The Senate on Wednesday afternoon fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward with the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, in a 56-43 vote on bringing the measure to the floor. Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who voted against moving the measure forward, said, “The federal government doesn’t have the right to force Americans to violate their faith...The bill put forward by Senate Democrats is nothing more than a political charade, designed to falsely suggest to the American people that employers can deny their employees access to birth control.”  3 Republicans joined 51 Democrats and 2 Independents in voting for the bill.

WORLD reports that Republicans have introduced legislation that would “clarify” the high court’s decision, noting it didn’t prevent anyone from accessing any kind of birth control, including abortifacient drugs.

As the WORLD article states, House Republicans have excoriated Senate Democrats for not moving faster to take up legislation, but in this case, the Senate showed it is capable of moving at remarkable speed. After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties on June 30, Senators Patty Murray or Washington and Mark Udall of Colorado unveiled their legislative response on July 9. Only one week, later the Senate voted on cloture, or ending debate.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is quoted as saying that lawmakers have much more pressing issues they should be focused on: “The world is falling apart, along with the U.S. economy, and yet Senate Democratic leaders think the future of the free world hinges on employers being forced—under the threat of crippling fines—to provide drugs that have the potential to kill an unborn child.”

1 - Court action on marriage amendments continues

More action was taken this week by courts on state amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.   The Alliance Defending Freedom reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit issued a 2-1 decision Friday in Bishop v. Smith to strike down Oklahoma’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

ADF Senior Counsel Byron Babione is quoted as saying, "“Every child deserves a mom and a dad, and the people of Oklahoma confirmed that at the ballot box when they approved a constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as a man-woman union. In his dissent, Judge Kelly correctly noted that ‘any change in the definition of marriage rightly belongs to the people of Oklahoma, not a federal court.’" He goes on to say that, "Ultimately, the question whether the people are free to affirm marriage as a man-woman union will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court remains consistent with what it held in its Windsor decision, the states will ultimately be free to preserve man-woman marriage should they choose to do so.”

As I reported last week, a state court judge in Colorado made the brash move of ruling that state's marriage amendment unconstitutional.   This week, a county judge in Florida did the same.  The Florida Family Policy Council reports that Monroe Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia ruled that Florida's marriage amendment was unconstitutional.  Furthermore, he did not stay his action pending appeal.   Same-sex couples who wish could be granted marriage licenses as soon as this Tuesday, July 22nd.

Council President John Stemberger is quoted as saying,
Today’s ruling by Judge Garcia, in the Florida Keys, is a stunning act of legal arrogance and raw judicial activism. With one stoke of a pen, a mere trial judge has attempted to overthrow an act of direct democracy by five million Floridians who defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Judge Garcia has ignored the constitution, ignored the will of the people, and has asserted his own personal views over the rule of law. This ruling is precisely what voters were trying to prevent when they overwhelmingly defined marriage in the Florida Constitution in 2008 by a 62% vote. Judge Garcia’s reliance on the Windsor decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 is wrong sided and completely misplaced. Windsor was a state’s rights decision and affirmed that each state has the right to define marriage. Instead of relying on the constitution, Garcia joined the judicial stampede of other lower federal judges who have tried to override marriage laws based on no precedent other than their own political agendas.
So, from the Federal appeals level to the local level, judges are assuming this posture.   As Babione pointed out, the Windsor decision left questions of marriage legality to the states.   So, it would seem that the will of the majority, as expressed in the passage of these amendments, would be upheld.   It will be interesting to see when and if one or more of these cases will reach the high court, which passed on its opportunity to provide clarity by not issuing a definitive ruling in the Proposition 8 case out of California.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The 3 - July 13, 2014

This week, in my week-in-review feature, "The 3," more news on the same-sex marriage front, as rulings were issued in court cases involving people who issue same-sex marriage licenses.  Also, faith leaders have protested the President's reported plan to issue an executive order prohibiting Federal contractors from "discrimination" based on sexual orientation.  And, the crisis involving thousands of children on the border continues to build, and apparently the help of faith groups and individuals has been rejected, so far.

3 - Judges make decisions regarding clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Another week, another judge stepping in to rule a marriage amendment unconstitutional...this time, it's for Colorado.  This time, according to a report on the CitizenLink website, it was a county judge in that state, Adams County Judge C. Scott Crabtree, who made that determination, putting the ruling on hold pending an appeal to avoid “instability and uncertainty.”

The following day, a judge ruled that a county clerk in Boulder could continue to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. CitizenLink reported that Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall took it upon herself to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples on June 25, the same day a federal appeals court struck down Utah’s constitutional marriage amendment. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers filed a motion last week seeking to stop Hall from issuing the licenses.  In his ruling, Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman said Hall must keep a record of the licenses.  He also said she must let couples know that the validity of the licenses depends upon higher court rulings.  Also, reportedly Colorado county clerks in Denver and Pueblo announced that they will also begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Hartman’s order claims that even if the licenses are invalid, the “state suffers no irreparable harm from their issuance.” Suthers also issued a statement underscoring the need for rulings — on both of these cases — from the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania county clerk had appealed a Federal District judge's ruling overturning that state's law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, according to another CitizenLink story. Theresa Santai-Gaffney, Schuylkill County clerk, had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and halt same-sex marriage in the state while a court case moves forward.  That appeal was turned back by the high court.

2 - Faith leaders challenge "non-discrimination" policy 

President Obama has proposed an executive order that would ban so-called "discrimination" based on sexual orientation for contractors with the Federal government. A debate has moved forward among faith leaders about whether or not the order should contain a religious exemption.  This order would essentially be a mini-version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prevent sexual orientation from being a factor in employment practices.  Charisma News provides a timeline.

On June 25, more than 150 mostly evangelical leaders signed a letter urging Obama to "protect the rights of faith-based organizations that simply desire to utilize staffing practices consistent with their deep religious convictions." They suggested specific language that was similar to the Senate version of ENDA.   That request followed an earlier letter from 90 organizations asking the Obama administration to end the Bush-era policy of permitting federally funded religious groups to hire and fire based on a person's faith.   A copy of the June 25 letter can be found at the International Religious Freedom Alliance website.  The letter includes signatories Franklin Graham, President and CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Stanley Carlson-Thies, President of the IRFA; Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Christian Hispanic Leadership Conference; and Dan Busby, President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Also, Charisma News reported on a July 1 letter that was sent to the President, signed by three former advisory council members and his former chief liaison to evangelicals, asking the President to include an exemption for religious groups. They wrote, "A religious exemption would simply maintain that religious organizations will not be automatically disqualified or disadvantaged in obtaining contracts because of their religious beliefs." Among those signing that letter were Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter; the Rev. Larry Snyder, CEO of Catholic Charities USA; and the Rev. Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association; as well as former evangelical liaison Michael Wear

And, just this week, more than 100 religious leaders, including four former members of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, signed on to a letter saying there should be no religious exception.  They wrote, "An exception would set a terrible precedent by denying true equality for LGBT people, while simultaneously opening a Pandora's Box inviting other forms of discrimination." Signatories to that letter included more liberal theologians, such as, Harry Knox, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Fred Davie, executive vice president of Union Theological Seminary; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Metropolitan Community Churches Moderator Nancy Wilson.

More ENDA news now from this week: The effort is facing a major setback after a coalition of gay rights groups and civil liberties groups pulled their support because of an exemption for religious groups, according to

The American Civil Liberties Union and four gay rights groups said they can no longer support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case over contraception coverage, which allowed some businesses to claim a religious exemption in following federal law.  Laura Murphy, the director of the ACLU's Washington legislative bureau is quoted as saying that, “Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers...We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination.”

1 - Christians attempt to intervene in immigration crisis

Certainly, the buildup at the border of children seeking refuge in America is developing into a political and a humanitarian crisis, and there are indications that people of faith are being prevented from being involved.

That's the report of Todd Starnes of Fox News, who states that:
Pastors and churches have been banned from helping the thousands of illegal immigrant children housed in border detention facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, clergy in Texas and Arizona tell me.
Starnes quotes Kyle Coffin, a Tucson, Arizona pastor, who said, “Border Patrol told us pastors and churches are not allowed to visit...It’s pretty heartbreaking that they don’t let anybody in there -- even credentialed pastors.”

A public affairs officer for the Border Patrol confirmed that ministers and church groups have been banned from the Nogales Placement Center.

Starnes reported that people of faith in San Antonio had a similar experience. One professional counselor at a camp run by BCFS, an organization previously known as Baptist Child and Family Services, said there were no clergy at all.

Apparently, a question was raised to President Obama in a meeting in Dallas this week. reported that Chris Liebrum of the Baptist General Convention and Arne Nelson of Catholic Charities asked the President if the ban on Christians volunteering at overwhelmed detention camps would be lifted. Christian groups bringing toys, blankets and food to the gates of the camps were reportedly turned away.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The 3 - July 6, 2014

In this week's edition of "The 3," my week-in-review feature, there is news of more violence directed at Christians in the country of Nigeria.  Also, marriage amendments are continuing to be challenged - a judge ruled against Kentucky's amendment, and Florida's amendment was in court this week.  And, the top story is from the nation's highest court - relief for family-owned businesses who do not wish to provide, in their health care plans, forms of birth control that they find objectionable due to religious convictions.

3 - More violence against Christians in Nigeria

Militants are continuing their attacks against Christians in Nigeria, and on their day of worship, members of four churches were victims of violence.  According to Christian Today, gunmen fired at worshippers gathered in Kwada village just 6 miles from Chibok in Borno state on Sunday, where more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped and taken hostage on April 14.

The militants then set fire to the buildings, which included the Protestant Church of Christ in Nigeria and the Pentecostal Deeper Life Bible Church, before heading to nearby Kautikari village where they continued their rampage; shooting local civilians and setting fire to their homes. More than 30 people reportedly lost their lives.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Muslim-majority Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in May 2013 and has authorized an increased military presence in an attempt to combat extremism.  However, Boko Haram – whose name translates as 'Western education is forbidden' – continues to wreak devastation across northern Nigeria. Members are thought to be responsible for at least 2,000 deaths so far this year alone.

More violence took place on Tuesday.  The website,, reports that a car bomb explosion in Maiduguri exploded, causing dozens of deaths, according to witnesses.  Boko Haram is being blamed for that act of violence, as well as a series of previous bombings in the region.

The bombing took place just hours after it was announced that Nigerian authorities arrested a "key figure" in relation to the abduction of the over 200 schoolgirls on April 14, according to a report.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that the military arrested a businessman named Babuji Ya'ari - known to be a Boko Haram ringleader - along with two female operatives who work for the extremist group.

In addition to leading a violent Boko Haram cell, Ya'ari is said to have "participated actively" in the abductions of April 14 that resulted in global outrage and an international campaign to bring the girls to safety. 219 of the young women, mostly aged between 16 and 18, however, are still missing - sparking fears that they have been sold into slavery.

2 -  Federal judge strikes down Kentucky marriage amendment, Florida amendment in court

Earlier this year, a Federal district judge ruled that Kentucky must recognize so-called same-sex marriages performed in other states.  This past week, that same judge, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II, an appointee of George W. Bush, ruled against Kentucky’s constitutional amendment that sought to protect marriage as being between one man and one woman and banned so-called marriage between members of the same-sex, according to a report on the website.

In his decision, Heyburn took a shot at those who hold to the historical and biblical belief that marriage comes from and is defined by God and those who voted for the amendment, expressing that such beliefs do not rise above the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Heyburn declared, “In America, even sincere and long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted."

Heyburn also criticized Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) for arguing that the ban preserves the state’s birth rate, and therefore contributes to the economic stability of Kentucky.

Heyburn has stayed his ruling pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Meanwhile, in Florida, a judge in Miami this week began to hear arguments on a challenge to that state's marriage amendment.  According to the website, a lawsuit challenging the ban was filed by six same-sex couples from South Florida in January.   The suit reportedly contends that the amendment is discriminatory and violates guarantees of equal protection.

Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is contending that one judge should not overturn the 2008 amendment. Attorneys for her office also argue the U.S. Supreme Court has left marriage definitions to the states.

1 - U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties in challenge to contraception mandate

The greatly anticipated ruling in the combined challenge to the government mandate that employers provide contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs, in their health care plans was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.   Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities, two family-owned businesses, had challenged the mandate, and their cases were combined before the high court.

The website had an assortment of reactions from Christian leaders.  Here are a few:

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty attorney Lori Windham, who represented Hobby Lobby in the suit, is quoted as saying that Americans “don’t give up their rights to religious freedom just because they open a family-run business. This is a landmark decision for religious freedom.”

Barbara Green, co-owner of Hobby Lobby, along with husband Steve Green, said, “Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision…The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.”

Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention quoted scripture as he commented on the case writing, “‘Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a coverup for evil, but living as servants of God.’ (1 Peter 2:16). Let’s fight for religious freedom, for everybody. And let’s preach the gospel with power. We must be about both: persuasive proclamation and the guarding of the freedom to disagree with us. That’s what Jesus taught us. So let’s hold onto freedom and let’s pray, for liberty and Jesus for all.”

Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God said, “The court should be commended for recognizing that individuals do not surrender their religious freedom rights when they incorporate as a closely held, for profit business. A family-owned business...has religious freedom rights because members of the family do.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, in expressing thankfulness for the ruling, is quoted as saying, “The unfair HHS mandate gave family businesses two non-choices: either violate your deeply held moral beliefs and comply by paying for drugs and services to which you object, or pay crippling fines of up to $100 per day, per employee, for non-compliance. This mandate threatened the jobs, livelihood and healthcare of millions of Americans and forced those who stood up for their conscience, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, to either comply or be punished.”

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum said, “The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare’s contraception mandate is a tremendous victory for our freedom of conscience. I’m proud of the Green and Hahn families for holding true to their core convictions and standing up to Obamacare’s intrusive contraception and abortion coverage mandate. The Hobby Lobby and the Conestoga Wood Specialties businesses were built on people living out the American dream, and their owners should not have to check their religious beliefs at the door.”

National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Dr. Samuel Rodriguez offered this word of caution in commending the decision, "For people of faith, this decision requires both celebration and a renewed commitment to vigilance, as today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.”
Also, the Becket Fund reported that Wheaton College received last minute relief from the Supreme Court this week, protecting the College’s right to carry out its religious mission free from crippling IRS fines.

The Court’s order states that Wheaton “need not use the form prescribed by the Government” under the HHS Mandate, and it prohibits the government “from enforcing against [Wheaton] the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of appellate review.” The order gives Wheaton the same relief that the Supreme Court gave to the Little Sisters of the Poor in January and came just days after Hobby Lobby and Eternal Word Television Network won similar victories at the Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit, respectively.

The Becket Fund reports that there have been a total of 49 for-profit lawsuits filed against the contraception mandate.  Of the 41 cases with rulings touching on the merits of the cases, the scorecard is 40-6.  There have been 51 non-profit lawsuits filed, and the scorecard is 30 injunctions granted and only 3 denied.