Judges, like most of us, prefer to resolve matters on the basis of simple issues rather than complex ones. Part of that is due to the need for judicial economy. But it may also be due to an application of "Ockham's razor," the concept minted in the 14th century by theorist William of Ockham. He postulated that, between two explanations – one complicated and one simple – the latter is most likely to be the better one.
As I reviewed the arguments made before the Supreme Court last week in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties cases, I counted no less than 11 important legal issues that haunt this case. Einstein restated Ockham's theory this way: "Everything should be made as simple as possible …." In an effort to satisfy both of these geniuses, I have come up with three "simple" reasons why the religious rights of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, both of them closely-held, family-owned, for-profit, faith-based companies, ought to prevail over the federal HHS mandate that would force them to provide their employees with insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs.
First, the federal law protecting those companies, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), was passed by Congress with the clear understanding that it would protect religious persons from having to provide, or support, objectionable services intended to terminate pregnancies. As we pointed out in our brief to the Supreme Court, even Nadine Strossen, the past President of the ACLU, testified in Congress in support of RFRA, and predicted confidently that the law "will enhance the rights of those who conscientiously and religiously are opposed to abortion …." While much has been made of the fact that both companies are for-profit corporations, there is nothing in the text of RFRA that would exclude them from its protections. Further, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who seemed otherwise hostile to the claims of the two companies, had to admit in open court that they nevertheless make "great plaintiffs," which I take to mean that they present an attractive illustration why some for-profit, faith-based employers might be entitled to the same religious rights that churches and private citizens enjoy. more >>
I distinctly remember the first Fort Hood shooting. I was driving to a speaking event in Dallas when my phone started ringing off the hook. The Third Armored Cavalry Regiment - my unit during my Iraq deployment - is based out of Fort Hood, and my friends were doing their own, informal "100 percent accountability" call to make sure we were all alive and unhurt. I can remember feeling simultaneously relieved that my friends were all okay and enraged that other soldiers had been shot down in cold blood on home soil.
My phone didn't ring immediately yesterday. By now, most of my brothers from Sabre Squadron have scattered around the country and around the world, but the thought of soldiers shot down, unarmed, on home soil is still infuriating - even if this time the shooter wasn't a jihadist.
A few thoughts: more >>
Election Day 2014 is now almost exactly seven months away, which is both near and far.
On the one hand, more than half of the states - 29 of 50 - have passed their filing deadlines for major party candidates (the deadline in a 30th, Tennessee, is today). The late entries of Rep. Cory Gardner (R, CO-4) and ex-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) into, respectively, the Colorado and New Hampshire Senate races are probably the last major candidate announcements we're going to see this cycle, barring a late retirement or other big surprise. So the playing field is basically set.
On the other hand, the specific players in the game are not set. Just two states - Illinois and Texas - have held their primaries. After the District of Columbia voted on Tuesday, there isn't another primary until May 6. Candidate selection, particularly for Republicans in places like Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina, could be a decisive factor in the battle for the Senate. more >>
What happened last week with World Vision should make us all take notice. The billion dollar evangelical charity announced they would accept same-sex marriage when hiring employees.
The reaction to World Vision was swift and unambiguous. A number of high-profile evangelical leaders rebuked the organization, and thousands of laypersons added their voices via websites, emails, and phone calls. It seems likely that donations to the charity would have dropped like a stone. Many of those who give to them would have simply switched to support of some other Christian charity with a similar mission. Perhaps some have.
Within two days, thankfully, the organization relented, recanted, and repented. World Vision's own policy states, "We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible authoritative Word of God." So it's hard to understand why they would have made this decision in the first place. more >>
An atheist charitable organization has announced its intention to support a Baptist organization over the group's support for church and state separation.
Foundation Beyond Belief recently named the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty a beneficiary for the second quarter of 2014.
Dale McGowan, executive director for Foundation Beyond Belief, explained to The Christian Post how the Baptist Joint Committee received the honor. more >>
Criticisms of Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon vs. FEC, removing the overall limit on individual donations to political campaigns, have been overblown. The decision will not bring about the end of democracy in America, as some have claimed. In some minor ways, it may actually benefit U.S. political institutions.
Americans tend to be ambivalent about campaign finance laws because these laws represent a clash of two different values they hold – freedom and equality. We believe we should be free to say what we want, especially in regard to politics. We also do not like the idea of some people having more influence in politics than others. We believe all should have an equal voice in politics.
Campaign finance laws are attempts to prevent some, the wealthy in particular, from having more influence in politics than everyone else. To do that, though, these laws infringe upon freedom. They place limits, or try to at least, on spending money in elections. more >>