(Lansing, Mich.) — In order to promote religious liberty and conscience rights, and to help encourage diversity in the public square, legislation introduced today by Speaker Jase Bolger to create a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act, House Bill 5958, is needed now more than ever, said the President and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference.
“In the name of tolerance, religious organizations and individuals are not being tolerated,” said Paul A. Long, Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO. “The increased level of hostility and intolerance toward faith-based institutions and persons—and how they integrate in the public square—has made religious liberty a priority. Speaker Bolger deserves credit for seeking to protect First Amendment conscience rights that have been a cornerstone of this nation’s history.”
In recent years, numerous incidents have arisen across the country where discrimination charges have been leveled against institutions and persons who seek to assimilate their faith into their daily lives. Among the examples of those who have faced legal or civil action because of their belief in traditional marriage and because they have sought to serve others outside the walls of their physical church include:
- Several Catholic charities agencies, many of which provide child placement services, refugee resettlement, assistance to homeless persons, and family and addiction counseling, have been forced to close their doors because they operate according to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
- Two Florida pastors and a 90-year old man are currently facing jail time and fines after being accused of violating a local ordinance that restricts feeding homeless people.
- A group of pastors in the Houston area have been ordered to submit their sermons to local authorities after being accused of breaking a “non-discrimination” ordinance after they preached in support of one man and one woman in marriage.
Other national examples of religious liberty violations include the federal government terminating a contract with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist human trafficking victims because of the Church’s teaching in support of human life; state laws have passed that prevent religious organizations from providing food and shelter to undocumented persons; and government mandates that require religious organizations to provide morally objectionable benefits in their employee health benefit plans.
“The efforts among some to prohibit or substantially restrict the presence of faith-based organizations in public life runs contrary to the history of the Republic,” said Long. “Legislation is needed to protect rather than weaken constitutional First Amendment religious liberty rights.”
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.
-- 30 --