HOME > NEWSROOM > ARTICLES > House Panel Focuses on Religious Freedom

House Panel Focuses on Religious Freedom

Members of the House of Representatives had the opportunity this week to discuss the state of religious freedom in the United States, a particularly timely topic as the Supreme Court is expected to issue decisions in the next few weeks with First Amendment ramifications. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution heard from witnesses with quite different perspectives on the nature of, and threats to, religious liberty. 

Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University’s School of Law, frankly stated, “The threat to religious freedom has reached unprecedented levels,” and focused specifically on conflicts around the sanctity of human life and marriage. In a similar vein, Greg Baylor, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, declared, “[T]he current Administration has all too often taken what can only be characterized as extreme positions designed to dramatically decrease religious freedom.” Kim Colby, Director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society, focused on the longstanding Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), noting, “This hearing is timely because it is possible that, within the next few weeks, this Congress will come under pressure to amend RFRA and diminish its protection, if the Supreme Court upholds RFRA’s protection of Americans whose religious consciences will not allow them to comply with the HHS Mandate.”

However, Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, contended that a primary threat to the First Amendment is instead an effort to “radically redefine religious liberty.” He opined, “[W]hat  are  often  described  as  threats  to  religious  freedom today  are  really  attempts to  obtain  sweeping  exemptions  that  could  deny  others  fundamental  rights to  make  lawful  moral  choices and  exercise  their  own  individual  conscience.”

Notably, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) was quick to confront Rev. Lynn, and he successfully got Rev. Lynn to admit that his thoughts on reasons for religious accommodation were not the same tests espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court. Rep. Forbes suggested that instead it was Rev. Lynn’s position that would radically redefine religious liberty.

  • Watch the full hearing and find written testimony here.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: June 13, 2014

Latest News

NRB Lauds Stand for Religious Freedom in Louisiana

Legislation intended to be a preventative shield for religious freedom in advance of the coming Supreme Court decision on marriage was shelved by a committee in the Louisiana legislature this week.

Commissioner Highlights Uncertainty on Collection of Fines

While the $1 million fine given to iHeartMedia for misusing Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones was the big news out of the FCC Enforcement Bureau this week, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly had another interesting point to make about the agency’s penalties generally.

Senate Adopts Religious Freedom Measure in Trade Bill

The U.S. Senate this week adopted an amendment by U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) that would require the Executive Branch to take religious freedom into consideration when negotiating trade agreements.

House Democrats Push for More On-Air Disclosure

A number of House Democrats have co-sponsored legislation that would require the FCC to increase the amount of information revealed on-air for political ads.

InterVarsity President Alec Hill to Step Down Following Cancer Diagnosis

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship President Alec Hill has been diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a cancer of the bone marrow, and will start treatment on June 10, according to an announcement last Friday.

NRB Milestone Award Honors 50+ Years of Christian Broadcasting: Is Your Organization Eligible?

NRB members who have achieved 50 years or more of continuous broadcast ministry are eligible to be considered for the NRB Milestone Award.

NRB Members: Do You Want to Be Highlighted in NRB Today?

Luis Palau Presents Good News Message to 30+ UN Ambassadors at United Nations HQ

International evangelist Luis Palau recently presented the “good news in the city” message to more than 30 ambassadors at the United Nations during the Ambassadors’ Spring Luncheon Forum. The gathering also included several members from the UN Security Council.

Hearings Highlight Internet Governance Concerns

This week two hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives focused on the future operation and governance of the Internet.

Senate Calls for Release of American Citizens in Iran

This week the U.S. Senate approved a resolution calling for the release of several Americans being held in Iran, among them Pastor Saeed Abedini, a resident of Idaho.

More News