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 Spearheads ‘Get Out the Vote’ PSA Campaign

NRB has initiated a “Get Out the Vote” campaign to encourage Christians across America to cast their votes in the upcoming election, which could prove to be one of the most crucial in our nation’s history.

Joni Eareckson Tada Presented with the First True Woman Award

Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, received a special honor earlier this month at the True Woman 2014 National Women's Conference.

In Memoriam: Herb Jacobson, Reach Beyond's Longest Serving Missionary

Just a few months after surpassing 65 years of service with Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) and just three days after celebrating his 89th birthday, missionary engineer Herb Jacobson went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, October 8.

NRB Board Member Jay Flowers Now Managing Director at Grace to You Ministry

Jay Flowers, who serves on the NRB Board of Directors, the NRB President’s Council, and Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace to You ministry, has been named Managing Director at Grace to You.

NRB Concerned by Call for Hate Speech Proceeding

A petition to the FCC challenging a broadcaster license alleges “hate speech” and calls for a FCC hearing on the subject. Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to...

City of Houston Subpoenas Sermons

NRB and many others were alarmed this week by the City of Houston’s subpoena of local pastors’ church sermons. “This inquisition by the City of Houston is unconstitutional,” declared Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB.

Thousands Gather to Pray for Washington

On Columbus Day, I was pleased to gather with thousands of Christians from churches around the Washington, DC area to pray for this capital city.

FCC Calls for Input on LPTV

The FCC recently declared that it is suspending deadlines for construction of new digital low power television (LPTV) stations, and similarly stated its intent to postpone the 2015 deadline for...

NRB to Debut Film & Entertainment Summit in 2015

NRB is launching the Film & Entertainment Summit at the NRB 2015 International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, TN.

Don't Miss Early Bird Rates for the NRB15 Int’l Christian Media Convention!

Registration is open for the NRB 2015 International Christian Media Convention, to be held February 23-26, 2015, in Nashville, TN. But to take advantage of the Early Bird Registration discounts and save up to $200, you’ll need to register by November 15, 2014.

More News