Defund the federal attack on conscience

By Dustin Howard

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court Obergefell decision that imposes same sex marriage on the states, the freedom to dissent against the federal interpretation of marriage is now in jeopardy.

Could the government now deny a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman?

The inclination of the federal government has shifted from a position of neutrality to one of advocacy for the same sex position, leaving faith based groups in a frightful state of uncertainty.

To this end, The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Congressman Raul Labrador(R-Idaho) to protect the freedom of conscience for faith based organizations that are funded with federal dollars.

The urgency is increasing for those who wish to exercise freedom of conscience. Reports by Center for Family and Human Rights have suggested that the Obama Administration is quietly directing the bureaucracy to deny federal funds to groups refuse to incorporate LGBT individuals into their organizations.

The President has already telegraphed his intentions with a similar Executive Order in 2014 directed at government contractors. Going after the much wider grant recipients is the next step in that progression.

The short term solution is simple: Congress could deny funds for the administration to discriminate against conscience objections. A simple rider to the coming continuing resolution styled after the Lee-Labrador bill could go far in binding the hands of those who would hamper faith based organizations, and being attached to the entire budget would be less likely to be vetoed by a hostile President.

Action is needed to preserve the critical work of such organizations, as a disruption in their efforts can only harm at risk communities inside and beyond the United States. Faith based charities are executing plans based on receipt of these grants, and would have to restructure to defend themselves from an onslaught by the Department of Justice. If the appropriations window is missed, they may not receive protection before another President takes office.

FADA was drafted to protect those with contrary viewpoints the Supreme Court’s marriage decision, but it would go further to create a religious conscience protection for those receiving federal monies on other issues.

But defenders of religious liberty are running short on time, as the Obama Administration is already prepared to impose its will. To protect the work done by faith based groups, the legislative window is rapidly closing this fiscal year, as the appropriations process is the surest and quickest way to enact a solution.

Our republic was founded to preserve the rights of all viewpoints from governmental intrusion. But it remains to be seen whether Congress will act to protect those views when it comes to religious conscience objections for federal grant recipients, particularly those who still believe in traditional marriage.

Dustin Howard is the social media manager for the Americans for Limited Government.

By Dustin Howard