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September 16, 2020

Religious Liberty is a Foundational American Value

Religious liberty is a foundational American value enshrined in our Constitution, but it is increasingly under attack by those who believe it cannot coexist with our other freedoms. This is a deeply misguided and dangerous view. Fortunately, the Supreme Court issued three separate rulings this year strongly affirming the right to religious freedom.

First, in the case Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Court ruled that students can use a privately-run tax-credit scholarship program in Montana to attend religious educational institutions. This decision clarifies the First Amendment’s role in school choice and will protect families in Oklahoma from discrimination simply because they are choosing an education for their kids at a religious institution.

Second, in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the Court upheld the Trump administration’s exemption to the Obama-era contraceptive mandate, which mandated coverage of contraceptives that can cause abortions. This ruling showed that the government has the authority to issue such exemptions and that religiously-motivated entities should not be coerced to purchase medicines that go against their sincerely held beliefs.

Third, in the cases Our Lady of Guadalupe vs. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel, the Court preserved religious institutions’ ability to make personnel decisions central to advancing their religious mission without government interference.

The Court’s decisions are encouraging because they both affirm and clarify religious freedoms, setting precedent that will guide the Nation for years to come. Yet, one thing remains clear—we must continue to fight for our Constitutional rights. Liberals have shown that they will challenge our right to religious freedom time and time again. Case in point: prior to this ruling, the Little Sisters of the Poor had already been to the Court twice over their right to preserve their conscience rights. They won each time—but the left continued to bully them. Our right to worship freely in America is a right we cannot take for granted. It is a fight we must continue to steward and preserve for future generations.

Our Declaration of Independence says this: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our First Amendment further established the right of religious freedom, ensuring that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

During these trying days, many have chosen to forget the documents that are the basis of our great country. We have seen monuments brought down and our founders disparaged. Many Americans are questioning our history and our founding principles. No matter how much we need to keep growing as a nation, we cannot abandon our history. Our founding documents enshrine values that we should continue to affirm and fight for today—especially religious liberty.

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