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Archive for September 2014

Once Again Defending the Pledge of Allegiance!

A Message from the Executive Director
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dear Friends,

We all know that the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance are important national symbols of independence and pride.

But did you know that the Pledge of Allegiance also contains a simple, but incredibly powerful, message about our inherent rights?

In 1942, Congress offically adopted the Pledge of Allegiance. Twelve years later, Congress chose to add the words “under God” to the Pledge.

This choice reflected an essential belief—not about God, but about human beings. Simply put, there are some rights that no government can take away. Congress added the words “under God” to clarify this belief in contrast to the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union, like other totalitarian regimes, held that rights come from the State. But if our rights come from the State, that means the State can take them away.

This is not what we believe as Americans. Our history makes that clear.

Since our nation’s founding, Americans have referred to “God-given” rights and our rights “under God” to affirm an essential truth: our rights are not dependent on the government.

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” This truth, our Founders wrote in 1776, is “self-evident.”

In 1863, President Lincoln spoke of “a new birth of freedom” for “this nation, under God.”

And in 1963, Martin Luther Ling Jr. wrote in his Letter from Birmingham City Jail: “We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights.”

For over a decade, the Becket Fund has successfully defended the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. We have won every one of our cases against atheist groups that insist that these words are discriminatory and in violation of the First Amendment.

This could not be further from the truth.

As I have said many times, this is not about who God is—it’s about who we are. We are human beings with unalienable rights. Two simple words—“under God”—elegantly convey that message.

This is not discrimination. This is a statement of freedom.

A New Jersey teenager, Samantha Jones, is willing to fight for that freedom. The American Humanist Association has demanded that her school remove “under God” from the Pledge.

Samantha recognizes that taking away those words means taking away a reminder for children about their inherent rights.

No one should be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But those who believe that their rights come, not from the government, but from something higher, have every right to affirm that centuries-old American belief.

K of C Warns: Stop Taxpayer Funding of Abortion in Obamacare

Dear Brother Knight,

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing that American taxpayers are subsidizing abortion coverage in more than 1,000 government-sponsored health care plans.

The GAO is a non-partisan government watchdog office responsible for examining the impact of federal laws and the use of taxpayer money. In creating this report, the GAO also discovered that insurance companies providing coverage through plans established by Obamacare are not billing the abortion coverage separately, as required.

The GAO report also confirmed that the information about abortion coverage in these insurance plans is not uniformly available to consumers. This has led many pro-life Americans and their families to inadvertently choose coverage with which they have a profound moral disagreement. Not only is this bad policy, but it is in direct opposition to the views of the majority of the American people. This year, our K of C-Marist poll found that by a 58 to 37 percent margin, Americans oppose the use of tax dollars to fund abortions.

An important piece of legislation, H.R. 7 the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, would address these issues by expanding the pro-life “Hyde Amendment” to permanently ban all public funding of abortion while also requiring every insurance plan established under Obamacare to clearly indicate whether or not it covers abortion. While the U.S. House of Representatives has acted on this legislation, it is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.

We encourage you to contact your Senators today and tell them to act now on H.R. 7 to ensure that all Americans have access to healthcare that is transparent and does not offer morally objectionable services subsidized by taxpayers. We also encourage you to read the Supreme Knight’s Op-ed on this issue here.

Additionally, the full report from the GAO is available online and is important reading for all Knights and their families.

Thank you for all you do to promote a Culture of Life.

Knights of Columbus

The Becket Fund Defends Freedom of Religion on Several Fronts!

A Message from the Executive Director
Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friends,
If you have kids, as I do, you know what I mean when I say that the first week of school is always crazy. This is true in today’s religious liberty fight, too!

Our summer was anything but quiet—with two Supreme Court wins in June, we had plenty to do. But fall has shown its face in a big way. Here are the top three developments we’d like you to know about:

First, on Tuesday, September 9th, the Seventh Circuit Court heard oral arguments in our parsonage allowance case, Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Lew. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization, is attacking a 60-year-old tax provision that allows churches to give their ministers tax-exempt housing allowances in lieu of housing them on church property. If the atheists win, churches across the country will have to pay over $2.5 billion in new taxes over the next five years!

Needless to say, this tax exemption is crucial for churches to provide for their pastors, as many simply do not have the means to house them on church property.

Last November, the tax provision was ruled unconstitutional, and the case is now on appeal. During yesterday’s oral argument, the judges repeatedly mentioned the arguments in our friend-of-the-court brief.

Second, this week, the American Humanist Association started a video campaign encouraging school children to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance. They claim that the Pledge as it stands—with the words “under God”—is discriminatory and “stigmaz[es] atheist and humanist children.”

This comes on the heels of a poll they recently released, claiming that giving “information” about the Pledge’s history leads more people to support removing the words “under God” from the Pledge. What we found when we studied their poll, however, is that the “information” is in fact a biased argument.

Americans overwhelmingly want the words “under God” to remain in the Pledge—something the Becket Fund defends in court. Those words make it clear that there are some rights that no government can ever take away.

Third, the government has announced that it will continue its legal battle against the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Little Sisters of the Poor serve more than ten thousand elderly poor in their homes. Our clients have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, but the government is still trying to force the nuns to violate their religious beliefs or pay crippling fines to the IRS.

At the start of 2014, the Supreme Court gave the Little Sisters a temporary injunction, allowing them to do nothing more than notify the government of their objections. Now, however, Health and Human Services have released yet another change to the rule that still requires the Little Sisters to help provide access to drugs that they morally oppose. Our attorneys filed their latest brief in the case on Monday night (you can read it here).

This is one of those cases that leaves you thinking that truth really is stranger than fiction. How is it possible that the most powerful government in the world can’t figure out a way to provide contraceptives without forcing Catholic nuns to be involved?

Nuns should be free to care for our most vulnerable citizens in accordance with their religious beliefs. Words in the Pledge of Allegiance that put human dignity above government authority should be celebrated—not labeled discrimination. And tax laws should continue to reflect the unique place of churches in our society.

Sincerely,

Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director

As we remember September 11, I am pleased to report that the 9-11 Cross remains in the National 9-11 Museum. As you may remember, we defended the steel beam cross in an amicus brief that caught the Court’s attention. And we won. The Cross remains. This is despite the lawsuit filed by an atheist group trying to erase the Cross from history and alleging its mere existence caused them dyspepsia (essentially, a stomachache). I recently had the chance to debate them. If you have 10 minutes, do watch this program. Their assertions about the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance and the inclusion of the words “under God” are just absurd.

GAO Report on Healthcare and Abortion

Dear Brother Knight, Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing that American taxpayers are subsidizing abortion coverage in more than 1,000 government-sponsored health care plans. The GAO is a non-partisan government watchdog office responsible for examining the impact of federal laws and the use of taxpayer money.

In creating this report, the GAO also discovered that insurance companies providing coverage through plans established by ObamaCare are not billing the abortion coverage separately, as required. The GAO report also confirmed that the information about abortion coverage in these insurance plans is not uniformly available to consumers. This has led many pro-life Americans and their families to inadvertently choose coverage with which they have a profound moral disagreement. Not only is this bad policy, but it is in direct opposition to the views of the majority of the American people.

This year, our K of C-Marist poll found that by a 58 to 37 percent margin, Americans oppose the use of tax dollars to fund abortions. An important piece of legislation, H.R. 7 the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, would address these issues by expanding the pro-life “Hyde Amendment” to permanently ban all public funding of abortion while also requiring every insurance plan established under ObamaCare to clearly indicate whether or not it covers abortion. While the U.S. House of Representatives has acted on this legislation, it is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.

We encourage you to contact your Senators today and tell them to act now on H.R. 7 to ensure that all Americans have access to healthcare that is transparent and does not offer morally objectionable services subsidized by taxpayers. Additionally, the full report from the GAO is available online and is important reading for all Knights and their families. Thank you for all you do to promote a Culture of Life. Knights of Columbus