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Gratitude, and Why We Fight!

A Message from Becket’s Executive Director
November 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

As Thanksgiving comes around each year, we are grateful—grateful for our friends, for the work we do, for our victories, and for our freedom. This year, we are especially grateful to see the victorious end in sight in our original cases against the HHS mandate. Earlier this month, the government finally issued an official exemption from the rule for religious non-profits like the Little Sisters of the Poor. After years of persistent litigation, the government has officially recognized that there are ways for them to provide contraceptive services to women that don’t involve Catholic nuns. (Now, state governments like California and Pennsylvania must simply accept the facts and leave the nuns alone too.)

It’s tempting to revel in such a hard-won fight, but this victory is far more than a tally point on a scoreboard. For the Little Sisters of the Poor, this fight was not about winning. It was about serving God to whom they are grateful—no matter the cost, no matter the outcome. This is true of all Becket clients, and it’s why our work is so important. They are not fighting because they want to be champions. They are fighting because their faith requires it.

As Becket founder Seamus Hasson reminds us, we can’t just be “grateful” on our own. I am grateful to our clients. And I am grateful to you, for partnering with us in the 6-year battle that transformed the defense of religious liberty in America.

What’s happening at Becket:

“What’s being done here is forcing them to, in effect, endorse something they don’t believe in.” These are the words from one of the Third Circuit judges who heard our oral argument in our case defending Catholic Social Services foster families against the City of Philadelphia. The City has suspended all foster care referrals to Catholic even though there are hundreds of children in need of loving homes—just because of the agency’s religious beliefs about marriage. For more on this issue, see our website.

25 years on the books: Religious Freedom Restoration Act. On November 16, 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA has gone on to protect people of all faiths, including the Green family and Native American Pastor Robert Soto. Becket is the authority on this issue (RFRA database here) and produced a short documentary.

Becket in the news:

“An Unnecessary Culture War” The WSJ Editorial Board weighs in on the new HHS rules that finally include an exemption for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Keeping the Peace (Cross) Read about the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a case pitting the American Humanist Association against the “Peace Cross,” a WWI memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland—and look for a quote from Becket’s Luke Goodrich.

Cecilia Paul’s “campaign of love.” Kathryn Jean Lopez gives a beautiful tribute to the late Cecilia Paul, Becket’s client in our Philadelphia case defending Catholic Social Services foster agency.

What Becket is reading:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” If you’re looking for a brief lesson on democracy, its Greek origins, and why our current understanding of freedom is better (hint: we have rights that the state cannot take away), read here.

“Grateful vigilance.” In this Crux article, religious liberty advocates emphasize that we must be just as attentive to upholding religious freedom as an absolute right in countries like the U.S. as in countries with more extreme human rights violations.

Celebrating religion. On Nov. 13th I had the honor of attending the Templeton Prize Ceremony. Since 1972, the Templeton Prize has celebrated the deep and enduring significance of religion and the values that it promotes. His Majesty King Abdullah the Second is the 2018 laureate for his conviction that religious belief and the free exercise of religion are among humankind’s most important callings.

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