Conservative Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) is reminding Americans that there are some politicians in Washington, D.C. who are still willing to stand up for our religious freedom. In the wake of the recent liberal attacks on conservative states which have moved to defend religious liberty, Congressman Labrador argues that liberals have missed the boat on what freedom and equality really are. “Our country was founded by people of faith fleeing religious persecution. Our First Amendment puts religious freedom first. It seems incredible to me that some in Congress shy from affirming this vital principle.” Labrador calls his fellow Americans to remember the important values of our founders and he begs Americans to stand for the ideals that once made our country so great.
Over the past several months, a number of state elected officials have moved to protect religious freedoms first enshrined in the First Amendment. Many of them have acted courageously in the face of unfair criticism from the liberal media.
It’s now past time that we act at the federal level, where the threat of government discrimination looms over individuals, businesses, nonprofits and religiously affiliated institutions.
For three years, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and I have partnered to protect these fundamental rights. Our bill, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), would prohibit the federal government from punishing Americans who continue to honor their belief in marriage as a man-woman union.
Our bill was introduced before the Supreme Court established same-sex marriage in all 50 states. FADA would prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license or certification based on belief in traditional marriage. For example, the bill would bar the IRS from stripping the tax exemption for churches that don’t conduct same-sex marriages. As another example, FADA would protect student loans, scholarships and research grants at hundreds of church affiliated colleges and universities.
Contrary to rhetoric from some on the left, our bill would not apply to federal employees or contractors and does not relieve the government of its duty to provide services.
When FADA was introduced last year, I had 57 House cosponsors; this week we reached 166. I’ve also been working toward a hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. On Wednesday I met with my friend and Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, a cosponsor of the bill. I’m hopeful we’ll have a hearing in the next few months.
I sometimes get frustrated by this debate, knowing that our country was founded by people of faith fleeing religious persecution. They had every reason to put freedom of religion first in the First Amendment and it seems incredible to me that some in Congress shy from affirming this vital principle.
FADA takes nothing away from anyone. It protects individual conscience amidst sweeping social change, upholding freedom of belief and worship in a diverse and pluralistic society.
We’ve been getting some good press about our efforts. If you’d like to learn more, click here to read a story published this week in the Daily Signal.