Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.
August 4, 2015
Craig James filed suit this week against Fox Sports Southwest (and affiliated companies) for discriminating against him based on his religion when it fired him for earlier comments he made in support of natural marriage when campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
Soon after his firing, James acquired legal representation with our friends at Liberty Institute, and filed a complaint of religious discrimination that proceeded through a state law administrative process. That process is now complete, paving the way for him to file a legal complaint in state court.
If it is shown that James’ religious beliefs were a motivating factor in the decision to fire him, he has a successful case of religious discrimination. In his complaint, James alleges that Fox Sport specifically “informed [him] that they terminated him for his statement” in support of natural marriage: “I’m a guy that believes in a man and a woman … Adam and Eve — and what the Bible says.” James made several other statements at this time affirming his opposition to same-sex marriage, noting that people will have to answer to God, and that Christians need to stand up for marriage.
After firing him, Fox Sports Southwest told the media that James “couldn’t say those things here.” James also alleges that Fox Sports Southwest unlawfully breached its contract with him and has still not paid him for work he performed almost two years ago.
In the complaint, he also points out the ridiculous behavior of Fox Sports Southwest, which circulated an article stereotyping James, assuming he’s motivated by antipathy to gay people. But as James points out, his Christian faith, with its tenets of how God created human relationships, is the very thing which causes him to love all fellow mankind. He also points out that he employed an openly-gay chief political consultant — a fact seemingly missed by Fox Sports Southwest in its rush to caricature him. James has no anger towards gay people, but believes all people deserve love and respect regardless of their views. As he points out, he even has “personal friends, family members, and professional colleagues on both sides of marriage and family issues, some of whom are themselves gay, lesbian, and transgender.”
Fox Sports Southwest refuses to remove the blinders of political correctness and perceive the man for who he really is.
Let us hope that the courts are able to peer through this charade and see that Fox Sports Southwest discriminated against Craig James because of his religious beliefs.
August 3, 2015
Can an accommodation be accompanied by a requirement that essentially negates the accommodation and still be seen as sufficient?
To answer this question, we can use a simple example, which arises in the context of employment.
When you ask for a day off – and that day off is granted – you do not expect to be required to come in on your day off in order to tell your boss you won’t be there for the day. That would negate the grant of the day off.
The same is true when religious organizations ask for an accommodation from the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act and the government offers an accommodation which does not fully meet the requests of these organizations regarding protection of their religious beliefs. Such an “accommodation” does not eliminate the burden on the religious organizations, yet courts have been approving the government’s “accommodation” as sufficient. Continuing the string of judicial denials of religious organizations’ requests, the Tenth Circuit recently denied an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged (Little Sisters) finding that, with the “accommodation” offered by the government, there was no substantial burden on the group’s religious beliefs.
Religious organizations like Little Sisters, Priests for Life, and Notre Dame sincerely believe that life begins at conception so they object to providing abortive contraception as part of their employee health insurance plans. As a result of their sincere belief, these non-profits have asked for an accommodation under the HHS Mandate citing the protections of the First Amendment and the bar on the government substantially burdening the free exercise of religion. The religious non-profits have asked to not be required to participate in any aspect of the provision of abortive contraception.
Requiring these organizations to provide abortive contraception in contravention of their beliefs would be a substantial burden which HHS has recognized and for which HHS has created an accommodation. The current accommodation allows religious non-profits to voice their objection to providing abortive contraception by filling out a form or directly notifying HHS. After HHS receives notice of the objection, the insurance company offers and provides the abortive contraception to the employees.
The question remains, however, whether this “accommodation” is actually sufficient.
Yes, the organizations only have to fill out a form or notify HHS of their religious objection, but the mechanism of notification is not the problem. The problem is that the accommodation doesn’t change the end result. Abortive contraception is still being provided as a result of the fact that the organization provides health care for its employees.
As some dissenting judges in the Priests for Life stated, “Where the government imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise and labels it an accommodation, that burden is surely as distressing to adherents as it would be if imposed without such a designation.”
The answer to whether there is a substantial burden even with the current accommodation is tied to our understanding of an accommodation. When we look at the example in the graphic above, it is fairly clear that the agreement made by the boss does not adequately meet the employee’s request for a day off. Similarly, we should ask whether the current accommodation adequately meets the requests of religious organizations to not have to provide abortive contraception – or, as the Little Sisters have pointed out, to “take actions that directly cause others to provide them, or otherwise appear to participate in the government’s delivery scheme.”
The answer is no, the accommodation does not sufficiently meet the requests of these religious organizations and therefore, places a substantial burden on their religious exercise. The form or notification to HHS is an insufficient accommodation because the opting-out by the religious organizations is the direct cause of the receipt of coverage. The dissenting judges in the Priests for Life pointed out, “the harm plaintiffs complain of … is from their inability to conform their own actions and inactions to their religious beliefs without facing massive penalties from the government” (emphasis added by the dissenting judges). This harm does not disappear because their relationship to the provision of the abortive contraception becomes a little more attenuated.
Just as a day off from work which requires you to come into work is not really a day off, an insufficient accommodation is no accommodation at all.
August 3, 2015
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Planned Parenthood’s assault on the unborn outrages our sense of justice, a sense engraved on the hearts upon which the “works of the law” have been “written” (Romans 2:15). Our hearts.
A lot of the articles in this edition of the Social Conservative Review pertain to the sustained and graphic portrayals of human evil depicted in the Planned Parenthood videos. Yet we take comfort in knowing those precious little lives are now in the arms of a loving Savior, their creator and eternal comforter.
It’s up to us, and those we’ve elected, to seize this moment to further focus the national conscience and end these atrocities. Christians are picketing PPFA “clinics,” urging Congress to defund this unseemly behemoth of the culture of death, and calling its justifiers to public account. Don’t let up, and keep checking www.frc.org for the latest updates. And pray for those within PPFA and for their advocates, whose blindness is so clear and whose need of Christ is so great.
On a different note, one of the challenges we at FRC face in producing the Social Conservative Review is trying to sift-through the growing volume of outstanding conservative writing and speaking pouring-forth on-line. A whole new crop of Christian writers and thinkers are emerging to articulate anew the reasons for “a culture in which human life is valued, families flourish and religious liberty thrives.”
Many of those voices are featured in this edition. Read them – and contact them, as many are readily accessible and can always use encouragement. The same encouragement they give us through their bold, thoughtful, promise-bearing young voices.
Ultimately, of course, Christians take encouragement in reflecting on the One of Whom Isaiah said, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power” (Isaiah 40:29). That strength and power are always there for those “who for refuge to Jesus have fled.”
Family Research Council
P.S. The Social Conservative Review will be on hiatus until the end of August. In the interim, be sure to listen to FRC President Tony Perkins’ daily “Washington Watch” radio program for interviews with leading conservatives from across the country. And don’t miss FRC’s August 4 panel on international religious liberty – “Radical Islam and Christian Persecution: What’s Happening in the Middle East and Africa.”
Religious Liberty in the Public Square
International Religious Liberty
- She’s Having a Fetus – Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition
- Planned Parenthood Investigation Reportedly Shows Doctors Discussing How to Maximize Revenue from Sale of Fetal Tissue – Austin Ruse, Breitbart
- BREAKING: New undercover video shows sorting of aborted baby parts at Planned Parenthood, Live Action News
- Dear Planned Parenthood Supporter, You Are the Dentist! – Jordan Standridge, Cripplegate
- Bobby Jindal halts construction of Planned Parenthood over organ harvesting allegations. – Ben Johnson, Life Site News
- The Planned Parenthood Video: The Price of Sexual Freedom. – Eric Metaxas, Break Point
- The 4 Most Embarrassing Things Cecile Richards Said In Defense of Planned Parenthood. – Mollie Hemingway, The Federalist
- Don’t Let Planned Parenthood Use ‘Medical Research’ To Whitewash Its Baby Body Parts Atrocities. – Amy Otto, The Federalist
- Planned Parenthood’s Biggest Donors Give $374 Million in Four Years - Alatheia Larsen, Media Research Center
- Choice and Morality - William Murchison, American Spectator
- How Planned Parenthood Gets its Money - Alex Anderson, Daily Signal
Federal funding of abortion
Human Sexuality (Homosexual/ gender issues)
Policy publications (booklets, Issue Analyses, Issue Briefs)
Op-eds and Blogs