President Obama’s Legacy on Religious Liberty

Jan. 20 2017

Assessing the outgoing president’s policies over the past eight years, Andrew T. Walker and Josh Wester see a consistently “callous” attitude toward religious freedom, especially when it came to legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Regarding the latter, they write:

During the implementation of the ACA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate . . . requiring most employer health plans to provide “all FDA-approved forms of contraception,” including some that act as abortifacients. Despite being aware of the conscience issues created by such a rule, HHS allowed only the narrowest of exemptions for certain types of religious employers. The protests of business owners, religious leaders of various faiths, and advocates of freedom fell on deaf ears. The administration’s unyielding commitment to this HHS mandate revealed its animus toward religious freedom and ultimately resulted in two very consequential and public defeats for the president’s agenda [at the Supreme Court]. . . .

Among those seeking relief from the oppressive mandate were the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious order dedicated to caring for the elderly poor. After years of bureaucratic and legal strife—to say nothing of the threat of million-dollar fines for conscientious dissent—the administration ultimately acknowledged that this mandate was not the least restrictive means of furthering a government interest in providing contraceptives—an unnecessary outcome.

From the start, the administration should have established compromise measures to ensure health coverage for contraceptives without needlessly burdening religious exercise. But such intransigence only proved the larger point. For the Obama administration, whatever the value of religious freedom might be, it could easily be subjugated to a higher, more progressive, ideal.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Abortion, Barack Obama, Freedom of Religion, Gay marriage, Obamacare, Politics & Current Affairs

 

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy