Wicker Fights for Religious Freedom
Government Must Respect Rights of Conscience
January 30, 2023
Religious freedom is a hallmark of our American way of life. Since our nation’s founding, we have been a safe haven for persecuted believers from all over the globe, inspiring other nations to follow our lead. As a U.S. Senator, I have fought to advance religious freedom at home and abroad, including for Christians who fled Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover in 2021. In the coming days, I will co-chair the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington to raise awareness of the challenges confronting faith communities worldwide. Unfortunately, religious freedom is also coming under attack here in America as left-wing government officials seek to impose their will on people of conscience.
Biden Continues Obama’s War on Religious Freedom
In 2011, President Obama declared war on religious freedom when his Administration tried to force religious schools, businesses, and even Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance plans. Subsequent judicial rulings made clear that the Administration had overreached. Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned business, sued the Obama Administration and eventually prevailed at the Supreme Court. Religious freedom later found a strong ally in the Trump Administration, but President Biden is now picking up where Mr. Obama left off, attempting to steamroll those who do not share his values.
During Mr. Biden’s first months in office, his Administration created a radical new policy on par with the Obama mandate. This policy required religious doctors and nurses to violate their consciences and medical judgment to perform life-altering “gender reassignment” surgeries on children – something that millions of Americans find appalling. Thankfully, the Administration was stopped when two federal courts blocked the policy. Yet there is no sign the President will let up in his attacks on people who wish to live out their faith freely.
Religious Freedom Threatened in Liberal States
Unfortunately, some states are showing just as much disregard for religious freedom as the President. In Ohio and Virginia, Christian teachers have been fired for refusing to use transgender pronouns in class. In Washington State, a florist was fined and forced to pay damages to a same-sex couple because she declined to provide flowers for their wedding, which she could not in good conscience support. Similarly, in Colorado, a Christian cake shop owner named Jack Phillips was sued multiple times by the state for declining to make custom cakes celebrating a same-sex wedding and a “gender transition.” He ultimately prevailed twice in court – once at the Supreme Court – but he is now being targeted a third time by state officials. Mr. Phillips summed it up well: “Colorado just seemed to be looking for opportunities to punish me for my faith.”
We should all take these threats to religious freedom seriously, and I have actively sought to use my influence as a U.S. Senator to defend this basic liberty. During the pandemic, I authored an amicus brief in federal court supporting the right of a Baptist church in Washington, D.C., to gather in person – and the church ultimately prevailed. I also recently signed an amicus brief supporting Lorie Smith, a Colorado web designer who recently went to the Supreme Court to defend her right to make websites only for weddings she can endorse. In addition, I pushed vigorously for a religious freedom amendment to a recent marriage bill in Congress. And I have voted to confirm hundreds of conservative judges in the Senate who are now on the front lines protecting our constitutional rights. I will always stand with those who defend one of our most sacred traditions and keep the right to religious freedom unimpeded.