- - Thursday, July 26, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

One of the greatest things about America is our constitutionally protected right to practice our faith and live out our religious beliefs free from interference by our government. Unfortunately, over the last few decades our nation has seen a wave of attacks against religious freedom — from government overreach to activist judges and others who wish to remove more elements of faith from our national life.

From lawsuits demanding war memorials be torn down because they contain religious symbolism to the IRS’ ability to threaten religious groups for what they say from the pulpit to the Obama administration’s attempts to force groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor to defy their deeply held religious beliefs, we’ve seen a systematic effort to remove any mention of God from the public space and to chip away at our sacred right to live out our faith free from government obstruction.

Thankfully, under President Trump’s leadership, we are starting to turn the tide and restore the liberties our nation’s Founders enshrined in our Constitution. This summer, we saw the U.S. Supreme Court deliver a crucial victory for religious freedom when it struck down the State of California’s efforts to force pro-life health care providers to actually promote abortion. The government should not force citizens to act against their faith. By a 5-4 margin, our nation’s highest court stopped California’s unconstitutional attempts to do just that.

Think about that: A 5-4 margin. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidential election, she would have appointed a liberal activist judge to the Supreme Court, resulting in the court ruling the opposite way and striking another blow to religious freedom instead of protecting it.

When asking for the American people’s support in 2016, Donald Trump produced a list of strong, constitutional conservatives from which he would choose a nominee. He followed through on his promise by nominating Neil Gorsuch. Now, with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, President Trump has once again nominated a jurist, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who shows respect for our Constitution and commitment to protecting American rights, including our religious freedoms.

Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated this commitment since the 1990s. He took on pro bono cases, standing up for religious freedom and advocating on behalf of judges who share his respect for our Constitutional rights, including freedom of religion. As a federal judge, he stood up to the Obama administration by defending the Priests for Life right to live according to their religious beliefs. His will be a powerful voice as he continues defending our constitutional rights and freedoms, once confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court.

Again — just think of where our nation would be if Hillary Clinton were president and had the chance to stack our highest court with not one, but two far-left liberal judges. It would have struck a huge blow to our nation and changed America for decades to come, allowing the left to foist a bigger, more intrusive government on Americans at the expense of our liberties.

Thankfully, with Mr. Trump, we are seeing the exact opposite, and while we need to keep fighting on behalf of our freedoms, the future is looking bright.

In Congress, we are working to secure even greater protections to religious liberties. That’s why we proudly led the effort in the House to repeal the ill-conceived Johnson Amendment so that the IRS can no longer threaten the free speech rights of religious leaders and their congregations. We join Mr. Trump in encouraging the U.S. Senate to do the same, so that he can sign this repeal into law — something Hillary Clinton would have refused to do.

Just when it seemed we were on a disastrous course, where our own government was undermining religious freedom at every turn, the American people stood up and demanded a change in direction. Under Mr. Trump, our government is now playing its proper role by defending our rights rather than threatening or treading upon them. He is keeping his promises to Americans of all faiths who felt marginalized by President Obama and others on the left. We are proud to stand with him and with all Americans who value faith and freedom.

• Steve Scalise, a Republican U.S. representative from Louisiana, is the House Majority Whip. Randy Weber is a Republican U.S. representative from Texas.


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