October 26, 2017
Under the eight years of President Obama, faith-based groups certainly heard from the government -- but it was rarely good news. In two terms, the administration was more interested in punishing these organizations than partnering with them. That all changed under President Trump, who's made it clear that churches and religious outreach are a vital part, not just of America, but of serving Americans. Nowhere is that clearer than the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which leans on groups like Catholic Charities to help deliver everything from health care, food, and family support to addiction recovery and adoption placement.
In another massive departure from the Obama years, Trump's team is asking an important question of those groups: How can we make working with HHS easier? This week, the agency made that inquiry official, posting it for public comment over the next 30 days. Their goal is an admirable one: they want to identify areas where regulations or other barriers make partnering with HHS difficult. Like most conservatives, they understand how invaluable it is to have faith-based groups on the ground providing services where the government can't -- or in some cases, aren't as effective. And they don't want to miss the opportunity to maximize that effectiveness, especially after Obama's intentional effects to marginalize the work of the church.
You can help open the door that the last administration tried to shut by heeding HHS's call for feedback. Unfortunately, because of Obama's hostility toward faith-based work, there are plenty of areas that could stand to be cleaned up by Trump's team -- including a whole slate of regulations that made it impossible for religious organizations to work with a clear conscience. Our government affairs team ticked off a number of them that you can use in responding, most of which, you've been reading about (and combatting personally) for years!
For starters, we all remember when Barack Obama rolled back the conscience regulations George W. Bush implemented to enforce several long-standing federal conscience laws for health care providers. Doing so opened the door to government discrimination against pro-life medical providers in which the government could force them to choose between their jobs and their moral convictions on procedures like abortion or drugs and devices that can destroy human embryos. It's time for those conscience rights regulations to be restored to everyone in the medical field.
Secondly, HHS can specifically enforce the Weldon Amendment, which prohibits government entities from discriminating against pro-life health care providers when it comes to elective abortion. Under the last administration, Obama's HHS also conveniently reinterpreted that Weldon text, refusing to stop states like California (who receive federal funds) from mandating health care coverage of abortion, even for employees in churches. The government needs to hold these states accountable for violating the Weldon Amendment and harming pro-lifers.
Then, HHS ought to move to end Obama's radical social agenda in Obamacare's Section 1557. For those of you who don't have it memorized (like our government affairs team), this is the ongoing battle to stop liberals from redefining "sex discrimination" to mean "gender identity" and "pregnancy termination." Already, conservatives are suing to stop this ridiculous and sweeping application of a law that has nothing to do with transgender or abortion politics. Right now, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is defending the Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network, and the Christian Medical Associations (with over 18,000 doctors) in court because they refuse to offer things like sex change operations -- something Obama's regulation would force faith-based groups to do, regardless of their beliefs!
These and other changes would go a long way to restoring HHS to the community partners religious organizations have always counted on them to be. Do your part to make them happen! Click here to add your comments!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.