A new division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be dedicated to hearing complaints from health workers who face discrimination for refusing services that violate their religious beliefs. The new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division will enforce 25 conscience-rights protections, including new provisions under the Affordable Care Act that allow providers and insurers to decline abortions and assisted suicide. It’s important to remember that the change “can—and in all likelihood, will—be narrowed or reversed by a subsequent administration,” First Amendment expert John Inazu said. Still, the regulations “signal meaningful enforcement of existing protections for religious liberty.”
Evangelicals in Bolivia were “deeply worried” in January after their socialist government changed the penal code to outlaw recruiting people for religious purposes. “Whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom, or hosts people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized 5 to 12 years of imprisonment,” read a translation by Evangelical Focus. The code “is imprecise, ambiguous, badly written, contradictory, and its punitive power can constitute state abuse,” the National Association of Evangelicals in Bolivia stated. On their Sunday of prayer and fasting, President Evo Morales pledged to repeal the entire code and start over.
The Chicago youth minister who co-created the Awana program and served the organization for ...1