Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Protecting religious liberty

July 30, 2015

Protecting religious liberty
By Rep. Pete Olson 07/30/2015 - 5:00 AM ET

As both a former Navy pilot and Congressman, I took an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Our Constitution derives from the certainty that we have inalienable rights given to us by God.

Yet today, thanks to our Supreme Court and a culture of political correctness, these rights are under attack. The Court recently bestowed a federal right to same sex marriage. Support for traditional marriage is not an American concept and is in no way meant to condemn a personal relationship between two people. Throughout history, marriage has been recognized as the union of a husband and wife -- across all religious, cultural and geographical lines -- connecting children with their parents. The institution of marriage is rooted in a biological reality, not bigotry or discrimination.

I disagree with the Supreme Court’s interpretation that same sex marriage is a constitutional right. This is a slap in the face to states’ rights and millions of Americans who voted to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. Sadly, we know that same sex marriage advocates will use this newly granted right to try to chip away at the First Amendment, which protects our religious freedoms.  

It began with Obamacare when standard protections for religious organizations that oppose abortion as a violation of their faith were told they must provide health coverage that includes this life ending procedure. The next predictable step is lawsuits against religious organizations that refuse to perform a wedding ceremony.

Businesses taking a religious stand against practices that violate their personal faith are already being sued. In Oregon, a judge recently ruled against owners of a bakery who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs. The judge ordered the bakery to pay $135,000 in damages. If we do not stand up and fight for our religious freedoms, they will continue to slip away.

Religious freedom is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights – it’s what this country was founded upon. Americans should be able to agree to disagree about social issues, but we cannot bow down and hand over our constitutional rights in the name of political correctness. Churches should not live in fear of losing tax exempt status because their deeply held religious convictions are not trending on Twitter.

When the rights of one set of people are taken away, all Americans should be concerned and recognize what is fundamentally at stake.  A core principle of our nation’s founding was to protect everyone’s voice, opinion, and religious liberty regardless of whether they were in the minority or the majority.  If those fundamental rights are surrendered now, it won’t be long before the “politically correct” police decide someone else’s rights must be stifled and from there it’s a very slippery slope to the kind of broad, federal control that is the hallmark of tyranny.  That is not something I will allow in our beloved nation.

We must stand together and defend our sacred right to religious freedom.  Every American should support H.R. 2802, The First Amendment Defense Act. This important bill would prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. America was founded on the fundamental right to practice our faith freely and I will do everything in my power to protect that sacred right.