In Defense of Religious Liberty |

Religious liberty around the world is in peril. The plight of Christians in the Middle East and the state of Christians’ religious liberty here at home are top priorities of House Republicans and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal brotherhood which provides charitable relief at home and around the world, and of which Speaker Ryan is a proud member. 

Speaker Ryan met with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson last month to discuss the need to stand by Christians in their time of persecution. 

In many Middle Eastern countries, Christians are not free to openly practice their religion. If discovered, they are demoted to second-class citizens. But it doesn’t end there. There have been systematic, targeted attacks of Christians by ISIS and dictators like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Congress has taken this horrifying persecution very seriously. Earlier this year, Speaker Ryan demanded the administration call the persecution of Christians what it was: a genocide. In March, the administration complied and finally named it a genocide.

Unfortunately, religious liberty in the United States is also under fire from the Obama administration. This has been a top issue for House Republicans, who have stood with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their fight against the HHS mandate that would cause them to violate their beliefs. We have repeatedly called upon the administration to give the nuns relief from the mandate and have filed an amicus brief in their case in front of the Supreme Court. The Little Sisters have been Speaker Ryan’s honored guests at this year’s State of the Union address.

One of Speaker Ryan’s proudest moments was in July, when the House passed the Conscience Protection Act, which protects health care providers that refuse to be involved in performing abortions because it violates their conscience.

As he said on the House floor,

“The federal government has not been protecting people’s rights. . . . allowing this trend to continue will only erode our First Amendment rights even further. It will continue to push people of faith onto the sidelines of society. That is not the kind of country we want to live in—any of us. There is nothing more fulfilling than to live out our faith. We want all people—of all faiths—to live freely in our country. But we can live out our faith only if our government respects our faith.”

House Republicans are absolutely committed to protecting and promoting religious liberty. This is a principle inherent to the flourishing of American civil society and it’s critical for groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Knights of Columbus, which add so much to the welfare of Americans here at home and around the world.