Religious freedom nominee's record prompts worry

Religious freedom nominee's record prompts worry

The announcement that Rabbi David Saperstein is being tapped as the next U.S. ambassador for global religious freedom has drawn concern based on his recent statements on the issue at home.

“I've been following David's activities for 30 years,” Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America told CNA. “I’m not confident he will address the greatest threat to religious freedom today, which is radical Islam’s oppression and persecution of Christians across many parts of the world as well as its threats against Jewish people.”

President Barack Obama on Monday announced plans to nominate Saperstein as Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom. The position had been vacant for nine months, since the resignation of the former ambassador.

Religious freedom groups thanked the president for taking a step toward filling the position. However, some groups questioned whether Saperstein will truly protect religious freedom abroad.

In addition to serving as the current director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Saperstein was the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1999, and served on the White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2009, Newsweek named him the most influential rabbi in America.

However, Saperstein’s views on domestic religious liberty issues have prompted fears about his understanding of religious liberty. The rabbi took issue with the Supreme Court after it ruled this summer that the “closely-held” business Hobby Lobby was protected by federal law from being forced to comply with parts of the HHS contraception mandate against its owners’ religious beliefs.

The rabbi claimed that corporations like Hobby Lobby could not be protected as persons under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law he supported the passage of in 1993.

He also supported a Senate bill that would have overturned the Hobby Lobby decision and required religious employers with group health plans to cover birth control, regardless of their religious beliefs. The U.S. bishops and religious freedom advocates throughout the country staunchly opposed the bill, saying it would do away with conscience protections for business owners.

“In the weeks following the dismaying ruling in Hobby Lobby, we commend the Senate and House for taking swift action to ensure that women do not lose access to critical contraceptive care because of their employers’ religious objection,” Saperstein said of the bill.

The legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom said that it is “troubling that this nominee’s most recent statements regarding religious freedom were in opposition to religious freedom for family business owners.”

The Catholic Association, a group that works to defend Church teaching in the public square, agreed and went even further, saying the nomination showed a “callous disregard for religious liberty” on behalf of the president.

“This baffling appointment is akin to putting the fox in charge of the hen house,” said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the group.

“How can a man that favors upending longstanding, bi-partisan religious liberty protections at home be trusted to protect those persecuted for their faith overseas?” asked the organization’s senior fellow Ashley McGuire, citing Saperstein’s views on the Hobby Lobby decision.

Rabbi Spero told CNA that both Saperstein and the Obama administration have indicated that they will not defend persecuted Christians and Jews like they may support other oppressed faith groups.

“In my opinion, he will not issue nearly enough statements, if any, spotlighting the attacks, the oppression on Christians coming from the hands of Islam and in the name of Islam. He will rarely do that,” said Rabbi Spero.

“I don’t think he will because thus far, after six years I haven’t heard President Obama speak to the atrocities, the human rights violations committed in the name of Islam against who they call infidels,” he said.
 


Voices

Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

Kathryn Jean Lopez

It was in the general-purpose room of St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines that Donald Trump made his last pitch to Iowa voters, inside a caucus room. He wanted to make sure people remembered that not only will he build the wall on our border with Mexico, but that he’s the only candidate who will make Mexico pay for it.

Events

February 2016
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29

February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

Get our news by email

Bob Smith BMW 300x250
Bob Smith Toyota 300x250
Bob Smith Mini 300x250