A spokesman for Congressman Robert Andrews (N.J.-1st) said the Congressman stands by remarks that he made at a Congressional hearing on First Amendment concerns two weeks ago, according to the Daily Caller. Andrews had argued that the religious freedom concerns of religious colleges were not “compelling questions” deserving a congressional hearing, which he described as a “classic case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.”
On September 25, leaders of more than 20 religious and other organizations including The Cardinal Newman Society sent a letter urging Congresman Andrews to apologize, noting that his dismissal of serious religious liberty concerns and his unfortunate reference to a tyrant who murdered Christians were “most unfortunate and a great insult to Christians”:
Congressman Andrews, you may disagree with the fears of many religious leaders and people of faith about the growing threats to religious liberty. We ask, however, that you not attempt to silence our voice before Congress. We request your apology to Christians and all people of faith for showing such insensitivity to their concerns and historical trials, and we invite you to clarify your position on the NLRB’s violations of the First Amendment.
Congressman Andrews has not yet responded to the letter. But speaking to theDaily Caller, Congressman Andrews’ chief of staff declined to provide a clear apology and indicated that Andrews still believes the hearing was a waste of time:
“Congressman Andrews respects all people of all religious backgrounds,” wrote Fran Tagmire, chief of staff, in an e-mail to The DC News Foundation. “He respects and supports the rights of colleges and universities. None of his comments at the hearing were intended to convey any views to the contrary.”
The congressman’s office stood by his remark that economic issues loomed larger than concerns about religious liberty, however.
“All of his comments were intended to point out that unemployment and the economy is our nation’s biggest challenge,” he said.
The September 12th hearing by two House Education and the Workforce subcommittees addressed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) unconstitutional attempts to interfere with teaching faculty at religious colleges. Since January 2011 the NLRB, dominated by Obama administration appointees, has declared three Catholic institutions—Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Manhattan College in New York, and St. Xavier University in Chicago—ineligible for First Amendment protections. This violates a 1979 Supreme Court ruling which found that NLRB oversight of teachers at religious schools would improperly entangle the federal agency in religious matters, as well as subsequent rulings by the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., that instructed the NLRB to stop harassing religious colleges.
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