Examples of President Barack Obama’s hostility to religious freedom in America abound. Perhaps the most prominent example of his assault on religious freedom is the Department of Health and Human Services anti-conscience mandate in Obamacare, which requires employers to provide health insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilizations. But the list goes on, and we’ve compiled just a few examples below.
Obamacare’s Anti-Conscience Mandate
The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will take up two cases challenging the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate. The anti-conscience mandate is a violation of employers’ First Amendment right of free exercise of religion, which is also guaranteed by the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA).
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) 91% today currently has over 60 original co-sponsors, including members from both political parties. This legislation is coming at a pivotal time for the fate of marriage law in America, and consequently, for the fate of American society as a whole. The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson notes:
The bill is an important step for conscience protection. Government policy should respect those who stand for marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Even in jurisdictions that have redefined marriage, those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman should be free to live in accord with their moral and religious convictions.
Why does this matter? He continues:
[I]n a growing number of incidents, government has not left these Americans free. Last month, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a photographer’s right to decline to take pictures of a same-sex commitment ceremony—even though doing so would violate the photographer’s deeply held religious beliefs as a Christian.
In a recent op-ed, Mark Rienzi explains that religious freedom should apply to for-profit businesses, not just to corporations affiliated to a particular religious group. Companies make “decisions of conscience” all the time, and they should be free to do so without government intrusion.
Rienzi reminds us of Chipotle, which decided not to sponsor a Boy Scout event because the company disagreed with the Scouts’ policy on openly gay scoutmasters. Starbucks has ethical standards for the coffee beans it buys. The list goes on.
You can agree or disagree with the decisions of these businesses, but they are manifestly acts of conscience, both for the companies and the people who operate them. Our society is better because people and organizations remain free to have other values while earning a living. Does anyone really want a society filled with organizations that can only focus on profits and are barred from thinking of the greater good?
Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final rule outlining a so-called accommodation for its coercive Obamacare mandate. Heritage’s Sarah Torre explains in an article on National Review Online that this is typical of the administration.
Like the administration’s multiple previous attempts to “fix” the mandate, this final rule doesn’t provide any workable or adequate solutions to the mandate’s trampling on Americans’ fundamental freedoms.
At the renewal of health-plan years, employers still will be forced to facilitate coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization — regardless of religious or moral objection to one or more of these practices.
Since it introduced the HHS mandate in 2011, the Obama administration repeatedly has brought out the best in bureaucratic theatrics. Through press conference promises, campaign absurdities, and hundreds of pages of complicated regulatory jargon, the administration has relied on a campaign of smoke and mirrors to hide the mandate’s assault on religious liberty.
Religious liberty is under attack today from President Obama and his administration. Look no further than the Obamacare HHS mandate. Tragically, that is just one among several egregious assaults on religious liberty in America. Yet, in this time of adversity, Americans have an opportunity to unite in defense of our first and most fundamental freedom both during the Fortnight for Freedom and by supporting the Health Care Conscience Rights Act offered by Reps. Diane Black (R–TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R–NE), and John Fleming (R–LA).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website explains why they have called for the Fortnight for Freedom, “a two-week period of prayer and action.” Their goal is “to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate [and] Supreme Court rulings that could attempt to redefine marriage in June.”
The HHS mandate requires religious employers to provide, through their employee benefits plans, procedures and pharmaceuticals that many religious employers believe are at odds with their religion. This includes abortion inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. The HHS mandate carves out an extremely narrow definition of religion. This allows the government to decide which religious organizations are “religious enough” to be granted an exemption from the HHS mandate. The USCCB explains “Only those organizations that hire their own, serve their own, and exist primarily to inculcate their own doctrine qualify for this exemption.”
This assault on religious liberty and practice is being confronted on both legal and legislative fronts.