Religious Freedom is the Crux of the Matter
The Congressional Prayer Caucus
March 09, 2012
In recent weeks, the severe religious freedom implications of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) mandate have been obscured beneath a flurry of political rhetoric. At the heart of the matter, the fact remains that the mandate will require most religious employers to provide their employees with health plans that cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization at no cost to the patient, despite the fact that scores of employers—and employees, for that matter—have religious and moral objections to these services. The issue is whether the government should be able to force individuals to take actions that directly violate their constitutionally protected religious freedoms.
After a firestorm of opposition to the mandate, President Obama finalized a plan that includes only an extremely narrow exemption for churches and a temporary one-year transition period for other nonexempt religious employers. He also released a press statement announcing an abstract accounting gimmick “to come” that will attempt to pacify religious hospitals, schools, charities, and other nonexempt organizations by forcing insurance companies to provide the services “free of charge.” Of course, the obvious concern is that when an insurance company provides a service, someone pays for it. Some have voiced concerns that if insurance companies are forced to pay for the services, premiums will increase across the board. As a result, those whose religious convictions directly prohibit these services would still be forced to pay for them.
The Heritage Foundation recently posted an article on the mandate, saying, “Some have attempted to make this a debate about other issues, but despite their efforts, the core complaint about this anti-conscience mandate remains: The President’s policy is an unprecedented attack on all Americans’ rights as protected by the First Amendment. And those who prize religious liberty aren’t backing down.” You can read more about continued efforts to expose the mandate’s real threat to religious freedom by clicking here.