Bipartisan warning issued over religious freedom threats in health care
Rep. Dan Lipinski.
Rep. Dan Lipinski.
By Adelaide Mena
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Members of the Congressional Values Action Team of the House of Representatives gathered at a special order to voice their concerns over threats to religious freedom posed by the recent health care overhaul.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) told Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) on June 14, that “religious freedom is our first freedom, as stated right there in the First Amendment.”

“This is not just freedom to worship as we hear it defined now in many ways. It is not just freedom to worship in our own homes, in our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples. It is freedom to practice and live out religious faith here in America.”

The congressman stressed that “this is not just a Catholic issue,” nor is it “just a Republican issue.”

“This is an issue for all Americans,” he said. “It's an American issue.”

The special order, “Conscience and Religious Freedom” organized by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R- Neb.), addressed threats to religious liberty posed by the Affordable Care Act, particularly the controversial HHS mandate, which requires employers – including religious charities, hospitals, and schools – to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some early abortion drugs. 

Fortenberry explained that the opposition to this mandate “is not about politics. It’s not about partisanship. It’s about principle.”

“Americans who cannot in good conscience comply with this mandate will now be subject to ruinous fines if they do not obey – simply for exercising their First Amendment rights, exercising their religious freedom, exercising the deeper philosophical principle of the rights of conscience as rightly exercised by reasonable persons doing what they believe to be right, what they believe to be good, what they believe to be just.”

“We have lost our collective sense of respect for divergent views,” he warned, commenting on the shift in views leading to the mandate. “We have lost our sense that the government must protect that sacred right of conscience and not coerce her citizens into doing something that they fundamentally believe is unjust or wrong.”

He said that while “the HHS mandate is arguably a small component of the 2010 health care law, it does bring us face-to-face with a stark new reality here in Washington that we fervently hope will not become the new normal in America.”

Fortenberry noted that the mandate “is also a form of discrimination” and that it “primarily targets people in faith communities, the very people who have been the backstop of compassionate care for the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized in our society today.”

The congressman also voiced his concern over recent scandals that have unveiled the targeting of certain non-profit organizations by the IRS “because of their religious or philosophical or political leanings.” He noted that the “IRS is the very agency set to implement the new health care law” as it applies to religious organizations that object to the mandate.

“What kind of nation will we be when the IRS decides who gets to assemble, when the Department of Justice decides who reports the news, and when HHS decides what religious beliefs are worthy of First Amendment protection?” asked Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), also commenting on the recent public controversies.

He emphasized that religious freedom “means that the government does not get to tell you to violate your beliefs.”

“I'm not a Catholic. I'm not a Mennonite,” Pitts emphasized. “We don't share the same ideas about what is morally objectionable on everything, but I do not believe that my ideals should be forced on them.”

Lipinski – who is Catholic – reminded attendees that freedom “is what our country was founded on,” and that the U.S. Bishops will host a “Fortnight for Freedom to pray, educate, and act for religious freedom” from June 21 through July 4.

“We need to uphold that freedom, and the HHS mandate, amongst other efforts, other things that have been done by the Federal Government, unfortunately, in recent years has really run counter to freedom,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, I want Americans to understand what this is about,” Lipinski said, explaining that at its core, the issue is “not about birth control or abortion.”

“It's about freedom,” he said. “It's about taking away Americans' freedom, requiring them to participate in activities that violate their conscience.”

Tags: Contraception mandate, Religious freedom, Health Care

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea

Liturgical Calendar

December 17, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Gen 49: 2, 8-10
Gospel:: Mt 1: 1-17

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27