Loading
Faith groups unite to stress need for HHS mandate exemptions
By Adelaide Mena
Religious freedom press conference, July 2. From L to R: Prof. Anne Hendershott, Archb. William E. Lori, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB, Dr. Russell Moore, and Dr. Yui Mantilla.
Religious freedom press conference, July 2. From L to R: Prof. Anne Hendershott, Archb. William E. Lori, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB, Dr. Russell Moore, and Dr. Yui Mantilla.

.- More than 100 religious leaders from various faith backgrounds are asking the U.S. government to respect the beliefs of those who oppose the demands of the controversial HHS mandate.

“As the Catholic bishops have said from the very beginning, the underlying issue with the HHS Mandate is not about any specific teaching,” stated Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.

“In fact, other signatories on the letter do not share our view on contraception and probably disagree with us in many other ways, but they understand the core religious freedom issue at stake here,” he explained.

Archbishop Lori spoke as part of a July 2 panel of religious leaders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The panel was held to mark the release of an open letter, “Standing Together for Religious Freedom,” signed by Archbishop Lori and more than 100 other religious leaders and scholars from a variety of faith traditions.
 
The letter emphasized the risks to religious freedom posed by the Obama administration’s HHS mandate, which requires nearly all employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early-stage abortions.

Many faith-based organizations and religious individuals running for-profit businesses have sued the government over the mandate, which they say violates their First Amendment right to religious freedom. Failure to comply with the regulation results in large fines that could be devastating for the businesses.

Yuri Mantilla, chairman of the Justice Initiative of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, explained that the mandate threatens religious freedom by forcing “religious believers to make a choice between obeying the law and violating deeply held religious beliefs; or obeying fundamental religious and moral norms and disobeying the governmental mandate.”

The signers of the letter asked the administration to “at a minimum, expand conscience protections under the mandate to cover any organization or individual that has religious or moral objections to covering, providing or enabling access to the mandated drugs and services.”

They also call on Congress to implement legislation protecting against religious freedom violations.

Sociology professor Anne Hendershott of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, said that despite the government’s assertions that the mandate does not injure religious non-profit organizations – such as the Catholic university where she works – the mandate in actuality has caused harm and threatens to cause more harm.

Catholic schools and universities “have already been injured by this unjust mandate because our constitutional right to religious freedom has been compromised,” she said.

She warned that should these violations continue to escalate, “the state can target us as they have done to Catholic adoption agencies that won’t place children with gay and lesbian couples.”

Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethical and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, stressed that while the infringements on religious liberty presented by the HHS mandate are subtle, they are significant.

“Our First Freedom of religious liberty is rarely challenged with sudden shock and awe tactics,” he said. “Instead, from the very beginning, such incursions on religious liberty happen in this country from the pen of a bureaucrat rather than the barrel of a tank.”

“Do we really want the sort of civil society in which the consciences of the people are so easily swept aside by government action?” asked Moore.

He added that if the government can impose its will on one group of people “what will stop the government from its imposing its will on your consciences next?”

“We support freedom of conscience not only for ourselves but for all,” he emphasized.

“We do not ask the government to bless our doctrinal convictions, or to impose them on others. We simply ask the government not to set itself up as lord of our consciences.”

Tags: Contraception mandate, Religious freedom, Religious liberty


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

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
25

Liturgical Calendar

April 25, 2014

Friday within the Octave of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 21:1-14

Gospel
Date
04/25/14
04/24/14
04/23/14

Daily Readings


Saint of the Day

St. Mark, the Evangelist »

Saint
Date
04/24/14

Homily of the Day

Jn 21:1-14

Homily
Date
04/25/14
04/24/14
04/23/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: