Loading
Legal expert counters claim that mandate is not religious persecution
By Michelle Bauman
Hannah Smith and Stephen Schneck.
Hannah Smith and Stephen Schneck.

.- In response to assertions by Professor Stephen Schneck that the federal contraception mandate is not a form of religious persecution, lawyer Hannah Smith is warning that it shows a dangerous disregard for the First Amendment’s protections of religious freedom.

“The HHS mandate is a serious infringement of religious freedom in this country, not just for Catholics but for people of all faith,” said Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Smith responded to arguments by political science professor Stephen F. Schneck, who recently argued that the ongoing concerns of the U.S. bishops and Catholic institutions over the federal contraception mandate do not amount to these groups “encountering religious persecution.”

Schneck, who is the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., told CNA on May 30 that such language is “overblown.”

But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ religious freedom committee sees things differently and has warned that “religious liberty is under attack” from threats including the mandate.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the bishops’ conference, has referred to the mandate and its narrow exemption as “strangling.”

However, in a May 22 blog post, Schneck dismissed such arguments, saying it is “ridiculously obvious” that there “is no persecution of Catholics in the United States.”

“Catholic institutions are not denied religious liberty by the Affordable Care Act and not morally compromised by its contraception mandate,” he wrote. “A pretty good wall of conscience protection surrounds the health care law, insulating religious institutions from complicity in providing drugs opposed by the Church.”

He argued that using the language of religious persecution and war is “dangerous” and “an unacceptable escalation of America’s highly partisan culture war.”

Schneck’s comments focused on the controversial federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

The mandate includes a religious exemption that has been criticized for its narrow scope because it will not apply to religious schools, hospitals or charitable institutions.

Schneck said that he is in favor of broadening the exemption, but does not believe that the mandate in its current form amounts to “religious persecution.”

However, Smith responded that “the mandate has the hallmarks of executive action made in complete disregard for the religious freedom rights guaranteed by our Constitution and federal law.”

She observed in a June 4 interview with CNA that thousands of comments were submitted to the Obama administration during the mandate’s consideration period.

But despite the constitutional and moral concerns raised by these comments, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged in April 26 testimony before a House subcommittee that she proceeded with the mandate without asking the Justice Department for a legal opinion on the regulation.

“That certainly suggests a serious disregard for the freedoms of religious institutions in this country,” Smith said.

More than 50 organizations and individuals have filed lawsuits against the mandate, including Schneck’s employer, The Catholic University of America.

While he has stated that he doesn’t believe the mandate is religious persecution,Schneck said he generally shares the continued concerns of critics of the mandate and supports the efforts of the university in challenging it in court.

Tags: Contraception mandate, Religious freedom, Obama Administration


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?)
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
18

Liturgical Calendar

April 18, 2014

Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Gospel
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 52:13-53:12
Second Reading:: Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel:: Jn 18:1-19:42

Homily of the Day

Jn 18:1 - 19:42

Homily
Date
04/18/14
04/17/14
04/16/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: