What do we mean by Religious Liberty?
Religious liberty is the first liberty granted to us by God and protected in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It includes more than our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
This issue has come to the forefront recently due to recent attacks on religious freedon and particularly because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a mandate under the Affordable Care Act that forces all employer health plans to include free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of moral or religious objections. Employers will be forced to provide services that may directly contradict their religious beliefs or face significant penalties.
The HHS Mandate does provide a "religious exemption" but its definition is so narrow that it excludes such religious ministries as educating the young, caring for the sick and feeding the hungry. Not only is the federal government requiring employers to violate their convictions, it is claiming the right to decide for religious institutions what constitutes their ministry.
The Supreme Court is set to rule on the Affordable Care Act at the end of June. Whether the law is upheld or not, we must demand that our health care laws respect religious liberty. Public comment is being taken until June 19. Click here to contact your legislators opposing the HHS mandate and call for conscience protections.