Voices for Religious Freedom

February 10, 2012

The Obama administration's decision to force employers and individuals to violate their most deeply held beliefs and moral convictions has set off a stirring national debate about religious freedom and the harmful consequences of government overreach. President Obama's contraception mandate tramples on the conscience rights of employers, violates religious freedom from government intervention, and jeopardizes access to health care coverage, health care services, and charitable functions. Reports are surfacing that the administration plans to offer a "compromise," but as the events of recent days have shown, the First Amendment - the fundamental right to religious freedom - is not something that can be compromised. In recent days, faith leaders, opinion leaders, and members on both sides of the aisle have spoken out against this unprecedented federal mandate.

Opinion Leaders: "Obtusely wrong," "Botched," "Cruel hoax"

"The administration's feint at a compromise giving such employers another year to figure out how to comply with the requirement is unproductive can-kicking that fails to address the fundamental problem of requiring religiously affiliated entities to spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith." Washington Post Editorial

"The government should steer away from meddling in church affairs... Yet in drawing up the rules that will govern health care reform the Obama administration didn't just cross that line. It galloped over it..." USA Today Editorial

"The country is being exposed to the raw political control that is the core of the Obama health-care plan, and Americans are seeing clearly for the first time how this will violate pluralism and liberty." Wall Street Journal Editorial

"Wrong, wrong, high handedly, obtusely wrong." NY Daily News Editorial

"An Obama administration mandate requiring all employers to offer health plans with no-cost birth control for women raises several red flags and not just for Catholics. It's a move that impinges on the conscience of some Americans. And that's not a road the federal government should travel down." Detroit News Editorial

"This is a huge overreach by the Obama administration that demonstrates either a disdain for those with strong religious views other than those of the secular left, a political tin ear or both." San Diego Union Tribune Editorial

"The merits of contraception or the consciences of individual Catholics is not the primary issue here. This is about the role of government and the scope of Obamacare."-- Washington Times Editorial

"The administration is in the wrong." Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune

"Just as the government can't force Americans to practice a given faith, it can't force faith-based employers to provide services to which they are morally opposed." Savannah Morning News Editorial

"He utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health-care law." EJ Dionne, Washington Post

"It's a sad irony that the act passed only after conservative anti-abortion Democrats held out for assurances that abortion funding would not be permitted under the bill. That turns out to be a cruel hoax." Rodger Jones, Dallas Morning News

Bipartisan Opposition: "Misguided" and "Disappointed"

"I think they made a bad decision in not allowing a broad enough religious-employer exemption." Former DNC Chairman Tim Kaine

"Having worked to pass the Affordable Care Act and being firmly supportive of its implementation, I believe that further flexibility needs to be granted to religiously affiliated organizations in this instance." Democratic Rep. John Larson

"I just don't think this is a fight that should have been picked and I think it needs to be fixed." Democratic Rep. Jerry Connolly

"I'm disappointed that the administration would put forth such a rule." Former Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak

"I would have never voted for the final version of the bill if I expected the Obama Administration to force Catholic hospitals and Catholic Colleges and Universities to pay for contraception." Former Democratic Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper

"Government should not compel religious organization's to provide services contrary to their beliefs." Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman

"My position is that church affiliated organizations should be exempt, not just churches." Democratic Senator Bill Nelson

"This is America. Under our Constitution, religious organizations have the freedom to follow their beliefs, and government should honor that. The Obama administration's position on this mandate is wrong and just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm talking to my Democratic and Republican colleagues about any ways we can fight this misguided decision."-- Democratic Senator Joe Manchin III

"Religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals and universities should not be compelled by our federal government to purchase insurance policies that violate their religious and moral convictions." Democratic Senator Bob Casey

Religious Leaders: "Un-American" and "Unnecessary intervention"

"Is in direct violation of longstanding federal conscience law, the Hyde-Weldon amendment...this will create a perfect storm that will violate the religious freedom and right to conscience of an untold number of employers - institutional and individual - and jeopardize access to vital health, education, and social services." Bill Cox, President and CEO of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care

"There are many reasons to decry this HHS mandate. But perhaps the most important reason is that it is simply un-American." Timothy Dolan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

"This unnecessary intervention by the government into religion disregards our nation's commitment to the rights of conscience and the longstanding work of religious groups to help build a more compassionate society and vibrant democracy." Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame President

"It is not only bad policy but also a violation of the first amendment of our constitution and of the more recent federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993." Arturo Chávez, PhD is president and CEO of the Mexican American Catholic College

"We have said the problem is not resolved, and we must have a national conversation on this." Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, Catholic Health Association

"No government has the right to compel its citizens to violate their conscience.-- The HHS rules trample on our most cherished freedoms and set a dangerous precedent." Galen Carey, National Association of Evangelicals

"The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for ‘contraceptive services' including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions." Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops

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