Important Update: Washington Post: Catholic University's lawsuit against the federal government is a matter of religious liberty. Read More.
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HHS Mandate Threatens Our Freedom

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012My Catholic Standard: Archdiocese of Washington

In an unseasonably warm winter, the Obama Administration’s Jan. 20 decision reaffirming its mandate for health insurance plans to cover abortifacient drugs, sterilization and contraceptives should strike a chill in all Americans who value their religious freedom and conscience rights.

In his January e-letter to Catholics of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl noted the implications of the mandate: “The new mandate is the first federal regulation in our nation’s history to require all faith-based institutions to pay for coverage of abortifacient drugs, sterilization and contraceptives.”

In his letter, the cardinal noted that those products and procedures are widely available now, but with the mandate, “virtually all Catholic institutions and individuals will have to pay for that coverage. Being forced to provide these services violates both our faith conviction and our freedom.”

In the months leading up to the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was approved by President Obama, hundreds of thousands of Americans of different faiths urged the administration to broaden its religious exemption in the mandate, which was so narrow that it basically only offered conscience protection to houses of worship and to religious institutions that only employ and serve members of their own faith. Catholic leaders pointed out that even Jesus and His disciples wouldn’t have qualified for such an exemption, because they reached out to people of all faiths.

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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