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Knights of Columbus Files Formal Comment on HHS Mandate

By Andrew WaltherThe Knights of Columbus
Posted on: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
Original publication date: June 20, 2012

The Knights of Columbus filed a formal comment with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today, calling on the government to rethink the unpopular healthcare Mandate that seeks to force many Catholic employers to cover interventions that violate their faith without regard for the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

The letter, signed by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, urged “the Administration to rescind the Mandate altogether,” or at least “to expand the religious exemption so that it covers all objecting individuals and organizations from cooperating in actions that genuinely offend their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

“To exempt only some institutions on the principle of respect for religious liberty, as the Government seems to contemplate, and to refuse to exempt individuals makes no sense. The right to the free exercise of religion enshrined in the First Amendment extends to the people,” the letter says.

In the letter, the Knights noted that the Mandate “requires private Catholic individuals and entities, including organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, to violate their most deeply held religious beliefs,” and that “it appears to do so in violation of federal law and the First Amendment of the Constitution.” The letter also pointed out that “it is improper to deny statutory and First Amendment rights to religious liberty in order to create an entitlement to sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception.”

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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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