"Whereas tyrannical maneuvers that incriminate news reporters for investigating the government, or harass taxpayers for disagreeing with the president’s policies, or cover up officials’ refusals to aid our compatriots in distress effectively compromise citizens’ livelihoods and lives, the HHS mandate endangers our immortal souls."
With public attention focused on recent Obama administration scandals, the controversy over religious freedom – ignited last year by the coercive Health and Human Services contraceptives mandate -- smolders relatively unnoticed.
Unless overturned, the HHS mandate goes into effect Aug. 1. A Health Conscience Rights Act would amend the Affordable Care Act to remedy the situation, but H.R. 940 hasn’t gotten air.
“Many religious employers, businesses operated by people of faith, and individuals will be forced to violate their religious principles to comply with the new healthcare law,” writes Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, in a May 21 email to the faithful.
A direct assault on the Catholic Church and all believers in life, the HHS mandate denies First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and religious practice by forcing people of conscience – against their teachings and God’s will -- to participate in health insurance plans that provide contraceptive services.
Whereas tyrannical maneuvers that incriminate news reporters for investigating the government, or harass taxpayers for disagreeing with the president’s policies, or cover up officials’ refusals to aid our compatriots in distress effectively compromise citizens’ livelihoods and lives, the HHS mandate endangers our immortal souls.
On April 8, Archbishop Lori thanked and commended litigants -- Catholic dioceses, Catholic and other religious non-profit organizations, and conscionable for-profit companies -- in dozens of lawsuits filed nationwide against the mandate.
In his statement, Bishop Lori quotes Cardinal Timothy Dolan, USCCB president, in his praise for business owners fighting in the courts: Dolan calls their actions “a source of encouragement, particularly because of their high rate of success in obtaining early injunctions to block the mandate.”
To further opposition to the HHS mandate, and to call attention to other increasingly egregious infringements on religious liberty in
the USCCB will stage its second Fortnight for Freedom June 21 to July 4. America
Bishop Lori calls Catholics and other faithful “to pray, study, and prayerfully act” in support of religious freedom.
H.R. 940, introduced March 4 by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-6) and in committee since March 8, would give individuals and employers the right to decline insurance coverage that contradicts their moral or religious beliefs.
The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment provides an easy format for sending an email to our representatives and the House Speaker in support of H.R. 940. Find it at http://www.votervoice.net/NCHLA/Campaigns/30688/Respond.
On a regional scale, the second Religious Freedom Walk June 9-16 will be eight days and 100 miles of camaraderie, penance and solidarity from St. Peter Catholic Church in Hancock to the National Shrine Basilica in
Along the route, the group (24 walked last year) will do education and public service outreaches; and this year, they will gather supporters’ signatures onto event t-shirts for presenting to Senators Mikulski and Cardin, and Representative Delaney.
Walkers may join start to finish, or anywhere along the way. Volunteers help in other ways, as well, and donations assist the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Baltimore and the Interfaith Service Coalition in Hancock.
For more information about the Religious Freedom Walk, call Father Jack Lombardi, director, at 301-678-6339. Video form last year’s walk can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBNKdPFsQW0.
Religious freedom is moral freedom. Our founders, having fled tyranny, guaranteed it first in the Bill of Rights. The right – indeed, obligation -- to object to oppression is fundamental to our fair and just system of laws. Without it, we are subjects. With it, we can move mountains.