Religious freedom is the bedrock of our democracy. The first settlers to cross the Atlantic made great sacrifices to move their families and livelihoods to an unknown land for the basic right of worshipping God without government intrusion. Early colonial charters and eventually the Bill of Rights were written to ensure that Americans have religious liberty.
The relationship between church and state has grown more complicated since our nation’s founding. The tension between government and religion is now being spurred by the controversial healthcare law that passed Congress in 2010. Abortion, a very personal and spiritual issue, is at the center of the debate.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, mandates a long list of rules never before required by the federal government. The individual mandate in Obamacare that requires all Americans to have health insurance will be debated in a case before the Supreme Court this summer. What is perhaps more intrusive than the law itself are the rules and regulations being written to implement the healthcare mandate.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced plans early this year to force religious charities, schools, universities and hospitals to provide free contraceptives and life-preventing drugs to employees, even when doing so goes against the religious beliefs of the employer. After much protest from religious leaders, members of Congress from both political parties, and countless Americans, the Obama administration offered a weak reaction. Religious institutions will not be required to provide birth control options, but their insurers are, at no cost to the employee.
The Obama Administration’s response to the contraception mandate is little more than window dressing. The response was a political move that does not respect long-held religious beliefs.
Our nation was founded on the principles of religious freedom. Any rule from the federal government that does not respect individual religious liberty flies in the face of the founders’ intent. Religious beliefs should not be subjected to the force of government. The Obama Administration’s attempt to back-pedal its contraception requirement falls flat. Religious institutions will still be forced to offer contraception and life-preventing options that go against church teachings and personal religious beliefs. We cannot stand by and let President Obama continue his attempts to regulate religious liberty.