Can Religious Freedom be Saved?

National Review Online has posted a panel discussion of the HHS mandate and the threat it poses to religious liberty.

Gerard Bradley, Professor of Law at Notre Dame University, notes:

Gauging the present threat depends upon what one thinks of contraception and of the government’s role in promoting it. More specifically, it depends on what one thinks of the Obama administration’s goal. Its goal is obviously not what it claims its goal to be: to promote universal access to contraception. Access to contraceptives is already nearly universal, and it could be made universal in many ways that do not tread upon religious freedom. The administration’s goal is chiefly to stigmatize as irrational the view that contraception is immoral, and to isolate that view as strictly the creature of sectarian doctrine, without any claim of traction upon respectable — that is, “reasonable” — public debate.

Chuck Colson, of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, takes the threat very seriously.

This is a huge religious-liberty question. It isn’t about contraceptives or even abortifacients. It’s about whether the United States government can limit the free exercise of religion by telling us which of our beliefs are entitled to conscience exemptions. It would be one thing if this came through the courts; still another thing if it were passed by Congress. But this edict is handed down by unelected government bureaucrats.

Kyle Duncan, of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, notes:

The outcry rises from a profound sense — a profoundlyAmerican sense — that the administration’s diktat is simply beneath us all. We Americans don’t force Quakers to bear arms, because their consciences won’t bear it. We Americans don’t force Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, because their consciences rebel at it. And we Americans don’t force Catholics to hand out the “morning after” pill, because their consciences recoil at it.

Thomas F. Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project, attended a conference of legal experts at Georgetown University, and observed:  

Why, this panelist wondered, would the Obama administration attempt to coerce religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for these widely available contraception, abortifacient, and sterilization services when some of those institutions (including the Catholic Church) considers the use of such services a grave moral evil? Another panelist, scenting an accusation of anti-Catholicism, averred that such a charge was “unworthy of a response.”  Clearly the administration, acting because of a legal requirement, and under the advice of medical experts, was simply doing its job.  But doing its job includes protecting the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.

Matthew Franck observes:

The president and the secretary, because they see no merit in anyone’s moral opposition to contraception, sterilization, or abortion, likewise seem to have no respect for anyone’s claim that religious liberty is at stake in this matter. 

David French states:

With the Obama HHS mandate, the federal government is creating the mirror image of the 1940s, with religious entities now coerced into participating in and even funding the sexual revolution. It’s not enough that men and women have the right to purchase contraceptives, now they have a right to get them for free.

But to create such a right, one must decisively and finally subordinate religious freedom to something else, an unwritten construct of a radical and debased culture that feels entitled to pleasure without obligation, cost, or consequence.

Alan Sears of the Alliance Defense Fund, notes:

With one fell swoop, the Obama administration has placed itself in the position of final arbiter of what does and doesn’t constitute religious faith and practice. In this way, they have trampled the rights of the conscience of every American, because they have interjected a man-made standard for religiosity that curtails the protections of the First Amendment by government fiat.

This is an attack on religion, an attack on the rights of conscience, and an attack on freedom itself.

Read the entire post–it is well worth your time.

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