On Friday, June 28, President Obama and the Department of Health and Human Services made it clear that private business owners, whether their businesses are explicitly religious or not, will not be exempt from ObamaCare’s stipulation mandating that employers provide contraceptive coverage for their employees.
On Tuesday, in response to the administration’s position, the spokespersons of a variety of religious denominations assembled for a conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. They released an open letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services in which they implored officials to exempt “any organization or individual that has religious or moral objections” to ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate.
The letter, entitled “Standing Together for Religious Freedom,” garnered thousands of signatures from religious groups from around the country. “We write as an informal and diverse group of religious leaders, theologians, lay practitioners and community servants,” the letter begins. “We believe the doctrines of our respective faiths require something of us beyond the walls of our churches, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship. Those faith convictions manifest themselves through our daily interactions among family, neighbors, strangers and institutions.”
The letter continues, referring to America as “unique among the nations of the world” in its defense of “the self-evident freedom of all people to exercise their faith in accordance with the dictates of their consciences.” This freedom, though, “is under threat.”
“Through its contraceptive coverage mandate,” the letter reads, “the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to breach universal principles affirmed and protected by the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws.”
The nation’s religious leaders said that while “the mandate is a specific offense” to liberty of conscience, “it represents a greater fundamental breach of conscience by the federal government.”
The signatories insist that not all of them are doctrinally opposed to the use of contraception. Those who are not so opposed nevertheless resist the mandate because they believe that it is an “encroachment on the conscience of our fellow citizens.” They write: “Whether or not we agree with the particular conscientious objection is beside the point. HHS continues to deny many Americans the freedom to manifest their beliefs through practice and observance in their daily lives.”
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