The Supreme Court’s refusal to overturn Obamacare last week has set the stage for another legal battle over the law’s onerous, liberty-trampling provisions.
Now, the fight for freedom turns to the 23 lawsuits filed thus far on behalf of dozens of victims of Obamacare’s disregard for religious liberty, who will be forced to comply with the mandate to provide and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization—regardless of moral or religious objection.
Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate displays the Administration’s offensively constricted view of faith in public life, affording the narrowest religious exemption in federal law that effectively only applies to formal houses of worship. Schools, soup kitchens, health clinics, and countless other “Good Samaritan” groups are left completely unprotected by the exemption simply because they serve vulnerable individuals without regard to their creed or background.
During the Fortnight for Freedom over the past two weeks, Heritage has profiled just a few of the organizations that are helping sustain civil society but whose important work is threatened by Obamacare:
- Geneva College, a small Presbyterian school in western Pennsylvania and a plaintiff in one of mandate cases, will be forced to make difficult decisions about what resources, athletic programs, and maybe even scholarships should decrease to pay the government’s fine on faith.
- Ave Maria University, a Catholic school in Naples, Florida, has already decided to drop student health plans for next school year because of increased costs of insurance under Obamacare and the mandate’s trampling on the school and students’ religious liberty.
- The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), available in almost 150 million households around the world, exists to educate viewers on the Catholic faith. Yet, under the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate, EWTN will be forced to teach one thing and practice another as it is coerced into providing and paying for coverage of life-ending drugs and services in direct contradiction to Catholic beliefs.
- St. Louis Catholic Charities is just one of many similar organizations connected to dioceses around the country that serve tens of thousands of people every year regardless of creed or background. But because Catholic Charities steps outside the four walls of a church to serve non-Catholics, the Obama Administration refuses to protect the organization’s religious freedom to work in accordance with the Catholic faith.
- Members of the Newland family, which owns an HVAC company in Denver, are just some of many for-profit, non-religious business owners who will be forced to violate their conscience by providing and paying for coverage of the mandated services against their personal moral or religious beliefs.
As Dr. Ken Smith, president of Geneva College, explained: “The issue that we have with the entire law is that the Obama Administration has tried to define religion as being that which what churches do. We believe that religion takes us into the marketplace. There is both an internal community of faith responsibility of religion, but there is also an external service to community. That is religion.”
Policymakers and national leaders should understand the primacy of religious freedom in the American constitutional order and work to protect that freedom, not undermine it. A robust conception of religion is an important anchor for religious freedom—freedom not merely to believe or teach certain doctrines but to live out one’s faith in all aspects of life.