Are the concerns of religious employers about a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) simply a matter of getting “all worked up over nothing,” a new video asks, as the Obama Administration suggests?
John Stonestreet, national director of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, puts the question to Jennifer Marshall, Heritage’s director of domestic policy studies. “This is serious,” Marshall sums up. “It’s a violation of religious liberty. And that’s why 58 different organizations have gone to court against the HHS mandate.”
The HHS mandate, which took effect August 1, compels employers to offer health plans that cover contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization, Marshall explains. The so-called religious exemption is so narrow that, in effect, only houses of worship are eligible. Faith-based organizations serving their communities and small business owners operating by their convictions are expected to knuckle under—or face heavy fines.
Marshall has stressed that opposition to the HHS mandate from evangelical Wheaton College shows this isn’t just a Catholic thing. Organizations such as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Alliance Defending Freedom are spreading the word—as well as providing legal representation—to Catholic and Protestant universities, hospitals, and other religious employers.
One family business in Colorado, Hercules Industries, won an initial victory in federal court against Obamacare’s HHS mandate. As Eric Metaxas wrote for the Colson Center:
Good news, but by no means a reason for complacency or even letting up on the issue. …Across the country there are countless similarly situated businesses that will not benefit from this ruling. As I record these words, these businesses are struggling with some agonizing decisions: Do they violate their consciences, pay stiff fines, or drop health insurance coverage for their employees altogether?
In the video, Marshall stresses that the infringement of religious freedom under Obamacare is only beginning: “We will see other conflicts with conscience in the future. So the only real solution for the religious liberty problem under the HHS mandate is the repeal of Obamacare.”