Tomorrow, starting at 12 noon in every time zone, in 160 cities (and counting) across America, there will be major rallies in support of religious freedom, about which you may not hear a peep from the mainstream media.
The movement is a massive, nationwide, concerted protest against the new HHS mandate, which is a regulation contained within Obamacare. If you haven’t heard yet of this mandate, it’s a requirement placed upon all employers, including religious groups, to pay for their employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance coverage. There are very narrow exemptions that would not exclude religious schools, hospitals, or charities.
So a non-profit Catholic hospital, under this mandate, is faced with the choice of either paying for contraception for its employees, in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching, or simply closing its doors.
If you think this doesn’t matter because you’re not Catholic, or not Christian, or not even religious, keep reading.
This is not an issue that only affects Christians. This is an issue of freedom of conscience for every single American.
I defer to the clear and succinct summary at stophhs.com:
The HHS Mandate violates the United States Constitution and statutory law. The HHS Mandate violates the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech – both guaranteed under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It also violates, among other laws, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The HHS Mandate isn’t simply a Catholic issue. This is an unprecedented attack on religious liberty. The HHS Mandate allows the government to define whether an organization is religious enough and leads the way toward redefining religious liberty as freedom to worship. As Americans, our Frist Amendment Right to the Free Exercise of Religion is much more than the right to worship privately in a church building or pray in our homes. Our right allows us, as Americans, to live our faith publicly through our religious ministries and to serve others precisely because of our religious beliefs. The HHS Mandate dictates that religious employers can only employ their own and serve their own or be forced out of ministry due to hefty fines. (emphasis added)
This goes far beyond the issue of contraception. Ask yourself what the role of government is in this case. Should the federal government be dictating to every employer every detail of every benefit package offered to every employee? If you accept that, should the government be able to tell a faith-based school that they must provide their employees with something that violates the tenets of their faith? Does free exercise of religion mean nothing?
Should the government tell a vegetarian business owner that he must provide lunch for his staff, and it must contain meat?
This is a dangerous intrusion into the rights of each of us to follow our own conscience. Dangerous in itself, and dangerous for what it would mean for our rights in the future.
Today’s attack is against the rights of Catholic organizations. Forgetting tomorrow’s dangers for a minute, let’s think about that danger. The Catholic school system is the largest private school system in America. 2.5 million students are educated at thousands of Catholic schools across the country. Catholic high schools have a 99% (!) graduation rate and save the taxpayer over $19 billion a year, as they are funded by tuition, donations, and their local parishes. There are 221 Catholic colleges and universities in America, 615 Catholic hospitals (12.5% of the nation’s hospitals), and 1600 local charitable agencies including food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.
The HHS mandate threatens to shut them all down.
Who is on the right side here?
So go to standupforreligiousfreedom.com. Find your nearest rally tomorrow and GO. Tell your friends.