Calls for Renewed Commitment to Religious Liberty after Obamacare Mandate Implementation

Sarah Torre /

Today marks the beginning of implementation of the anti-conscience mandate, and with it come calls for continued vigilance to demand greater protection of religious liberty.

“On this day, let us renew our determination to reverse the mandate,” House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) said in a statement released this morning.

“The administration’s mandate stands today not because it is sound policy; not because it reflects the will of the people; not because it is consistent with the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution,” Speaker Boehner continued. “[I]t stands because the President of the United States has refused to listen to the people and institutions that built a great nation.”

Indeed, the mandate has drawn widespread and sustained outcry from Americans loudly and clearly demanding greater protection of our “first freedom.” Yet despite legal action, national protests, and public comment on rulemakings, the Obama Administration has remained indifferent to Americans’ legitimate outrage over the government’s coercive trampling of a First Amendment freedom.

The threat to religious freedom posed by the mandate is serious. 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 creeds or backgrounds.

Many organizations are left with an untenable choice under the mandate: violate their deeply held beliefs or forego providing health insurance and risk the penalty of hefty fines.

Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R–NE) commented on the Administration’s assault on religious liberty today, stating that the mandate “represents unprecedented government coercion in health care. No American should be forced to choose between their faith and their job. That’s a false choice. That’s un-American. It violates the fundamental principle of religious freedom, individual liberty, and the rights of conscience so much a part of the history of this country.”

Because of this impossible decision, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced today that it has requested a preliminary injunction against the HHS mandate on behalf of its client, Wheaton College, a leading evangelical institution. The school, which is seeking emergency relief from the mandate by September 30, is one of nearly 60 organizations that have joined more than 20 lawsuits against the HHS mandate. Those lawsuits seek from U.S. courts the protection of a constitutional freedom that the Obama Administration refuses to afford.

As Speaker Boehner stated today:

[W]hether the administration’s attack on religious freedom is reversed through judicial action, legislative action or other means, it must be reversed.… The freedoms that define us as a nation have stood the test of time—and they can outlast any form of tyranny, as long as the American people, who hold the true power in this country, remain committed to them.

The solution is clear: rescind the mandate and repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Americans deserve better than the one-size-fits-all health care of the Obama Administration. We can reform America’s health care to decrease costs, increase access, and put personal health care decisions where they belong: in the hands of the American people.