It is not the government’s place to decide if an institution is “religious” enough to qualify for an exemption from mandates which are unconstitutional in the first place. It is not the place of government to decide what is and is not proper theology or legitimate conscientious objection.
Government has no constitutional right to force ANY individual or group to buy or sell a product or service against their will – PERIOD. The rights of ALL Americans – not just the religious – are at stake in this battle!
As Congress begins moving forward on legislation to counter the Obama administration’s contraceptive and abortifacient mandate, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held what was essentially a protest hearing Thursday on “freedom of conscience.”
Republicans called a Catholic bishop, a rabbi, pastors, and leaders from an array of religious colleges to testify about the mandate amidst fireworks from Democrats who said Republicans were ignoring women’s voices in the debate.
“I completely loathe the partisan nature of this discussion,” said Rev. Matthew Harrison, the president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), who testified against the mandate even though the LCMS is exempt because it is a church.
“Religious liberty is not a partisan political issue,” added Ben Mitchell, a professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and a Southern Baptist minister. [...]
“This whole conversation is utterly surreal,” Harrison told the committee. “I find it totally offensive that we are subject to accommodation and grandfather clauses. You cannot accommodate and grandfather the First Amendment.”
John Garvey, the president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, said the mandate reflects a “narrow” understanding that religion is “only when you’re in your church and on your knees.”
Most Democrats criticized the religious leaders (and less notably, their Republican colleagues) throughout the hearing, calling down “shame” on them for appearing to testify, and accusing them of wanting to criminalize contraception. [...]
Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-Va., called down “shame” on the religious leaders for coming to testify. “You are here to testify that your rights are being trampled on—an overstatement if there ever was one,” he said. “I’m very sad you’ve chosen to participate … as if people are going to jail over this. … Everyone knows this is not true.”
Harrison, for one, has said he would go to jail before violating his conscience. “We must obey God rather than men, and we will,” he said.
Representatives from the Protestant churches and colleges emphasized that they don’t have moral objections to contraception, but to covering abortifacients, Plan B, and Ella, which are Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives included in the mandate.
“It is ridiculous to claim that organizations like mine don’t care about women’s health,” testified Samuel Oliver, the president of East Texas Baptist University. “We already cover preventive services including contraception under our employee’s health plan. We simply object to a few drugs … that cause abortion. …We are offended that this administration says we aren’t religious enough to have our religious beliefs respected.”
The Leftist media, shrewdly looking for any excuse to take the focus off of Obama’s unconstitutional abuses of executive power and blatant assault on 1st Amendment rights, chose to focus their reporting almost entirely on the fact that no women testified at the hearing. As if men are disqualified on testifying regarding religious liberty and unconstitutional power grabs.
This contraception mandate doesn’t just affect women – it affects ALL Americans who care about the liberty and the rights of conscience!