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We Must Preserve Religious Freedom

June 2, 2014
Weekly Columns

During our country’s beginnings, our founders recognized the importance of establishing, protecting and preserving certain rights for all Americans. For generations, the unique liberties in our Bill of Rights have been the bedrock of our country and given assurance and peace of mind to every citizen. 

While conflicting opinions and beliefs have and always will be inevitable, one of the reasons our nation remains the greatest in the world rests on the freedoms imagined and secured long ago by our forefathers.

Unfortunately, in addition to numerous other problems, the president’s healthcare law jeopardizes one of our most foundational freedoms. As the law currently stands, it requires businesses to offer health plans that cover contraceptives, even if business owners consider the use of birth control or abortifacients morally objectionable or violating their religious convictions. Not only is this an assault on all Americans, but as we’ve all seen, it hits especially close to home in Oklahoma for David and Barbara Green, who in 1972 founded Hobby Lobby and still run the business as a family.  

Hobby Lobby has long been known in Oklahoma and across the country for incorporating faith when running its many stores and businesses. In fact, this family-owned, faith-based business eventually made the decision to close on Sundays for a “day of rest” and “to allow employees and customers more time for worship and family.” Because of their commitment to faith, they have always been respected in their community and loved by everyone working with them.  

Never have the Greens failed to take care of their employees, deny them health coverage or even access to all contraceptives. The plans currently provided to their employees include coverage of 16 forms, all under the barrier method that prevents fertilization. However, under the new mandate, the company would also be required to provide access to some contraceptives that terminate life. Because of their deeply-held religious belief that life begins at conception, the Green family cannot support coverage of these drugs.  

Due to the contraceptive mandate, this family is now faced with a choice between violating the law or abandoning their religious convictions. This is a choice they never should be forced to make.

Back in March, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments related to two cases, including one brought by the Green family. As they asked to be excused from the mandate, we watched the family stand not only for the preservation of religious liberty in their faith-based business but also for the preservation of that freedom for all Americans. And they didn’t stand alone. 

With the ruling on the case expected later in the month, I hope the Court recognizes that this decision was already answered years ago when our forefathers penned the first line in the Bill of Rights, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Forcing the Green family to provide the means to terminate life most certainly prohibits their right to exercise their religious beliefs. The Court should recognize this fact and finally strike this terrible law down.