Bishops Urge House and Senate to act to address religious liberty crisis brought on by Obama Mandate

By Dave Andrusko

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo

In a letter sent August 3 to Congress, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on the House and Senate to address what he described as “unprecedented and misguided federal policy”–the Obama administration’s controversial mandate.

DiNardo wrote, “One year ago, for the first time, the federal government announced that it would forbid Americans to provide or purchase health coverage unless it includes female surgical sterilizations, all FDA-approved prescription drugs and devices for preventing pregnancy–including drugs and devices which can destroy a human life at its earliest stages–and ‘counseling and education’ to promote these to all women and girls of childbearing age.”

He emphasized that, “Through this mandate, the Administration is promoting an approach to religious freedom that is more grudging and arbitrary than any yet seen in federal law.“ He added, “Despite widespread opposition to this coercive policy by religious organizations, lawmakers and the general public, Congress has still taken no action to counter it.”

Describing the mandate as “unprecedented and misguided federal policy,” Cardinal DiNardo said that “most of those who initiate or renew employee health plans as well as student plans at educational institutions after August 1 must comply with this mandate, notwithstanding their moral or religious objections, or drop their health coverage altogether as some colleges have now begun to do.”

Cardinal DiNardo highlighted the plight of employers who may have moral or religious objections to some or all of the mandated services, people who are “devout individuals and families who own and operate businesses, who without any word of protest from employees have been offering health coverage that does not violate their moral convictions.” With the mandate “their longtime practice will be contrary to federal law, punished by a tax of $100 a day per employee and other penalties,” he said.

“In court, the Administration has insisted that these companies are entirely ‘secular’ with no claim on religious freedom. In effect, if an organization is ‘for profit,’ it is not allowed to be ‘for’ anything else.  The owners who have imbued their companies with faith-based commitments to employee well-being, community service and social responsibility strongly disagree.”

Cardinal DiNardo observed that although there several current lawsuits opposing the mandate brought by institutions and individuals, “Vindication of the fundamental rights of these individuals and organizations may take years of litigation.”

NRLC President Carol Tobias commented, “In his powerful letter, Cardinal DiNardo vividly describes the grave threat to religious freedom posed by the Obama insurance mandate. However there is no chance whatever that a new law will be passed to rescue religious freedom, so long as President Obama is in the White House and his party controls the U.S. Senate.  The only remedy for the crisis that Cardinal DiNardo describes will be found in the polling booth on November 6.”