Since the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate was proposed in August, the Obama Administration has come under intense scrutiny for the rule’s violation of religious liberty. In the wake of the final rule’s publication in the Federal Register yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a full committee hearing yesterday to further investigate those claims, highlighting the law’s serious threat to freedom.
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, began the panel testimony by telling a story, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.” Bishop Lori’s parable drew a parallel between the mandate coercing many religious employers to pay for abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives against their beliefs and a hypothetical situation of a government forcing all Jewish delis to serve pork sandwiches. The latter situation is clearly an absurd violation of religious freedom, and Bishop Lori’s story ended with the government rescinding the requirement to serve certain meat products and restoring Jewish deli owners’ liberty.
The bishop concluded:
The question before the United States government—right now—is whether the story of our own Church institutions that serve the public, and that are threatened by the…mandate, will end happily too. Will our nation continue to be one committed to religious liberty and diversity? We urge, in the strongest possible terms, that the answer must be yes. We urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to answer the same way.
Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, a professor at Union University and ordained Southern Baptist minister, reminded the committee that the mandate threatens the conscience rights of people from many faith traditions:
The policy is an unconscionable intrusion by the state into the consciences of American citizens. Contrary to portrayals in some of the popular media, this is not only a Catholic issue. All people of faith— and even those who claim no faith—have a stake in whether or not the government can violate the consciences of its citizenry. Religious liberty and the freedom to obey one’s conscience is also not just a Baptist issue. It is an American issue that is enshrined in our founding documents.
Read More at The Foundry By Sarah Torre, The Foundry