This Day in the History of Religious Liberty

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Today is the day that the implementation of the controversial Health and Human Services contraception, sterilization, abortion-inducing drug mandate goes into effect. (Read George Weigel’s piece here and our editorial here.) My inbox is an election-year celebration of contraception from the likes of Planned Parenthood. But the HHS mandate is not about access to contraception, it’s about radical ideology and the role of government in our lives. It also violates the consciences of more than Catholics — this is why Wheaton College, among others including Geneva College and Colorado Christian University, find themselves suing the federal government over the mandate. The president of the United States believes folks who don’t want to cover contraception and sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are backward. In their view, they can talk all they want about sexual morality in their churches, but they cannot practice the implications of those beliefs in their lives outside the churches, in businesses, and even in Church-related charities and schools, when it comes to insurance coverage. The HHS mandate exists because Congress gave HHS wild regulatory powers, which they’ve understood to include redefining religious liberty by regulation.

This morning, John Boehner released a statement which well represents where we are and why:

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.  The mandate stands today because the Democratic-controlled Senate preemptively blocked legislation that would have reversed this attack on religious freedom.  And it stands because the President of the United States has refused to listen to the people and institutions that built a great nation.

The statement begins as a call to arms: “On this day, let us renew our determination to reverse the mandate and restore the religious liberty that has been demolished by the Obama Administration’s actions.”

The speaker’s statement restates:  

As I noted last week: whether the administration’s attack on religious freedom is reversed through judicial action, legislative action or other means, it must be reversed.  And last week’s court ruling provided the surest sign that it will 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.

I shared some thoughts about the state of the House and religious liberty here and here. Long story short: Elections matter. 

The Corner

The one and only.