“There’s no constitutional guarantee more precious than our right to the free exercise of religion,” Paul Ryan says in a new web video aimed at rallying Catholics by focusing on religious freedom and the president’s attack on civil society by threatening faith-based social-service organizations that can’t in good conscience provide the health-care insurance coverage the federal government is mandating they do.
Richard Land from the Southern Baptist Convention was just speaking on a Heritage Foundation panel reminding us that the state of religious liberty under this current administration is of ecumenical concern. The HHS mandate is a conscience issue for Wheaton College and Notre Dame — and Catholic dioceses, with all their schools and charities – with the prospect of crippling fines (a young Protestant gal from the Independent Women’s Forum speaks clearly on this here). And it is of concern to religious believers in business as well — which is why the Protestant-run Hobby Lobby is suing. This administration believes that if you are in business, your religious freedom isn’t protected there. It’s protected when you’re in church. You can go to church or temple. That’s religious freedom according to this White House. That’s what the Department of Justice is arguing in court.
But as Ryan states in the video, the freedom of religion is the freedom to live an integrated life of faith, in the public square. That’s what this debate about the HHS mandate is about. And at a time when restrictions of religious freedom are increasing the world over, this is not only about our precious liberty, but our responsibility to the world to continue to be that protector and beacon of freedom. As with other significant issues this election year, it’s about stewardship.