WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two U.S. Congressmen, one Democrat and one Republican, have urged conservatives in strong terms to immediately fight the Obama mandate forcing religious institutions to provide free abortifacient birth control, calling it a “very, very real” threat to religious freedom. One of the congressmen call the mandate an attempt to push the church out of healthcare.

U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) told pro-life leaders this week not to underestimate the magnitude of the announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week that religious organizations like hospitals and universities have one year until they must comply with the order to provide the drugs free of copay.

Smith said that the order is in line with the Obama administration’s attack on conscience rights to pave way for a future where “abortion will be construed as preventive health care,” and “religious hospitals will be squeezed out.”

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“We will have a situation where our faith-based hospitals will be on fire sale because they cannot participate,” said Smith. “They know that the Catholic Church and other churches are not going to capitulate. So they expect them to say, ‘Well, we’re out. We’re going to have to sell the hospitals.’ The threat is very, very real.”

“There’s a coerciveness about this administration unlike any I’ve seen before,” he added.

Lipinski said that immediate action must be taken against the mandate, and that the media’s deafening silence over the order was very troubling.

“I hope this doesn’t just become a rallying cry for the next election,” said Lipinski. “We need to immediately move on this. It did not receive enough attention whatsoever.”

“This is the first time I see a situation where we really are in danger of forcing people, essentially, to participate in a significant way in what they see as taking a life.”