National evangelical Christian organization condemns final HHS mandate
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While the Catholic Health Association has defied the country's Catholic bishops conference, announcing this week that it supports the final rule implementing ObamaCare's HHS mandate, a national organization representing evangelical Christians said the law continues to violate the religious freedom of Christians – including many who have no objection to contraception per se.
"The final rule still leaves many religious employers unprotected," said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). "The government should not compel any of its citizens to violate their consciences."
The final rule requires for-profit employers to furnish contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients to its female employees without a co-pay, even if the employer has a religious objection to paying for such services. While “houses of worship” are exempt and the definition of “religious employer” has been broadened, the final rule requires self-insured religious organizations to hire third party administrators to provide contraceptive services.
Despite its new formulation, the regulatory provision has been rebuffed by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, the Becket Fund, and other religious freedom watchdog groups as insufficient – and unconstitutional.
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Anderson hopes the legal process will restore the First Amendment liberties the Affordable Care Act threatens to erase.
"With the administration digging in its heels and Congress unlikely to act, it is up to the courts to restore the constitutional protection guaranteed to all Americans under the First Amendment," Anderson said. "We are encouraged that many of the lawsuits filed on behalf of religious employers are receiving a favorable hearing."
Anderson notes that the NAE has joined friend-of-the-court briefs in several related cases, including Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College v. Kathleen Sebelius, Stormans v. Selecky, O'brien v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Gilardi v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Some 60 lawsuits have been filed across the country against the mandate by hundreds of groups and businesses.