Gowdy: 'Can We Not Last for a Week on Something as Important as Religious Liberty?'

By Susan Jones | October 1, 2013 | 6:11 AM EDT

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) - The government has shut down 18 times since 1976, and some of the reasons were relatively trivial, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told Fox News's Greta Van Sustern Monday night:

"My perspective is this: How long is too long to fight for something that you think is really, really important?" Gowdy asked.

"For 12 days in 1979 this government shut down. Do you know what the issue was, Greta? A pay increase for Congress. For 12 days!

"So can we not last one day when it comes to religious liberty and treating people equally? Can we not last for a week on something as important as religious liberty and treating people equally?

"If we can shut this govt down for two weeks because of an aircraft carrier or because of a pay increase for Congress, surely a week is not too much to invest for something like religious liberty."

Conservatives' objections to Obamacare go beyond its cost, its threat to jobs, and  government coercion. The law's individual mandate says Americans must purchase insurance that covers free contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization, regardless of the employer's or the employee's religious beliefs.

Gowdy noted that many of the previous government shutdowns have been caused by Democratic presidents and Democratic Congresses. "But for whatever reason, Republicans are always blamed for the shutdown," he said. "And our colleagues are understandably worried that we're going to be blamed this time."

Of the 17 previous government shutdowns, the longest -- in 1996 when Bill Clinton was president -- lasted 21 days and involved budget issues.