(CNSNews.com) - The continuing resolution Congress approved last night with the help of the Republican leaders in both the House and Senate funds and permits implementation of an Obamacare regulation that forces Christians to act against their faith by forcing them to buy and/or provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices.
An earlier version of the CR that the Republican-controlled House passed on Sept. 29 had included language that would have at least “delayed” the regulation’s impact on religious liberty until Jan. 1, 2015.
That language said that until then the administration could not force employers, insurers or individuals to buy or provide insurance coverage for an item or service if they had “moral or religious objections” to it.
However, the Republican House leadership only stood by that position for one day. In the version of the CR they pushed through the House on Sept. 30, they removed the one-year "delay" in forcing Christians to act against their faith.
The final CR permits the administration to begin forcing Christians to act against their faith as soon as they have to buy or provide an Obamacare-compliant insurance plan.
The U.S. Catholic bishops had asked Congress to put language in the “must pass” CR or the debt limit bill to permanently protect Americans from being forced to purchase or provide health insurance coverage for an item or service if doing so would violate their moral or religious convictions.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore wrote a letter to every member of Congress asking that they support this effort.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website asked citizens to take action by going to the website of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment from which they could send an email to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to put language into the CR or the debt limit bill to permanently protect the freedom of conscience from the Obamacare regulation.
Like HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who issued the regulation, Boehner is a Catholic. However, he ultimately did not do what the Catholic bishops requested. Instead, he voted for the CR permitting funding and implementation of the regulation.
Last year, the Catholic bishops unanimously approved a statement declaring the regulation an “unjust and illegal mandate” and “a violation of personal civil rights” that attacked the freedom of conscience of employers and insurers as well as individual Americans.
None of the Republican congressional leaders made a significant issue of the regulation during the final debate over the CR.
According to a count kept by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, more than 200 plaintiffs have filed 74 federal lawsuits challenging the regulation, arguing that it violates their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
The plaintiffs in these lawsuits come from multiple Christian denominations and include both for-profit employers and non-profit charitable and educational institutions. They range, for example, from the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C., to the Little Sisters of the Poor, to Wheaton College, to Colorado Christian University, to Hobby Lobby, to Eden Foods, to Autocam, to Hercules Industries, to the College of the Ozarks, to the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation.
In a suit filed Sept. 20 against HHS Secretary Sebelius, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., stated that the final regulation would force the archdiocese, led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, to cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs through a self-insurance plan it extends to employees of some of the archdiocese’s schools and charities.
“Cardinal Wuerl has declared that ‘what is at stake here is a question of human freedom,’” says the lawsuit.
“Jesus Christ is ‘the integrating center of Colorado Christian University, intentionally at the core of all that CCU is and does,” says a similar complaint filed against the regulation by Colorado Christian University.
“CCU’s religious convictions concerning the sanctity of life forbid it from participating in, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting, or facilitating access to, abortion,” says the complaint.
“CCU cannot fulfill its mission of preparing students to impact the world by living their Christian values if it violates its own religious convictions by complying with the challenged regulations and facilitating access to abortion-causing drugs and devices and related counseling and services,” says that lawsuit.
“The Green family believes they are obligated to run their businesses in accordance with their faith,” says the complaint filed by the family that owns Hobby Lobby. “Commitment to Jesus Christ and to Biblical principles is what gives their business endeavors meaning and purpose.”
“The administrative rule at issue in this case runs roughshod over the Green family’s religious beliefs, and the beliefs of millions of other Americans, by forcing them to provide health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, as well as related education and counseling,” says that suit.
In a letter he wrote last year to Catholics serving in the U.S. military, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, said that the Obamacare regulation was “a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.”
“We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law,” the archbishop wrote.
As a result of the continuing resolution passed yesterday by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives--and supported by 27 of the 46 Republicans in the Senate--the Obama administration retains the funding and the power to implement this regulation as Obamacare begins to take force.