IRD Commends Religious Leaders on Sebelius Letter
By Jeff Walton
The Institute on Religion & Democracy
Nearly 150 religious leaders have written to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of their “grave concern” about the creation of a “two-class concept of religious organizations” that Obamacare regulators created to determine which religious groups must subsidize contraceptives and abortifacients and which may not.
“We are united in opposition to the creation in federal law of two classes of religious organizations: churches—considered sufficiently focused inwardly to merit an exemption and thus full protection from the mandate; and faith-based service organizations—outwardly oriented and given a lesser degree of protection,” the religious leaders wrote in their June 11 letter.
The religious leaders implored Sebelius to “eliminate the two-class scheme of religious organization” and to “extend to faith-based service organizations the same exemption that the regulations currently limit to churches.”
Prominent evangelical signatories included officials from Christian universities, denominations including the Brethren Church, Church of the Nazarene, the Salvation Army, and development groups such as World Relief and World Vision. National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, Christianity Today editor David Neff and Ronald J. Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action also signed. The letter was organized by Stanley Carlson-Thies, President of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.
IRD President Mark Tooley commented:
“It has been rightly observed that Jesus himself probably wouldn’t qualify for an exemption under Obamacare’s HHS mandate, as his feeding of the 5,000 expanded beyond members of a church body.
“This is another example of how freedom of religion is being exchanged for a narrower freedom of worship – anything having to do with common life outside of the church walls, such as universities or hospitals, is designated in a second class.
“These religious leaders are correct in pointing out that both worship-oriented and service-oriented religious organizations are authentically and equally religious organizations.”
The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church’s biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad.
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