Important week for religious freedom

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

This week, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo heralded the inclusion of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, and key provisions from the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, in the appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS. These measures would strengthen the right of health care providers not to provide for abortion, and would protect religious entities who object to those parts of ObamaCare they deem objectionable.

Also this week, while the seven states that filed suit against the so-called contraception mandate lost when a U.S. District judge said they lacked standing, he noted something important: Judge Warren K. Urbom cited the fact that “the rule is currently undergoing a process of amendment to accommodate these organizations.”

What Judge Urbom says is true, and perhaps the discussions will yield positive results. But if they do not, the Catholic community is not walking away. Importantly, Catholics are not alone. Here’s another development this week: Wheaton College, a distinguished Protestant institution, has joined the Catholic University of America in suing over the mandate. It did so purely on religious-liberty grounds.

Moreover, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act was introduced last week by Rep. James Sensenbrenner and Rep. Diane Black. It would block any punitive taxes from being levied on religious organizations that refuse to accede to the anti-religious liberty components of ObamaCare.

It was also announced last week that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has joined the Catholic Charities of the Dioceses of Joliet and Springfield in challenging these components.

Over 20 lawsuits have been filed against the mandate, and if all else fails, there is still the possibility of civil disobedience. Stay tuned.

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