Leaders of the two largest religious denominations in the United States today sent a joint letter to the U.S. Congress urging defense of religious freedom by passing the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013. The bill was introduced June 20 in the Senate by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Reps. Diane Black, R-Tenn., John Fleming, R-La., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., introduced the measure with bipartisan support in the House in March.
Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, joined Archbishop William Lori, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, in calling for passage of a bill that would implement conscience protections in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As leaders charged with the responsibility of defending religious liberty on behalf of our respective organizations, we join together to urge all members of Congress to support passage of H.R. 940 and S. 1204, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013, said Moore and Lori in the letter. As many people are being forcedand many others will soon be forcedto either follow what the government compels or suffer for their faith, now is the time to pass legislation that protects our God-given freedom, they continued.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires almost all private health plans to cover sterilization for women and all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, including those which can cause an early abortion, as well as related education and counseling, said Moore and Lori.
Both of our denominations value Gods gift of procreation, said Moore and Lori. We agree that it is wrong to promote drugs and devices that destroy a newly conceived human life at any stage, as items mandated by this policy can do.
Moore and Lori also noted, We agree that the religious beliefs of our faith communities and others must not be suppressed or ignored by a government supposedly committed to protect the religious freedom of all.
More than 60 lawsuits have been filed across the country in opposition to the HHS mandate, including suits from Tyndale House Publishers, Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College.
The Health Care Conscience Rights Act would address these serious problems in ways consistent with our federal governments long history of bipartisan consensus on respect for rights of conscience, Moore and Lori said. While Catholics and Southern Baptists espouse different theological views, we are united by the belief that Congress must act to help preserve our freedom of religion and conscience, they concluded.
We will not stand by as deeply held beliefs are being trampled by the federal government, said Moore concerning the letter.
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