Battling the False Definition of "Religious Freedom"
The Secular Coalition does not take a stance on whether the government should mandate health care coverage. However, it is our position that if it does, there should be no religious exemptions provided. While every American is entitled to their personal religious beliefs and practices, they do not have the right to impose it on others, including employees, or expect privledging from the government.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and opponents of the Health of Human Services rule on contraceptive care are pushing a false definition of religious freedom. This is part of a larger attack on the separation of religion and government, being waged at the state and federal levels via several avenues. The USCCB is asking the government to privilege its particular brand of religion over others--and over non-religion--and the worst part is that they are doing it under a smoke screen of religious persecution. True religious freedom allows for individuals to make their own decisions, not have the religious beliefs of their employer forced upon them.
The Supreme Court has ruled on this issue several times:
- In its 1878 decision on Reynolds vs. the United States, the Supreme Court took up the question of whether the government's laws overruled religious belief and found that they did. The decision read, in part, "Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances."
- In the 1986 case, Bowen v. Roy, the Court ruled that “Free exercise clause does not require Government to conduct its internal affairs in ways that comport with the religious beliefs of particular citizens.”
- In 1990, in the case of Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, the Court’s decision read, “…the right of free exercise does not relieve individual of obligation to comply with valid or neutral law of general applicability on ground that law proscribes, or requires, conduct that is contrary to his religious practice, as long as law does not violate other constitutional protections.”
The Secular Coalition for America has been working in conjunction with other groups--both religious and secular-- that allign with us on these principles.
Here, some of the actions the SCA has taken to protect the secular character of our government, as it relates to this timely and important issue, as well as several closely-related issues:
- June 19, 2012: Comments on Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on “Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act”
- September 9, 2011: Interim final rules comments on the “Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventive Services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
- June 28, 2012 - TAKE ACTION: Send a Letter to the Editor Regarding Bishops' "Fortnight for Freedom"
- June 21, 2012 - Tell Your State Senators to Oppose Religious Discrimination in Counseling (Michigan Residents)
- June 11, 2012 - Vote NO on Measure 3, "Religious Freedom Amendment," Tomorrow (North Dakota Residents)
- May 11, 2012 - Tell HHS to Stop Funding Abstinence-Only Education Programs
- March 8, 2012 - Tell N.H. State Senators to Vote "No" on Religious Refusal Bill (New Hampshire Residents)
- February 29, 2012 - Tell the Senate to Vote "NO" on the Blunt Amendment
- February 9, 2012 - Tell the U.S. Representatives to respect individuals' religious freedom in contraceptive coverage
- September 22, 2011 - Tell HHS to Provide Contraception Coverage for All Women
- Secular Coalition Urges HHS Not to Expand Religious Employer Exemption
Tue, 06/19/2012 - 16:57 Washington, D.C. – The Secular Coalition for America today submitted comments on the proposal to amend the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) final regulation on Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act.
- In Face of Lawsuits Secular Coalition Supports HHS Contraception Rule
Tue, 05/22/2012 - 16:52 WASHINGTON, DC--The Secular Coalition for America today expressed disappointment at the 43 Catholic institutions that filed 12 lawsuits against the Obama administration yesterday.
- Catholic CEOs Paint False Definition of Religious Liberty with Lawsuit
Wed, 05/09/2012 - 16:46 Washington, DC—The Secular Coalition for America today expressed disappointment that the Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive rule continues to be used to promote a false definition of religious freedom by some religious employers seeking to push their religious beliefs on employees.
- Secular Coalition Applauds Senate on Voting Down Blunt Amendment
Thu, 03/01/2012 - 13:29 WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today the U.S. Senate voted down the Blunt amendment—a bill introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow employers to exclude any insurance benefit they deem immoral or “contrary to their religious beliefs.” Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America said the Senate was right to vote down the amendment.
- Secular Coalition Supports Administration’s Shift in Policy Regarding Contraceptive Care
Fri, 02/10/2012 - 14:09 WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Secular Coalition for America supports the Obama Administration’s shift in policy announced today, that will allow employees of religiously affiliated employers to obtain contraceptive services free of charge, directly from insurance providers.
- Secular Coalition Calls for Boehner and U.S. House to Respect Individual Religious Liberty in HHS Ruling on Contraceptives
Thu, 02/09/2012 - 12:53 WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Secular Coalition today called for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and fellow members of the U.S.
- The Secular Coalition for America Applauds Mississippians for Voting 'No' on the Proposed 'Personhood' Amendment
Wed, 11/09/2011 - 00:19 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Secular Coalition for America applauds the people of Mississippi for voting against Initiative 26, an amendment to the state constitution that would have defined a person as a human being “from the moment of fertilization.”
- Religious Health Care Exemptions for Children Reward Neglect
By Lauren Johnson, "In March 2009, 17-year-old Zachery Swezey complained to his parents that he didn’t feel well. His parents believed he had the flu. Zachery suffered fevers and vomiting for days as his condition worsened. Finally, when he could no longer walk to the bathroom, Greg and JaLea Swezey called church elders to come over and anoint their son with olive oil."
- Victory for Secularism in North Dakota on Measure 3
By Nathan Cox, "It was a welcome victory for secularism on Tuesday, as voters in North Dakota soundly rejected a proposal that would hand broad privileges to the deeply religious."
- Ruling That Stops Taxpayer Funding of Catholic Beliefs to be Appealed
By Kelly Damerow, "The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are appealing a recent federal court ruling that found unconstitutional the government authorization and funding of their religious-based restriction on services to help sex trafficking victims. Congress appropriated up to $10 million for the U.S."
- Catholic Bishops Wage War on True Religious Freedom
By Lauren Anderson Youngblood, "Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a proclamation that called for every priest, parish and layperson to participate in a 'great national campaign' to 'defend religious liberty', which they said is 'under attack, both at home and abroad.'"
- The Secular Movement Can Save Your Birth Control
By David Niose, "It's almost surreal that in today's America, birth control can be seen as a 'controversial' issue. A serious presidential contender strongly advocates against it, and Congress recently was just a few votes away from allowing employers to deny contraceptive coverage based on vague 'moral or religious' objections."
- Romney Comes out Against Blunt Amendment (UPDATED)
By Lauren Anderson Youngblood, "Note: This posting has been updated to reflect a statement released by the Romney campaign."
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia? Rather … Who Isn’t?
By Lauren Anderson Youngblood, "The Virginia state legislature is ruffling a lot of feathers recently—and heavily blurring the line between religion and government."
- Attacking Religious Liberty? Churches Aren’t People.
By Lauren Anderson Youngblood, "In the last few weeks the issue of religious liberty has exploded nationally. The spark that lit the flame was the implementation of the Department of Health and Human Services’ rule requiring that all employers include contraceptive services coverage in the health insurance they provide to employees."
- Contraception choices belong to employees, not employers
By Nick Fish, "We must draw a distinction between an individual's right to practice his or her religion without interference from the government and an organization's "right" to impose its religious views on its employees."
- For Sex Slaves, Catholic Bishops' ‘Help’ is No Help at All
By Lauren Anderson Youngblood, "In the United States, every year an estimated 50,000-75,000 women and children are trafficked into the country and forced into sexual servitude. As startling as that number is, it doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands already residing within our borders forced into the commercial sex industry."