In its attempt to broaden the notion of a “right to health care,” the Obama administration has shrunk our rights to practice our religion. In requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, the government has trampled on people who believe artificial contraception to be wrong as a matter of morality and ethics.
The Media Research Center has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the HHS mandate. This lawsuit is about religious freedom and the conscience rights of individuals to operate their enterprises free from government coercion, reprisal, or punishment.
The ObamaCare mandate destroys the ability of free people to practice their faith in their everyday lives and forces them to either reject their faith or face crippling government-imposed fines and punishment; in our case over $4.5 million dollars per year. We do not stop being religious, moral people the moment we walk out of our houses of worship.
The Media Research Center contends that under ACA rules it has self-certified as a religious organization and is therefore exempt from the mandate. The MRC is the first organization that has asked the court to affirm its self-certification.
For nearly three decades, the MRC has been the nation’s premier defender of pro-life views and Judeo-Christian values from attacks by the liberal media. We believe abortion, whether through the actions of an abortionist or a drug, is the taking of innocent human life. Under the First Amendment, the MRC and its employees have the right to practice and abide by their faith in their everyday lives, including in the operations of their mission-oriented non-profit organization.
Should an employee of the organization choose to avail himself to these products, it is his right. The MRC, however, has the right not to have to pay for those products.
The ACA explicitly allows exemptions for non-profits that self-certify that they “hold themselves out as religious organizations.” The law is vague, so the MRC is asking the court declare that the MRC qualifies.
Should the court disagree and hold that the MRC is not an “eligible organization,” then we believe that the ACA violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution as the “eligible organization” determination would require the government to determine who is “religious enough” to qualify for an exemption. Determining who is “religious enough” is an unconstitutional entanglement in questions of religious doctrine and organization.
Critics might insist that most American Christians, indeed most Catholics, don’t practice this doctrine against artificial contraception. In reply, my father L. Brent Bozell Jr. said it well almost fifty years ago, in 1966, as the world demanded the Vatican surrender to modern ideologies:
“The world deems the Church mad to have hitched its whole moral authority to this wretched piece of intransigence. Millions of Catholics and near Catholics and apostate Catholics over the years have felt the same way: if only the Church would give ground on this one, the rest would be easy to take. But this wretched piece of intransigence is the key to the mighty mystery of sex, which unlocks the door to the even more awesome mystery of life, which in turn reveals the reality of the supernatural. If the Church does not own this key, it does not own any keys at all.”
That is what Catholics believe. Most non-Catholics, following other predicates, arrive at the same point: Life is sacred and to facilitate its termination is to sin against God himself.
That’s why the HHS mandate isn’t just an ideological policy to placate the cultural Left. It is an assault on a theological belief in the sanctity of a natural life and death. As an employer of faith, I cannot be complicit in providing and promoting contraception, abortion, or sterilization services.
L. Brent Bozell III is founder and president of the Media Research Center.