Turkey, Pumpkin Pie, and Religious Freedom
From Heritage Foundation November 28, 2013
Religious freedom is as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and pumpkin pie. From 1621, when the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, to 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it a federal holiday, thanking God and practicing religion were of paramount importance.
Nearly 400 years after that First Thanksgiving at the Plymouth Plantation, America finds itself confronted with a new challenge to religious freedom -- one that should be a conversation at every dinner table across this great land.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases from family businesses that are challenging Obamacare’s mandate requiring employers to provide health coverage of abortion-inducing drugs -- even in violation of their moral or religious beliefs.
These cases are among the more than 80 lawsuits seeking to overturn the mandate for violating both the First Amendment and Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.
In their analysis of the cases, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in the spring, Heritage Senior Legal Policy Analyst Elizabeth Slattery and Policy Analyst Sarah Torre write:
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood would be forced to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs such as the “morning after” and “week after” pills, regardless of their religious or moral objections to doing so. Unless these families get over their deeply held beliefs and get in line with the mandate, they risk steep fines of up to $100 per employee per day. That could mean $1.3 million in fines per day for Hobby Lobby and up to $95,000 per day for Conestoga Wood. This choice jeopardizes the family businesses’ economic future and all the jobs they currently provide.
The Obama Administration’s decision to recklessly and irresponsibly impose such a mandate is direct threat to Americans’ religious freedom.
Of the 38 cases involving for-profit businesses challenging the Obamacare mandate, courts have sided ruled in favor of religious liberty 32 times. The American public understands the seriousness of the coercive mandate as well. A new survey released by the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom reveals that 59 percent of likely votes disapprove of the Obamacare mandate.
Americans have every reason to worry that the same one-size-fits-all system of Obamacare that is restricting choice and increasing costs is also threatening fundamental freedoms. This mandate is an early warning sign of what's to come as Obamacare gives more control of health care to unelected bureaucrats.
Meanwhile, as the Supreme Court considers these cases, family businesses across America continue operating based on their values -- even as looming government-imposed fines jeopardize their livelihoods.
As you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner today, be thankful we still live in a country where religious freedom is guaranteed. It’s now up to the Supreme Court to ensure our “first freedom” stays that way by ruling against this mandate.