Does the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate violate religious freedom? First, what is this mandate? The mandate declares that all U.S. employers provide access to contraceptives and abortion causing drugs.This mandate applies to all in the United States, regardless of that employer’s beliefs or religious practices. Since the passage of the mandate, there has been uproar among religious employers (churches) and employers that follow a specific set of religious beliefs (such as Hobby Lobby or Christian bookstores). What may look like something that many consider to be medical care is actually violating the religious rights of groups, churches, employers and organizations across the country.
Religious freedom, as defined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allows for anyone in the United States to practice whatever religion they want, as they see fit, without any interference by any Government or Government Body. Yet, how can a church or a business owner practice their religion freely if the Government is telling them to violate the basic tenants of their beliefs? The way that the HHS mandate requires religious employers to go against their beliefs is an obvious violation of religious freedom in this country
The separation of Church and State is one of the things that makes this country what it is, and is one of the reasons the United States has been so successful with Democracy when other countries have failed. It is understood as part of this separation of Church and State that a Church (generally speaking) will not get into politics, i.e., a preacher cannot preach against politicians or speak on political topics. If the Church is not allowed to delve into politics in order to maintain the separation of Church and State, then the State should not be allowed to delve into the affairs of the Church. And when the State gets involved in telling the Church how to do things, the Constructional rights and religious freedoms of the Church are violated. Therefore, the HHS mandate is a violation of the religious freedom of the Church, because it is an obvious case of the State overstepping the bounds of separation of Church and State when it is telling the Church (or Church-related and oriented businesses) what it must do in terms of providing access to contraceptives when it clearly goes against the basic beliefs of the Church to provide that access.
While it may be obvious why a church should have the right not to follow this mandate, it may not be as obvious why a non-church employer has the same rights (although the rights of the churches are being trampled without care by this mandate). The First Amendment gives the citizens of this country the right to practice religion as they see fit, regardless if they are a church or affiliated with a church. If a businessis paying taxes to any Government body, then the rights declared in the Constitution apply to that business, including the right to religious freedom. The HHS mandate was handed down by a Government body, and therefore the stipulations related to religious freedom are applicable to the mandate, and if the Government is going to try and force the mandate on religious employers and organizations, it needs to be prepared to explain why it is violating the religious freedoms of those religious employers and organizations.