Members of Congress, including Democrats, are lining up to show support of religious-based groups in the fight against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that employers provide ready and free access to contraceptives as part of employer-sponsored health insurance. The St. Louis Review reported at the end of January that these members of Congress, from numerous states, join 20 states, academic scholars, doctors, women’s organizations, and Protestant and Catholic theologians in siding with Hobby Lobby in the case it has brought against the HHS as it fights to be counted as a religious employer and therefore be exempt from the mandate to provide contraceptives.
Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, is helping to lead the organization of Congressional support. In a news release, Senator Blunt stated that his hope is to urge the court hearing Hobby Lobby’s case “to preserve the fundamental religious freedom that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.” And that is really what this boils down to – the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, specifically the First Amendment right to free practice of religion.
The U.S. Constitution has always been open to interpretation, which is why it has endured for over 220 years. As the state of the country has shifted, lawmakers have been free to pass laws, which, when put up against an interpretation of the Constitution relevant to the times, have been deemed allowable. But regardless of how one interprets the Constitution, or what seems relevant at the time, the fundamental rights of the nations “legal backbone” have remained constant. That is, until now, when the definition of freedom of religion seems to be called into question.
As more and more groups bring lawsuits against the Government, it is good to see the Government supporting these groups in the form of Congressional representatives from across the country. These Senators and Representatives will be on the side of right for showing their support of Religious Freedom in the United States at a time when that Freedom is being attacked from all sides by groups that see the definition of the First Amendment one way when it comes to their personal beliefs and another way when it comes to the beliefs of others.
The growing support for employers, who choose, based on their religious beliefs, to do things their way, demonstrate that the struggle for Religious Freedom is not something that is going away any time soon.