A new brief has been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court which claims that the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that employers who provide health insurance to their employees include access to contraceptives is the latest example of the White House forcing Americans into “its own mold regarding matters of faith.” This is the latest challenge to the mandate from businesses and organizations across the country who feel that they have a First Amendment right to freely practice their religion in their businesses and organizations without being told that they must violate their beliefs to remain compliant with the law.
The HHS mandate has a provision for religious employers, but it has become obvious that it is up to the Government to determine what is and is not a religious employer. Obviously, a church has been deemed a religious employer. But groups associated with the Catholic Church, for example, which are not themselves a “church”, are being forced into compliance with the mandate. Employers that have no direct affiliation with a church, such as Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A, are even further from the Government’s definition of “religious employer”. And it is these groups – affiliated or not with organized religion – that are standing up for their First Amendment rights and taking legal action against the mandate.
The Federal Government is stepping into dangerous territory as it tries to define who or what may exercise Freedom of Religion, and how that fundamental Constitutional right may be exercised. The fact that Freedom of Religion is included in the First Amendment to the Constitution speaks to the importance that the founders of the United States put on that right. But if the Government is allowed to continue to change the definition of “Freedom of Religion”, shifting the nation toward the Government’s view of “religion’, what other guaranteed rights will be changed?