There is a fundamental definition at stake when it comes to the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, which requires employer-sponsored health insurance plans to provide ready and free access to contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs. This fundamental definition is, at this very time, being debated by Federal courts across the United States, and the outcomes of these debates will have wide-ranging implications that will last for years to come. That definition is “religious freedom”. To most, the definition of “freedom of religion” only entails their right to practice their religion on a given day in a given manner. But to organizations and businesses who hold to a set of religious beliefs, that right to practice religion freely is in jeopardy.
The Constitutional right to freedom of religion, as defined by the First Amendment, has applicability to all citizens of the United States, and allows them to practice their religion in their daily lives. However, when one of those citizens sets out to build a business based on their personal religious beliefs, that freedom of religion may not follow that person to the workplace. Christian-based businesses are finding that they must challenge the HHS mandate and its requirement that these businesses violate their belief that contraceptives and abortions are sinful. These businesses are run on a core set of religious principles that those running the business use to dictate just how that business is run. For example, Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A do not operate on Sundays, part of their owners’s Christian belief that Sunday be reserved for Christian worship. But these companies are being forced to turn aside their beliefs in order to be in compliance with the HHS mandate, or they must face paying fines.
The other option is to fight back, and firmly establish what the definition of “religious freedom” is, and how it applies not only to an individual citizen of the United States, but also to any legal entity – or business – run by those individual citizens. If a person is free to practice religion in a way they want to, why can they not express their religious beliefs in how they run their business, including opting-out of the HHS mandate which would otherwise require them to violate their religious beliefs, and the freedom to practice those beliefs as they see fit?