As you may recall, we're involved in a major federal lawsuit - defending a Catholic business owner in Missouri who is challenging the Obama Administration's HHS mandate, which requires employers to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
We represent Frank R. O'Brien and O'Brien Industrial Holdings, LLC, based in St. Louis. Our lawsuit, which marks the first legal challenge to the HHS mandate from a private business owner and his company, is very clear: it contends that the mandate violates our client's constitutionally-protected religious beliefs.
The Catholic Church has been very vocal in its opposition about the mandate. And, now Catholic Bishops are launching a new campaign for religious freedom.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement urging Catholics to participate in a what they call a "fortnight for freedom" - a two-week period leading up to the 4th of July - a focused time for prayer and emphasis on protecting religious freedom.
The statement is direct: "We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other."
And, the Bishops, in their statement, also focused on the HHS mandate, as a prime example of religious freedom under assault in this country. Calling the mandate "an unjust law," the Bishops understand exactly what's at stake here. Their statement clearly spells out the issue: "In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching. . . ."
The Bishops also make a strong statement acknowledging the fact that religious freedom is central to the founding of this nation.
"That is our American heritage, our most cherished freedom," the statement adds. "It is the first freedom because if we are not free in our conscience and our practice of religion, all other freedoms are fragile. If citizens are not free in their own consciences, how can they be free in relation to others, or to the state? If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer claim to be a land of the free, and a beacon of hope for the world."
Defending religious freedom. Now, more important than ever.