Freedom of religion is being ignored in the fight over Obamacare defunding. It shouldn’t be, because it is as valid a reason to oppose it as the economics of it and the implications for medical treatment.
Pro life backers are being forced to provide contraceptives and abortions to employees against their religious beliefs. Public tax money is also being used for abortions even though previous laws indicate this is not permissible.
A businessman has penned a letter to USA Today pointing out the religious dilemmas the law has in it. John Kennedy is a CEO of Autocam, a company that makes parts for fuel systems and medical devices. He says the Affordable Care Act forces him and his family to ignore their religious beliefs.
Twenty-five years ago, my wife and I started Autocam with 52 employees. Today it is an international company with 700 employees in the United States. The freedoms we enjoy in this country enabled us to start our family business and make choices that allowed it to flourish and expand.
I am also a Catholic Christian whose faith teaches that everyone has a vocation in life; that call for me was in business, as both a way to support my family and contribute to the common good. As a Catholic I try to live my faith in all aspects of my life – at church, at home, when I travel and at the office.
Like a lot of Americans, I believe that religion is not something confined to an hour on Sunday. Religion is a way of life that defines my relationship to the world around me. Because Catholic social teaching emphasizes the dignity of work and workers, it has always been important to me to offer our employees good wages and benefits.
I write because the mandate is forcing me and my family to choose between the teachings of our faith and the operation of our business. It gives us three options, all of which are unconscionable according to our beliefs: (1) violate our faith by complying with the mandate and provide our employees with insurance that covers contraception and sterilization; (2) pay over $16,000,000 in fines per year, destroying our business and putting our employees out of work; or (3) cut our employees’ health benefits so that we do not have to violate our beliefs. While the last choice would save our family and the company $5,000,000, we reject it because of the respect we have for our employees.
Our family filed suit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, hoping that the courts would protect our effort to both live our faith and operate our business. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals deniedour request. The court assertedthat my family’s “actions with respect to Autocam are not actions taken in an individual capacity, but as officers and directors of the corporation,” thus claiming that practicing our religion has nothing to do with running the business.
I could not disagree more. It is unacceptable that the federal courts dictate what it means to practice religion. Because we respect our employees and their choices, we have given them wages and benefits that empower them to make their own health care decisions. All of the options that the mandate allows us violate our faith. It does not have to be this way. Our case will not end at the Court of Appeals as we intend to ask the Supreme Court to review our case.
For the sake of everyone in this country who wants the freedom to practice their faith in all aspects of their lives, I hope the Supreme Court hears the case. Otherwise it seems that the free exercise of religion will be reduced to whatever fits within the four walls of a church. I hardly believe that is what the founders of our nation intended when they passed the First Amendment protecting religious freedom.
If this religious freedom is ignored and the loss of it carried out, there will be further ramifications for Christians. The government can go on to tell us where and when we can assemble and what we can believe.
I have only heard Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina talk about this issue. It needs to be brought up throughout this debate.