|For Immediate Release
March 1, 2012
Manassas, VA NRB voiced disappointment after the U.S. Senate narrowly voted today to reject legislation that would protect religious freedom under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known to many as “Obamacare.”
“I was astounded that so soon after the Supreme Court unanimously reprimanded one arm of the Executive Branch for stepping on the religion clauses of the First Amendment, another would so brazenly do so again,” said Dr. Frank Wright, President and CEO of NRB. “Congress needs to correct the serious religious liberty offense that is contained in the recently enacted universal health care law, and I thank Senator Roy Blunt and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle who voted for his amendment to support the constitutional rights of Americans and the religious autonomy of faith-based institutions. The lack of religious accommodation in the current health care law is startling.”
“Despite some of the rhetoric, this is not a ‘health’ debate nor even just a ‘contraception’ debate, as the law currently mandates that faith organizations violate their beliefs by facilitating the dispensing of abortion drugs,’ said Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice-President and General Counsel. “In 1789, Bill of Rights framer James Madison argued that the First Amendment would bar the government from compelling citizens to violate their religious consciences. In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution requires ‘accommodation’ of ‘all religions’ and ‘forbids hostility toward any.’ The High Court reaffirmed this principal yet again seven weeks ago. Some of our elected officials in Washington need to revisit American history, and constitutional law, afresh.”
“Members of Congress have made clear that this debate is not over,” said Aaron Mercer, NRB Vice President of Government Relations. “The federal government should not compel American citizens to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and NRB will continue to voice support for efforts to protect this cornerstone liberty in the U.S. Constitution.”
The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed by critics as "Obamacare," required almost all health insurance plans to cover contraceptive services, including abortion-inducing drugs. The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department’s rule to implement this provision included a narrow religious exemption, so narrow that it would not apply to many faith-based service and educational organizations. Despite pleas to ameliorate it, on January 20, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement that the rule would remain as is and religious organizations may be granted an extra year to determine how to comply with it or face hefty fines, regardless of their faith-based objection. Significantly, less than two weeks before, the Supreme Court had rebuked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for disrespecting the Constitution’s First Amendment rights for religious organizations.
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers. Our mission is to advance biblical truth; to promote media excellence; and to defend free speech. In addition to promoting standards of excellence, integrity, and accountability, NRB provides networking, educational, ministry, and fellowship opportunities for its members. Learn more at www.nrb.org.
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