The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that pro-life Americans do not lose their First Amendment right to religious liberty when they open a family business. Though it will take some time to digest everything in the decision–which does not address similar issues facing religious nonprofits–this ruling is a big win for religious liberty.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate was forcing religious organizations and believers to provide and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilizations in violation of their faith. Unless the courts stopped it, the rule permitting this outrageous attack on our First Amendment right to religious liberty was going into effect.
Educating the public about the danger posed by the HHS Mandate was the single biggest project undertaken by FIC in 2012: four rallies, almost forty speeches in dozens of churches, op-eds, media appearances and more. Never before or since has FIC given this much attention to a federal issue, an issue we continued to address in subsequent years.
The reason is that losing this battle would mean losing the First Amendment as we have known it. If our First Amendment right to free exercise of our religion means anything, it means the federal government cannot coerce us to pay for and provide abortion-inducing drugs in violation of our consciences.
Another reason we took on this fight is FIC’s storied history in protecting religious liberty in the State of Connecticut. In 2009, FIC helped turn back an outrageous attack by our state government against the freedom of the Catholic Church to manage its own affairs. FIC played a key role in utilizing the backlash from that outrage to pass into law the strongest religious liberty exemptions to same-sex “marriage” in the entire nation.
We were not alone in those fights. Then-Bishop of Bridgeport William Lori learned much about secularist hatred of religious liberty during those battles in Connecticut, insights he now applies to the federal fight against the HHS Mandate as the Archbishop of Baltimore. In 2012, FIC awarded Archbishop Lori the Charles Stetson Award for Pro-Family Courage because of his fortitude in leading the fight for religious liberty on the national stage.
These are just some of the Connecticut connections between recent fights for religious liberty in our home state and the federal fight to save our First Amendment liberties that are threatened by the HHS Mandate. As with the Connecticut attack on the Catholic Church, the HHS Mandate seems to target one particular denomination in a way that is a threat to the religious liberties of all of us, no matter what our beliefs.
That is why today’s ruling for religious liberty was especially applauded by the Family Institute of Connecticut. We will hold a religious liberty victory rally at the state Capitol tonight at 6 pm to celebrate.