Archive: “News and Commentary” Category
Posted by Matt Yonke (December 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm)
In light of the US Supreme Court’s recent announcement that it will hear the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius cases concerning the HHS Mandate, the University of Notre Dame has re-filed their case against the Mandate.
University president Fr. John Jenkins said in a press release:
Our abiding concern in both the original filing of May 21, 2012, and this re-filing has been Notre Dame’s freedom—and indeed the freedom of many religious organizations in this country—to live out a religious mission. We have sought neither to prevent women from having access to services, nor even to prevent the government from providing them.
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Posted by Matt Yonke (November 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm)
The US Supreme Court announced today that they will hear two critical cases in the fight against the HHS Mandate.
The two cases represent two sides of the issue. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, filed by Mennonite cabinet makers, is a case brought by a private business against the government, while Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., regarding the well known craft store chain, is a case brought by the government against a private business.
It is our hope that by taking both of these cases, it is a sign of the Supreme Court’s intention to take a thorough review of the Mandate and its implications. [Continue reading ...]
Posted by Matt Yonke (November 18, 2013 at 10:01 am)
Last week, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met in Washington DC for their annual General Assembly.
At the close of their meeting, the Bishops issued public statement, re-affirming their opposition to President Obama’s HHS Mandate:
Beginning in March 2012, in United for Religious Freedom, we identified three basic problems with the HHS mandate: it establishes a false architecture of religious liberty that excludes our ministries and so reduces freedom of religion to freedom of worship; it compels our ministries to participate in providing employees with abortifacient drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception, which violates our deeply-held beliefs; and it compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all.
Despite our repeated efforts to work and dialogue toward a solution, those problems remain. Not only does the mandate undermine our ministries’ ability to witness to our faith, which is their core mission, but the penalties it imposes also lay a great burden on those ministries, threatening their very ability to survive and to serve the many who rely on their care.
Read the full statement at the USCCB website, and let’s continue to uphold in prayer the US bishops and all those leading the fight for our religious liberty!
Posted by Eric Scheidler (November 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm)
Last week another court sided with plaintiffs seeking to stop enforcement of the HHS Mandate against them for refusing to provide free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to employees.
This time it was the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, which instructed a lower court to enter a preliminary injunction to prevent the federal government from enforcing the HHS Mandate against Cyril and Jane Korte, and their southern Illinois construction company, Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.
The Korte’s are devout Catholics who say the HHS Mandate requires them to violate their religious faith. But a district court judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction to prevent the federal government from imposing huge fines on them while they fight the HHS Mandate in court.
A court can grant such a preliminary injunction when a judge determines that plaintiffs are likely to prevail—as the Seventh Circuit clearly thinks the Kortes are.
Attorney Edward White of the American Center for Law and Justice, who argued on behalf of the Kortes at the Seventh Circuit, offers more details about the case here.
Here’s hoping that the Kortes will prevail in their lawsuit against the HHS Mandate, which can not proceed without destroying their business, and that all employers will soon see their religious freedoms protected from this kind of government intrusion.
Posted by Matt Yonke (October 7, 2013 at 4:10 pm)
Today the Supreme Court begins a new term in which it may hear two cases related to the HHS Mandate.
Between this and the turmoil in Washington over funding Obamacare, today seems like a good day to take stock of the landscape in the ongoing legal challenges against the Mandate.
Of the 35 for-profit businesses that have brought lawsuits against the HHS Mandate so far, 30 have received temporary injunctions. This means that they do not have to obey the HHS Mandate while their case is pending. This kind of relief is typically granted when a judge believes they have a good chance of winning their case, which makes those numbers a very good sign. [Continue reading ...]
Posted by Matt Yonke (April 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm)
Today, Monday April 8, is your last opportunity to give the Obama Administration feedback on the unjust HHS Mandate.
You can do that right here.
You’ve got till midnight tonight to let the administration know that you believe forcing business owners to provide contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs as part of their health plans is a gross violation of our First Amendment rights.
This issue has elicited more feedback than any other item, don’t leave your voice out of the conversation! Planned Parenthood and their cronies are pushing their forces to speak up in favor of the Mandate, so get a move on! And be sure to tell all your friends to do the same via e-mail and your social networks.
Don’t let this last chance to speak up pass you by! Make your voice heard right here and stand up for religious freedom today!
Posted by John Jansen (March 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm)
Before the dust had cleared following Kathleen Sebelius’ announcement of the HHS Mandate on January 20, 2012, opposition to this abject violation of religious freedom was already fierce.
The pushback against the HHS Mandate was most visibly seen in the hundreds of Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rallies held throughout the year.
And in unprecedented numbers, Americans registered their objections directly with the federal government.
The Sunlight Foundation recently reported:
Three years after Congress approved President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), contraceptive care remains its most controversial provision, drawing not only more comments than any other regulatory proposal on any subject government-wide, according to an analysis of federal regulations on Sunlight’s Docket Wrench.
More than 147,000 people and organizations have made their voices heard over the debate, most of them opposing the provision that requires that federal agencies have interpreted to mean that women have access to preventive services—including contraception—at no cost. The Catholic Church has led the charge, urging parishioners to write with messages such as “Pregnancy is not a disease, and drugs and surgeries to prevent it are not basic health care that the government should require all Americans to purchase.”
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Posted by Matt Yonke (March 12, 2013 at 10:28 am)
Today we see a huge victory for the protection of our First Amendment rights as a direct outgrowth of last year’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally effort as protesters whose rights were violated at the June Rally in Dayton, Ohio are vindicated and free speech is protected.
At the June 8 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally in Dayton, Ohio, Sinclair Community College campus police told participants that they had to put down their “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” and “Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate” signs because of the school’s speech code which outrageously banned all signs because they could potentially be used as weapons.
I remember clearly when Eric Scheidler received a phone call from Bryan Kemper of Stand True Ministries, one of the speakers at the rally, during our own Rally in Chicago. Bryan and Rally Captain Ruth Deddens were shocked that police were asking them to put down signage during a First Amendment Rally! [Continue reading ...]
Posted by Matt Yonke (February 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm)
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has released a statement today on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops declaring that, as things stand, President Obama’s recent “accommodation” policy regarding the HHS Mandate will not satisfy the USCCB’s concerns about religious liberty.
Dolan listed three key areas of concern: the narrow understanding of a religious ministry; compelling church ministries to fund and facilitate services such as contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization that violate Catholic teaching; and disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners. These are the same concerns articulated by the USCCB Administrative Committee in its March 2012 statement, United for Religious Freedom.
From his statement:
The Administration’s proposal maintains its inaccurate distinction among religious ministries. It appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education, and Catholic charities. HHS offers what it calls an “accommodation,” rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our Church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.
Despite the fact the accommodation amounts to nothing more than the same shell game the administration has been playing since the Mandate was first announced, the bishops have remained steadfast in their commitment to work with the administration until a compromise that truly respects religious liberty can be reached.
Read Dolan’s full statement right here and check back to this blog for more as the situation develops.
Posted by Eric Scheidler (February 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm)
Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced proposed new rules allegedly intended to accommodate the moral objections of religious employers to the HHS Mandate.
Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally co-directors Eric Scheidler and Monica Miller, who coordinated over 250 individual rallies coast-to-coast last year in opposition to the HHS Mandate, issued the following statement in response:
Nearly a year after promising to provide an “accommodation” for religious employers who object to the HHS Mandate, the Obama administration has finally issued proposed new rules. While we await a full analysis of these proposed rule changes from legal experts, a first look at what the Obama administration is offering makes it clear that the objections of religious employers have not been taken seriously.
The Obama administration is now offering a complicated scheme whereby employers can “self-certify” to the insurance provider they’ve contracted with that they are “exempt” from the contraceptive mandate, and leave it to the insurer to arrange free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs for employees, or students, in the case of educational institutions.
At the end of the day, religious institutions like Catholic hospitals and Christian universities are still being forced by the federal government to participate in a scheme whereby their employees are provided free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
It’s unconscionable that employees and students at an institution like Ave Maria University, which upholds the unchanging Catholic doctrine that contraception assaults human dignity, would receive free contraceptives thanks to their employment or enrollment there.
More disturbingly still, businesses like Hobby Lobby, which are not dedicated to specifically religious purpose but which nevertheless operate upon a basis of faith, are offered no protection whatsoever for their religious and moral objections to providing these services. The Obama administration is still claiming the right to decide who gets to exercise freedom of religion in the public square.
We encourage all who have been opposing the HHS Mandate to object to these unacceptable proposed rule changes during the public comment period before final rules are issued in April. Meanwhile, our public protest and education efforts will continue unabated.