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Bishops Protest ‘Unjust’ Laws against Religious Freedom

ICC Note

“Never has the federal government forced individuals or organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience.”

04/13/2012 United States (CBN)-America’s Catholic bishops are drawing a line in the sand with a new campaign against what they call government violations of religious freedom.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a document, titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” warning all Americans to be watchful of government attempts to take away religious liberties.

At the center of the issue is the Obama administration’s health care mandate that requires insurance companies serving church-run facilities to provide coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to employees.

“Never has the federal government forced individuals or organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan said.

President Obama argues that the services are for individuals only.

“These employers will not have to pay for or provide contraception services, but women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services just like other women,” he said.

After weeks of deliberation, the bishops released the “Cherished Liberty” document, full of strong statements for Americans.

“If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them,” they wrote.

“No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith,” the document continues.

Polls show many Catholics use birth control despite church teachings against it.

But attorney Mark Rienzi, who’s fighting for the church in court, said that shouldn’t be an excuse for the White House to violate the Constitution.

“Everyone has their religious liberty, and you don’t get to say, ‘Because some Catholics willingly do something I can force the rest of them to do it in violation of their rights.’ It’s just not the way consitutional rights work,” he said.

Although the Catholic church is at the forefront of this battle, Protestants and evangelicals are also joining, including influential Pastor Rick Warren, with California’s Saddleback Church.

“There’s a greater principle here and that is, do you have a right to decide what your faith practices?” Warren said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The bishops have scheduled what they call a “fortnight for freedom,” in the two weeks before the Fourth of July.

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