Being Fined for Faith and Freedom

Should Americans be fined for running their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs and for exercising their religious freedom?  If employers do not comply with Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate, which requires them to pay for coverage of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, they must pay steep fines or drop insurance coverage altogether.

The Heritage Foundation’s Sarah Torre, a marriage and religious liberty policy analyst, and Elizabeth Slattery, a senior legal analyst, explain where our freedoms currently stand under Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate:

In an effort to block the anti-conscience mandate, religious organizations and other private employers have filed over 90 lawsuits with more than 300 plaintiffs. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to review two of the for-profit cases later in the 2013–2014 term. The Court will consider two questions:

  • Does the mandate violate the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion?

  • Who can exercise religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?

Torre and Slattery delve into several suits brought by employers to gain relief from the anti-conscience mandate for their businesses and the decisions that have been made by lower courts.

Hobby Lobby’s case has made it to the Supreme Court.  They are a Christian-run company employing more than 13,000 people that would face up to $475 million per year in fines — $1.3 million per day — if they do not comply with the anti-conscience mandate because it violates the Christian principles by which they seek to run their business.

Importantly, Heritage’s conclusion reminds us of principles the Supreme Court should consider when deciding these two for-profit cases:

The anti-conscience mandate forces family businesses to provide health insurance plans that cover abortion-inducing drugs and devices, contraception, and sterilization. Many employers believe that complying with this mandate would conflict with the tenets of their faith. Consequently, these employers face the choice of paying steep fines or violating their faith. The First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect the free exercise of religion, and the many family-run businesses challenging the anti-conscience mandate argue that they deserve protection too.

The Supreme Court has agreed to review two challenges brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. It will consider whether family-run businesses can exercise religion and, if so, how such a ruling would affect the anti-conscience mandate. Americans do not forfeit their right to live and work in accordance with their faith simply because they go into business to provide for themselves, their families, and their employees.

Hobby Lobby

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