Business owner? Check your religious freedom at the door

There is so much to dislike about Obamacare it might be hard to know where to start were it not for the law’s most egregious flaw: Its brazen assault on religious freedom.

Unless you’re a faith-led business owner, or a group of nuns that cares for the poor, or one of thousands of religion-affiliated hospitals or schools across America, it may not bother you that the new health care law will force these people to violate deeply held religious beliefs by providing coverage of abortion-inducing drugs in their employee insurance packages.

But it should. It should bother all Americans.

As of this week, there are 91 separate lawsuits challenging the mandate, representing 300 plaintiffs who could no more alter their faith beliefs than change the color of their eyes. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear two of those cases: Conestoga Wood, a Mennonite-owned cabinet maker, and Hobby Lobby, the craft-store chain that recently set up shop here in Bakersfield. Oral arguments for Hobby Lobby’s challenge will start on March 25.

This month, Sanctity of Human Life Month, is an appropriate time to thank Hobby Lobby and all those who take a stand for life, even at the cost of their livelihoods. If the Supreme Court rules to deny business owners and faith-based organizations the right to operate without violating their faith beliefs, their only choices will be to capitulate, pay enormous fines, or close.

That group of Roman Catholic nuns — the Little Sisters of the Poor — could have washed their hands of the controversy with a swipe of a pen, accepting the Obama administration’s “accommodation” by signing over direct administration of the mandated coverage to a third party — a party they would then have to provide with their employees’ names and contact information, thereby allowing someone else to violate their faith beliefs for them.

The nuns said no; they’d prefer not to sin. Nuns are funny that way.

And what of Hobby Lobby? The chain is a successful for-profit enterprise, which some believe renders it unqualified to receive an exemption from the law. Never mind that Hobby Lobby founder David Green and his family have operated their company in a manner consistent with biblical principles since the day they started the business 44 years ago.

Forget that they start their full-time employees at 80 percent above minimum wage, that they close their stores on Sundays to encourage worship and family time, or that the company already covers contraceptives that are not abortifacients.

Note to future entrepreneurs: Want to build a successful business? Go for it — but check your faith beliefs at the door.

The Obama administration believes it has the power to decide which religious beliefs are legitimate and which are not. That will be decided soon, as Supreme Court justices address the challenges to the Obamacare mandate. In the meantime, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Green family and all those who labor in God’s name are praying the Supreme Court will decide in their favor so, say the Sisters, they may continue to serve others with “the same religious freedom we have always appreciated.”

Care to join them? Right to Life of Kern County will host its second annual Remembering Roe Candlelight Prayer Vigil, held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2633 16th St. There is no cost to attend. Please join us.

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