By Bethany Monk
On Monday, President Obama asked for support in his re-election bid from the faith community with a video saying his “commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering.”
“These shared moral obligations have guided me as president,” he declares. “Let your friends, family and fellow believers know why you are supporting this campaign.”
However, the Obama administration is currently the subject of 30 religious-freedom lawsuits, saying that a mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring employers to provide health care insurance covering free contraceptives and possible abortifacient drugs for employees, violates the First Amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“When we hear President Obama say that his commitment to protect religious liberty is unwavering, we can only respond with ‘actions speak louder than words,’ ” Catholic League Communications Director Jeff Field told CitizenLink. “Not only has his administration been in direct conflict with religious-liberty rights, it has led the fight to trample on them.”
Since 2011, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has been waging lawsuits on behalf of Belmont Abbey College and Colorado Christian University. On Sept. 12, the firm added arts and crafts retailing giant Hobby Lobby to the list of those suing the government over the mandate.
CEO and Founder David Green said he is willing to face the consequences of not adhering to the mandate. The company, which is family-owned, could face fines of up to $1.3 million a day starting in January.
“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” Green said. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”
And College of the Ozarks — a private Christian university in Point Lookout, Mo. — filed a separate lawsuit against the government on Monday, the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. It is represented by Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP.
College President Jerry David said the mandate violates “our religious rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution,” according to OzarksFirst.com.
Obama claimed in his speech Monday that as America’s diversity continues to grow, “we have the chance to reaffirm the pluralism that has defined us as a nation. A pluralism that is expansive enough to protect the rights of all to speak their minds and to follow their conscience.”
Field said it is unlikely Obama will live up to his words.
“We will be the first to congratulate the president if he indeed becomes a leader in protecting religious liberty,” Field said. But “there is no reason to believe that President Obama will change his stripes. Until his actions meet his rhetoric, nothing will change.”