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Southern Baptists join US bishops in support of conscience-protection legislation

Catholic World News - June 24, 2013

The president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has joined the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for the passage of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013. “As many people are being forced—and many others will soon be forced—to either follow what the government compels or suffer for their faith, now is the time to pass legislation that protects our God-given freedom,” said Archbishop William Lori and Russell Moore in a joint letter to members of Congress. They added:

One challenge that demands prompt attention is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate for almost all private health plans to cover sterilization for women and all FDA approved “contraceptive” drugs and devices, including those which can cause an early abortion, as well as related “education and counseling.” Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against this mandate based on moral or religious objections by people of faith, including some from our respective faith communities. Despite assurances to the contrary, HHS’s accommodations to protect the rights of religious freedom and conscience under the mandate remain inadequate. Consequently, countless nonprofit and for-profit organizations must either obey the government’s mandate in violation of their beliefs, or follow their consciences and incur massive fines or the loss of their ministry. This is unacceptable.
“Under current law, women and men in the health professions do not even have a right to go to court to defend their own God-given rights of conscience,” they continued. “Enforcement is left entirely to HHS, which in recent years has become not the solution, but part of the problem.”

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