Catholic and Southern Baptist Religious Liberty Leaders Urge Senate to Support Health Care Conscience Rights Act; Welcome Introduction of S. 1204

June 21, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON— Archbishop William E.Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB)Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Russell D. Moore, Ph.D., presidentof the Southern Baptist Ethics "& Religious Liberty Commission, hailed the introductionof S. 1204 by Senators Tom Coburn and Deb Fischer and urged U.S. Senators tosupport passage of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. S. 1204 is identicalto H.R. 940 in the House of Representatives.

Ina June 21 letter, Archbishop Lori and Moore, as leaders of the religiousliberty efforts of the two largest religious denominations in the United States,asked legislators to support the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. They notedthat "many people are being forced—and many others will soon be forced—to eitherfollow what the government compels or suffer for their faith… [N]ow is the timeto pass legislation that protects our God-given freedom."

The legislation would extend thelongstanding federal policy on conscience to the new coverage mandates forprivate health plans created by the Affordable Care Act so that Americans arenot forced to violate their fundamental moral and religious convictions inorder to offer, sponsor, or purchase health coverage. The legislation alsoclarifies current nondiscrimination laws to improve protection of individualsand institutions that decline involvement in abortion, allowing the victims ofdiscrimination to vindicate their rights in court.

"TheHealth Care Conscience Rights Act would address … serious problems in waysconsistent with our federal government's long history of bipartisan consensuson respect for rights of conscience," the letter said. "While Catholics andSouthern Baptists espouse different theological views, we are united by thebelief that Congress must act to help preserve our freedom of religion andconscience."

Archbishop Lori, in welcoming theintroduction of S. 1204, said: "I applaud Senators Deb Fischer and Tom Coburnfor introducing the Health Care Rights of Conscience Act. The right to live outour faith in the public square – in our churches, our schools, and our placesof employment – is too important not to defend. I hope other Senators will jointhem in supporting these common-sense protections."

Thefull letters from Archbishop Lori and Moore to the House and Senate are availableonline: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/moore-lori-letter-to-congress-re-health-care-conscience-rights-act-house-version-ahrl.pdf (House version) http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/upload/moore-lori-letter-to-congress-re-health-care-conscience-rights-act-senate-version-ahrl-1.pdf (Senate version)

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Keywords: Archbishop William Lori, Dr.Russell Moore, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Health CareConscience Rights Act, religious liberty, religious freedom, HHS mandate

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