'More Respect for Religious Freedom' Needed After Failed Senate Vote to Curtail It

July 16, 2014 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Today the U.S. Senate voted against considering S.2578, a bill empowering the federal government to override the ReligiousFreedom Restoration Act and other federal conscience laws when it mandates includingany "item or service" in health plans.

Writing "in strong opposition" to the bill earlier this weekwere Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore,chairs respectively of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and theAd Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. They wrote that S. 2578 "does not befita nation committed to religious liberty. Indeed, if it were to pass, it wouldcall that commitment into question. Nor does it show a genuine commitment toexpanded health coverage, as it would pressure many Americans of faith to stopproviding or purchasing health coverage altogether."

A motion to take up this legislation was supported by 56 Senatorsbut failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to proceed. Commenting on the vote,USCCB Director of Government Relations Jayd Henricks said: "While the outcomeof today's vote is a relief, it is sobering to think that more than half themembers of the U.S. Senate, sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution of theUnited States, would vote for a bill whose purpose is to reduce the religiousfreedom of their fellow Americans. We need more respect for religious freedomin our nation, not less."

Cardinal O'Malley and Archbishop Lori's July 14 letter isavailable online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/07-14-14-S-2578-Cardinal-O-Malley-Archbishop-Lori-to-Senate.pdf.More information on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and conscience rightsis available at https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/upload/S-2578-Backgrounder.pdfand by following #HandsOffRFRA.


Keywords: #HandsOffRFRA, U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops, USCCB, U.S. bishops, religious freedom, Cardinal Seán O'Malley,Archbishop William Lori, Pro-Life Activities, S. 2578, Religious Freedom RestorationAct