A sense of irony is apparently completely and totally lost on President Barack Obama. The staunch abortion advocate has the temerity to declare Saturday “Religious Freedom Day” at the same time he’s attempting to force a group of Catholic nuns to pay for abortions. Obama is attempting to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to obey the HHS mandate, which requires religious groups to pay for abortion-causing drugs and contraception against their religious views.
Nonetheless, here’s the text from Obama’s declaration of Religious Freedom Day and its promotion of “human dignity,” as Obama presides over a nation that denies such dignity to over 1 million unborn children every year:
Since our country’s founding, religious freedom has been heralded as one of our most cherished ideals. The right to practice religion freely has brought immigrants from all over the world to our shores, often in the face of great adversity, so they could live their lives in accordance with the dictates of their consciences. Some of America’s earliest settlers, the Pilgrims, arrived at our shores in search of a more tolerant society, free from religious persecution. Since that time, people of many religious traditions have added their own threads to the fabric of our Nation, helping advance a profound and continuous vindication of the idea of America.
When the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was adopted on January 16, 1786, it formed a blueprint for what would become the basis for the protection of religious liberty enshrined in our Constitution. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the statute proclaims that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” The First Amendment prohibits Government from establishing religion, and it protects the free exercise of every faith. Our Government does not sponsor a religion, nor does it pressure anyone to practice a particular faith, or any faith at all. The United States stands for the protection of equal rights for all people to practice their faith freely, without fear or coercion, and as Americans, we understand that when people of all religions are accepted and are full and equal members of our society, we are all stronger and freer.
Our commitment to religious freedom has fostered unprecedented religious diversity and freedom of religious practice. But these ideals are not self-executing. Rather, they require a sustained commitment by each generation to uphold and preserve them. Here at home, my Administration is working to preserve religious liberty and enforce civil rights laws that protect religious freedom — including laws that protect employees from religious discrimination and require reasonable accommodation of religious practices on the job. We will keep upholding the right of religious communities to establish places of worship and protecting the religious rights of those so often forgotten by society, such as incarcerated persons and individuals confined to institutions. We will also continue to protect students from discrimination and harassment that is based on their faith, and we will continue to enforce hate crimes laws, including those perpetrated based on a person’s actual or perceived religion. This work is crucial, particularly given the recent spike in reports of threats and violence against houses of worship, children, and adults simply because of their religious affiliation.
As we strive to uphold religious freedom at home, we recognize that this basic element of human dignity does not stop at our shores, and we work to promote religious freedom around the globe. We are working with a broad coalition against those who have subjected religious minorities to unspeakable violence and persecution, and we are mobilizing religious and civic leaders to defend vulnerable religious communities. In addition, we are calling for the elimination of undue restrictions on religious liberty, coordinating with governments around the world to promote religious freedom for citizens of every faith, and expanding training for our diplomats on how to monitor and advocate for this freedom. All people deserve the fundamental dignity of practicing their faith free from fear, intimidation, and violence.
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On Religious Freedom Day, let us recommit ourselves to protecting religious minorities here at home and around the world. May we remember those who have been persecuted, tortured, or murdered for their faith and reject any politics that targets people because of their religion, including any suggestion that our laws, policies, or practices should single out certain faiths for disfavored treatment. And as one Nation, let us state clearly and without equivocation that an attack on any faith is an attack on every faith and come together to promote religious freedom for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2016, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that teach us about this critical foundation of our Nation’s liberty, and that show us how we can protect it for future generations at home and around the world.
The Little Sisters of the Poor are asking the nation’s highest court to ensure they do not have to comply with Obamacare’s abortion mandate. The mandate compels religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions. Without relief, the Little Sisters would face millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot comply with the government’s mandate that they give their employees free access to contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
This month, a diverse coalition of religious leaders representing Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Native American, Catholic, Protestant, and other faiths will be joined by over 200 Democratic and Republican Members of Congress in filing friend-of-the-court briefs at the United States Supreme Court today on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
“We are overjoyed and deeply grateful for the diverse outpouring of support we have received from such a variety of people and groups,” said Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “We have been serving the elderly poor for over 175 years and are simply asking the government to allow us to continue our life’s work without being forced to choose between our faith and millions in government fines.”
The leaders of a broad group of religious faiths say the Little Sisters should not be forced to violate their Christian beliefs and pay for abortion-causing drugs.
“It’s easy to support religious freedom for the majority,” said Dr. Ossama Bahloul, Imam of The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. “But the test of America’s commitment to religious diversity and freedom comes when we show we’ll defend minorities and those with whom we do not fully agree.”
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“We have great admiration for the Little Sisters who are standing up not just for themselves and the elderly poor they serve but for the rights of all people of faith, including Jews,” said Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin. “Their courage is an example to all of us.” Rabbi Rocklin is a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.
“We stand with the Little Sisters because America’s proudest moments have come when the many have joined to defend the rights of the few, and we know too well the real cost when our government ignores its promises and puts expediency above principle,” said Pastor Robert Soto of the Lipan Apache Tribe in Texas.
Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily protected the Little Sisters from the mandate. The Little Sisters then went before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to extend that protection, but a panel of the appeals court ruled against them. Eventually the full appeals court ruled in its favor but the Obama administration appealed.
This is the second time the Sisters have been forced to ask the Supreme Court for protection from the government’s efforts to make them to provide contraceptives to their employees. The Supreme Court gave the Sisters preliminary protection in January 2014, and it will hear their case in March of this year.