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Sunday, Mar. 1, 2015

Protect Religious Rights of Conscience

Posted Monday, February 13, 2012, at 1:24 PM

Dear Friend,

The United States' Constitution provides for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. These rights are the heart of our nation's foundation and cherished by Americans, but they have recently been challenged by President Obama and Obamacare. Under regulations that are implementing Obamacare, religious-affiliated hospitals, clinics, and schools would have to offer insurance coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, morning after pills, and other services to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As a father and a Christian, I believe this is not only unconstitutional, but morally wrong and it should not stand.

This week, I signed a letter with over 150 Members of Congress asking the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to reconsider and suspend the final rule until she can explain to us her rational behind this regulation and ensure that employers and individuals are afforded their constitutionally protected conscience rights. I also signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. This bill will amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which many refer to as Obamacare, so that a health plan can decline coverage of specific items and services that conflict with the religious beliefs of the entity offering the plan. This is one more step to repealing Obamacare in full and preserving our constitutional rights.

President Obama announced today that religious entities will not be mandated to provide free contraceptive, sterilization, and abortion inducing drug coverage for their employees, but the insurance companies will be required to reach out to these employees and offer them these services. While this seems like a change in policy, I'm not convinced it's anything more than smoke and mirrors. At the end of the day, the religious employer may not be explicitly offering contraceptive services, but they are still paying for the insurance policy from the insurance company that offers these free services to its employees. How is that protecting the rights conscience if they are still paying for these services? I will continue to stand by faith-based organizations and fight this policy until the freedom of speech and religion is guaranteed.

I believe that life is precious, and we must encourage and support healthy pregnancies and babies to further strengthen American families. With today's advancements in technology, you can actually see a baby move and grow inside the mother. It's truly amazing to watch these little lives develop before they are ever delivered. Children are our future and supporting their chance at life is an investment in our nation. As a pro-life member of Congress, I believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is not an option. Defending the right to life is a priority for me, and I will continue to support every effort to stop the multitudes of abortions that occur every year.

In other activities this week, I participated in a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the collapse of MF Global. I had the opportunity to question Michael Roseman, the Chief Risk Officer at MF Global, who left the company in January 2011. Below is a video:

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Hospitals are not churches, where religious freedoms are protected. Hospitals are businesses, which employ and serve the general public. When the Catholic Church decides to form corporations for the purpose of conducting such business, those corporations are not governed by a Pope in Rome. They are governed by the laws of our land.

In Division v. Smith, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that religious doctrine provides no legal authority for religious employers to defy the law. Justice Scalia: "We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition."

And in a 1982 decision, the USSC held that Amish employers must comply with Social Security and withholding taxes, though their faith bars participation in government support programs. Justice Scalia: "Respondents urge us to hold, quite simply, that when otherwise prohibitable conduct is accompanied by religious convictions, not only the convictions but the conduct itself must be free from governmental regulation. We have never held that, and decline to do so now."

Judge Scalia is both Catholic and conservative.

-- Posted by i-think on Thu, Mar 1, 2012, at 8:29 AM

Please explain why a muslim student in Finley,Tennessee is allowed to pray in front of Christian students several times a day while Christian students are denied this privilege?

-- Posted by seahawk1 on Wed, Jun 20, 2012, at 6:11 PM

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Congressman Stephen Fincher
Stephen Fincher
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Stephen Fincher is the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 8th congressional district.
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