Wake up, America! The constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion is being attacked in the Catholic Church today. Tomorrow it may be your religion.
Many Americans may not be aware of the fact that the Health and Human Services mandate of the Obama health care plan will take away the religious freedom of every person.
There is no exclusion for those who object to abortion, contraception or other issues of moral conscience.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has publicly stated its disapproval and recently encouraged all Catholics to pray for Congress to reconsider and remove this mandate.
The issue is not contraception and abortion. The issue is the government is forcing religious institutions to violate their beliefs to provide contraception and abortion insurance coverage.
On June 24, there was a gathering at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church where the mandate was discussed.
Members of First Baptist Church of Zachary were in attendance, and the Rev. Jeff Bayhi of St. John’s and Dr. Reggie Bridges of First Baptist were among those who spoke. This ecumenical meeting was a statement and demonstration that the HHS mandate affects all of us, regardless of religious affiliation.
It has now come to my attention that U.S. House Resolution 1179 was submitted to a congressional committee by a former Baton Rouge resident, Rep. Jeffrey Fortenberry, R-Neb.
It is called the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. As per protocol of Congress, this bill was sent to committee for discussion and has been languishing in that committee since March 2011.
The Senate counterpart bill is S1467 and contains the same ideas. It has been in committee since August 2011.
If passed in the House and in the Senate, both of these pieces of legislation would protect rights of conscience with regard to requirements for coverage of specific items and service under Obamacare.
Dr. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is on the congressional committee, and in a recent town hall meeting in Baton Rouge, he indicated that he would take another look at the resolution and endeavor with Rep. Fortenberry to get it to the floor of Congress for a vote.
Already, over 375 Zachary citizens have signed a petition that will be mailed to Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La., and to Rep. Cassidy urging them to vote to approve HR1179 and S1467.
Those wanting to sign the petition may do so electronically by clicking the link on the St. John’s website http://www.sjb-ola.org/. It is hoped that other area churches will participate in this grass-roots effort to make a difference.