WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 -

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Mr. Speaker, we hear about religious persecution throughout the 3rd world, but the Catholic Church is being persecuted right here in the United States by our own government.

Our great country was founded on the principle of religious liberty.  This right is in the first amendment. The provisions in the first amendment are listed first because they are the most important.

Yet the Administration is chipping away at this cornerstone of our society by violating the religious liberty of those who hold fast to certain positions of their faith,  in particular those of the Catholic Church.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that religious organizations will be forced to provide their employees with medical insurance that covers free contraceptives and sterilization.

While houses of worship are exempt, religiously affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities are mandated to comply with this government edict.

This goes against the basic tenets of the Catholic religion as well as other faiths—Christian and non Christian.

The Administration believes that it is enough to give religious organizations one year to comply with this government oppression.

But, there will never be enough time for the Church to change its core principles.

Timothy Dolan, President of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops and New York Archbishop said it best:

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Religious principles are not negotiable.  They are not to be subject to bullying by government.

No government has the legal or moral right to make any religion violate its religious convictions.

The Administration is violating two provisions of the first amendment:  

The free exercise of religion clause and the establishment of religion clause.

The government is prohibiting the free exercise of religion because it is punishing Catholics for exercising their religious beliefs.

Government is also violating the establishment clause by establishing a government religion---statism—because government is establishing its own moral standard that must be complied with – or else.

Regardless of where Americans stand on the issues of contraception or sterilization or the “abortion pill”, it should be alarming to those who believe the government should not punish religions or substitute a religious doctrine for citizens.

The government should stay out of persecuting religion.

This recent antireligious decision is completely unacceptable.

It’s only one in a long line of new government actions that disregard freedom of conscience and religious liberty.

This comes on the heels of the Administration’s denial of a grant to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops to aid victims of human trafficking.

Not only were they awarded this grant in the past, but their application received the highest score.

This money is used to help victims of the surge of human slaves.

They were denied the grant because of religious convictions they do not provide contraceptives or refer women for abortion.

Apparently under this Administration, in order to aid victims, it is necessary for religious groups to violate their religion.

These are only the two most recent assaults by our government on religious liberty and conscience.

As soon as this Administration came into office, a proposal was submitted to rescind conscience regulations for medical professionals.

Protections for medical professionals who would not violate their conscience by distributing emergency contraceptives were rescinded.

This was just a hint at what was to come in deliberate disregard for the 1st Amendment.

This Administration’s conscious attack on religious liberty is a strike at the core principles of our nation

Government is putting basic freedoms in jeopardy and bruising the constitution.

No government should force citizens to violate their religious beliefs. 

Who would have thought that this nation founded on religious liberty would now be engaged in religious persecution against certain citizens? 

This ought not to be.

And that’s just the way it is.

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