Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison is one of some 100 religious leaders and scholars who signed an “open letter to all Americans” in opposition of final rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for religious groups to comply with the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Titled “Standing Together for Religious Freedom,” the signatories’ one-page letter states that those final rules — set to become effective Aug. 1 — essentially violate their freedom of conscience.
The letter — issued in conjunction with a June 21-July 4 “Fortnight to Freedom” called for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — was made public several days after President Barack Obama’s administration announced the rules. The conference’s website describes the fortnight as “a two-week period of prayer and actions, to address many current challenges to religious freedom.”
“The Affordable Care Act requires most employers to provide contraception coverage to staffers at no cost,” according to a July 2 Religion News Service (RNS) story about the letter.
“The HHS policy is coercive and puts the administration in the position of defining — or casting aside — religious doctrine,” the “Standing Together” letter states. “This should trouble every American.”
“At a minimum,” the letter continues, “we call upon HHS to … expand conscience protections under the mandate to cover any organization or individual that has religious or moral objections to covering, providing or enabling access to the mandated drugs and services. Further, because HHS claims to be acting on authority granted it by Congress, we ask Congress to consider how it might prevent such offenses from occurring in the future. Any policy that falls short of affirming full religious freedom protection for all Americans is unacceptable.”
For a PDF of the “Standing Together for Religious Freedom” letter, click here.
To read the RNS story about that letter — through “Periscope” at Reporter Online — click here.