June 30, 2014
Contact: Jenny Kraska
(Denver, CO.) Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a historic religious liberty decision in the case involving two family-owned businesses – Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The case involved two for-profit companies that sued the government to protect their right to operate their companies according to their religious beliefs, specifically, to not have to provide abortion-inducing drugs and services through their employee insurance programs.
In its 5-4 ruling the Court affirmed what the Green Family (Hobby Lobby) and the Hahn Family (Conestoga Wood) have believed all along – that people do not give up their religious freedom when they open a business. Businesses all across the United States express and act on moral views and the Court acknowledged in its majority decision that there is no reason to deny that same freedom to companies whose moral convictions are based on religion.
The Obama administration has been using a double standard by exempting numerous companies with millions of employees from the HHS mandate for commercial and political reasons, while at the same time levying severe fines against family businesses that have sought an exemption for religious reasons. Today the Court recognized this inequality in the HHS mandate’s implementation and has found that it is unconstitutional for the government to favor secular reasons over religious reasons when providing exemptions.
The Church teaches that a society dedicated to freedom and diversity must respect the freedom of its citizens to live and work in accordance with their religious convictions: “A healthy pluralism, one which genuinely respects differences and values them as such, does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 255). Today’s decision upholds principles of religious freedom that allow for-profit businesses, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, to live and work in accordance with their religious convictions without the burden of government officials trying to force their own beliefs on religious people.
We are hopeful that today’s decision will cast a favorable light on the ongoing non-profit cases still making their way through the legal process. The Church has an obligation to serve, and therefore, it needs the freedom to serve without government coercion of conscience and intrusion into religious beliefs. We encourage all people of good will to continue to pray for the protection of religious freedom in every sector of our society as guaranteed by the first amendment.