Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a wonton disregard for the freedom of religion and for the freedom of conscience. The Senator made this clear last week when he opted to block a bill sponsored by Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt and 36 other Senators, including retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Sens. Marco Rubio and Kelly Ayotte.
The bill would have barred the federal government from enacting any rule that would infringe on the conscience rights of faith-based institutions. The recent contraception and abortion flap has been the latest in a string of Obama administration decisions Blunt said has infringed on these rights.
Since February 2011, the Obama administration has also repealed conscience protections for religiously based health care providers who work in federally funded health care facilities. This means doctors, nurses and other health care providers could be forced to provide procedures they object to on religious grounds.
“He (Reid) said that debate over this was senseless and that Americans need to calm down,” Blunt told reporters and others at the Heritage Foundation Monday morning. “Americans don’t need to calm down on a debate as fundamental as the First Amendment to the Constitution. This freedom has defined us as much as any other right for over two centuries.”
These actions show that Sen. Reid, President Obama and the Democrats have a view of religious freedom far closer to that of the French Revolution than that of the nation’s founders.
For example, Article 10 of the 1789 French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen says:
“No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”
Clearly, Obama and the Democrats show they believe religious views opposing its mandate that the Catholic Church and other religious institutions provide contraception, sterilization and abortifacient coverage to their employees disturbs their view of what constitutes the public order.
This contrasts with James Madison’s first draft of the First Amendment , also from 1789, which says:
“The Civil Rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, nor on any pretext infringed. No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases.”
The comments Reid made about the Catholic bishops’ objections to being mandated to provide contraceptive coverage shows he doesn’t understand what religious freedom means in America, Blunt said. “Government shouldn’t run these institutions, and these institutions shouldn’t run the government,” he remarked.
Blunt contends religious institutions are different than all other societal institutions and deserve protections from governmental interference. Religious institutions already have protections in labor law for being able to only hire their own members, so they can maintain their integrity.
“If you don’t do that, these become like everybody else, except you are trying to have a chaplain on the payroll,” Blunt said.