In a speech during Thursday morning’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama acknowledged, “It’s also clear that around the world, freedom of religion is under threat.”
“No society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its people, including religious minorities,” he added later.
The Obama administration has been harshly criticized by the Catholic church and civil liberties organizations concerned that Obamacare mandates that organizations provide their employees free access to contraceptives through their health care plans, even if their religious faith calls contraception a sin.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization run by Catholic nuns that provides assistance to the elderly poor, doesn’t qualify for the Obama administration’s exemption of “religious organizations” because they hire people of all religions. The government also says they can avoid being fined if they simply hire a third party to provide the health insurance. If the Little Sisters don’t comply with the mandate, they could be fined $4.5 million annually — “about a third of its budget,” Fox News reports.
“The president is right, freedom of religion is under threat, not only in the United States but increasingly around the world,” Adam Cassandra, communications manager at Catholic organization Human Life International told The Daily Caller. “Unfortunately, the actions of the Obama administration, especially in terms of the HHS mandate dealing with contraception and abortifacient drugs, its policy on abortion, and the administration’s support for redefining marriage, have greatly contributed to the persecution of Christians, especially Catholics. The rights of religious minorities deserve protection, but the mainstream moral values of Christianity also need protection, especially from this administration, and should not be labeled as ‘intolerant,’ which only incites hatred and violence towards Christians.”
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor put a stay on the administration enforcing the mandate while the matter is contested in the courts. A decision is expected by June.