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Why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act matters to you


MATT HADRO

Source:
CNA
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
2/17/2015

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ABSTRACTWhy the Religious Freedom Restoration Act matters to you :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Pope Francis Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Cinemazlowski Fr. Robert Barron Guest Columnist In Good Company Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Russell Shaw The Dispute of the Humanum The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Way of Beauty Viewpoint Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood CNA Blog Home » News » US Why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act matters to you US Capitol building. Credit: Shawn Clover (CC BY-NC 2.0). Follow By Matt Hadro Washington D.C., Feb 17, 2015 / 05:20 pm ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- For the sake of religious liberity, it is vital that the religious rights of corporations – and not just individuals and churches – be upheld under federal law, a legal scholar has said. “Most Americans, faithful Americans, they bring their religious commitment into all aspects of their life, including the workplace,” Gregory Baylor, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told CNA after a Feb. 13 congressional hearing on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). “We have Christian families, other folks, who own businesses and they want to operate their businesses in accordance with their religious principles,” he added. “And the position of the government in these cases, and in today’s hearing, at least with respect to some of these representatives, is that your faith life is sort of within the four walls of the church, and that’s where it needs to stay.” Baylor testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 13 about “oversight of the  Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1993, was a reaction to a Supreme Court ruling that the government did not have to prove a compelling interest in substantially burdening one’s exercise of religion. The act established that if a law places a “substantial burden” on a person’s exercise of religion, the burden of proof falls on the government to prove a “compelling interest” for the law, and that it is using the “least restrictive means” of action to pursue its interest. The act certainly upholds the religious freedom of “entities like Catholic Charities, and Catholic University of America, and K-12 parochial schools,” Baylor said, adding that most, if not all, of those entities are “incorporated.” “So you can’t say that corporations don’t have rights,” he continued. At hand is the argument – exemplified in the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell – of whether a business or organization must cover items in employee health plans against its religious or ethical beliefs. The Supreme Court ruled that as a family-run closely-held corporation, craft chain Hobby Lobby met the religious exemption under RFRA and did not have to cover items it considered abortifacients in employee health plans. The court said that the government did not employ the “least restrictive means” of forcing Hobby Lobby to do so. Professor Nelson Tebbe of Brooklyn Law School said that Congress should amend RFRA. When a religious exemption for a business such as Hobby Lobby places significant costs on a third party – in this case, the employees who must pay for their own birth control and abortion-inducing drugs – the business must meet that need. “These thousands of people have suffered harm that may well be irreparable,” Tebbe said of employees who have gone without coverage for their birth control. When Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) asked Tebbe if this argument applied to religiously-affiliated organizations such as Catholic Charities having to cover late-term abortions, Tebbe said he was “reluctant” to answer that but that, using another example, Catholic Charities should have to provide adoption services to all couples, including same-sex couples. Baylor said that .......