Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases. The decision represents an important affirmation of our first freedom—religious liberty.
The federal government may not burden the “free exercise of religion” absent a compelling interest, and in this case, the government failed to show that the HHS contraception mandate is the “least restrictive means” of advancing its purported interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control.
Currently, HHS exempts employers with millions of employees from the mandate for commercial and political reasons, but severely fines family businesses that seek an exemption for religious reasons. It is unconstitutional and morally wrong for the government to favor secular reasons over religious reasons when providing exemptions.
Statement from the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s executive director, Jason Adkins:
“Today the Supreme Court ruled correctly that the free exercise of religion is not confined to the four walls of the sanctuary,” said Jason Adkins. “Religious liberty means the ability to live your faith in every aspect of your life. People do not give up their religious freedom when they open a family business. They should not have to check their values and religious convictions at the door when they enter the marketplace.”
Adkins continued, “A society dedicated to freedom and diversity must respect the freedom of its citizens to live and work in accordance with their religious convictions. As Pope Francis recently said: ‘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.'” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 255)