Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) expressed outrage over the Obama Administration's latest regulation, a finalized rule issued by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) requiring that contraception, sterilization and abortifacients be covered under the definition of "preventative care.'
"I met with presidents of several of Oklahoma's Christian-affiliated universities this week, and they expressed grave concern about their freedom to practice their faith and values without interference from the Federal government," said Congressman Lankford. "I share this concern for them and religious organizations across our nation -- church, para-church and educational institutions alike."
As authorized under the President's healthcare overhaul, within the next year, HHS will force all organizations, including private universities, not-for-profit charities and faith-based hospitals, to provide free contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drug coverage in their healthcare plans.
"The Bill of Rights explicitly protects the freedom of religion, with no caveats, exceptions or excuses," continued Congressman Lankford. "Forcing private, religious institutions to offer healthcare coverage that explicitly defies their beliefs violates the spirit of the First Amendment to protect the religious freedoms of all Americans.
"President Obama and his overzealous Secretary of Health and Human Services have decreed that religious institutions must change their faith to fit the preferences of the Administration; this is the definition of government restricting free exercise of religion. This administration is systematically ripping the freedoms from faith-focused Americans.
"This must not stand," added Congressman Lankford.
On January 20, 2012, due to the overwhelming outcry from many religious-based organizations and my colleagues in Congress, HHS Secretary Sebelius extended faith-based organizations and businesses an additional year of grace to implement the federal contraception and sterilization mandates.
"Expecting these organizations to simply abandon the morals and tenets of their faith is a serious affront to religious liberty. Who could have predicted that the American government would give faith-based groups one year to surrender their beliefs or face the penalty of stiff fines. Giving employers a one-year extension to "get over' their moral beliefs shows a complete lack of respect for rights of conscience and individual religious beliefs," concluded Congressman Lankford.