Mr. JOHNSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my strong opposition to President Obama's administrative rule requiring religious institutions that provide health insurance policies to supply coverage for medicines and procedures that violate the tenets of their faith.
Freedom of religion is one of the foundations of our country. Famously, in the early days of the Republic, the Vatican requested permission of the Continental Congress to appoint a bishop. The Congress wisely declined the appointment, recognizing that there was no appropriate role for government in the regulation of church activities.
Now, over 200 years later, the Obama administration wants to roll back the clock and make decisions for religious institutions that should properly be left to those institutions. People freely associate themselves with churches and their affiliated organizations, such as hospitals and schools. In doing so, they accept that they will abide by the rules of those organizations. The Obama administration has uniformly usurped the autonomy of each institution to set those rules upon themselves.
This is a dangerous precedent. It is not difficult to see further encroachments by the ``all powerful'' federal government upon the rights and privileges of church communities. Will the Department of Education begin setting curriculum standards for private religious schools? Will the Department of Labor set standards of employment for Catholic health facilities? Will the Department of Health and Human Services begin requiring end of life counseling that violates the teachings of certain religions?
During the healthcare debate of 2010 and after, assurances were given to Members of Congress and to leaders of religious organizations that nothing in the bill would or could be used to violate the right of conscience of any faithful American. I voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in part, because I feared exactly this; it is being used as a lever to force values upon the American people that are contrary to their own beliefs.
Let us hope this and future Congresses will work to repeal President Obama's takeover of healthcare and, by extension, the conscience of individual. Further, let us implement true healthcare reform that improves our system, lower costs, and protects the rights of Americans to have healthcare coverage that conforms to their values.