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Mr. LAMBORN. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
America has a long history of religious freedom.
In the 17th century, colonists fled to what would become the United States of America in search of religious freedom. In 1789, Congress drafted the First Amendment, ensuring the right to the free exercise of religion. Throughout the 20th century, the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the rights of individuals to practice their religions according to the dictates of their own consciences. In 2001, President Bush established the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to ``encourage faith-based programs without changing their mission.''
But today, the Obama administration's policies threaten that fundamental freedom. President Obama's new health care mandate, despite a flimsy, politically motivated, so-called ``compromise,'' forces religious organizations to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans.
So much for over 200 years of religious freedom.
The mandate is an unprecedented act of government trampling over the deeply held beliefs of millions of Americans. I stand with my colleagues tonight in showing our united opposition to any efforts by the Obama administration to flagrantly disregard deeply held religious beliefs.
I am a cosponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, introduced by Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, which would protect the rights of conscience for faith-based organizations and would leave Federal law where it was before the President's divisive health care plan was passed.
A number of Representatives from around the country are very troubled by this unprecedented government intrusion into the First Amendment right of freedom of religion. We are going to take the next 60 minutes to explore just how wrong this decision was, how meaningless the so-called ``compromise'' is, and how vital to our country freedom of religion is today.
At this point, I would like to yield to the courageous sponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, Representative Fortenberry of Nebraska.
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