Lankford: Religious Freedom Day Longs for Free Exercise

Statement

By:  James Lankford
Date: Jan. 16, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

House Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford (R-OK) proudly recognized today as Religious Freedom Day. Chairman Lankford also expressed disappointment in the Obama Administration's lack of commitment to protecting every American's First Amendment religious rights in the workplace.

President Obama's Religious Freedom Day proclamation from 2010 states: "...our freedom to practice our faith and follow our conscience is central to our ability to live in harmony. On Religious Freedom Day, let us pledge our constant support to all who struggle against religious oppression and rededicate ourselves to fostering peace with those whose beliefs differ from our own."

"I have always respected our founders' straightforward insistence that the freedom to practice any religion or no religion should be protected," said Chairman Lankford.

"There was nothing vague in their blunt declaration in the Bill of Rights--"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…,'" observed Chairman Lankford. "The Administration seems to respect religious diversity but is unwilling to permit the free exercise of religion when a faith does not align with the Administration's doctrine.

"Since enactment of the President's healthcare law and other federal mandates, Americans have seen first-hand how our government can ignore the First Amendment rights of people whose beliefs differ from the President's beliefs," said Chairman Lankford.

Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Church and School was denied the right to select their own clergy, until the Supreme Court overruled the Administration 9-0. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops was denied a federal grant to serve people who have been traumatized through trafficking in persons solely because the Bishops would not support abortion, even though federal law forbids taxpayer funding for abortion.

Currently, private companies like Hercules Heat and Air and Hobby Lobby face enormous fines because their faith does not agree with the President on certain drugs. They can be fined $100 per employee per day for failing to provide those drugs for free to their employees, which could mean as much as $1million per day for a larger company.

So, if a business has a faith objection to the President, they face a $36,500 yearly fine per employee, but if a business refuses to provide insurance at all, they are only fined $2,000 per year per employee. Based on the punitive size of the fine, it is clear the Administration demands absolute orthodoxy to its religious views and is willing to severely punish anyone who disagrees.

"While I applaud the President for taking a moment to recognize the need to protect religious freedom, actions speak louder than words. Our nation must allow the freedom to disagree without government coercion," concluded Chairman Lankford.