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Public Statements

Religious Freedom

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. STUTZMAN. It's a privilege to be here to stand on the House floor with my colleagues this evening and discuss an issue that is facing Americans today that really we should not be standing here talking about. We face tough economic times, but instead we have to be dealing with the administration's rule that he is implementing that came out of the health care bill passed several years ago. This is a freedom-of-religion issue. This issue is not about birth control. This issue is about government control.

I'd like to share a couple of lines from our founding documents that I think are very important. I think one thing that has happened over the past couple of years is that Americans have become more familiar with our Constitution, because I believe the Constitution has the answers for the problems that we face today.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to share this particular line that actually influenced the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment:

All men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.

That is found in the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The First Amendment says this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor today and I believe that this is a threat to our freedoms. I stand here as a Baptist, along with my colleagues from many denominations who believe that this is a threat to our freedom of religion. Can you imagine the outcry if the President told journalists what stories they could write? This is no less appalling. The President's decision to force individuals of faith to violate their conscience is a blatant assault on the First Amendment.

One of the things that is so foundational here in America is that we are a people of strong convictions. We are a people of faith. What this rule does is it puts the real American safety net at risk. We have so many faith-based organizations, charities, people that organize to help those who are in need. They are the backbone of the social safety net of this country. I believe that this rule interferes with those core beliefs and that HHS has jeopardized the mission that so many Americans have to help people across this country.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to share this quote by one of our famous and well-respected Founders and Forefathers of our country, and it is Daniel Webster, who said this in addressing Americans about preserving the principles of the Constitution. He said:

It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.

Mr. Speaker, I'd submit to you today that this administration, past Congresses, has good intentions; but they are beginning to control and to rule the people in ways that violate our constitutional freedoms and our liberties.

So I want to thank the gentleman for organizing this Special Order because I believe that the people must know that this is a rule that will infringe on their First Amendment rights.

The last quote I'd like to read tonight is a quote from Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson says:

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

I ask the American people to voice their opinion, to voice their freedom, and to let their Member of Congress know what this ruling does to the freedom of religion.


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