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Public Statements

Freedom of Conscience

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HUELSKAMP. Thank you, Congressman Fortenberry. It is a pleasure to be here. I will warn you, as I will warn those who are listening, I'm going to try to be frank. And obviously, short, candid and truthful. But I think it may be uncomfortable to hear what is happening.

Simply put, the HHS mandate is a religion tax. You heard me right. If you morally or ethically disagree with the abortion, drugs, contraception, sterilization, it doesn't matter, under the President's health care plan, you will pay for it for your employees, for your family, and for yourself even if you don't want it. If you dare to follow your conscience and actually practice your faith and refuse to participate, you will be fined. You will be taxed. You will be forced to give your hard-earned money to Washington, even if you morally disagree.

That, my fellow Americans, is a religion tax; a faith tax; a tax on conscience; a tax on our freedom of religion. It's a shocking attack on that first right in the First Amendment, the right to believe in and follow the God we choose. As of now, there have been 31 lawsuits by nonprofits filed over the HHS mandate, another 30 lawsuits filed by for profit. These include hospitals, businesses, charities, religious colleges, Catholic dioceses, and many others. Let me illustrate the impact, particularly with Catholic services.

One in six patients in America are treated in Catholic hospitals. Catholic Charities provides an estimated 334 orphanages, feeds millions of Americans each year, serves thousands of our homeless each year, and the mandate punishes these individuals for feeding the homeless, takes away help for the sick, starves the hungry, and punishes the entrepreneur. Since the initial announcement, the administration has issued multiple updates claiming to modify the mandate. These are simply deceitful smoke screens. And even if some accommodation did exist in the language, the First Amendment is to be protected, not accommodated.

It's kind of like accommodating our freedom of speech by saying you use your freedom of speech on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, but Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, that's probably not permitted. We should ask ourselves: How can the beacon of freedom known as America become home to religious intolerance on such a massive scale?

Frankly, there is a war on religious liberty in this country, and there is no one to ride in defense. It is up to us. We must be ever-vigilant in defense of our God-given rights. We must be ever vigilant in safeguarding the protections in law for those rights. We must be ever-vigilant in standing for that first right of that First Amendment, religious liberty.

Thank you for your leadership, Congressman.


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