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Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the gentlelady for hosting this Special Order. This is so important because, tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties against Sebelius. I have the privilege, tomorrow, to sit in the Chamber and listen to the oral arguments.
At the heart of the argument is the question about whether you stop following your conscience when you go into business. For family businesses like Conestoga Wood Specialties, located in my Congressional district, faith and business are not separate.
Their business would not be the same if they did not apply the values that guide their life. I visited this business. I have talked to their employees. I know the Hahn family. They are sincere Mennonites and wonderful people of faith and good business people.
It is those values that prompted Conestoga Wood to provide quality health insurance to their employees in the first place. They provided health insurance long before this regulation or mandate came along under ObamaCare.
No government mandate had to tell them that it was the right thing to do. Now, the government wants to use force and fines to stipulate the details of what that plan covers. Conestoga Wood and many other businessowners of faith now find themselves in a catch-22 of conscience.
The First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were meant to guard against using the heavy hand of government to infringe on our religious rights. We should not have to leave our faith at the church door.
Under the First Amendment, we are guaranteed freedom of religion, and I might remind you, it is the First Amendment. It is not the Second Amendment. It is not the Sixth or the 16th or the 26th. It is the First Amendment. It is the first thing mentioned in the First Amendment--freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
Pennsylvania has a long history of people of differing faiths engaging in commerce. 100 years before there was a First Amendment, William Penn established his colony as a place where religious dissenters could find freedom and safety.
The Forefathers of the Hahn family--Mennonites and others--came to Pennsylvania because it was advertised as a place where you could live and work freely according to your religious beliefs.
These people of faith supported themselves with businesses, and the colonial authorities in Pennsylvania let them apply their principles freely. These principles of religious freedom would later inform the founding of our Republic, and something that had at first been uniquely Pennsylvanian would become part of our national culture.
Family-owned and -operated businesses provide millions of good jobs in America. The Hahn family is facing a difficult choice that no American should have to face.
We hope and pray that the Supreme Court will uphold a basic Pennsylvania value and a basic American value and the First Amendment right to religious freedom.
Every American, including family businessowners, should be free to live and work according to their beliefs without the fear of punishment or coercion by the government.
Americans don't give up their freedom when they open a family business. Let's hope and pray that the Supreme Court will uphold all of our rights to religious freedom here in this great country we call America.
I yield back.
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