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Missouri Family E-News

January 2 , 2012


Judge Blocks Religious Freedom Statute

 

 

A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a new state law protecting the religious freedom of Missouri citizens and employers.

 

U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig has issued a temporary restraining order against the law, which challenged the Obama Administration's contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.   

 

That law provided that no employee or employer can be required to obtain or provide health insurance coverage for abortion, contraception, or sterilization, if such items or procedures are contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

 

The religious freedom measure, sponsored by Senator John Lamping of Clatyon,  was adopted overwhelmingly by both houses in the Missouri Legislature.  It was ultimately enacted over the veto of Governor Jay Nixon.

 

Judge Fleissig ruled that the law posed an "irreconcilable conflict" with the federal contraceptive and abortion drug regulation.  "Insurers are placed in an untenable position that they cannot comply with both statutes at the same time." 

 

The judge's ruling is no surprise.  Under the Supremacy  Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws and regulations supersede state statutes.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act specifically delegated authority to the Director of Health and Human Services to adopt such a regulation.

 

Promoters of the bill hoped that the measure might survive had a new President or new Congress been elected who would repeal or revoke the mandate.  The hope still remains that the law might be revived if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the abortion drug mandate as a violation of religious freedom.

   

 


Religious Order May Exit US Over Obamacare

 

 

A religious order of Catholic nuns is contemplating leaving the United States due to the Obama Administration's contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.

 

The Little Sisters of the Poor operate residential care facilities for low-income senior citizens in 30 cities across the country, including St. Louis.

 

Little Sisters does not qualify for the religious exemption from the abortion drug mandate, and would face fines of $100 per employee per day for failing to comply.

 

"We are not exempt from the mandate because we neither serve nor employ a predominantly Catholic population," says Sister Constance Carolyn Viet, communications director for the Little Sisters.

 

"We hire employees and house and serve the elderly regardless of race and religion, so that makes us ineligible for the exemption being granted to churches."

 

Sister Constance says the mandate leaves the religious order with few choices.  " We just cannot say what will happen.  We would never be able to pay the fines involved.  We have difficulty making ends meet on a regular basis."

 

"As Little Sisters of the Poor, we are no strangers to religious intolerance," Sister Constance continued.  "Our foundress was born at the height of the French Revolution, and established our congregation in its aftermath."

 

"Our sisters have been forced to leave numerous countries, including China, Myanmar, and Hungary, because of religious intolerance.  We pray that the United States is not added to that list."   

 

Missouri Business
Wins Victory Against Abortion Drug Edict
 

 

 

The federal judiciary has granted a second Missouri business owner a reprieve from the Obama Administration's contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.  The U.S. District Court for Western Missouri issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the law against American Pulverizer Company of St. Louis.

 

The firm is owned by Paul and Henry Griesedieck.  Members of the Griesedieck family are evangelical Christians who are strongly committed to the sanctity of human life.  The Griesediecks contend that compliance with the Obamacare mandate would force them to violate their religious and moral beliefs.  In their lawsuit, the Griesediecks state that "it would be sinful for us to pay for services that have a significant risk of causing the death of embryonic lives."

 

U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to be able to prove that the Affordable Care Act [commonly known as Obamacare] "substantially burdens their exercise of religion...Plaintiffs must either pay for a health plan that includes drugs and services to which they religiously object or incur fines."

 

Judge Dorr noted that the federal government contends that the Griesedieck Companies are secular entities, and thus cannot "exercise religion."  Judge Dorr responded by saying:  "There are many entities under which an individual can run a business...Does an individual's choice to run his business as one of these entities strip that individual of his right to exercise his religious beliefs?"

 

The Griesediecks are represented by the American Center for Law and Justice.  ACLJ welcomed news of the injunction, saying,  "Paul and Henry Griesedieck face a stark and unavoidable choice: abandon their beliefs to stay in business, or abandon their businesses in order to stay true to their beliefs.  That is a choice that the federal government, bound by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, may not impose."

 

The U.S. District court ruling comes on the heels of a major decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal legal proceedings in the state of Missouri.  The 8th Circuit issued a temporary injunction halting enforcement of the abortion drug mandate against O'Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis, citing religious freedom concerns as well.

 

The contraceptive and abortion drug edict was issued by Health and Human Services (HHS)  Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  It requires that every health insurance plan issued in the United States by an insurer must include coverage at no cost for all "contraceptives" approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.  That includes abortifacient drugs such as Ella and Plan B, often referred to as "emergency contraceptives" or the "morning-after pill."

 

Decisions rendered in other federal judicial circuits have not been as favorable.  The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the Hobby Lobby corporation must comply with the abortion drug coverage mandate.  In that ruling, the court stated that for-profit corporations do not have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.  Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor refused Hobby Lobby's request for emergency action to block enforcement of the 10th Circuit decision. 

 

Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association, blasted the decision.  "The 10th Circuit ruling is an utter rebuke of religious freedom.  This is a dereliction of duty on the part of the courts to protect citizens from bureaucratic bullies who care little for the First Amendment."

 

David Green,  chief executive officer of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, says the company will not comply with the HHS mandate.  Green is a well-known leading evangelical Christian who operates his business according to Biblical principles.  Hobby Lobby faces fines of $1.3 million a day for failing to comply with the abortion drug dictate.

 

Columnist Michelle Malkin praised the company's fortitude.  "God bless this company.  It's incumbent on every American who believes in freedom of religion and freedom of conscience to support those businesses that are standing up and taking the slings and arrows of this discriminatory Administration."

 

Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham also derided the Hobby Lobby ruling.  "It turns out that the 'religious exemption' to the contraceptive mandate is so narrow as to be meaningless.  Unless you employ and serve only those of your religious faith,  you don't receive an exemption.  Under that standard, Jesus Himself would not qualify."

 

In the meantime, legal challenges to the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate continue to mount.  One of the latest to file suit is Catholic businessman Tom Monaghan, the founder and former owner of the Domino's Pizza chain.  Monaghan challenged the mandate on behalf of a development firm he owns, Domino Farms. Many people may not know that Monaghan founded two Catholic higher education institutions, Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Law School.

 

Pro-life attorney Wesley Smith commended Monaghan for refusing to finance life-destroying drugs, a practice Monaghan calls "gravely immoral."  "This isn't about birth control.  It's about the power of the government to bulldoze freedom of religion to mean nothing more than freedom of worship.  Regardless of one's faith or lack thereof, all who believe in American liberty should wish Monaghan well."

 

We encourage you to be praying for men like Tom Monaghan, David Green, and the Griesediecks for demonstrating the courage of their Christian convictions in standing firm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We also suggest you send messages of support.

 

You can contact the Griesediecks at American Pulverizer by e-mailing info@americanpulverizer.com

 

You can contact Hobby Lobby by using this link:

Hobby Lobby Customer Service 

 

You can contact Tom Monaghan by calling him at (734) 930-4425. 

 

   

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