InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington Statement on the HHS Mandate

Adopted by InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington Board of Directors

June 05, 2012

The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC), unites the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, and Zoroastrian faith communities in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area* and is committed to interfaith dialogue and working cooperatively for social and economic justice, including protecting religious freedom,

We urge the continued efforts by the federal government and religious organizations to resolve the conflicting imperatives posed by the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for certain religiously affiliated organizations other than houses of worship to provide health care services to their employees. We recognize the importance of protecting the religious freedom of conscience of religious employers while ensuring that employees, especially women, have access to affordable healthcare coverage as mandated by the HHS.

IFC is concerned that the HHS mandate, even as revised in February of this year, may require non-exempted, non-profit religiously affiliated organizations, such as universities, hospitals, and schools, to provide funds for health services that violate their conscience and religious beliefs. We are especially concerned in the case of those institutions, such as the Archdiocese of Washington, which are self-insured.

IFC also recognizes the issues of justice and individual religious freedom at stake in our government ensuring that a full range of affordable health benefits are provided to individuals, including reproductive healthcare. IFC recognizes the right of all employees to have equal access to appropriate health care, regardless of their employer’s beliefs.

The IFC urges that the scope of the HHS mandate be such that religiously affiliated organizations will not be forced to violate their religious beliefs and that all individuals will have access to affordable drugs and medical services.

IFC calls on all interested parties to reach for higher ground in achieving both social goods: that of preserving religious freedom and that of ensuring equal provision of affordable health care. Ensuring that both of these interests are met in the HHS mandate can be done if everyone works together in a spirit of openness and good will.

*The Baha’i and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints communities have no position on this issue and urge their members to vote their conscience.

Rev. Clark Lobenstine
InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington
[email protected]