Interfaith Conference Of Metropolitan Washington Urges Lawmakers and Others To Find Balance In Protecting Religious Freedom While Providing Affordable Access In HHS Mandate.

Statement of the Interfaith Conference Of Metropolitan Washington

June 05, 2012

The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) is an organization uniting 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*. It is committed to interfaith dialogue and working cooperatively for social and economic justice, including protecting religious freedom.

In light of the recent debate surrounding 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, the organization has urged the continued efforts by the federal government and religious organizations to resolve the conflicting imperatives within the law.

Though the IFC recognizes the right of all employees to have equal access to appropriate health care, regardless of their employer’s beliefs, it remains 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. Particular concern has been expressed in the case of those institutions, such as the Archdiocese of Washington, which are self-insured.

The IFC would like to highlight 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.

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. It calls on all interested parties to reach for higher ground in achieving both social goods: 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.

In a spirit of openness and good will, the IFC is confident that both of these interests can be met in the HHS mandate if everyone works together.

*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]