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By Deacon Keith Fournier

7/15/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Our religious liberties are not bartering chips. Let's not treat them that way.

The Supreme Court has ruled that those fines or penalties for non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act are a tax. Thus, the Federal Government will soon tax the Catholic Church for abiding by its deeply held religious convictions in its ministry to people in need. These taxes could have the practical result of closing many of the Church's outreaches, ministries and institutions of care and compassion.  This not only injures the Church and violates the Constitution, it injures American society and is an offense against the common good.

On Tuesday, January 10, 2012, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act was unveiled at a press conference held by Representative James Sensenbrennner (R-Wis.) and Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.).

On Tuesday, January 10, 2012, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act was unveiled at a press conference held by Representative James Sensenbrennner (R-Wis.) and Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.).

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/15/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Affordable care Act, Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act, abortion, contraception, sterilization, First Amendment, Anti-Catholic, Anti-Christian, HHS Mandate, Deacon Keith Fournier


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, June 28, 2012 the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate of the Affordable care Act (aka Obama Care). The dense opinion was authored for a 5- 4majority by Chief Justice John Roberts. Justices Kennedy, Alito, Scalia and Thomas strongly dissented. However, a Court speaks through its majority. The Majority opinion upheld the mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, not under the Commerce Clause, but as an exercise of Congress' power to tax.

The Obama Administration initially argued that the penalty for non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act's mandate to purchase insurance was not a tax. In fact, candidate and then President Obama, as well as the Congressional proponents of the legislation, argued that it was not a tax. They changed their position in the Chambers of the US Supreme Court. Now that the Supreme Court has held that the penalties for non-compliance are a tax, the political opposition has shifted. For all of us concerned about Religious Liberty, this is about much more than semantics. The Administration is saying violate your faith or pay a punitive tax to the Federal Government!

The major First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion concerns triggered by the HHS Mandate in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act have given rise to numerous lawsuits on their way to the US Supreme Court. They properly argue that the implementation of the Act through the HHS Mandate is unconstitutional because it violates the Free Exercise of Religion under the First Amendment. Those cases might have become moot had the Court struck down the Act. They are now more important - and much more urgent - than before.

The HHS mandate requires all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception in their health care plans. The "exemption" provided for religious employers does not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission. It is no exemption at all. 

Catholics know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic. Our work in the provision of care and assistance to millions of Americans is now placed in jeopardy by the Obama Administration. Our freedom as a Church to follow our mission is threatened.

The HHS Edict is a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Our proper place in serving the Common Good in this nation we love is under assault by a federal administration which refuses to recognize the protections of the US Constitution. The Affordable Care Act in its implementation is an unjust law. The Federal Government of the United States wants to compel the Catholic Church to act against its deeply held religious convictions and violate conscience. Failure to do so will bring punitive measures upon the Church and her institutions.

The Supreme Court has ruled that those fines or penalties for non-compliance with the Affordable Care Act are a tax. Thus, the Federal Government will soon tax the Catholic Church for abiding by its deeply held religious convictions in its ministry to people in need. These taxes could have the practical result of closing many of the Church's outreaches, ministries and institutions of care and compassion.  This not only injures the Church and violates the Constitution, it injures American society and is an offense against the common good.
 
According to a February, 2012 Congressional Research Report, insurers and employers that do not comply with the HHS mandate could face a federal tax of $100 per day per employee, or a yearly tax of $36,500 per employee.  Religious employers with hundreds of employees could be fined millions of dollars annually. Facing this huge tax threatens religious institutions like parochial schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, and universities to choose between violating their faith to keep their doors open or paying a potentially devastating tax. The Church has made it clear, we will not comply.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act was unveiled at a press conference held by Representative James Sensenbrennner (R-Wis.) and Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.). On Wednesday the legislation (H.R. 6097), was introduced with 57 cosponsors and referred to committee.  This legislation would prevent the Obama Administration from taxing religious institutions and employers for choosing to follow the core tenets of their faith rather than bow to the HHS mandate that violates their Right to the Free Exercise of Religion and conscience rights. 

In introducing the Bill Representative James Sensenbrennner noted:  "Obamacare gives the federal government the tools to tax religiously-affiliated schools, hospitals, universities and soup kitchens right out of existence.  This is the question facing religious institutions and concerned employers today: will you violate your conscience and religious beliefs or pay a hefty tax to follow your faith?"

"The taxes are severe for deciding not to comply with the HHS mandate: $100 per employee per day. So, a religious institution that, say, has a church and an elementary school beside it that employs fifty employees total, which include the administrative and maintenance personnel, ends up being taxed $36,500 per employee per year. Or the fifty-employee institution would have to pay a tax of $1,825,000 per year, every year."

"I am introducing this bill to protect employers from Obamacare's catch-22. Our religious liberties are not bartering chips. Let's not treat them that way. This bill protects religious freedom from this massive infringement and attack."

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