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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude
Legal Commentary

Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State.

Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?

US House of Representatives
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

16 February, 2012


Americans of all faiths have a right to practice their religion free from the fear of persecution or harassment from their government. Our nation's founders believed this and enshrined religious freedom into the First Amendment to the Constitution.

While some Americans may not feel that government mandates forcing them to pay for contraception are an infringement on their religious beliefs, others consider it to be an assault against their freedom of conscience. A government policy that encroaches on the conscientious objections of religious groups concerns all Americans who value the protections of the First Amendment. Today, the committee will hear testimony from leaders of different faiths. They are concerned that government, under this Administration, is encroaching on their First Amendment rights.

The Administration's actions have forced us to confront a more fundamental question about the proper role of government in our lives.

This hearing is about basic question of religious freedom, and whether or not protection will be afforded to religious institutions who wish to follow their conscience in refusing to pay for products they find morally objectionable. I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses.

Representative Darrell Issa, Chair

Panel I

The Most Reverend William E. Lori
Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgeport, CT
Chairman Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Reverend Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D.
Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy
Union University

Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought
Yeshiva University
Associate Rabbi
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun

Craig Mitchell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Ethics
Chair of the Ethics Department
Associate Director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Panel II

John H. Garvey
The Catholic University of America

Dr. William K. Thierfelder
Belmont Abbey College

Dr. Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver
East Texas Baptist University

Dr. Allison Dabbs Garrett
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Oklahoma Christian University

Laura Champion, M.D.
Medical Director
Calvin College Health Services

Barry W. Lynn, Esq. (invited)
Executive Director
Americans United for Separation of Church and State


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