Weekly Columns

Our Founding Fathers recognized the importance of religious freedom and secured this right in our Constitution. This is a cornerstone of American principle deeply impeded in our values and way of life and now under attack from the administration. 

A new mandate issued by the President forces faith-based institutions to offer contraceptive and sterilization services that violate their religious beliefs. This means religiously-affiliated organizations and individuals would have to pay, directly or indirectly, for services they consider morally objectionable. This mandate unfairly forces people to choose between their health and their morals or religious values.   

This is a direct result of the flawed health care law championed by the President and reaffirms the fears that I heard from many Arkansans about the administration’s healthcare approach.

Americans saw a massive expansion of government as a threat to individual rights. This mandate, one of the first based on the President’s health care bill, does little to ease those concerns. In fact, it comes across as confirmation that the President intends to force on us his belief that the government knows what is best for Americans when it comes to our health care. 

After opposition from many groups across the political spectrum on this assault on the Constitution, the President issued a compromise. However this was nothing but a gimmick showing the President’s lack of respect for religious freedom. 

I support religious freedom and oppose the heavy handed mandates this administration is imposing on us. That is why I supported legislation in the Senate allowing religious-affiliated institutions an exemption to this mandate and voted to restore these conscience protections—the same protections that have existed for more than 220 years since the First Amendment was ratified—until this rule was announced a little over a month ago. 

While opponents of this legislation claim this is an issue about contraception; that could not be further from the truth. This is about religious freedom. That extends beyond the walls of the church or the synagogue. It is ingrained in the way we live our lives, the decisions we make and our morals we live by. 

Religious institutions play a critical role in our communities. If federal policies make it difficult for these institutions to continue important social services without going against their principles, it will hurt the least fortunate among us by threatening the much-needed assistance and outreach provided by religious groups across the nation. 

The freedoms enshrined in our Constitution is part of what makes our nation a beacon of light to those all across the globe. As a Member of Congress, I take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. No matter what religion we practice, the rights granted in the Constitution are worth fighting for.