“The Obama administration shows a remarkable disdain for the Constitution,” Priebus wrote in a Politico op-ed Thursday. “The administration’s actions are unconscionable and offensive to people of faith — most notably the Roman Catholic Church, which will feel the greatest effect.”
Priebus said that if Obama can ignore the most basic of American liberties – religious freedom – then there is not much else that cannot be “sacrificed” for the President’s political ends.
“If the federal bureaucracy can so easily cast aside the First Amendment in pursuit of a specific health policy, what else can it ignore at a whim? What will be sacrificed next at the altar of Big Government?”
The mandate, which requires virtually all health plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive services at no charge, was first enacted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011. It sparked controversy because it would force religious employers to cover both traditional contraceptives as well as emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and sterilization services – all of which are considered immoral and impermissible by the Catholic Church and other religious denominations.
In January, HHS refused to exempt religiously-affiliated organizations such as Catholic hospitals and charities, announcing that it would exempt only those employers that primarily hire people of their own faith – such as churches and seminaries.
Priebus said the contraception mandate forces religious employers into “a terrible choice” between disobeying their own religious moral teachings or closing down their charitable operations.
“If the government can dictate the actions of religiously affiliated institutions, those institutions are faced with a terrible choice: violate their faith or receive the government’s prescribed punishment,” he wrote.
“Or there’s a third alternative: Shutter the school. Charities and shelters, food banks and orphanages, hospitals and schools are the potential victims of Obama’s mandates. If the faithful must violate their beliefs to operate these programs, they may cease to operate at all.”
The Republican Party leader also noted that Obama himself had once taken a stand for the religious freedoms of others, pointing to a 2006 quote from then-Sen. Obama saying that it was “wrong” to “ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square.”
“All those that work to help others in the public square and to assist those in need are now being told to ‘leave their religion at the door’,” Priebus said.