Ed Feulner

“We have tried negotiation with the [Obama] administration and legislation with the Congress -- and we’ll keep at it -- but there’s still no fix. Time is running out.”

Running out, that is, for many religious organizations across the country that provide services to people in need. For when Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the words quoted above, he was defending the right of these groups to serve inner-city children, the elderly, deaf, HIV/AIDS patients, developmentally disabled and homeless -- among many others.

All together, 55 religious organizations have joined 23 separate lawsuits filed in district courts nationwide. Their common foe? The Obamacare anti-conscience mandate.

The mandate would force these groups to pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization. Never mind that this stands in direct opposition to a central tenet of their faith. The Obama administration is taking the Rhett Butler approach to their right to practice their religion without government interference: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Hold on, some may say, didn’t the administration carve out a religious exemption? Yes, for churches and other houses of worship. Not for religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges, charities and other non-profits. As Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, has pointed out, “[The Obama administration’s] conception of what constitutes the practice of religion is so narrow that even Mother Teresa would not have qualified.”

So now we have government deciding who’s religious enough and who isn’t. Imagine what the Founding Fathers would say about that.

Many of these groups are not ones inclined toward activism, or to opposing the administration. Among the plaintiffs, in fact, is the University of Notre Dame, who only three years ago invited President Obama to deliver a commencement address and awarded him an honorary law degree. If this is his way of saying thanks, imagine what he must do to those who cross him.

Three evangelical institutions of higher learning -- Colorado Christian University, Louisiana College and Geneva College -- are also suing over the mandate. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, they explained that what’s at stake here is much bigger than a fight over birth control:

Ed Feulner

Dr. Edwin Feulner is Founder of The Heritage Foundation, a Townhall.com Gold Partner, and co-author of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today .
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