This past January, President Barack Obama announced his contraceptive mandate that would require all employers to obtain health insurance that would provide coverage for contraceptives, abortion drugs and sterilization and offer it to all of their employees. The mandate was written in such a way that even religious institutions (churches, schools, ministries) would be required to furnish the controversial coverage even if it violated their religious faith.
In their attempt to appease the outrage and backlash from Catholic and Protestant organizations, the Obama administration provided a religious exemption. However that exemption was very limiting as it only applied to an institution that was a non-profit and that the majority of its employees and the people they served belonged to the same religious affiliation.
The feds religious exemption was so tightly written that many religious institutions including colleges, universities, schools and ministers would not be able to qualify for it.
Arizona State Representative Debbie Lasko and State Senator Nancy Barto re-introduced HB 2625 into the Arizona legislature this year to help protect the religious freedom of a number of organizations within the state. HB 2625 broadens the religious exemption to include ‘any organization whose articles of incorporation state a religious motivation and whose religious beliefs play a significant role in its operations.’
As Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law last week, she said,
“In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled.”
Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference responded to Gov Brewer’s signing of the bill by saying,
“We’re absolutely thrilled that Gov. Brewer signed this important religious liberty legislation after many years of battling over this issue in Arizona and now across the country.”
“It’s also a very good time to unite with people of other faiths on this bedrock issue. If we don’t do it now, we’re going to see much more serious erosion.”
Hopefully other states will follow Arizona’s lead and pass similar measures to protect the constitutional freedom of all religious organizations and help prevent them from being forced to do things that are against their faith.