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Obama Still Using Coercion and Massive Fines in Unconscionable Attack on Religious Freedom

Contact: Jeff Sagnip, 202-225-3765; chrissmith.house.gov

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) said President Obama has resorted to coercion and massive, punitive fines in a U.S. Health and Human Services announcement made today that targets faith-based hospitals, schools and other organizations which for moral reasons cannot and will not include abortion-causing drugs, sterilization and contraception procedures in their private health insurance plans.

"Here he goes again. This new 'notification option' announced today is really just another highly coercive regulation--a direct, obnoxious, unprecedented government attack on the conscience rights of religious entities and anyone else who for moral reasons cannot and will not include potentially abortion-causing drugs--such as ella--or contraception and sterilization procedures in their private insurance plans," said Smith, co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

"Rather than protecting the religious freedom and deeply held beliefs of nuns, monks, Christian colleges and charities, today's announcement just establishes another bogus procedure designed to force people of faith to violate their religious beliefs or face devastating fines of as much as $36,500 per year, per employee," Smith said.

"President Obama's means of coercing compliance--ruinous fines when faith-based organizations refuse to violate their conscience--will impose incalculable harm on millions of children educated in faith-based schools, and the poor, sick, disabled and frail elderly who are served with such compassion and dignity by faith-based entities," Smith said.

"President Obama is arrogantly using the coercive power of the state to force faith-based charities, hospitals, and schools to conform to his will at the expense of conscience," said Smith.

ALSO ANNOUNCED TODAY was a proposal for applying a fake "accommodation" process to family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. "The recent landmark Supreme Court decision exempted companies like Hobby Lobby from the mandate, and this overreach by the Obama Administration is intended only to ensnare family businesses back into the web of the mandate," Smith said. The current so-called "accommodation" has been flatly rejected by over 120 nonprofit plaintiffs, including Wheaton College and the Little Sisters of the Poor, suing over this application of the mandate.