Concerns About Religious Freedom in the United States

November 29, 2021
Headquarters of the Department of Health and Social Services

Currently, no Catholic doctor can be compelled to perform gender transition surgery, and Catholic hospitals can refuse requests for gender reassignment from a transgender person. They are also not forced to perform abortions or hire abortion doctors. The Biden administration wants to change all that.

The attack is coming from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leading the charge.

A leaked OCR draft brief to the HHS indicates that the Biden administration plans to repeal the Trump administration's policies governing religious freedom, including conscience rights.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra wants to remove the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In his capacity as attorney general of California, he had sued the Little Sisters of the Poor for resisting the Obama administration's HHS mandate, in an attempt to force nuns to include abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans.

The OCR argues that the Trump administration “had taken an expansive view of the use of RFRA that has had negative effects on underserved communities.” In other words, attempts by gay and transgender activists to impose their secular vision on institutions were blocked by the previous administration.

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) has challenged the Biden administration on this issue. But more news has just been released that shows how things have only gotten worse.

Becerra seeks to remove a wide range of religious freedom exemptions that lawmakers and courts have granted. Documents obtained by the Catholic Benefits Association show a true symbiosis between the HHS and left-wing activist organizations, the most important of which is the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Their success depends on the destruction of religious freedom exemptions put in place by courts, legislators and administrative agencies. More than any other entity, it is the Catholic institutions which suffer the most severe attacks.

If they succeed, Catholic doctors and hospitals will lose their autonomy. They will either have to shut down or comply with the administration’s anti-Catholic standards. For example, Catholic hospitals would be forced to perform abortions or hire abortionists on the grounds that denying a woman an abortion would amount to gender discrimination.

Faced with difficulty getting certain laws accepted - such as the Equality Act - due to a lack of public support, OCR and HHS have chosen to bypass Congress and seek court approval for their extremist and anti-natural policies.

The Leadership Conference, which is fueling this campaign, is made up of many well-known left-wing organizations. The ACLU, American Atheists, the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for American Progress.

Their hostility to religious freedom in general, and to the rights of Catholics in particular, is well known. What is not widely known is that the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), which has 40 million members, is a member of this organization.