Oklahoma faith leaders are cautiously optimistic about health mandate change
Several Oklahoma leaders of Christian nonprofits said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the new Health and Human Services mandate opt-out options proffered by the Obama administration on Friday.
Raglow, too, said he was troubled that businesses who have religious objections to the mandate must still comply with it.
For that reason, he, like Jordan, said the debate over the mandate is not yet finished.
“It (new options) does not exempt others who share the same concern,” Raglow said. “It does not eliminate the discussion in the public square.”
Meanwhile, the leaders' concerns about Hobby Lobby and other businesses who have strongly objected to the mandate were echoed in a statement made Friday by attorneys speaking for the craft retail chain.
The attorneys said the proposed rule will not affect Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.'s legal challenge to the mandate.
“Today's proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious freedom of millions of Americans. For instance, it does nothing to protect the rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby,” Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a prepared statement.
The Becket Fund is representing Hobby Lobby in its court case now pending at the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The administration obviously realizes that the HHS mandate puts constitutional rights at risk. There would have been an easy way to resolve this — expanding the exemption — but the proposed rule expressly rejects that option,” Duncan said.
The federal government contends that religious freedoms don't apply to the company, because it is a secular, for-profit corporation.
Hobby Lobby has said that it would rather incur hefty fines rather than provide insurance coverage for the contraceptive pills. Hobby Lobby's court case is now pending at the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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