“The Constitution protects your right to believe and worship, not force your beliefs on others.” That’s a response Acton received via Twitter regarding a blog post on the HHS Mandate. This type of statement is a typical one in our society: you can believe whatever you want, but don’t force your beliefs on anyone else. Religious belief and worship should be a wholly private affair; bringing your beliefs into the public square constitutes “forcing” them onto others.
In the latest issue of Faith and Justice from Alliance Defending Freedom, twelve women talk about what happened when this very scenario happened to them. As nurses working at University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey elective surgery unit, these women were told by their employer that they must assist in elective abortions. Despite an employment clause that said nurses were exempt from this except in emergency situations if they believed abortions were immoral, the hospital stood its ground, and the nurses were told they would lose their jobs. Their union declined to help. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the nurses.
Amid all the tension, threats, and growing media coverage, the judge in the case stunned everyone by suddenly announcing, in a preliminary hearing, that a settlement had been reached.
“We had gotten everything [the 12 nurses] requested,” Stratis [Demetrios Stratis, one of the nurses’ attorneys] says. “We’d gotten the hospital to agree not to force them to perform these abortions. There would be no retaliatory measures against them…
One of the nurses, Beryl Otieno Ngoje, said the case took a toll on her, but saw no other option but to stand up for her beliefs: “You go against what you believe, what are you? What’s left? Just a shell of what you are.”
The First Amendment states, in part: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. It is clear that the Framers of the Constitution were not merely concerned with our beliefs but our actions, the free exercise of our religious beliefs. The Obama Administration continues to try to force employers to pay for abortifacients and sterilizations, regardless of moral and religious objections. That would require many business owners to go against their beliefs. If one person’s religious beliefs and the free exercise thereof are not safe, then no one’s are.