The state protects religious freedom for all people

February 17, 2012 in Question of the Week by Burton Carley

The Affordable Care Act raises difficult issues that cannot be simply characterized as a contest between religious freedom and reproductive rights for women. The moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are not binding on all U.S. citizens. Indeed, people of good conscience have moral and spiritual principles that support reproductive choices for women. Understandably the Catholic Church publicly objects to the posthumous baptism by proxy of its members by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Likewise Catholic institutions should not require its non-Catholic employees to accept religious beliefs that are against their conscience. Employee choice allows Catholics to abide by the teachings of their faith, and non-Catholics to do likewise. This is especially prudent if the institution is being supported by public tax dollars.

We live in a democracy, not a theocracy. Religious freedom gives every citizen the right to be differently religious or not religious at all. The state protects that right for all people. If a person’s faith calls him or her to the work of humanitarian care and social service, this is a great good. It should not require others who share in that work to accept religious teachings that deny their own freedom of conscience.