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It was an honor to sign “Standing Together for Religious Freedom” with 100 distinguished religious leaders urging conscience protection under Obamacare’s HHS mandate compelling religious institutions, excluding actual churches, to offer insurance coverage for abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization.  The letter was unveiled today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, representing the Catholic bishops on religious liberty, and Russell Moore, new chief of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.   Also speaking were Yuri Mantilla of Liberty Law University in Lynchburg, VA and Anne Hendershott of Franciscan University in Steuvenville, OH.  The letter emphasizes there are differences among signers on contraception and other issues but the signers are united in defense of “full religious freedom protection for all Americans.”

Here are some important quotes from the press conference:

“We in the Catholic Church have never seen such a distinction between what we do within the four walls of a church and how we serve our neighbors.  The faith by which we worship on Sunday is the very same faith by which we act in the world the other 6 days of the week.”  …Archbishop Lori

“We cannot accept the theology lesson the government has sought to teach us, that religion is simply a matter of what happens during the scheduled times of our services, and is left there in the foyer during the rest of the week.  Our religious convictions aren’t reduced to simply the opinions we hide in our hearts, or sing in our hymns. Our religious convictions inform the way we live.”   …Russell Moore

“American religious institutions, business and private persons should not be forced to pay for drugs and services which violate their deeply held convictions.  American religious institutions, businesses owned by religious persons, and individuals should not pay fines to uphold their religious ideas.”   …Yuri Mantilla

“Those of us who work on Catholic campuses-or other Christian institutions…have already been injured by this unjust mandate because our constitutional right to religious freedom has already been compromised.  The refusal by the Obama administration to classify religious institutions like Franciscan or Notre Dame as religious employers has already compromised our religious rights.  There is every indication that this will escalate.”  …Anne Hendershott

Letter signers include officers of the National Association of Evangelicals, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Southern Baptist Convention, Russian Orthodox Church, Anglican Church in North America, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Notre Dame University, and numerous others.

IRD’s Kristin Rudolph, who’s doing her own coverage, and I attended today’s press conference, which was broadcast on C-SPAN.  Here’s a shot of me below!

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