HHS Mandate – Quesions the lay faithful can ask members of Congress

Over the past few weeks there has been a tremendous upheaval in the Catholic community in the United States. The HHS mandate that requires catholic institutions to violate their own teachings and morals has been codified in the federal register. In the face of this, all U.S. Bishops are united in the cause of its repeal. The strategy that the bishops are pursuing is to utilize the legislative branch of government to pass a law (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to declare that the conscience rights of individuals and entities are protected, which would then make the mandate unenforceable.

So, what can the lay faithful in this country do to support our bishops? We can make our voices heard to our congressional representatives.

This is just what happened last Friday and you can read about it here or view a short video here. In listening to the Teresa Tomeo show this morning on my way to work, I became aware that there was no place with a list of possible questions to ask our representatives during these town hall’s. I have put this quick list together and ask everyone to contribute ideas for good questions that we can bring to our representatives.
1. First off, ALWAYS be courteous. We will win people over to our side by nice, but firm in our beliefs. Remember no matter how frustrating this process is, shouting and name calling will win no one to our side.

2. Next, this is definitely not an issue of contraception – it is an issue of freedom of religion, with contraception as the particular point being contested. Never let your representative off the hook with a simplistic answer about the number of people who contracept because we are concerned about the freedom to live as the Church teaches, not how many people follow a particular teaching.

Also, if your representative is on the right side of this issue please be sure to say thank you and to ask if he or she is supporting the current conscience bills in the House and Senate.

On the mandate itself
• Why are there religious exemptions for certain groups so as not to violate their principles, but not the principles of all religious groups?
• Do you know that this mandate imposes forced speech upon religious employers that violates their religious teachings and principles?
• Do you believe that the US Constitution allows the government to force a company or an individual to purchase a product? What if that product violates a person’s or company’s conscience?

On the “accommodation”
• If this accommodation was supposed to be an attempt to come to an understanding, why was it not entered into the federal register as opposed to the original language?
• Do you know that the largest Catholic entities self-insure? This means that the “accommodation” offered by the administration is meaningless.
• What about the conscience rights of individuals, non-religious employers, or for-profit religious employers.

I realize that this list is not comprehensive, but I intend to add to it every day and I hope that the readers of this post will likewise contribute.

Other resources –

Stop HHS – Sign the petition and get updates on this issue
US Conference of Catholic Bishops – See exactly what our bishops are saying

May the peace of Christ be with you.