Dear Speaker Boehner & Leader Reid,
The First Amendment to our Constitution begins "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This explicit protection of rights of conscience is as fundamental to us as our unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
A rule enacted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) forces individual and institutional employers to purchase health insurance for employees which provides free abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization procedures and contraceptive medications. Acknowledging that this mandate burdens the free exercise of religion of many Americans, the rule contains a limited accommodation for "houses of worship" but which is defined so narrowly as to exclude many employers with religious or moral objections, including religious hospitals, schools and charities.
Because the rule compels such employers (whether they be individuals, institutions or corporations) to violate deeply-held tenets of faith and conscience, it is in direct violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We fervently petition Congress to act immediately to repeal or amend this rule to protect the free exercise of religion and the rights of conscience of all Americans.
As signers of this petition, we do not represent any particular religious faith or political party. We are people of many faiths, and some of no particular faith. We have no uniform view on contraception. We are, however, unified as Americans in our support of the primacy of rights of religion and conscience. We affix our names here because we believe the mandate represents an unprecedented and unnecessary intrusion into the civic and economic life of people of faith and conscience and sets a dangerous precedent that undermines the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans.
We respectfully request the United States House of Representatives to take immediate action to preserve "rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority." After such a protection passes the U.S. House, we respectfully request its approval by the United States Senate.