- Faith & Family
In recent weeks, religious freedom, birth control and the Obama administration have been featured in dozens of headlines. After the White House announced a mandate requiring religiously affiliated employers such as Catholic hospitals and colleges pay for birth control in their health insurance plans, controversy erupted as the Catholic church – whose doctrine forbids the use of contraceptives – protested.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski, the Archbishop of Miami said in a prepared statement, “It is about the first freedom of our Bill of Rights: the freedom of religion and respect for the rights of conscience. The president in thinking that somehow fertility is a disease and pregnancy a pathology insists on classifying access to contraception, sterilization and chemical abortions as “preventive care” is riding rough shod over Americans’ first amendment rights.”
While the Catholic church’s disapproval of the mandate has been well documented, what has been less noted is what other Americans – of different faiths, ages and ethnicities – believe about the mandate.
A recently released Pew Research Center survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe that institutions should be exempted from the mandate if they do not believe in using contraceptives, while 44 percent of those surveyed believe they should be required to cover contraceptives.
Thirty-six year old, Berwick Augustin, a Baptist, believes religious institutions should be exempted from the mandate.
“I don’t think it’s right to force a [business] to go against their belief,” he said.
However, Augustin himself believes in the usage of contraception for married couples.
“If couples don’t want to have a bunch of babies all over the place, then it [using contraception] is cool,” he said.
Other members of the faith community are also concerned about the sexual morality of society.
“The biblical mandate is that we abstain from sex if we are single and if we are married then we are not to participate in an adulterous relationship,” said Rev. Joreatha Capers of the Ebenezer United Methodist Church.
However, Capers still believes that the religious-affiliated institutions should cover the costs of contraceptives for all employees.
“The reality is that a lot of people are not following these biblical mandates,” she explained. “I feel it is better to encourage people not to have an unwanted pregnancy.”
Also to be noted is that some Catholics - such as the liberal group, Catholics United – have also come forward stating their support of the contraception mandate. The same Pew Research Center survey found that among Catholics aware of the issue, 55 percent support an exemption for religious institutions, while 39 percent believe the mandate should be mandatory for all businesses.
In spite of many people’s support of the mandate, the Obama administration has decided to side step the issue. Last week, the White House announced that instead of mandating that religious-affiliated employers cover birth control in their health insurance plans, employees instead would have the option of receiving free coverage directly from their insurers.