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Knights of Columbus Files Formal Comment on HHS Mandate

Contact: Andrew Walther, Knights of Columbus, 203-752-4253

NEW HAVEN, Conn., June 20, 2012 /Standard Newswire/ -- The Knights of Columbus filed a formal comment with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today, calling on the government to rethink the unpopular healthcare Mandate that seeks to force many Catholic employers to cover interventions that violate their faith without regard for the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

The letter, signed by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, urged "the Administration to rescind the Mandate altogether," or at least "to expand the religious exemption so that it covers all objecting individuals and organizations from cooperating in actions that genuinely offend their religious beliefs and moral convictions."

"To exempt only some institutions on the principle of respect for religious liberty, as the Government seems to contemplate, and to refuse to exempt individuals makes no sense. The right to the free exercise of religion enshrined in the First Amendment extends to the people," the letter says.

In the letter, the Knights noted that the Mandate "requires private Catholic individuals and entities, including organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, to violate their most deeply held religious beliefs," and that "it appears to do so in violation of federal law and the First Amendment of the Constitution." The letter also pointed out that "it is improper to deny statutory and First Amendment rights to religious liberty in order to create an entitlement to sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception."

The letter makes clear that "there is no reason why the Affordable Care Act should not conform to those protections that exist in other contexts throughout the law, both at the state and federal level, and have stood for decades."

In sum, the letter urges that "whatever the intent of the Mandate, and whatever form it takes, it should not compel religious individuals to pay for what they believe is morally wrong. It is time for this Administration to chart another course."

The full text of the letter is available at

For the past century, the Knights of Columbus has worked diligently to protect the right to religious freedom both in the United States and abroad.

The Knights of Columbus is also one of the nation's most active charitable groups and the world's largest Catholic fraternal group with 1.8 million members worldwide -- the vast majority of whom reside in the United States. Last year the Knights donated more than $158 million and 70 million hours to charitable causes.