Final Republican platform has strong religious freedom plank
“We pledge to respect the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard the independence of their institutions from government,” stated the 2012 Republican platform, which was formally approved at the party’s national convention on Tuesday.
The party explained that its positions respect “God-given individual rights,” including the freedom “of every American to follow his or her beliefs.”
The importance of religious freedom can be seen in its prominent placement in the “first provision of the First Amendment,” the platform said.
It quoted the American founders, who believed that religion would be a critical element for the nation’s success because “democracy presupposes a moral people.”
The document also warned of current attempts to push religion “out of the public square,” seen most prominently in efforts to force religious institutions and individuals to abandon their deeply held beliefs regarding health care, marriage and abortion.
This “forcible secularization of religious and religiously affiliated organizations” has been made more dangerous by “the current Administration’s audacity in declaring which faith-related activities are, or are not, protected by the First Amendment,” it said.
Chief among religious freedom concerns in America is a federal mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance that includes contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
The Republican Party officially approved language supporting “the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty.”
It further supported the right of citizens and faith based organizations to fully participate in public life without sacrificing their convictions, and it called for increased conscience protection for healthcare professionals.
The party also embraced protecting religious liberty overseas. It vowed to emphasize advocacy for this fundamental freedom and praised the work of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. [More]