The fight the Obama Administration waged against the Catholic Church over whether Catholic institutions had to provide contraception insurance coverage to their employees under Obamacare and thus violate their religious tenets revealed that it was no friend of religious freedom. Indeed, the thrust of it argument was that the right to such coverage granted generally by the then new law trumped any competing religious interest.

So few things reflect the changes wrought by President Donald Trump as the new initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services to use the civil rights laws to defend health-industry workers – such as doctors and nurses – who object to performing medical procedures on religious grounds. A new division is the department is being established that will enforce the laws to protect health care workers who object to abortion, assisted suicide, or other procedures they say violate their conscience of deeply-held religious beliefs. They would be viewed as an oppressed class in need of protection in the same way racial minorities and women have long been.

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This is a welcome development. Somehow, religious freedom has been pushed to the sidelines in the course of our slouch leftward despite its pivotal role in the history of the republic. And after all, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does guarantee the right to the free exercise of religion.

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