The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), representing 40 denominations with 45,000 congregations, urges bipartisan support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The bill is necessary because federal regulations now fail to respect the right of religious employers to provide health insurance benefits consistent with their most deeply held religious beliefs.

This debate is not about contraception. More than 90 percent of evangelicals, including evangelical leaders, support responsible use of contraception. Most evangelicals also support making contraceptive services available through health insurance plans, where plan sponsors do not object on religious grounds. Where plan sponsors do object to providing particular products or services, plans would be required to offer the same actuarial value to beneficiaries. Conscience rights guarantee freedom of religion, not maximization of profit margins.

Many Americans believe that increased access to contraception is a public good; others disagree. The issue can and should be debated at the political level, with all parties presenting their best arguments. In our democratic system, the majority view will prevail, but minority rights are protected. Health reform legislation was hotly contested, and was ultimately approved by a narrow majority. Regulations issued by the administration implement that legislative victory, but overreach by punishing with heavy fines groups that cannot in good conscience provide for certain services that they consider immoral. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act allows the major provisions of health care reform to proceed without undermining our bill of rights. That is good for the health of the nation.