Romney says Obama infringing upon religious rights
February 6th, 2012
10:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney says Obama infringing upon religious rights

Centennial, Colorado (CNN) - Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of infringing upon Americans’ religious rights in a fiery address to more than 2,500 supporters Monday in Colorado.

“The Creator gave every human being his rights,” Romney told the audience, to sustained cheers. “I’m just distressed as I watch our president try and infringe upon our rights.”

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In recent weeks the GOP frontrunner has signaled he would attack the president over the charge his administration has rolled back the rights of religious individuals and institutions. Romney went further at his Monday rally and publicly detailed specific examples of Obama’s “violation of conscience.”

Romney cited a new policy from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that requires some religious institutions, including schools and hospitals, to provide coverage of birth control to their employees.

Outraged opposition to the mandatory contraceptive coverage is gaining steam among many Catholics and conservatives, who charge the requirement is a violation of religious rights.

“Think what that does to people who are in faiths that do not share those views. This is a violation of conscience,” Romney said. “We must have a president who is willing to protect America’s first right, our right to worship God.”

Opponents point to a law passed while Romney was governor of Massachusetts that required hospitals–including Catholic ones–to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

A spokeswoman for the campaign said Romney had vetoed the original bill. That veto was overruled by the state legislature.

"The governor's position on this law was that it never should have gone into effect in the first place, which is why he vetoed it," Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said.

In Colorado, Romney also pointed to a unanimous Supreme Court decision in January that gave religious institutions wider leeway in determining who could qualify as a “ministerial employee.” At issue was a teacher at a Michigan religious school who tried to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act after she was fired.

The woman lost her suit when the high court determined she was indeed a “minister” under a narrow reading of the law and the specific circumstances of her duties.

“Did you understand that this administration argued before the Supreme Court that a church should not be able to determine who their ministers are, but the government should decide who qualifies to be a minister?” Romney asked incredulously Monday as the audience booed.

–CNN's William Mears and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Religion
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. SteveW

    Every single republican candidate wants to take away MY rights. What is Mitt complaining about?

    February 7, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  2. Nathan G.

    Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much. You know Mitt, coming from someone whose fellow church members contributed millions of dollars to force other people to be restricted to their religious views (Prop 8 in California), your words ring hollow. What about their religious rights? Can religious rights only be violated when yours are at threat, and to hell with everyone else's?

    February 7, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The problem is that this rule covers hospitals and not churches. If it is a church, then why is all there that medical equipment and people not of that religion working there providing medical care? If it is a Catholic only hospital attached to a Catholic church, then I would have less of a problem with it. The issue that I have is a medical establishment shouldn't be telling people (employees or patients) what they can or can't take in terms of medicine based on religious grounds.

    February 7, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  4. Jon in Rochester, NY

    I think that it is the other way around. Religion wants to infringe on the rights of everyone else whether they believe in their god or not! Freedom of religion goes both ways.

    February 7, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  5. Jonathan Donald

    I don't believe religion or politics has a place in the fight for a woman to choose. Woman has the right to abortion and that should be her choice. After all even the Mormon faith believes that each person has their free agency. In ever religion no matter what it is we are taught that it is wrong to kill. You don’t need a definition of what is living to determine this. We all know what is right and wrong do we not? If a woman wants to kill her unborn child then that will be her choice and she will be made to account for her decision on judgment day. What I don’t agree with is making the American people pay for the killing of her unwanted child. The taxpayers of America are just as guilty as the woman that gets the abortion if tax money is used to fund such a thing. I say let it be the woman’s responsibility to fund the abortion, and if the baby will be born let it be put up for adoption. After all if a man kills unborn baby weather it’s an accident or on purpose he is made to pay in a court of law. I don’t get it, why can’t we all have the right to choose. Some say we should fund abortion, I say let them pay for it. Don’t force those who don’t believe in killing pay their price. The Catholics don’t believe in Abortion, neither do the Mormon’s, and that goes for anyone who truly believes in God and Jesus Christ.

    February 7, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  6. indyreader

    Insurance and medical services are for the here and now. I hope it's dawning on a sufficient number of people how preposterous all the posturing and wailing is, that's based on unfounded, unprovable just-so stories about supernatural things that happen after we die. Seeing Romney waving his arms and hollering about the rights of, essentially, corporations based on fairy-tales,... it just beggars belief. We're in the 21st century – when are we going to become sane?

    February 7, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  7. idb

    That is not the only thing Obama is doing. According to the New York times; "Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the U.S. and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for President Obama’s re-election campaign. The casino owner, Pepe Cardona, jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 and disappeared, and has since been linked to violence and corruption in Mexico – suspected of orchestrating the assassination of a business rival and making illegal donations to Mexican officials. Giving guns to Mexican cartels to kill U.S. Border"

    February 7, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    To say the decision, which is already law in 28 states including MA, is "infringing upon rights" is a gross mischaracterization. It is a decision that tells private groups that they cannot impose their dogma upon people who may not want it.

    Nothing is telling the church to force its' members to go against their faith. It is telling the church that it cannot force other people to go against their own faiths, whatever they might be. Not everyone who works at a Catholic hospital is a devout Catholic. The church has no right to hold someone's livelihood over their head to indoctrinate them.

    Besides, what is to stop other privately owned groups from force feeding their ideology on their employees? Should a Jewish run nursing home be able to tell all of its' employees that they are prohibited from eating pork at home?

    February 7, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  9. Sissy

    When religious organizations run businesses, they need to adhere to the same set of rules that govern other businesses. This is not about churches. This is about hospitals and foundations that employ persons of any and all religious faiths. The staff at these organizations are hired for their ability to perform a job, not because of their religious beliefs and they need to be able to have the same health care coverage that everyone else has. In all of the furor being raised, it is not being communicated that what is primarily at issue is women's rights to purchase a prescription for birth control pills and have that prescription covered by insurance like any other medication.

    February 7, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  10. beevee

    Sounds like mr. Romeny wants to be the Ayatollah of this country.

    February 7, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  11. Douglas

    Obama needs to tell the Catholic Church the following: after I revoke your tax-exempt status and any Federal funding that is used for any Catholic program, you can then remove the opportunity for your employees to have access to birth control through health insurance plans. Until that time, you WILL provide that care. Period.

    February 7, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  12. Doc M

    Yes, I can believe that the President did argue that churches should not be able to define regular teachers as ministers because they want to fire that teacher for having a sleeping disorder. Romney is a tool who stirs up religious hatred. He'll never be President for good reason.

    February 7, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  13. Primewonk

    “The Creator gave every human being his rights,”

    So why is this "creator" so inconsistent? Why are my "god given rights" different than the "god given rights" of a gay person?

    Why does this god keep changing his mind? Used to be that white land-owning men had the right to vote. Then, apparently this god changed his mind and decided that black men could vote too – but heaven forbide that those icky womeen could vote. Then 90 years ago, it looks like this god changed his mind yet again, and decided women could vote.

    I guess I would expect an omnipotent omniscient god to not be so wishy-washy.

    February 7, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  14. diridi

    You are infringing on Property rights, by stashing money in Cayman Island, Bermuda, Swiss Accounts, and Shipping jobs to China, India, Bangladesh. Buying property in Shanghai, Peeking...etc,

    February 7, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  15. J

    “The Creator gave every human being his rights,” ... Except for gays.

    And I would rather have a country where every religion is treated fairly, then favoring certain religions and creating religious persecution for the rest.

    February 7, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  16. Rick

    With all the problems facing us, the economy, Syria, Iran, et., etc., this guy is talking about religion? He claims the administration "is infringing on our rights". What about the rights of women to do what they please? Or the rights of doctors to do what's right for their patients? It will be a very sad day if any of these religious fanatics wins the Presidency.

    February 7, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  17. w l jones

    I were not born yesterday so were a lot of candidate claiming God given right for freedom, look like some people blot out three hundred years of our America history... just to get elected.

    February 7, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  18. harvey 60

    I asked the Governor's campaign yesterday why this supposed violation of an individual's right to religious freedom and liberty is different than the Republican mantra of anti-abortion, anti-birth control ideology, which ignores the right of an individual to choose, which was upheld almost 40 years ago by the Supreme Court, and allows a woman to exercise her freedom to do what she wishes with her own body. No surprise that I have not received a reply. I hope that in the next CNN debate, Anderson or Wolf will ask the Governor that very question, and not allow him to escape in broad terms or talk about God who says that abortion should be banned. Instead of worrying about government funding for Planned Parenthood, Romney et al should be concerned about eliminating subsidies to tobacco farmers and companies like Altria, who kill more people worldwide and have contributed far more to this country's healthcare crisis and out of control healthcare costs.

    February 7, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  19. Talmonis

    White is black! Up is down! War is peace! Isn't it cute when they try to pretend what they do isn't attempting to enforce christianity on the populace and yet, when the government tries to make sure folks can live the way they want to, it's "infringing on religious freedom"....of oppressing women. Sorry kiddies, but the civilized world doesn't think fondly of you when you try to force raped women to conceive and then bear rapist's children. It's time to start taxing these multi-million dollar businesses they call churches, since they clearly enjoy using their rube gotten gains to buy laws that enforce their uncivilized ways.

    February 7, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  20. durundal

    oh my god, its like a war on intelligence. Sorry if the president upheld our principles by mandating in favor of the rights of individuals taking precedence over the infringement of church. Maybe if religion stayed at home or in the church and out of education and health then this wouldnt be an issue. People have a right to choose their services, and if religion wants to play at being a business then it needs to supply what people demand, and not tell them what they want or try to manipulate them into doing what they are told. This is absolutely disgusting

    February 7, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. NameRolph

    Separation of church and state
    Separation of church and state
    Keep your religion in your house – not in government.
    I am so disgusted with the way this country is headed. We are starting to sound like American Taliban. All religion is based on fairytales. Let's try living in the real world for a change. Let's try all for one and one for all!

    February 7, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  22. Dave

    Romney is by far the best candidate. The GOP should rally around him asap so he goes into the general election with strength.

    February 7, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  23. RWB1956

    Fear. The great persuader.

    February 7, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. jdl

    I'm pretty sure they are trying to make these items available to all, but if your religion doesn't approve of these items don't use them.
    They are not forcing anyone to use these products.

    February 7, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. d

    I guess that's his strategy. 2012 will be religion vs Obama. Now if only he can dig up Rev. Wright.

    February 7, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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