Nebraska Republican and newly minted Senate candidate Ben Sasse appears to believe that religious freedom trumps government law, according to text on his website highlighted Wednesday by Think Progress.
“Ben Sasse believes that our right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life,” the website reads. “This is not a negotiable issue. Government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances. He will fight for the right of all Americans to act in accordance with their conscience.”
Sasse, a Republican with the backing of Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Sarah Palin, and other major conservative heroes, is the heavy favorite to win retiring Republican Mike Johanns’s Senate seat this November.
The passage on his campaign website comes under the heading of Sasse’s views on “religious liberty” and is prefaced by his take on Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius, one of two recent cases heard by the Supreme Court that challenges the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate on the grounds of religious freedom, in which an order of Catholic nuns challenges the requirement that they fill out a form to seek a religious exemption to the law.
“We live in a country where the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns, must sue the government in order to continue caring for the sick and elderly poor,” the website says. “That’s outrageous.”
“Thanks to Obamacare, this president has placed the liberal abortion agenda over the religious obligations of millions of Americans,” it adds. “Those who believe in the sanctity of life are now required to finance the death of unborn children.”
The president’s health reform law requires all health insurance plans to provide subsidized contraception to employees who need or want it. Opponents of the provision see it as a violation of religious freedom, because it requires employers who may have religious objections to birth control to provide it, although the White House has repeatedly noted religious employers can obtain exemptions that keep them out.
Crafting chain store Hobby Lobby, the company spearheading the other major Supreme Court case tackling this issue on the grounds of religious objection (which the Court has yet to rule on), has recently been revealed to have invested millions in a pharmaceutical company that produces contraception and abortion drugs.
The phrasing of his support for religious freedom on the website has some questioning if Sasse believes it is acceptable to commit a crime as long as it is in accordance with one’s religious beliefs. Such a belief could indicate a support for Sharia law, an issue many conservatives have warned about in recent years.
Sasse has made his opposition to the Affordable Care Act a centerpiece of his campaign so far, and even ran an ad starring his daughters in which they discussed their father’s desire to “destroy” the law.
MSNBC reached out to the Sasse campaign for clarity on his exact position on the relationship between religious freedom and the law but has yet to hear back at this time.