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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leaders of religious groups representing more than 100 million Americans say the health care law shouldn't force religious institutions and business owners to provide contraceptive coverage that violates their conscience.

The open letter to all Americans is signed by leaders of the Roman Catholic church, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Assemblies of God and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, among others.

It urges the Department of Health and Human Services to exempt 'any organization or individual that has religious or moral objections.'

The Rev. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists' public policy arm, says the HHS compromise announced Friday for religious institutions amounted to 'word games and accounting tricks,' with no exemptions for religious business owners.

Moore says freedom of conscience should matter to all Americans, especially this week as they prepare to celebrate Independence Day.


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