Obama’s war on religion (update #2)

Nothing has changed.

You may be surprised by that statement, given the promotion in the media of Obama’s “compromise.” There is no compromise and none was offered. In fact, if anything Obama has doubled-down on his position. Catholics, individually and institutionally, must fund abortifacients (drugs to induce abortions) and sterilizations.

This post is part of a series covering this very important topic. To see the whole series, click here.

No compromise offered

As you recall, we find it a direct assault on our freedom of religion to be forced to purchase contraceptive (including abortifacient) and sterilization coverage.

Obama said, fine. Those with objections do not have to purchase such coverage. However, the insurance plans they do purchase MUST include these exact, same coverages “for free.” Obviously all insurance plans will be priced accordingly.

He must think we are that stupid. Obama is saying “look at it this way, you are not directly paying for these abhorrent coverages, but instead they will be included in the only insurance plans that will be legally available to you; you can pretend that you are not paying for them.”

This changes absolutely nothing. It does, however, give those Catholics who love Obama more than Christ and His Church some political cover to choose Obama. This has worked before for him, but this time – maybe not so well.

The bishops respond

Today, the President has done two things.

First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.

Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:

It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.

[...]

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

We will therefore continue?with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency?our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.

Many, many individual bishops have continued to speak out.

Mr. President, you are trying to resolve the wrong problem. Your HHS new federal rule governing mandated health care services is not just about women’s services and who pays for them.

Rather, the real question is what protections and guarantees are afforded Americans and our various institutions by the Constitution. Your ill-placed focus should be frightening to all Americans.

Freedom of conscience and religious liberty are not concessions grudgingly granted by the Federal Government–either directly, or by way of exemption or exception. Our nation was founded on those basic and inalienable rights as the bedrock of who we are as Americans. Our Constitution was written precisely to reject and to avoid the dreadful English model whereby the king and the government are the granter of all rights–as well as the single power to withdraw, limit, or negate those rights.

As a Catholic American, I am outraged not only by your incredulous contortions to justify your untenable position, I am insulted that you would think that Americans who value and treasure our Constitutional freedoms would even question your overreaching infringement on individual freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

Your “accommodation” actually makes the entire matter far worse. Every effort must be undertaken to reverse your ill-conceived revocation of our Constitutional rights.

I encourage all Catholics and millions of others of good will in our country to challenge candidates for election to Congress and to the presidency to take a strong stance in favor of guaranteeing and protecting our nation’s Constitutional rights.

I fear, Mr. President, that either you “don’t get it,” or even worse, you do “get it” and are intentionally trampling upon and reversing our Constitutional rights.

The current administration prides itself on being measured and deliberate.

The current HHS mandate needs to be understood as exactly that. Commentators are using words like “gaffe,” “ill conceived,” and “mistake” to describe the mandate. They’re wrong.

It’s impossible to see this regulation as some happenstance policy. It has been too long in the making.

Despite all of its public apprehension about “culture warriors” on the political right in the past, the current administration has created an HHS mandate that is the embodiment of culture war. At its heart is a seemingly deep distrust of the formative role religious faith has on personal and social conduct, and a deep distaste for religion’s moral influence on public affairs. To say that this view is contrary to the Founders” thinking and the record of American history would be an understatement.

Critics may characterize my words here as partisan or political. These are my personal views, and of course people are free to disagree. But it is this administration – not Catholic ministries, or institutions, or bishops – that chose the timing and nature of the fight. The onus is entirely on the White House, which also has the power to remove the issue from public conflict.

Catholics should not be misled into accepting feeble compromises on issues of principle. The HHS mandate is bad law; and not merely bad, but dangerous and insulting. It needs to be withdrawn – now.

Bishop Edward J. Slattery comments:

Catholics in the Democrat party have an exceptionally terrible record on life and family issues. One stood against the lack of of conscience protections in Obamacare and speaks-out now.

I am enormously disappointed by today’s announcement. All the facts indicate that the ‘new’ mandate is the same as the ‘old’ mandate. New words, same policy.

Our understanding of the new policy is now limited to a Fact Sheet put out by the White House. This document says ‘Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.’ But the health care law says that all employers must provide health insurance for their employees or pay a penalty. And according to the White House these same insurance plans that employers must provide ‘will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.’ So religious organizations have to provide health care coverage from insurance companies that are required to provide abortion drugs, sterilization, and contraception. What changed? This is the same policy.

We need a rule that protects religious liberty by allowing employers to provide health insurance coverage that does not include abortion drugs and other services that violate their conscience and religious doctrine. Instead we got a so-called compromise that is no compromise at all and provides no options for those with profound religious and moral objections to providing these services. To say that the insurer and not the employer is required to provide the coverage is a fiction. There is no accommodation for religious liberty. The rule remains coercive and still violates the long-standing tradition of protection for conscience rights in federal law.

Rep. Dan Lipinski
Catholic Democrat from Illinois

Could we compromise if one were actually offered?

Consider this analogy: Obama comes and takes your car away. He just comes and steals it. It was your car, you paid for it, but now it is gone. You object strenuously to this theft.

Obama has heard your complaint of theft and has “compromised.” Instead of theft, your car has been involuntarily donated to him. You should no longer be upset that your car was stolen, it has simply been redistributed in the interest of other transportation needs.

Sr. Keehan (see below) praises Obama for responding to your opposition to theft. You still object saying nothing has changed. The media talks about your bishop forcing his transportation view on everyone else. This is where we are now.

Would you be happy if Obama offered a real compromise vs. word games and redefinitions?

Would you be satisfied if he offered to return the contents of your car? How about if he met you half-way, offering to return the engine, drive train and wheels? Would it make any difference to you if it were only other people’s cars?

[The Ironic Catholic offers another analogy: Religious Institutions Forced to Pay for Employees' Slaves]

The big lie continues

Obama’s friends in the mainstream media continue to discuss this falsely as a contraceptive issue (see my piece from Friday).

Now, in addition to the misrepresentation of the issue, the liberal media can trot out a handful of dissident Catholics to thank Obama. In fact, the administration had Sister Carol Keehan queued-up to support his “compromise” before the announcement. You may recall that Keehan earns over $1M per year as president of the Catholic Health Association, is a die-hard Obama supporter, and has made a career for herself opposing both Church teaching and authority. Father Z calls her the Magisterium of the Nuns.

Speaking of liberal media, few can claim to be more biased than MSNBC. Their brains must have exploded when they invited author Eric Metaxas to talk about his new book and he compared Obama to Nazi Dietrich Bonhoeffer (the subject of said book). Talk about going off their narrative…

Further Reading

Here is a good sampling of the zillion articles written on this topic in the last week:

  1. The full statement from our bishops
  2. A Message to the Administration from the Communion of Saints on the HHS Mandate
  3. A Potemkin Village of a compromise
  4. An ‘accommodation’ that makes the birth-control mandate worse
  5. An affront Catholics agree on
  6. Bad Statistics in Defense of the HHS Mandate
  7. Being Catholic means ‘paying a price,’ says Detroit archbishop
  8. Caesar Overreaching Once Again
  9. Card. Burke Encourages Catholics to Sign Online Petition to Stop the Birth Control Mandate
  10. Cardinal-Designate Dolan: We Cannot – We Will Not – Comply With This Unjust Law
  11. Catholic League’s Donohue: ‘Obama Must Think We’re Stupid’
  12. Catholic and pro-life leaders slam White House ‘compromise’ on birth control mandate
  13. Christian and Religious Leaders Also Oppose HHS Mandate
  14. Contraceptive “compromise” worse than original mandate: Eliminates any exceptions
  15. Democrats to Catholics: “We don’t want you”
  16. Don’t Be Deceived! Evil Obama Policy Now Even MORE Evil!
  17. EWTN Files Suit to Block Contraception Mandate
  18. First They Came for the Catholics: Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate
  19. Interfaith leaders stand with Catholics against administration
  20. Like Your Freedom? Thank a Church.
  21. Obama Administration Offers False “Compromise” on Abortion-Drug Mandate
  22. Obama Has Picked the Wrong Fight
  23. Obama Heals!
  24. Obama administration to offer religious organizations a “choice” – a Hobson’s choice
  25. Obama has formally declared war on all religions
  26. Obama plays his Catholic allies for fools
  27. Obama the Groper: Get Your Hands Off Our Rights!
  28. Obama vs. Our “Obsolete” Constitution
  29. Obama’s Trampling on God’s Turf Now
  30. Obama’s Frightening ‘Adjustment’
  31. Obamacare vs. the Catholics
  32. Orthodox prelates join Catholic bishops in protesting Obama mandate
  33. “Our Task Is Far From Over”: The Bishops Take On the “Accommodation”
  34. Pastor Rick Warren: I’d Rather Go to Jail Than Obey Mandate
  35. Politics and Principle in the Contraception Mandate
  36. Pope Paul VI and Humanae Vitae: I Told You So
  37. Pope Paul VI: A Prophet For Our Time
  38. President Obama and Justice Ginsburg on America’s “Rather Old Constitution”
  39. “The Embodiment of Culture War”: On the Mandate and “Accommodation,” Chaput Speaks
  40. The Right Not to Do Wrong and the Politics of Ruse
  41. The bishops’ tougher response to the Obama ‘compromise’ mandate
  42. This isn’t about The Pill
  43. Tyrant King Attempts Head Fake
  44. USCCB’s pro-life head goes Maccabees on HHS rule – ‘not just about eating a little pork’
  45. United We Stand
  46. WH: We Are Done Negotiating With Catholics
  47. Why the HHS Mandate Is The Biggest Issue Since Roe V Wade
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