Archives for February 2012

Obama’s war on religion (update #3)

Devotees of the liberal, mainstream media might think the world has moved on from all that HHS mandate ruckus. Their muted or non-existent news coverage is almost magical, much like how they make the massive March for Life rallies seem insignificant. In fact, both are related and opposed to the culture of death they are committed to. The truth is, this war is far from over.

My last summary was 2 weeks ago. This is the latest update. To see the whole series, click here.

Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

This is a piece of legislation that should be totally unnecessary. Yet, it may be the fastest means to reverse the precipitous dilution of religious liberty in America. Cardinal Timothy Dolan (president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) and Bishop William Lori (chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty) support senate amendment 1520. It’s purpose is to ensure that those who participate in the health-care system “retain the right to provide, purchase or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

More information is available at the National Catholic Register in Cardinal Dolan Backs Respect for Rights of Conscience Act: Contact Your Legislator Now.

Additionally, Cardinal Dolan joined with over 500 religious leaders and scholars in signing yesterday a joint statement rejecting the unconstitutional mandate. Those signing this statement include Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Latter-Day Saints, Jews, Muslims, and others. The list of signers includes people from across the political spectrum – liberals, conservatives, and people fitting into neither category.

7 states file suit

Seven states join the growing list of organizations suing the Obama administration to overturn his trampling of religious freedom. More state attorney generals are likely to follow.

The states (so far) are Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The suit argues (the somewhat obvious point) that the mandate violates both the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Catholic Lane has the story.

We are all Catholic now

Baptist minister and former governor, Mike Huckabee began a speech recently thanking President Obama for uniting his opposition. Most memorably, Huckabee – echoing JFK’s “we are all Berliners now” sentiment – declared “we are all Catholic now.”

2,500 religious leaders oppose Obama’s mandate

The Family Research Council has released a letter signed by over 2,500 pastors and evangelical leaders opposed to the president’s HHS mandate that tramples religious freedom and conscience rights. Baptist Press has the story.

The National Clergy Council declares a “state of emergency”

The National Clergy Council representing Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Orthodox leaders has declared a state of emergency exists due to the president’s extraordinary attack on religious liberty. Lutheran pastor Dr. Normund Lund said “Protestants are beginning to close ranks and join our Catholic friends on this issue.” He noted that the situation is so serious, that this is “an issue worth fighting and dying for.”

Francis Cardinal George on persecution and martyrdom

Father John Zuhlsdorf wrote an excellent summary of observations made by His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago:

In February of 2012, Cardinal George reflected on the seriousness of the Obama administration’s health-care mandate:

At the present moment, Catholics in this country are facing challenges to our institutional existence and our mission that we thought would never arise here. — The laws that used to protect us are now being used to weaken and destroy us, and this quite deliberately.

Shortly, thereafter, when the Obama administration and the media touted the fact that the Catholic Bishops are alone on the contraception issue and that most Catholics aren’t supporting them in this battle, Cardinal George wrote:

This is the first time in the history of the United States that a presidential administration has purposely tried to interfere in the internal working of the Catholic Church, playing one group off against another for political gain. What isn’t always understood is that the Bishops of the Church make no attempt to speak for all Catholics; they never have. The Bishops speak for the Catholic and apostolic faith, and those who hold that faith gather around them. Others disperse.

A few days later on at a press conference held at Loyola University on February 18th, he told the Chicago Tribune about the devastating effects of the HHS mandate for Catholic institutions:

The long-term effect is that the Catholic Church will be stripped of the institutions that are her instruments for public service. We will lose hospitals, we will lose universities. That’s not the country I was born in. — Something monumental is happening here.

Particularly chilling is the Cardinal’s assessment of the degree to which he believed religious freedoms (in the United States and other Western societies) were endangered. After the passage of legislation that enabled Civil Unions in Illinois, his eminence stated:

I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.

Father Barron: HHS mandate is anti-Catholic and un-American

Father Robert Barron, creator of the highly acclaimed Catholicism project says that the HHS mandate is anti-Catholic and un-American:

One small state battle for conscience rights won

Washington state’s governor (Christine Gregoire) decided to force all pharmacies to dispense abortifacients regardless of conscience rights. The State Board of Pharmacy resisted but caved after she threatened to replace board members if necessary.

Pharmacies routinely refer customers to other facilities for a broad range of reasons, but in Washington, that was not allowed. Every pharmacist must dispense “Plan B” or else.

This week, a federal court in Tacoma struck this down. This is so far over the line that a federal court in a generally liberal area agreed. This, with a judge who is not sympathetic to Catholic values.

The case was argued by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Pay attention to them, they do a lot of good. I consider them to be a moral version of the ACLU. See their complete comments on the case: Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Pharmacies to Dispense the Morning-After Pill.

Where is our apology?

Last week, President Obama apologized to Islamic extremists and the Muslim world in general for an offensive, but innocent action made by mistake. Our president cares deeply about the religious sensitivities of some. Faithful Christians, protected by our constitution and his own promises — not so much. Mr. President, where is my apology?

Further Reading

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

  1. A Convergence of Conscience and Command
  2. A Teachable Moment?
  3. A Uniter Not A Divider
  4. All 180 diocesan US bishops have issued a statement about Pres. Obama’s attack.
  5. Are Liberal Terms Dominating the HHS Mandate Debate?
  6. Are clergy public servants?
  7. Birth-Control Mandate: Unconstitutional and Illegal
  8. Bishop Lori Blasts Congress With Style
  9. Bishop Morlino: If They Can Do It To Catholics, They Can Do It To ANYBODY!
  10. Bishops Reject Obama’s ‘Accommodation’
  11. Cardinal George: no Catholic hospitals in 2 years unless HHS mandate is rescinded
  12. Cardinal Timothy Dolan issues strongest statement yet against the HHS mandate
  13. Cardinal urges Senate to pass bill protecting conscience in health care
  14. Catholic League on Sebelius’s admission before a Senate committee
  15. Catholic women rally against contraception mandate
  16. Catholics, Once Again, Considered “Un-American”
  17. Citizens, Not Sheep – A Call to Religious Liberty
  18. Contraception Mandate: Turning America Into Europe
  19. Contraception and the cost of culture wars
  20. Contraception ruling: Democrats accuse clergy of complicity with GOP at hearing
  21. Cooking the Books, Disparaging Catholics
  22. Craziest Hearing on Religious Liberty…Evah!
  23. Divide and Conquer
  24. Dolan Wants to Believe Obama’s Not Anti-Christian But…
  25. False Premises
  26. Freedom of Conscience vs. the HHS Mandate
  27. GOP candidates slam contraception mandate as attack on family
  28. Good news: Obama backs exemptions for religious organizations
  29. HHS Mandates Rhetoric: Wading Through the Nonsense
  30. HHS and a Series of Ugly Events
  31. HHS mandate means “ongoing, comprehensive government surveillance”: two new colleges sue
  32. His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan signs statement rejecting HHS mandate
  33. Hollow Compromise on Contraception Mandate
  34. Homeschooling org. protests Obama plan to mandate school attendance
  35. Leni Riefenstahl: Congratulations on the HHS Regulations
  36. Mandate a cure in search of a disease
  37. Mandate would ‘coerce’ Sisters to betray vow
  38. Mandating Is Fun!!
  39. Memo to Jews: After They Come for the Catholic Church, They Will Come For Us
  40. More things to know about the HHS Mandate
  41. Mother Angelica’s network isn’t buying Obama’s religious liberty ruse
  42. Myths abound about HHS contraceptive mandate; here are the facts
  43. NPR marks ‘Kick a Catholic Week’ with new t-shirt pledge drive gift
  44. Nationalizing Catholic Healthcare
  45. Nationalizing Catholic Healthcare
  46. New Fake Rights Trump Old Real Ones
  47. Notre Dame faculty calls Obama so-called accommodation “grave violation of religious freedom”
  48. Obama Administration to Court: “Please Look the Other Way”
  49. Obama Advisor: Kids from Large Families Are Dumb
  50. Obama Displaces the Rule of Law with Decree
  51. Obama Has Stranded the Catholic Left
  52. Obama Mandate’s Resistance Coalition
  53. Obama Obeys the Feminists Again
  54. Obama chief of staff: No more compromise, contraceptive rule is done deal
  55. Obama’s Anti-Religious Implosion
  56. Obama’s Catholic Church Gambit: Lessons from American Communists
  57. Obama’s Values Spark Return of Culture Wars
  58. Obama’s epic blunder on birth-control mandate
  59. Obama’s revised HHS mandate won’t solve problems, USCCB president says
  60. Poisoned by the Pill: Truths about Chemical Contraception
  61. Political Withdrawal?
  62. Pres. Obama, the Right Not to Do Wrong, and Politics of Ruse and Delay
  63. President Obama, Let Us Be Catholics!
  64. Religious Freedom and the Contraception Controversy
  65. Religious Freedom and the Triumph of the Therapeutic
  66. Religious Liberty, the Contraceptives Mandate, and Civility
  67. Revised Mandate “Unacceptable” to Over 300 Academics and Religious Leaders
  68. Revised contraceptive mandate prompts reaction from Catholic groups
  69. Should It Be Illegal to Be a Catholic Health-Insurance CEO?
  70. Supreme Court Filing: Obamacare Compels Individuals to Pay for Abortion Coverage
  71. Team Obama Fumbles Ruling, Offends Catholics
  72. The Catholic Liberal’s Lament
  73. The Coming Age of the Laity
  74. The Coming Age of the Laity
  75. The Contraception Mandate Fix: Fact vs. Fiction
  76. The HHS Mandate: One Battle in a Two-Front War
  77. The Heart of the Issue
  78. The Libertine Police State
  79. The Mentality of our Ruling Class
  80. The Moral Problems of Obama’s “Compromise” on HHS Mandate
  81. USCCB official: Revision in coverage still violates religious liberty
  82. USCCB: 6 More Things You Should Know About The HHS Mandate
  83. Weigel: Divide and Conquer?
  84. What problem are they trying to solve?
  85. Where’s the Protestant Support for Catholic Bishops?
  86. Who’s Out of Tune?
  87. Why Mandate Birth Control
  88. Why Obama’s ‘Accommodation’ is a Joke
  89. Why They Don’t Like the Church
  90. Why the HHS Mandate is About Religious Freedom AND Contraceptives
  91. Will the Bishops Go to the Mattresses?

Elsewhere: throw away the key

In 1994 Father Gordon MacRae was sent to prison as a sex offender. These are terrible crimes and the sentence was 67 years. MacRae is in prison today, 18 years into his sentence – with 49 more to go. Justice has been served and fair restitution paid to the victim.

There is just one small problem. He is innocent.

The injustice heaped upon Father MacRae and other falsely accused priests is beyond words. They are victims, along with Holy Mother Church, of people seeking money or simply working to harm the faith. This problem has been reported at Our Sunday Visitor (among many other places). Dave Pierre has written a book on the topic.

Father MacRae would be a free man today, and would have been free for 15 to 17 of the last 18 years, if he would only have plead guilty. Instead of a 33½ to 67 year sentence it would have been 1 to 3. He refused and therefore sits in prison today.

He refused because he is innocent, but that does NOT mean that priests who have accepted plea deals were necessarily guilty. Many certainly are, but there are others who were forced into such arrangements vs. risking life sentences like Father MacRae.

Father MacRae’s sorrowful story was chronicled in the Wall Street Journal by Dorothy Rabinowitz in 2005 (see part 1 and part 2). Another excellent and informative review was written by Ryan MacDonald entitled Truth in Justice. Many other people have also written about this particularly glaring injustice.

These articles have been archived on These Stone Walls. There you will also find Origins of the Case, The Trial, The Imprisonment of Father Gordon MacRae and much more.

Read about this case. The more you know about the supposed “victim,” the prosecution and the background — the more outraged you will be.

After all this time, new evidence (not that there wasn’t already a ton) has come to light that may be enough to get this falsely convicted priest a new trial. From The Media Report:

  • Newly released signed statements in a recent court motion contend that the primary accuser, Thomas Grover, made up the accusations to extract money from the Church.
  • Grover’s former stepson: “On several occasions, Grover told me that he had never been molested by MacRae.”
  • Grover’s former wife: Grover is a “compulsive liar” and a “manipulator” who “can tell a lie and stick to it ’til its end.” Most notably, Grover “never stated one word of abuse by [MacRae].”
  • Former friend of Grover and accuser who recanted: I knew “full well that it was [all] bogus…   I did not want to lie or make up stories.”
  • Former drug and alcohol counselor for Grover: Accuser Grover claimed abuse “by so many disparate people that his credibility in the [counseling] program was seriously in doubt”; Grover seemed like “he was going for some kind of sexual abuse victim world record.” Plus, aggressive New Hampshire detectives applied “coercion, intimidation, veiled and more forward threats” and “threats of arrest” upon the counselor to try to extract a false incrimination of MacRae from her.
  • Courtroom spectators during Fr. MacRae’s 1994 trial: A therapist hired by Grover’s contingency lawyer used hand signals from the back of the courtroom to coach Grover on the witness stand.
  • Veteran FBI detective, after three-year private investigation: “I discovered no evidence of MacRae having committed the crimes charged, or any other crimes.”
  • Plus: A lengthy criminal rap sheet of accuser Grover reveals numerous arrests, before and after trial: multiple forgeries, multiple thefts, multiple burglaries, and assault on a police officer (after breaking his future ex-wife’s nose). The jury at the trial never heard any of this.
  • There is much more detail in the full article: Alarming New Evidence May Exonerate Imprisoned Priest

    Please keep falsely accused priests in your prayers. They have suffered greatly, been removed from the priesthood and have few (if any) resources to right the injustice. Pray that Father MacRae’s new appeal will be heard and justice served.

    Review: The Broken Path

    Over 20 years ago, author Judie Brown co-founded the American Life League – a grassroots, Catholic, pro-life education organization. She was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life by Pope John Paul II (twice) and Pope Benedict XVI. She is solidly and faithfully Catholic.

    Judie’s new book The Broken Path: How Catholic Bishops Got Lost in the Weeds of American Politics is not for everybody. Those who are not yet mature in their faith, who are poorly catechized or who are exploring the faith might not be ready for it.

    For those who know that Jesus founded one, visible Church – the Catholic Church; for those who know that Christ and his Church are inseparable; for those who love our Lord and His Church; for those who place the genuine teaching of that Church above all else; for those whose faith is unshakable by individual failures of our shepherds — this book IS for you and I strongly recommend it. In fact, I am adding it to my very discriminating Great Books list.

    The back cover describes the book as “a work of love for the Church: a must read for every Catholic with a desire to return our nation to a righteous path and our society to a culture of life.” It also notes however, that the truth is not “always flattering: contemporary Catholic leaders in the Church, worthy of praise, are singled out as are others warranting greater scrutiny.” The book delivers mightily on that, detailing events and naming names of bold individual successes, missed opportunities and some sad failures. It is not conjecture or an event log, but a coherent, connected and compelling study of events, both good and (far too often) bad.

    This is the backstory that led to Obama’s war on religion. Failures to lead, failures to correct and sometimes tacit support emboldened the president to take unprecedented, immoral and even illegal actions against life, family and religious freedom. To truly understand “how we got here”, read this book. From the first chapter:

    The history is evident. What is not clear is why so many priests, bishops, and theologians have opted to dissent from Catholic teaching and have not been chastised. These individuals remain entrenched in the Church without correction of any kind. What is equally mysterious is how we got to this stage when the Church has such a vivid history of fighting against all odds to maintain and defend truth, even at the cost of lives. I cannot think of one martyr, for example, who would have preferred to agree to discard a little bit of truth for the sake of popularity, financial support, or political entrée. The true heroes of the faith would rather die before turning their backs on Christ — and many of them did.

    The book is organized into chapters as follows:

    1. How It All Began
    2. A Diseased Body
    3. The Catholic Priesthood in Chaos
    4. Kingpins
    5. Bureaucrats Speaking for Bishops?
    6. Catholic School Daze
    7. The Politics of Catholicism
    8. Holy Souls or Sacred Cows – The Canon 915 Dilemma
    9. Obama Plays Catholics for Fools
    10. Perverse Health Care Ethics
    11. Contraceptive Cowardice
    12. Why Do Bishops Reject Personhood?
    13. Holy Priests Are The Cure

    This book could not be more timely, yet was published just before the recent HHS mandate and Obama’s war on religion. The 269 page book includes a table of contents, a foreward by Bishop Rene Gracida, acknowledgments, introduction, an appendix, extensive footnotes (30 pages), and an index. It is available in both inexpensive paperback and Kindle formats. Every bishop should read it.

    The book ends quoting A Prayer for Priests and Bishops from the Roman Missal:

    O God, who hast appointed Thine only-begotten Son to be the eternal High Priest for the glory of Thy Majesty and the salvation of mankind; grant that they whom He hath chosen to be His ministers and the stewards of His mysteries, may be found faithful in the fulfillment of the ministry which they have received. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.


    Full Disclosure: This book was provided to me at no charge by American Life League in exchange for this review. They seek only my honest, real opinion and that is what I give!

    7 Quick Takes Friday (set #55)

    This week: The three most deadly words. Larry’s new series – Focus On The Faithless. Elizabeth Scalia, Terence Jeffrey, Jennifer Roback Morse and George Weigel take a sobering look at Obama’s contempt for the constitution. One senator that every pro-lifer should watch. Another prophetic gem from Pope Paul VI. The nanny-state in action – a mini-case study. A sting, guns, forceful pre-dawn takedown – the HHS when they are not busy trampling religious freedoms.

    — 1 —

    Mix population control with abortion and what do you get? Three of the deadliest words ever spoken – it’s a girl !

    — 2 —

    Larry over at Acts of the Apostasy is beginning a new series of posts called Focus On The Faithless. This is an intriguing idea, chronicling just how far some have fallen in their disobedience and pride. The first post on Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest, is now available.

    — 3 —

    Elizabeth Scalia has been thinking about government, religious freedom and those problematic Catholics. Read the Anchoress’ conclusions in Obama’s HHS: Bring on the Penal Laws!.

    Terence Jeffrey wonders if there are any limits to the government ordering you to buy something or ordering someone else to give you something for “free”. If they are consistent, then apparently not. Read his thoughts in Can Obama Order Grocers to Give Away Bread?. He raises a good point.

    Jennifer Roback Morse takes a careful look at what has happened, is happening and in the process of happening and concludes Obama Repeals First Amendment. She also makes a good case. Maybe people just don’t care about religious freedom any longer.

    George Weigel ties it all together saying: “It is no exaggeration to describe that cast of mind as ‘soft totalitarianism’: an effort to eliminate the vital role in health care, education, and social service played by the institutions of civil society, unless those institutions become extensions of the state.” Is this the freedom so many have fought and died for? See his piece: HHS and Soft Totalitarianism.

    — 4 —

    I have long been a fan of Marco Rubio, a young US senator from Florida. He not only claims a pro-life position, but really – REALLY – gets it. On February 1st he gave a keynote to Susan B. Anthony’s Gala for Life. It is in 3 parts, but worth every minute:

    Continue with part 2 and part 3.

    — 5 —

    Russ Rentler points out that Pope Paul VI predicted the HHS mandate – in 1968. In Humanae Vitae he wrote:

    Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.

    — 6 —

    Liberal dreams of the nanny-state include not only educating you about good and bad, but intervention when you fall short of their ideals. Such is the case of a 4 year old girl in North Carolina. Imagine the horror of school officials when they discovered the contents of her home packed lunch:

    • a turkey and cheese sandwich
    • a banana
    • chips
    • apple juice

    An outrage! Fortunately, they were alert and able to intervene – replacing that shoddy excuse for a lunch by an approved cafeteria meal of chicken nuggets. A close call in deed. The Daily Caller has the gory details, spotted by Patrick Archbold at CMR.

    One must wonder what lunch atrocities are forced upon innocent children by parents who home school. Steps must be taken.

    — 7 —

    Law breakers are the scourge of society. Fortunately, Obama’s HHS is not too busy trampling religious freedom to protect us from criminal desperados.

    Recently an undercover sting operation was conducted to gather evidence in a diabolical plot. Under the cover of darkness – armed HHS agents (from their FDA), weapons drawn, swooped in upon the criminal element in their nefarious lair.

    The criminal, the location and the offense? Amish farmer Daniel Allgyer, at his Rainbow Acres Farm for selling unpasteurized milk to people who wanted to buy it, across state lines. Fortunately, none of his 7 children were harmed during the raid as no resistance was offered.

    The Washington Times has the report: Feds shut down Amish farm for selling fresh milk, spotted by Father Z.


    Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler to address this blogging need, but is guest hosted this week by Hallie Lord at Betty Beguiles. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen (and Hallie) for hosting this project!

    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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