Here’s the background as I understand it. Health and Human Services decided to enforce all Obamacare rules on all employers, including religious entities. What is at issue is a rule, set to take effect August 1st of this year, requiring almost all private health care plans to cover sterilization, abortifacients (abortion-inducing drugs), and contraception. Only a very limited definition of “churches” allows for exemptions. Non-profits, such as Catholic and other church-affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities don’t meet the exemption.
Back in 2010 the Catholic Church supported Obamacare—a serious mistake, in my opinion. But they did so based on personal promises from Obama that exemptions would be given wherever there could be a violation of conscience. The HHS declaration in January reneged on that bargain. HHS throws out a bone: “You non-profits still have to pay for what we say you have to pay for, but we’ll give you an additional year, all the way till August 1, 2013, to comply. Happy?” [My paraphrase, not a quote.]
The Catholic Church—as the most notable entity in size, but also anyone else whose conscience disallows them to pay for birth prevention or abortion—is not happy with that. “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan (archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).
Catholics all over the country were read letters written by their leadership in churches Sunday, explaining the situation, explaining the violation of conscience, encouraging civic action to change the law, and stating with great resolve the Catholic Church’s unwillingness to give up religious liberty. In the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, Catholics were told to stand united: “We will not—we cannot—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens.”
Sacramento Bishop Jamie Soto wrote on the diocesan website, “This is an alarming matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly. It strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be ‘of, by, and for the people,’ has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.” He added, “This unjust law cannot stand.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (archbishop of Galveston-Houston) said, “Never before in our US History has the Federal Government forced citizens to directly purchase what violates our beliefs. At issue here… is the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for conscience and religious liberty.”
Actually, never before has the Federal Government forced citizens to directly purchase anything. So to do so, the first time, by including something so repugnant to such a large number of Americans, violating the 1st Amendment explicitly, is a particularly painful twist of the knife after already stabbing us in the back.
I am imagining Obama’s confession: “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. Well, not really sinned; I just lied about what I was going to do. Well, not lied, really, I just changed my mind. Well, I didn’t really change my mind; I meant to do this all along. I just said that to appease and get consent, but they knew I didn’t mean it, because this whole government mandate thing only works when everyone is forced to participate. So, I just said what was expedient. No harm, really. I mean, if they just knew as much as I do, they’d see that being forced to pay for abortions is really a protection of women’s rights, and is really the right thing to do. So… About that 'forgive me' thing—that’s not really necessary, because I’m right. So glad we had this chat.”
Obama did this in an election year, with already abysmal approval ratings, and an economy on life support. The numbers by just about every measure are against him. [There’s a good collection of the data in this Sean Trende piece.] Yet he risks losing the sizable, traditionally Democrat, Catholic vote. I cannot come up with a politically savvy reason for this act. So I assume he is violating our first amendment rights of religious freedom (not to mention a number of other violations in Obamacare) because he actually believes, at his core, that forcing his will on us is a good thing.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m praying, as we go through this election year, for truth and clarity, for myself and all voters. Maybe this latest atrocity will help open more eyes to the truth.