Mr. President, Talk is Cheap
When it comes to America’s first freedom, religious freedom, the Obama Administration has strong rhetoric – but its policies, regulations, and actions reveal a very different agenda.
President Barack Obama recently issued a national proclamation commemorating Religious Freedom Day. With his words, he honored the aspiration of countless settlers who came to America “to practice their beliefs free from prejudice and persecution.”
Last Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, the president, with his words, praised his “strengthened White House faith-based initiative” that has “partnered with Catholic Charities to help Americans who are struggling with poverty.”
However, the President’s lofty words are in direct contradiction with his Administration’s policies.
Mr. President, talk is cheap.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unilaterally decreed that all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, who offer health insurance to their employees, must offer sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception.
This mandate constitutes one of the greatest threats to religious freedom in recent American history. The Catholic Bishops referred to this abuse of governmental power as an “edict” that is “literally unconscionable”. They are absolutely correct.
This is a direct violation of the constitutional right to religious freedom as guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Sadly, efforts by the U.S. Bishops to secure conscience exemptions were disregarded by the Obama Administration.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave the Catholic Church a 13-month deadline in which to comply with the government mandate. In other words, the Obama Administration has given a governmental ultimatum to the Catholic Church – and her institutions – to violate its own tenants, beliefs and conscience or face punitive consequences.
Cardinal-Designate Timothy Dolan, of New York, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it bluntly: “The Obama Administration has drawn an unprecedented line in the sand. In effect, the President is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences. To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.”
Anticipating a public backlash from these regulations, the Obama administration offered exemptions to a few “religious em`ployers.” The problem is – Obama narrowly defines a “religious employer” to the point of excluding most religious employers.
Under these new government mandated regulations, a religious organization or institution must disregard their own teachings and beliefs and would be forced to only follow the tenants that the government says you canfollow. In addition, if that organization serves the poor, the sick, or the needy – no matter whether those being served have any religious faith at all – they also cannot qualify for an exemption.
Can you imagine the Salvation Army or the Catholic University of America not fitting the definition of a religious employer? That is exactly what is at issue, a narrow definition, made up out of whole cloth by the Federal government, of what constitutes “religion”.
For example, an estimated $10 million annual surtax would be imposed on the University Of Notre Dame, a private religious institution, if it did not comply with these regulations.
I stand firm for the Constitutional rights of Catholic Church and other religious institutions protected by the First Amendment. I stand with the American founders and their respect for the first freedom, religious freedom. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed and issued a unanimous decision in the Hosanna-Tabor case – reaffirming theprimacy of religious liberty and the rights of churches and religious institutions.
I stand with Americans – people of every faith or no faith at all – who still hold that there are truths which are self evident – and rights which are inalienable. READ THE REST