While we were all swept up in the spirit of the Super Bowl, the Obama administration essentially declared war on the Catholic Church.
Last Sunday, Catholic priests all over the nation urged their parishioners to speak out against the administration’s newest “Obamacare” policy. This mandate will force Catholic schools, hospitals and charities to buy birth control pills, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization coverage for their employees under the threat of fines.
In essence, the Obama administration is demanding that leaders of these Catholic organizations choose between violating their consciences and facing excessive fines. He has “generously” given them a year to make up their minds.
Unfortunately, the specifics of Obamacare were never very clear to Americans. The media focused on the “showdown” in Washington between Democrats and Republicans, while ignoring the long-term impact of the convoluted legislation. Here is the issue: “conscience exemptions,” which were promised to Catholic leaders, cover only those organizations whose employees are dominantly of the same faith. However, Catholic hospitals, charities, universities and other affiliated organizations that employ thousands of people of all faiths do not qualify for the exemption.
Can you say “sucker punch”?
As Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh argues, the Obama administration’s message to U.S. Catholics is clear: “To hell with your religious beliefs; to hell with your religious liberty; to hell with your freedom of conscience.” The President is trying to dictate rules to the Vatican without any regard for the Constitution. In other words, he’s bullying the Church into compliance. Ladies and gentlemen, that takes one “hell” of an ego.
Obama’s “Today Show” interview on Monday reaffirmed his disdain for our founding document. The President told Matt Lauer: “Our founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change that I would like sometimes. What I’m going to keep on doing is plot away.”
Perhaps he figures he’s only got a few months left to “plot away” until he’s a lame duck.
Meanwhile, his cronies in Washington are seemingly oblivious. Nancy Pelosi, a so-called Catholic, seems to be under the delusion that the Catholics favor Obama’s policies as a matter of conscience. And Joe Biden, his Catholic vice president, seems to have fallen off the radar. You have to love these spineless politicians.
Whether or not you personally agree with Catholic tenets is irrelevant to this political controversy. This is a constitutional issue, and, as case law has determined, the Church deserves First Amendment protection. In fact, the Supreme Court unanimously decided a similar case less than a month ago.
The Court held that the First Amendment gives “special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations in decisions about their employees” (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EOEC). By the Free Exercise Clause, a religious group can “shape its own faith and mission through its appointments” and by the Establishment Clause, government can’t intervene in ecclesiastical decisions.
Then again, Obama doesn’t want to be reminded of his losses. In addition, the mandate exposes the administration’s complete and utter disregard for the charitable services offered by the Catholic Church. One out of every six patients in the United States is treated in a Catholic hospital. Catholic Relief Services helps millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world every year and was critical to the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. What will the Obama administration gain from this advance? Not much.
The action was nothing more than a sorry attempt to appease his pro-choice allies and will ultimately cost him the Catholic vote. In the last election, Catholics supported Obama by a margin of 9 percent. Oh yeah, and they happen to reside in many of the swing states. Bad move, Mr. President. You don’t mess with the Church.
This petty attack will destroy Obama in the long-term as the Catholic Church fights it to the bitter end. When it comes to matters of conscience, the Church “plays for keeps” and will not back down. If Obama lets this drag on much longer, he might as well quit his re-election bid.