In a case of an apparently unstoppable force running headlong at an immovable object, the Obama Administration is pushing ahead with its plan to roll over freedom of religion with its mandate that all employers offer health insurance that provides for abortions, sterilizations and contraception.
The U.S. Catholic bishops, however, are putting on their armor and preparing their flocks for what could become the largest wave of civil disobedience since the Civil Rights Movement.
Obama’s mandate, which violates constitutional limits on the power of the federal government, imposes on the religious conscience of Catholics because of the Church’s consistent teachings that abortion, sterilization and contraception are acts that are “intrinsically evil,” as the pope stated recently.
When 43 Catholic organizations last week sued the Obama Administration — a news event with far-reaching implications that received a total of 19 seconds of TV network coverage — it set the stage for a courtroom showdown.
Almost within minutes after the lawsuits had been announced, the Obama Administration sent the first lady and the president out to announce that the government remained committed to enforcing its mandate beginning Aug. 1.
The Obamas, trying to muddy the issue, spoke about “a woman’s right to choose,” Planned Parenthood, cancer screenings, prenatal care and affordable birth control — anything but the real issue, which is freedom of religious conscience.
The bishops have prepared a statement to be inserted in church bulletins in June, along with a lengthier statement included on their website, www.usccb.org.
ìSome unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified,î the bishops wrote. ìEvery effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.î
The Catholic bishops are organizing an event called a Fortnight of Freedom, from June 21 to July 4. The beginning date appropriately marks the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, both of whom were executed by King Henry VIII for not acknowledging him as the spiritual head of the Church of England when England broke from the Catholic Church.
With his mandate, the president has effectively told religious organizations that he has authority over them, that his will is more important than God’s.
As the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America has pointed out, Obama assumes that by participating in public life, religious organizations lose their religious character and rights.
The administration’s is a typical liberal view. Recall John Kerry when he ran for president talking about “taking off” his religious beliefs when he went to work, like a coat.
The Founding Fathers, on the other hand, recognized religion as the most vital aspect of public life, the glue that held society together.
With the Fortnight of Freedom planned to end on July 4, the bishops cite George Washington, who wrote, ìthe establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive that induced me to the field of battle.î
Today, keeping civil and religious liberty may require Americans to defend Washington’s vision from Washington, D.C.