"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."Yes, that one amendment, the first in the Bill of Rights, contains the Freedom of Religion, and the Freedom of Speech, and more. Yet, our President has tried to strip us of both Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech in the past few weeks as he signed on to the order requiring every Catholic institution not labeled a church to either shut down or offer its employees subsidized sterilization, morning after pills, and free contraceptives.
Had President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius actually read and understood the words of the First Amendment, they could have saved themselves a lot of grief this past week. But perhaps they do know what our Constitution says, but just don't care. Perhaps this is a deliberate attempt to usurp our rights in a colossal power grab. How else could they be so ignorant of our Constitution?
Nor must they have cared about the recent landmark Hosanna v. Tabor freedom of religion decision in which all nine Supreme Court justices ruled that the Federal Government may not tell churches who they can hire and fire as teachers transmitting the faith to the next generation. This decision should be far reaching, as the Supreme Court unanimously determined the Freedom of Religion to be sacrosanct.
But having no regard for the Freedom of Religion, our President carried out this colossal and unconstitutional overreach. This would cause places like Notre Dame, Boston College, Georgetown, and every other Catholic college and university, and every Catholic elementary and secondary school, every Catholic hospital and clinic, and every Catholic social agency to have to close or violate their Catholic beliefs. This act of federal aggression has to be resisted.
Thankfully, the Catholic Church would not take this without a fight. Good for them! Archbishop Timothy Dolan said,
"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 conscience and forgoing their health care is unconscionable. . . . This represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."That is the issue - our religious liberty - The First Amendment to our Constitution - and the one attacking that liberty is our own President.
According to Judge Andrew Napolitano,
"This is not about the morality of contraception. This is about the constitutionality of government coercion, coercion of religious institutions, coercion directly and profoundly prohibited by the Constitution itself. . . This is about whether the Constitution means what it says."This is also the point where the curtailment of the Freedom of Speech comes in. Archbishop Timothy Broglio, head of the Army's priests, wrote a letter stating the church "cannot - and will not - comply with this unjust law." But the Chief of Chaplains issued an army-wide gag order warning priests not to read the letter from their pulpits. It was too controversial. Now the administration is telling the pulpit what it can and cannot say.
But our President is WRONG! That's why 154 Congressmen from both parties lined up against the President, signing a letter to the White House stating,
"This radical mandate. . . is an attack on the religious freedom guaranteed to all Americans by the Bill of Rights. Religious organizations should not be forced by the Federal Government to pay for abortion inducing drugs, contraceptives, or sterilizations in their health care plans. . . . I'm proud to stand with the vast majority of Americans who respect religious freedom in demanding that the mandate be reversed."Thank you, Congressmen.
I also wish to publicly thank the Catholics for standing up to this unconstitutional power grab by our President. I want to say, we are with you. This is not just a Catholic issue. This is a Freedom of Religion issue, and it affects every one of us no matter what our denomination. All people of faith have to stand with the Catholic Church on this.
According to Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
"The edict from President Obama to religious institutions is this - violate your conscience and bend the knee to the government, or face the consequences."The consequences could be steep to this country. The Wall Street Journal estimated that just one organization, Catholic Charities alone, would have faced $140 million per year in fines - money going to the government instead of to helping people. One in six U.S. hospitals has Catholic ties. To lose them would be a massive void in health care. To lose them would be a massive blow to our country.
The Catholic Church has already been driven from the adoption business because they refused to place children with homosexual couples. That was one of the first salvos in the Adminsittration's war on the Catholic Church. Newt Gingrish expressed it well,
"Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services. . . because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama Administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the [religious] bigotry of the Administration?"The answer is NO! Now, realizing that they had bitten off more than they could chew, the President has tried to ease out from under the decree by only requiring insurance companies to provide the mandated services. This is little better, since who gets to pay for the extra cost? The same religious institutions through the rise in their premiums - they get to. But who gave the President the power to mandate this anyway? Certainly not the constitution.
In this battle, we must all stand with the Catholics. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis in World War II, said,
"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. To not speak is to speak; to not act is to act."We must speak and act by standing alongside our Catholic brothers and sisters.
Bonhoeffer also said,
"First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Catholics, but I was not a Catholic, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Protestants, and there was no one left to speak for me."The first attack has been launched against the Catholic Church. We must stand with them, for we may b next. If we don't stand now, who will stand when the attack is directed at us?