Had enough of the latest religious liberty controversy, that scandalous announcement made by President Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius making people of conscience subordinate to the state?
Stand by. Here is my two cents worth.
The issue centers on a January 20 announcement by Secretary Sebelius that all health care providers who receive federal money must provide contraception and other birth control treatments such as the morning-after pill -- free. Not only must health care providers offer contraception, abortions and sterilization -- they must pay for it as well. That is the edict. No other considerations matter. The president rules. Period.
In November 2011 the highest Catholic prelate in America, Archbishop Timothy Dolan (soon to be Cardinal Dolan), was assured by President Obama that the Catholic Church would not be forced to adopt any policy that would violate her principles. The January 20 HHS announcement sandbagged the archbishop.
The Obama health care legislation of March 2011 set up this issue to foist a major policy change in contravention of the US Constitution’s First Amendment. Bishop James McFadden from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, addressed the issue bluntly January 24 on an ABC News affiliate, “In a totalitarian government, they would love our system. This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all of them tried to establish: A monolith, so all the children will be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”
It is not just Catholic sensibilities that are offended. Many diverse groups see this as an assault on religion, on people of faith and their convictions. Disparate groups including the National Association of Evangelicals, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America see their goose slowly roasted. Even American Muslim clerics object.
This transcends the Catholic issue; it is more than a religious or even a social issue. It should be clear to anyone with a fundamental understanding of civics that the issue centers on conscience and Constitution.
Obama’s pronouncement derives from the health care legislation (Obamacare) designed to expand government to instruct citizens, including churches, church institutions and schools what they can and cannot do. This reflects the totalitarian thinking of the Obama administration and underscores his promise to change America -- with or without the consent of the governed.
As the Heritage Foundation succinctly puts it, “The Obamacare statute has concentrated in the hands of the federal government broad power over the one-sixth of the American economy that is health care.” That broad legislation, in part, allows the HHS secretary to make rules transcending religious institutions requiring them to provide health care insurance for abortion and sterilization against their beliefs. Likewise, Obamacare forces individuals to buy health insurance. This part of Obamacare has been contested and is now before the US Supreme Court to determine the law’s constitutionality.
It is wrong to think that Obama caved in to political pressure when he announced an “accommodation” at midday on February 10. In fact, he has no authority to either mandate or compromise. In reality, he is hacking away at our First Amendment liberties to promote the “change” he envisions.
Some see Obama’s decision as a blooper, a mistake, a goof. I don’t buy it. What Secretary Sebelius ruled was intentional, premeditated and approved by President Obama. I do not believe for a nanosecond that the Obama administration overplayed its hand or that they “guessed” wrong on his policy change. The president, his cabinet and his “czars” are too politically astute to make a blunder of this magnitude.
Late on February 10, Obama’s “accommodation” was rejected by the Catholic bishops.
Since when does a president have the power to rule unilaterally gutting religious liberty and then claim the power to make a compromise on that same ruling? He doesn’t. This is how we lose our Constitution and our liberty.
The policy change was intentional. Obama said from his campaign forward that he intended to change America. He is doing exactly that and will not allow the Constitution to stand in the way.
In the end, the entire issue revolves around freedom. Will we keep our freedom, or lose it?