Did you know that last Friday, June 8, 2012, TENS OF THOUSANDS of Americans rallied in more than 160 cities across the United States?
Ask the alphabet TV networks why. [Read more about the liberal media’s non-coverage of the massive rallies, here.]
Last Friday, TENS OF THOUSANDS of people demonstrated for our religious freedom and against ObamaCare’s abortifaient/birth control mandate. The HHS (Health & Human Services) mandate forces Catholic hospitals and schools to include contraception and abortifacients in their health coverage. Doing so violates the Catholic Church’s religious beliefs. In effect, the mandate directly cuts into the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause’s promise of freedom of religion, as well as the standard interpretation of the clause as being “the separation of Church and State.” [See “Obama declares war on the Church. Church fights back with historic lawsuit”]
It is not just Catholics who should be concerned about Obama’s HHS mandate. All Christians, all faiths, and all non-religious Americans who value the U.S. Constitution should be concerned. Remember this?:
“First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.” -Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
It is in that spirit that I recommend this letter written by FOTM’s co-founder Joan, which was sent to her state’s state and national legislators and representatives, as well as the state’s major newspapers.
We are members of a “Why Catholic” study group at our local parish. Some of us are United States Veterans and we are all productive American citizens. Now, we are studying the Early Church together, learning about the apostles, the Church Fathers and brave martyrs who gave their very lives for God, exercising their inalienable rights of religious freedom. Because we love God and our country, we must communicate to you our deepest concerns, asking for your effective help and advocacy. We must not and cannot be silent.
As you are aware, on August 1, 2011, the Obama administration, by and through the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued regulatory provisions pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). In part, this mandate requires American citizens to pay for health insurance plans that provide full coverage for surgical sterilization and contraception, which includes abortifacients, such as the “morning-after” pill. These drugs kill innocent and precious unborn children in their mothers’ womb.
Pursuant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ (USCCB) “Urgent Memorandum of February 15, 2012,” they stated that:
“On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reaffirmed a rule that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortifacients and contraception. The rule exempted “religious employers,” but excluded those that served or employed people who were not members of their religious community. This was so narrow that it failed to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year.”
Essentially, the HHS mandate would force Catholic American citizens to act against their Faith, to act against our religious beliefs, notwithstanding that the mandate also requires private businesses, American citizens of all faiths, to provide their employees with this insurance coverage since there are no exemptions for insurers that would object to these provisions, which include secular for-profit religious employers, or for-profit private enterprises or individuals. These horrific provisions are not dissimilar to the laws of the former Nazi Germany.
Religious liberty is now jeopardized, threatened and adversely affected, even though it is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States as an inalienable right: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” Religious liberty cannot exist under duress and coercion with regard to our beliefs and our conscience. As Catholic Americans, we cannot and will not act against our faith, and we will not comply with the mandate – a mandate that violates our religious freedom under the Constitution of the United States. It is unconscionable that such a mandate would ever be issued in the Land of the Free and of the Brave. But remarkably, it has been issued, and not surprisingly, under the Obama administration.
In response to the USCCB’s declaration of non-compliance, on February 10, 2012, the Obama Administration issued a “final rule”, “without change,” granting the delay of enforcement of the mandate for a one-year period directed to religious non-profit organizations that still were not exempted, such as our schools, colleges, hospitals and charitable organizations. The Obama Administration then “promised” to draft other regulations to accommodate them by the end of the designated year period. But as the USCCB Memorandum states:
“But even under this future accommodation, our charities, hospitals and colleges will still be treated as second class citizens of our religious community, and still be forced to pay for coverage which violates their religious convictions. This is unacceptable.”
The issue in this matter is not about whether or not contraception or abortion can be prohibited or allowed by our government. Nor does this have anything to do with the “reproductive rights” of women. The REAL ISSUE IS whether or not American citizens practicing their religious beliefs can be coerced by the government to act against their religious beliefs. Accordingly, the REAL ISSUE is about religious freedom, religious liberty and freedom of conscience. The ultimate conclusion can only be that WE ARE UNDER ATTACK by the Obama administration!
Addressing Catholic Americans, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
“Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience. Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.”
This freedom of religion is not being fought just for Catholics. The USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, chaired by Archbishop-designate William E. Lori of Baltimore, issued a statement on religious liberty, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” which begins:
“We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.”
More particularly, this teaching is actualized by all of the thousands of Catholic organizations, such as hospitals, schools, universities, charities, all providing remarkable contributions to the common good of the people of America. As a result of the HHS mandate, all of these wonderful contributory Catholic entities are jeopardized, perhaps out of existence. According to the mandate, we can only hire Catholic employees and can only serve Catholics. But we are called to serve all of humankind. Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, commanded us to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and with all of our being, and He also commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We cannot allow Obama and his administration to define for us who are our neighbors and how we are to live our Catholic Faith! To echo the Ad Hoc Committee’s “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”: “Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans.” Our Catholic Faith is lived in the totality of our lives, as we live our Faith in our worship, in our vocations, in our works for the good of all humankind.
Accordingly, we are stand with our bishops in their calling to us, to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience, where we:
a. Request of the Obama administration that they immediately rescind this HHS mandate; and
b. Request of Congress to enact legislation to protect religious liberty, to protect the constitutional rights of religious institutions and individuals from government force and undue dictatorial coercion, regarding health care and any and all matters that might affect religious liberty.
Indeed and in fact, we are aware that the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, H.R. 1179, S. 1467, introduced on March 17, 2011, sponsored by Representative Jeff Fortenberry with 223 co-sponsors, which is a response to Obamacare, has been languishing in Committee, having been referred to the House subcommittee on March 28, 2011. This Act provides in pertinent part that those entities who participate in health insurance coverage, “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions.” That is why we are asking for your intervention to help us with appropriate legislation, even emergency legislation, to protect our religious liberty guaranteed to us under our Constitution. Please free the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act from lingering unproductively in Committee enabling that it be brought for Congressional vote at once.
Furthermore, pursuant to the document, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the USCCB states as follows:
“We suggest that the fourteen days from June 21 – the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More (the patron saint of religious liberty), to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom” a great hymn of prayer for our country.”
During this fortnight for freedom, we are called to focus all the energies we can muster, wherein special events will be held setting out the absolute importance of religious liberty. This period has been declared as it memorializes courageous martyrs who remained faithful to their faith, to their consciences, facing persecution by political powers that took their lives: St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. It would be wonderful if appropriate legislation could be introduced during this period of time to insure our religious liberty.
Arizona State Representative Debbie Lasko and State Senator Nancy Barto re-introduced HB2625 into the Arizona legislature this year to help protect the religious freedom of many organizations in Arizona. This legislation broadens the religious exemption to include “any organization whose articles of incorporation state a religious motivation and whose religious beliefs play a significant role in its operations.” Governor Jan Brewer signed this bill into law in May of 2012. She stated in pertinent part, “In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all constitutionally entitled.” She further stated, “It’s also a very good time to unite with people of other faiths on this bedrock issue. If we don’t do it now, we’re going to see much more serious erosion.” Our names will be counted as holding firm and true to our Catholic Faith, and true to religious liberty for all of the citizens of this country.
Finally, the First Amendment prohibits the “establishment” of any faith or religion or belief system which cannot be coerced or forced upon the American people. Obama and his administration violate this provision because they are trying to force upon us the belief system for this country of “radical secularism,” overshadowing any other religious beliefs held and coercing compliance of radical secularism by unjust federal laws. This is reprehensible and it is sickening.
Consequently, we thank you in advance for your valuable considerations and timely actual help in this important matter. We are praying for you and your effective contributions to ensure religious liberty!