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A Symposium on Threats to Our Religious Liberty Print E-mail
By Robert Royal, Michael Uhlmann, and Brad Miner   
Monday, 13 February 2012

Nothing Will Come of Nothing
Robert Royal

None.

That’s the amount of consultation the Obama Administration had with the American bishops prior to last Friday’s “accommodation,” according to some of the bishops (off the record) involved in the process.

It’s a strange way to try to meet people halfway.

So it’s no surprise that when the flim-flam was announced, it didn’t take the bishops long to realize that their ability to compromise with the president was precisely the same as his accommodation towards them.

None.

President Obama seems to believe that Catholics in America are both stupid and spineless. There’s no other way to account for his accounting maneuver masquerading as tolerance of different points of view. To judge by some of the popular reaction in the polling, he may be right about the stupidity – even among some Catholics. But let’s hand it to the American bishops: the president has tipped his hand (or the cloven hoof) and they are neither fudging the truth nor walking away from the fight.

They’re right to do so in principle, of course. But they can also be sure that there’s practical, i.e., political, peril here for Mr. Obama. You could see it in the submerged anger and arrogance at the announcement: he was clearly a man not happy at being forced even to give the appearance of walking back a policy that many of the members of his own party and liberal groupies in the press have had to tell him is just plain wrong.

Several of them have also observed that he didn’t have to put himself in this position in the first place. But on that point, they are quite mistaken. And the president’s whole way of making his announcement made that clear.

The bishops have good legal grounds for their position. Religious liberty is a basic right guaranteed by the very First Amendment to the Constitution. It’s long been one of the principles that Americans take pride in: we are a country that, in George Washington’s words to the Touro Synagogue in Newport R.I., gives “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

By contrast, Mr. Obama opened his remarks by laying out the “fundamental right” to healthcare access for women, including contraception, abortifacient morning-after pills, and sterilization. Oh and, by the way, women have a right to all this without copays, which he will forbid the insurers to charge. Was there some even more fundamental right than religious liberty in the Constitution, somehow more “first” than the First Amendment that no one seems to have noticed until last Friday?

If you take Mr. Obama’s words at face value, there is. He and the many who back him in this matter have introduced a new constitutional trump card, one cobbled together out of decades of “emanations and penumbras” justifying contraception, abortion, and the most radical interpretations of women’s rights.

Except what was once thought of as a clever constitutional carom shot has now become a central principle of constitutional interpretation. In that perspective, anyone or any group, like the churches, who interferes with the new fundamental rights, is a sectarian on the fringes of the American experiment.

Forced to choose between the First Amendment and a new right concocted from  radical social attitudes about women, Mr. Obama chose to side with the ladies.

Many secular commentators have said, long before this particular controversy, that Mr. Obama feels he is hampered in running a modern nation by the quaint restrictions of an eighteenth-century document. One that, to take just one central trait, is intended to make it difficult for any single person to tyrannize over the people. That’s what it means to live under the rule of law and a government with limited powers.

And that’s the document our sometime professor of constitutional law swore to preserve, protect, and defend when he became president of the United States.

If you leave aside, for a moment, the whole moral controversy about the medical procedures, would anyone – even just a few decades ago – have thought that a president of the United States (or his Secretary of Health and Human Services – a department not envisioned in the Constitution, by the way), would think he can tell private insurers what they need to cover in plans and that they must provide certain services for “free.” And the most highly controversial ones, at that.

That’s the larger problem behind Obamacare, and some of us tried to get the American bishops to see that point during the congressional debates on healthcare “reform.” Even back then, it was clear that you might technically and temporarily get abortion out of the coverage and, quite quickly and permanently, see it and many other objectionable features come back once the feds take over.

It’s encouraging that our hierarchy now understands more deeply what is at stake in the healthcare struggle. If the controversy – which is not going away – leads to better reflection by all Americans not only about religious liberty but the size and scope of government, so much the better.

For it’s not only healthcare that is threatening to become a federal function. More and more, education and provision for the poor – two further areas not among the enumerated powers given to the feds – are also becoming the preserve of government.

When all schools, hospitals, universities, and welfare agencies are run by government – not as in the grand American tradition by civil society associations like churches and other sources of independence – it will be no surprise that many people will think, and behave, as they are told. It’s already started, among Catholics as much as anyone.

These are the kinds of fundamental threats to liberty out of which civil unrest and revolutions come. God save our dear America from all that.


Robert Royal is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, and president of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West, now available in paperback from Encounter Books.


           
It’s the Kulturkampf, Stupid!
Michael Uhlmann

Nowhere is the character of the Obama administration more clearly revealed than in its determination to mandate insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization. The original HHS regulation, issued in August 2011, would have required employers to subsidize insurance for these services. In the revised formula announced by the president last Friday, employer subsidies would no longer have to cover such services explicitly, but all health insurance companies would be compelled to provide “free” coverage for the same procedures.  

There is, however, no such thing as “free” insurance; its cost is always borne by policyholders. The same employers or employees who had to pay their share of premiums on Friday morning will still pay their share on Friday afternoon. The only difference, apparently, is that insurance bills will no longer specify that premium payments cover the cost of mandatory contraception, abortion, or sterilization services.

Such a transparently cosmetic gesture reeks of contempt, not only for the Catholic Church, and not only for the First Amendment, but as well for citizens of every faith who take their religious obligations seriously. It is a gesture designed to fool, well, only fools, and the administration is betting that there are enough of them in positions of authority and in pews who will buy into its barely concealed deceit.

While this wager is not without political risk, White House apparatchiks seem determined to take it. They know how to read public opinion polls, which confirm that large numbers of Catholics are, let us put this delicately, soft on the teaching authority of the Church, especially on matters relating to sexual activity. 

Obama’s operatives also know from experience that diverse sophists and bureaucrats at major Catholic universities and other institutions (as well as soi-disant Catholic elected officials), can be counted on to provide requisite intellectual and political cover for Obama’s policies. 

They know, too, that the mainstream media will reliably praise “enlightened” Catholicism of the sort represented by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Hospital Association, in contrast to the “reactionary” orthodoxy of the bishops – the same bishops, the public will be reminded, who tried to cover up sexual abuse by priests.  

It may well be that the White House underestimated the political fallout that might accrue from the original HHS mandate. But rather than address the legitimate concerns of critics, the administration instead offered only last Friday’s palpably counterfeit concessions. This tends to confirm the suspicion that the White House may be engaged in a much broader divide-and-conquer political strategy, one that comes straight out of Saul Alinsky’s playbook. 

Alinsky, it will be recalled, was the Chicago-based activist whose instruction played such a large part in President Obama’s intellectual and political formation. In his “Rules for Radicals,” he famously advised social protestors and community organizers to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” As the presidential campaign gets underway, it’s a good guess that the Catholic bishops are about to appear in the cross hairs of the administration’s political snipers.      

Whether this Machiavellian strategy will succeed remains to be seen, but its boldness should not come as a surprise. From day one – and even before, if you take into account Obama’s aggressive defense of partial-birth abortion when he served in the Illinois legislature and U.S. Senate – the policies of this administration on reproductive services have coincided more or less perfectly with those of Planned Parenthood, just as its legal policies on church-state matters have generally coincided with those of the ACLU.  

Anyone who doubts that this administration is engaged in a war against the foundations of religious freedom hasn’t been paying attention. Even more striking than the substance of the administration’s policies is the increasing boldness with which they are asserted. There has been nothing quite like this in American history, save perhaps the shameful, short-lived “Know-Nothing” movement in the nineteenth century. 

After some initial hesitancy, the bishops now appear to recognize that they’re in the fight of their lives, one that will challenge not only the Church’s juridical standing in American law and the efficacy of the bishops’ teaching authority, but, more broadly, the legal right of individuals to practice their faith unmolested by hostile government agents.

In a strongly worded statement issued late on Friday afternoon, the USCCB identified the president’s new policy for what it was: a bogus, patronizing revision that revised nothing of substance. The bishops’ statement was couched in appropriately diplomatic language, but it also revealed a moral resolve not commonly observed in USCCB documents. Good for them. 

In the months ahead, however, they will need to do more, much more, including something most bishops have never had or tried very hard to do: they will need to rouse the faithful. God made pulpits for a reason, and the clergy should not be shy about using them between now and November. 

Litigation is certainly necessary and should be pursued, but at the moment it’s only one, and not necessarily the most important, component of a multi-front war. In the short term, the focus must be on good old-fashioned, hardball electoral politics. The laity must of course, carry the principal burden in this endeavor, but they need to be energized by those whose first duty is to teach and defend the faith.    

The Obama re-election campaign – bear in mind, the White House is already in full battle mode and plans to raise nearly a billion dollars to support its efforts – will attempt to cast the debate as one between narrow-minded, authoritarian religion on the one hand, and the freedom of women to use “reproductive services” on the other. Talking points along this line are already being parroted by liberal politicians and journalists, and they will increase in frequency and intensity in the coming months.

Campaign surrogates will also avoid explicit discussion of abortion, and will use every possible means to divert attention from the real issue – the use of governmental power to coerce the behavior of religious believers. If the administration succeeds in defining the debate in these terms, the defenders of religious freedom will almost certainly lose. Saul Alinsky’s ghost must be licking his chops.

But nothing in politics is inevitable. Not only Catholics, but all citizens of religious faith, need to be reminded about the gravity of this fall’s elections. The Obama administration is determined to remake American culture in accordance to the dictates of a radically secularized understanding of human nature and the ends of political life. 

As the estimable Charles Krauthammer noted last week, the gospel according to Obama represents a radical turn in American politics, one that sees traditional religion, and much of American political culture besides, as a reactionary force standing athwart true social progress. The administration’s HHS rule is but one expression of that settled disposition. One hesitates to think about what a second Obama term might look like. 

 
Michael Uhlmann served in the Reagan White House and now teaches American politics at the Claremont Graduate University.


 
The Depths of Depravity
Brad Miner

Others have described the many ways the administration of President Barack Obama has, from the beginning, been hostile to the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, there’s an almost sulfuric odor in Washington these days, so aggressive has been the president’s attack, aided and abetted by nominal Catholics in his inner circle, most especially by his strident Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, and his suddenly silent Vice President, Joe Biden.

As other contributors to The Catholic Thing have pointed out, there’s a long list of specifically anti-Catholic and, more generally, anti-Christian actions taken by the Obama regime, beginning with the president’s decision to lift the ban on embryonic stem-cell research and culminating – so far – in the current HHS mess. Throughout, the reasoning presented in justification of the policies imposed has been sophomoric, if not tortured. And the best example is the president’s “walk back” of the abortifacient-contraception-sterilization mandate.

He did nothing to address the moral issues involved, but one wouldn’t expect that, since abortion is the law of land and only truly committed Christians dissent from the twisted orthodoxy of Roe v. Wade (fewer still object to Court-approved contraception), and only a blind partisan could possibly call Mr. Obama a committed Christian (and actually believe it). What he did do is explain that the latest emendation of the contraceptive-coverage requirement preserves “basic fairness for all Americans” by shifting the focus away from religious organizations to the insurance companies that provide health coverage, which now not only MUST cover contraception but also do so for FREE.

That this idiocy is without doubt the camel’s nose under the tent, no one should doubt. Soon enough this administration (or a successor) will decide that direct abortion must also be covered. It’s significant that – as far as I’m able to tell – it is just these “health” services related to women and sex (contraception, abortifacient drugs, and sterilization) that are to be “free.” [If there are other free items, I hope readers will let us know.] This is clearly a sop to what our colleague Austin Ruse calls the “pelvic Left.”

Well, the old saying applies: to the victor belong the spoils. But how is it possible – except in the mind of a child or an idiot – to conceive of manufactured things in the real world as “free.” Thieves conceive of certain goods and services as free, which is why they steal them without pang of conscience, but whether it’s an IUD or Ella or a tubal ligation, there are costs associated. When the expenses of any business go up, its managers must look for ways to increase revenues. In this case, mandates from the Feds will necessitate higher premiums for everybody's basic health-insurance coverage.

Obviously, Mr. Obama cagily embraces the ludicrous “free” lie, because it appeals to his most ardent supporters. He’s just the most prominent case of an African-American politician who willfully ignores the near holocaust in America’s black inner-city neighborhoods. In New York City, for instance, 60 percent of all black pregnancies end in abortion. How many babies – who could be the next Martin Luther King, Jr., Sidney Poitier, or Barack Obama – are never conceived because of contraception, we’ll never know. And of the black babies who are born, 70-75 percent (at a minimum) are “illegitimate.” The president is wholly indifferent to this. He wants feminist support and he’ll embrace any expedient to that end. If he had his way, contraceptives would be dispensed like M&M candies, regardless of the demographic effect on the communities involved or the negative impact on the health of individuals.

But, hey! It’s free. As the geniuses at Bloomberg News put it:

Under the revised rule, the insurance companies would offer the contraception directly to the women who work for religious-based hospitals and universities, so that their employers don’t have to be involved. The religious employers also would not subsidize the cost of the coverage.

We speak of the President of the United States as the most powerful man in the world, but I don’t believe he has the power to make merchandise magically appear out of thin error [pun intended]. Somebody must subsidize the cost of this immorality, and if it’s not “religious” employers, it’ll have to be other employers, and if not them then us: taxpayers.

And a few more miles – or years – along this road and with this kind of deception, the healthcare system will be so broken by the Feds that they will surely own it. To say that health – in any sense – is neither within the expertise of government nor within the scope of its constitutional power ought to be uncontroversial, but that’s becoming mere nostalgia.

After the president’s announcement (with an ashen faced Sebelius at his side) that the HHS rules would be modified – a political move if ever there was one – Mr. Obama glibly acknowledged that there remains much to be worked out. The USCCB committee overseeing the issue (Dolan, DiNardo, Wuerl, Lori, and Blaire) remains skeptical:

The indication from the Administration that this process will be worked out into the coming year is of grave concern. Prolonging the process of the protection of religious liberty over multiple months is not beneficial or effective for the clear principle of religious liberty and freedom from coercion. In particular, the clear assertion of religious liberty is a matter of justice for our employees.

The “compromise” is, they conclude, “unacceptable.” That’s as far as the bishops may be able to go in public statements. For my part, I’ll vote for the GOP candidate in November, and I ask any Catholic who is leaning towards Obama: Why?


Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing and a senior fellow of the Faith and Reaon Institute. A former Literary Editor of National Review, he is the author of six books, and a board member of Aid to the Church in Need, USA.
 
 
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Comments (25)Add Comment
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written by Dave, February 13, 2012
Gentlemen: can someone clarify whether dioceses that self-insure will or will not be required to pay for these services?
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written by TomD, February 13, 2012
"President Obama seems to believe that Catholics in America are both stupid and spineless." I think that this assumption may lead us to false conclusions about the extent and manner of the problem, especially with Catholics.

I believe that the Obama Administration, and their allies both Catholic and non-Catholic, believe, quite simply, that they are in a significant majority with the electorate on this issue. It is merely a numbers calculation on top of an ideological agenda. It is a form of political and ideological divide and conquer, with the assumption that, when the dust clears, the division ends up in your numerical favor.

In my more cynical moments, I believe that Obama thinks that more Americans will now be inclined to support him, especially Independents who voted for him in 2008. Since 90%+ of Americans believe that contraception is acceptable, Obama is calculating that he can portray his opponents as out-of-step reactionaries on this issue. It helps him to shore up his base. "Look at who opposes me," he seems to be saying, "do you really want 'them' in charge." Even with Catholic voters, many on the Left will support him precisely for this reason.

I hope I am wrong, but for every vote that he loses on this issue, he may solidify two in his favor.
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written by Jacob R, February 13, 2012
There are at least a few of us who are still ready to die to oppose this.

A very small portion of us still find Jesus Christ more important than fitting in with our enlightened secularist friends or protecting our wealth and reputation.
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written by Robert Royal, February 13, 2012
Dave: who knows? Since the president was in a rush to issue his diktat rather than to think through the whole problem, at this point, you'd have to say self-ensurers will not be exempt. There is a "consultation"planned in two weeks with various religious bodies, including the bishops. The bishops have their dander up. Unless the president is willing to back down on the main issue, I don't think much will change and self-insurers will be required to pay one way or another.

And to TomD: You are right that the president hoped he could get a majority with him on this isuue - contrary to what he said the other day HE's the one seeking to use it as a wedge issue. But I think you ride that insight a bit too far. There's a reason why he engaged in what he clearly felt to be a distasteful step back on Friday. The reason: it started to get ugly and he wanted to stop the fire from spreading. He may only have added further fuel.

Jacob, Let's coming, we should also try prayer and fasting, since Christ said that certain evils could be cast out only that way.
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written by Dan Deeny, February 13, 2012
Very interesting. Mr. Uhlmann is right to suggest that many Catholics may actually support the Sebelius/Obama health package.
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written by Just Wondering, February 13, 2012
I am just wondering how you thought a man who finds nothing objectionable with infanticide would govern?
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written by Tony Esolen, February 13, 2012
The candidate who repeats the words, "Constitution, liberty, Constitution, liberty," will win in November.

Scotty: You are employing false analogies. Obviously it is within the government's purview to protect people from fraud, as in the case of adulterated food (!). Here we are talking about the mandated free provision of contraceptives and worse, over the moral objections of people who will have to provide them.

What compromise has there been? I will be compelled to participate directly (via the purchase of an objectionable insurance plan) in what I consider intrinsically evil. I will not be given the chance to purchase a plan that avoids these things. There is not a single founding Father who would not have considered this to be arrant tyranny.

As for the social costs: you must figure in ALL THE COSTS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION, and not just the cost of a particular package of pills and a particular pregnancy. The Pill has made for far more, not fewer, children born out of wedlock; for far more, not fewer, abortions; and for a devastated lower class and lower middle class. That's not taking into account, either, the proliferation of new forms of venereal disease, and the misery brought about by divorce.

Again, this is a bald power play, to enshrine the sexual revolution forever -- and with it the Leviathan state. Those two go together. And the rule is as obnoxious as it would be to mandate that Catholic schools provide vending machines for rubbers ...
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written by Grump, February 13, 2012
These are well reasoned articles but I have one problem that has not been addressed. Is it not true that Catholic and other faith-based health care entities receive federal aid? And, if so, then such assistance must come with certain requirements or a type of quid pro quo. I would appreciate any of the three authors to clarify or enlighten me and others on this. Thank you.
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written by Francis DeBritz, February 13, 2012
I disagree Scotty. The issue is not won or lost on the basis of cost. It is enjoined on how much the government impacts the individual's right to make decisions about what effects his medical decisions. I hope all american's project what just happen to the limit, where we become like china, mandating one child per couple or like Britain where the government makes decisions about the gravity of a person's malady and the timeline of its treatment.
On the cost effectiveness argument, I would like you to post the calculations and the assumptions that indicate the so called cost savings to which you allude. Are you maintaining that over the last six years, with the. Government adding more and more compulsory health services, that the cost of health care has gone down for the individual? Do your calculations include government money given to such organizations as planned parenthood and the money spent on over a million abortions/yr? Does it also include the monies spent in the education of youth on contraceptive use in our schools and their use in the increase of sexual intercourse amongst early teenagers.
Using just one factor in the cost effective argument can't count for the annual increases we've experienced in health care. Like most of the so called mandated benefits, I think we should adopt the mantra, that if an individual exercises his or her free will to have sex for pleasure without the fear or prospect of having a child, then they should pay for it, Catholics included.
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written by Brian English, February 13, 2012
"Numerous studies have shown that free access to the women's health services provided by the act will actually save insurers money in the long run."

Then why haven't isurers always provided free contraception? And if the study you are citing is the one in the Washington Post, that was a study of savings by employers. In reality, the insurance companies are already indicating they are leery of this. It is telling that neither the insurance companies, nor the Bishops were consulted on the grand compromise.

"Additionally, it is clear that the government has the power, the right, and responsibility to regulate goods and services; unless you want even more sawdust in your meat, even more harmful chemicals in your food,"

Please. You're claiming slaughterhouse practices are the same thing as Church-affiliated employers buying insurance policies?

"It is now the bishops who appear to be unwilling to compromise, and the trumpets of the political right have been quick to sound the battle cry "no compromise," to dredge up images of persecution, and to prepare itself for an unnecessary and self-imposed martyrdom while disparaging the faiths of any who disagree."

Says one of the trunpeters of the political left. This "compromise" changed nothing. The regulation reads the same today as it did last Thursday. Only a fool would be taken in by it.



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written by TomD, February 13, 2012
"Is it not true that Catholic and other faith-based health care entities receive federal aid? And, if so, then such assistance must come with certain requirements or a type of quid pro quo."

While there ARE government funds involved in the delivery of health care, and "certain requirements" MAY be tied to that funding, violation of our constitutional right to religious liberty and freedom from coercion is NOT one of the permitted "quid pro quo" requirements.
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written by Louise, February 13, 2012
I have the feeling that someone is trying to overwhelm the discussion on TCT with false arguments and red herrings, sidetracking the discussion of the valid and important points of the essayists. That's too bad. I hope it won't continue for long, free speech notwithstanding. Too much time is wasted--to say nothing of words.

To people of a certain age, the Constitutional arguments will fall on deaf ears. It is 40 or 50 years since civics has been taught in high schools or American history has been required in colleges, and at least that long since the word "think" has been replaced by the word "feel." (Thank you, Ira Magaziner.) That is the cohort who will be deciding our country's future. God help us.


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written by Louise, February 13, 2012
P.S.

If we contintue the fight, what makes us think that the press will cover it? With 300,000 people at this year's March for Life, how much coverage was there on the national news on television or in your local press? The only photos I saw were of the pro-abortion protesters. We won't do any better, I'm afraid.
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written by Chris in Maryland, February 13, 2012
Grump has pointed out THE ELEPHANT UNDER THE RUG here. As George Will and Daniel Henninger have stated this week - the leadership of The Catholic Church has made a Faustian bargain with BIG BROTHER, and now, BIG BROTHER intends to show The Church just who the boss is.

The Diocesan and USCCB bureaucracies have for so long been seduced by BIG BROTHER that they have now put in jeopardy the religious liberty of every pro-life Catholic American citizen, indeed, every pro-life American citizen.

But the Church is so gullible, it has already let BIG BROTHER into its Catholic Grammar schools. Have we noticed all those "National Blue Ribbon School" banners popping up at the parish lately? Well guess what Bishop Smith and Monsignor Brown? BIG BROTHER is planning to tell you exactly what you can and can't do at THEIR BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLs.

When is The Church in the United States going to grow up and face the fact that it can't cooperate with BIG BROTHER? Or are the majority of "college-educated" Catholics attracted to the European model, where no one has children, no one goes to Mass, and BIG BROTHER pays the bills for the Diocese?
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written by Sue, February 13, 2012
Obama has succeeded in moving the argument to the left if the USCCB shoots its wad on this single effect of Obamacare, rather than repeal the whole package. He will have us arguing every month on a new toxic tweak he wants to make regarding contraception, ivf, abortion, or euthananasia.

No, the bishops should hold the line and oppose Obamacare on principle. Even if it means admitting they made the mistake of letting it be enacted in the first place.

And rather than hiding behind the USCCB, which has no canonical mandate, the bishops, by which I mean *each individual bishop*, who do have grave canonical authority, should assess which Catholics in their own diocese are publicly scandalizing their faithful and are in need of Canon 915 application. Starting with Pelosi and Sebelius. The law may be a teacher, but heretical Catholic politicians are ever so much more effective teachers.

To those who say we vote them out in November - this is too late (remember "Remember in November" in 2010, for all the good that did!), and not cognizant that we have already let the barbarian Marxist USCCB staffers and Republicrats in the gate. They praised into existence Obamacare with faint damns. Now that they have tasted its true totalitarian effects, let them now properly damn it to hell.
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written by Chris in Maryland, February 13, 2012
Our Protestant brother-in-Christ, Rev. Rick Warren, has given all religious and pro-life Americans a CALL TO ARMS - either we unite against Leviathin to defend the religious liberty of every Ameican citizen, or we fall by cutting separate deals like the "Katholic Health Care Association."

WAKE UP, STAND UP AND FIGHT...or live in bondage to AMERIKA NOVA.
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written by Ben Horvath, February 13, 2012
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me
Matt 5:11

Let's not forget to remember those who are pushing this filth in our prayers. Their eyes are focused on the worst sort of wordly gain which can only ever be a loss to them.
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written by Tony Esolen, February 13, 2012
Scotty,

Sorry, but you're out to lunch. Contraceptives had nothing to do with the sexual revolution? Without the Pill, there would have been no sexual revolution; and it is the sexual revolution that proponents of the Pill want to protect. And no, it doesn't actually, in the global sense, reduce the risk of pregnancy. It increases it, because it instantly "immiserates" all young men and women who wish to remain chaste.

On the subject of my cooperation with evil: it is one thing if I buy a product from the guy down the street, who then uses the money to do something evil. It is quite another thing when you require me to spend money directly to finance the evil. You might as well make me sign on to pony up money for the couple's room at the Ol' In-and-Out Inn, with the hourly rates.

It is exactly as if the government were to require Quakers to sponsor ROTC companies. The Leviathan brooks no opposition.

By the way, the "ninety eight percent" of Catholic women who violate the Church teaching -- I kind of knew that statistic was invented, and sure enough it was. Apparently it doesn't bother to include women who are not sexually active, and women who are married and who don't want to prevent conception. OOPS -- caught in a baldfaced lie.
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written by Scotty Ellis, February 13, 2012
@Tony

"Sorry, but you're out to lunch. Contraceptives had nothing to do with the sexual revolution?"

That is not at all what I said. A lot of people commenting have difficulty reading what I write, typically by inserting nonsensical ideas into my claims. It is quite tiresome.

I said that it is illogical to conclude that contraception is responsible for an increase in illegitimate births. There are a vast number of variables that contribute to illegitimate birth rates, including poverty, education, class, race, so forth and so on. It is a bit high-handed and unsupported to simply reduce such a complicated group of variables to "The Pill."

Now, the Pill (a very specific form of contraception) does have a historical connection to the American sexual revolution of the 1960's, but, of course, there are other importance sexual revolutions predating that revolution, such as the revolution of the 1920's (which itself has connections to certain religious denominations' acceptance of contraception, among other factors), the Bohemian revolution, and so forth.

Interestingly enough, the size of families has decreased since the introduction of the pill, suggesting that your claims are not as straightforward as you claim. I would be interested in seeing how many mothers with large numbers of children (Catholic or non-Catholic) actually consistently use birth control (I suspect they do not).

"it is one thing if I buy a product from the guy down the street, who then uses the money to do something evil."

No, I am talking about your patronizing organizations that you know for a fact supply goods and services you consider illicit. You shop at Wal-Mart? Then you are using your money to patronize an organization that sells contraceptives and pornography. You buy any kind of over the counter drugs? Those pharmaceutical companies may very well donate products you consider illicit to organizations you consider involved in sin. So forth, and so on. The Catholic organizations that ostensibly suffer "persecution" from this bill engage in the same sorts of transactions willingly; and now, you would reject the compromise that would not even require them to pay for those services in any way?

"It is exactly as if the government were to require Quakers to sponsor ROTC companies."

Now this is very flawed, especially considering the compromise. Under the new compromise, the Quaker school wouldn't shell out a dime for anything they consider illicit. However, the students are still have a legal right to get that service - just from a different party.


"By the way, the "ninety eight percent" of Catholic women who violate the Church teaching -- I kind of knew that statistic was invented, and sure enough it was."

I don't care how many do or do not. My wife and I have never used contraception; we follow the Church's teaching. That has nothing to do with the regulations.

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written by Brian English, February 13, 2012
"You may disagree about the prudence of this or the particular way it is framed (with which I too have disagreements) but I believe it is not sensible to state that the government does not have the power or authority to make these sorts of rulings."

Apparently you are unaware of this thing we call the First Amendment.

"I doubt hardly anyone (except maybe the insurers) would have put up a fuss about the government not having the right to do so; but, because this is a hot-button topic, people reach for whatever argument lies at hand, no matter how bad it is."

Can you show me where in the Catechism breast-exams are condemned? My copy must be missing those pages.

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written by Bob, February 13, 2012
Mr. Royal---excellent insight and you begin to tempt your readers toward understanding a deeper concern with Church bureaucracy. The bishops, and, downstream, the laity have been to be polite poorly served by the domestic policy staff at the USCCB which gives social justice a bad name. That staff consists of democrat party aparatchiks and sympathizers. I began following the USCCB agenda when the health care debate first emerged wand frankly was shocked to see the legislative agenda which over the years included advocacy for cap and trade, Obama tax increases, more welfare spending, and on and on.

What was and remains unsettling is the lack of any temperance in the zeal of the USCCB staffers in pushing a leftist agenda on all fronts. It does not operate as a think tank for applied Catholic theology and magisterium teaching. It does operate as a partisan front group. The bishops need to understand that it is the constant capitulation by USCCB bureaucrats which has lead the Church in America to this point in time and this place in history. Until this reality is addressed by the bishops and the laity, we are not fully engaged in the momentous struggle facing us. The Church needs to return to its pastoral heritage of leading us to salvation through good works, and not farming out our responsibilities to the state to be charitable. The state is about compulsion and dependency.
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written by Scotty Ellis, February 13, 2012
@Brian

"Apparently you are unaware of this thing we call the First Amendment."

I am quite aware of the amendment and its provisions. Especially with the new compromise, it is extraordinarily unclear how the mandate 1) establishes a religion or 2) prohibits the free exercise thereof.

"Can you show me where in the Catechism breast-exams are condemned? My copy must be missing those pages. "

Again, you confirm my point. I am simply arguing that the issue here is NOT the government's power to regulate what goods or services should be provided by health care plans. The government clearly has the power and authority to issue such standards, and as indicated by your statement you agree that that authority in itself is not problematic. The only issue here is the provision of universal access to contraception (some of which is abortifacient), but now religious organizations do not have to pay for such plans - they are provided directly from insurer to the employee.
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written by Brian English, February 14, 2012
"I am quite aware of the amendment and its provisions. Especially with the new compromise, it is extraordinarily unclear how the mandate 1) establishes a religion or 2) prohibits the free exercise thereof."

The government forcing individuals and entities to purchase insurance policies that will serve as the mechanism for their employees being provided with products the employers consider to be immoral is obviously a free exercise violation.


"Again, you confirm my point. I am simply arguing that the issue here is NOT the government's power to regulate what goods or services should be provided by health care plans. The government clearly has the power and authority to issue such standards,"

That is a different issue, and it is not so clear that the federal government has the authority to dictate what has to be in virtually every single health insurance plan issued in the country.

"The only issue here is the provision of universal access to contraception (some of which is abortifacient), but now religious organizations do not have to pay for such plans - they are provided directly from insurer to the employee."

The plans under which the contraception will be provided are the plans payed for by the employers. An employee of a Catholic school will be provided with the contraception because her employer bought a plan with the insurance company that provides the contraception. The idea that the contraception is "free" and is unrelated to the Catholic school's policy is absurd. And by the way, the insurance companies, who were not even consulted about this grand compromise, are not too happy about it.

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