Awake O Sleeper! It's Not About Healthcare, It's About Religious Freedom!
But it's also about Healthcare!
"The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick." - From an open letter to President Obama entitled "Unacceptable"
Days later the President tried to backtrack with a quasi-compromise that did nothing but increase the level of angry responses.
On Tuesday, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reported that they were among the over 100 college presidents, academics, religious leaders and journalists who signed a letter, entitled "Unacceptable," which denounces President Obama's "accommodation" to the contraception mandate for failing to "remove the assault on religious liberty."
"The simple fact," the letter states, "is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.
"This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick."
This issue is not going to go away any time soon. The President has made it clear that no issues of conscience on the part of the Christian citizenry in the United States is going to stop his assault on the life of the pre-born. His claimed concern about "women's health" is a subterfuge.
While there are some who have tried to be critical of the Catholic bishops during episode, no group of religious leaders has cried out so powerfully, accurately and for a sustained period of time as our bishops.
In a letter to their brother bishops in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal-designate Dolan, USCCB president, along with Cardinals DiNardo and Wuerl joined their voices with Bishops Lori and Blair to continue to call for unrelenting action on the part of the American Church.
"We remain fully committed to the defense of our religious liberty," they wrote, "and we strongly protest the violation of our freedom of religion that has not been addressed. We continue to work for the repeal of the mandate.
"We have grave reservations that the government is intruding in the definition of who is and who is not a religious employer. Upon further study we are very concerned that serious issues still remain and we have found numerous problems which we will raise in this letter."
To be honest, my greatest concern is not for our bishops but the cadre of Catholics in the pews who may not take seriously this incredible assault on our religious liberty, moral conscience and health.
Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, many of our brethren may have fallen asleep and on their way to experiencing the death of the freedoms. This is a time when we must cry out with a Scripture that is quoted in the breviary readings for Holy Saturday, "Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead!"
An Issue of Religious Liberty
Make no mistake of what we are facing. The president and his administration are requiring that people of faith deny their deeply held religious and moral convictions - and violate their conscience - to comply with initiatives imposed by the government.
If this sounds familiar, just look back at sixteenth century England when Henry VIII required Catholics to accept his authority on divorce. What they ended up with was a state church.
This can and will affect more than Catholics. If this can happen in healthcare, it can happen in other places as well, where the government can mandate a policy in contradiction to Christian convictions. Leaders from across Christendom have joined in sounding the alarm.
In the "On Faith" section of the Washington Post, Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice wrote, "The Obama Administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision to force religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for abortion pills is nothing short of a war on religious liberty. And President Obama did nothing to change this fact with his latest 'accommodation.'
"This is not just an assault on life, or even Catholics, it is a direct attack at the heart of religious freedom and free exercise - the very essence of the First Amendment.
"Make no mistake; this regulation is not just about contraceptives. The regulation at issue will ...
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