US: Catholic Bishops Sound Battle Cry for Religious Liberty – by Jeffrey T. KuhnerLiberals are waging a war on Christianity. This is the real reason why the Catholic bishops this week filed lawsuits against the Obama administration’s contraception mandate. The Catholic church realizes religious freedom is at stake. If the courts don’t overturn President Obama’s authoritarian regulations, America will slide toward secular tyranny.
On Jan. 20, the Health and Human Services Department issued a mandate compelling nearly all religious organizations — including Catholic hospitals, universities, schools and charities — to provide their employees with free birth control, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. This is a direct assault upon the conscience rights of numerous Christian groups, compelling them to violate their central religious beliefs or face massive penalties. The HHS ruling was clear: comply or go out of business. The Obama administration is striking at the very heart of the First Amendment. It is an unprecedented attack on religious liberty. Our Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves.
The Catholic hierarchy rightly balked. The bishops asked that HHS revise the mandate and broaden the exemption to religious institutions. The administration adopted a meaningless, cosmetic change. Instead of the religious organizations paying for free contraception, the burden will fall on their insurance providers. It is a distinction without a difference. Religious groups will still have to pay for the health provider’s premiums, while other institutions, such as the University of Notre Dame, are self-insured. Hence, fundamental religious freedoms are still being violated.
Mr. Obama has done the unthinkable: He has painted the Catholic church into a corner. For decades, Catholic leaders have been allies of the Democratic Party, championing social justice, welfare liberalism and higher taxes. The administration has thrown the church under the bus; it has sacrificed the interests of Catholics in favor of the secular progressive left. Bill Maher and George Soros now own the Democratic establishment — lock, stock and barrel.
This is why Catholic bishops, including the heads of the archdioceses of New York and Washington, are taking the administration to court. Their goal: to block the HHS mandate. Mr. Obama is in direct conflict with the leadership of the Catholic church. The liberal media has deliberately downplayed the issue, falsely presenting it as being driven by a group of minority reactionary Catholics obsessed with sexuality. Moreover, Democrats are falsely accusing the Catholic church and Republicans of seeking to deny women access to contraception. The left claims there is now “a war on women.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Opposition to the contraceptive mandate is shared not only by Catholics, but by numerous religious denominations — Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims. They rightly understand this is not a Catholic issue. It is a First Amendment issue. The state is attempting to coerce religious organizations into accepting the secular radical agenda. The church of liberalism trumps Jesus Christ (as well as Moses and the prophet Muhammad).
For Catholics, the issue at stake is this: Who heads the church, Pope Benedict XVI or Barack Obama? The Catholic church has the right to determine its fundamental social teachings on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, marriage, sterilization and euthanasia. It champions a “culture of life” — that every human being is created in the image of God and the purpose of existence is to obey the natural moral order. This directly contradicts the radical individualism and neopagan hedonism at the heart of modern liberalism. Therefore, liberals, like their ideological predecessors — Jacobins, Bolsheviks, communists, fascists — view Christianity as a mortal enemy that must be destroyed.
For decades, America’s secular elites have sought to eradicate our Judeo-Christian heritage from the public square. They have imposed abortion on demand, resulting in the mass murder of over 50 million unborn babies — a holocaust. They have taken down the Ten Commandments from courthouses. They have banned prayer in public schools. They have glorified sexual promiscuity, encouraging educators to hand out condoms and birth control pills to 12- and 13-year-olds. They are actively seeking to promote “homosexual marriage” against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Americans. In short, they are bent on implementing a social revolution from above.
Mr. Obama’s contraceptive mandate is the culmination of liberalism’s war on Christianity. The issue is not “women’s health” or access to birth control. Most insurance providers offer contraception, and it is available cheaply and almost everywhere. Rather, religious organizations must not be compelled to sacrifice their most cherished beliefs on the altar of liberalism. The Catholic church’s fight is freedom’s fight. We are all Catholics now.
* Jeffrey T. Kuhneris a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.