A law (HR 347) passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress and signed earlier this month by President Barack Obama creates for the first time “No Free Speech Zones.” The law gives the Secret Service the power to prohibit citizens from engaging in protests anywhere the Secret Service is present.
Under this law, you can now be arrested by a Secret Service agent and charged with a felony for the crime of peacefully standing on the sidewalk and yelling at the President or anyone else with Secret Service protection.
The Obama Administration, Democrats and Progressives have been successful so far in framing the President Barack Obama’s decision to rule the Catholic Church must provide its employees with insurance that covers activities the Church has long held sinful — abortion via the morning after pill, sterilization and contraceptives — as an issue about contraception and women’s health. For example, stories about this confrontation are often headlined as “debate over contraception.”
Give the President his due for manipulating the liberal media into aping his political spin. But, the issue is all of our right to religious freedom as stated in the the very first clause of the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added).
I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception. But, I support the Church’s right to abide by its religious principles and to resist the Health and Human Services mandate an violation of its First Amendment rights. Below is the latest letter from Cardinal Timothy Dolan articulating the Church’s position, and the state of the discussions with the Obama Administration which was posted on March 3, 2012 by Deacon Bob Yerhot.
Office of the President
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
March 2, 2012
My brother bishops,
Twice in recent weeks, I have written you to express my gratitude for our unity in faith and action as we move forward to protect our religious freedom from unprecedented intrusion from a government bureau, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I remain deeply grateful to you for your determined resolve, to the Chairmen of our committees directly engaged in these efforts – Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop William Lori -who have again shown themselves to be such excellent leaders during these past weeks, and to all our staff at the USCCB who work so diligently under the direction of the Conference leadership.
How fortunate that we as a body have had opportunities during our past plenary assemblies to manifest our strong unity in defense of religious freedom. We rely on that unity now more than ever as HHS seeks to define what constitutes church ministry and how it can be exercised. We will once again dedicate ample time at our Administrative Committee meeting next week, and at the June Plenary Assembly, to this critical subject. We will continue to listen, discuss, deliberate and act.
Thank you, brothers, for the opportunity to provide this update to you and the dioceses you serve. Many of you have expressed your thanks for what we have achieved together in so few weeks, especially the data provided and the leadership given by brother bishops, our conference staff and Catholic faithful. And you now ask the obvious question, “What’s next?” (Read more)
“…Where does it say that the president can unilaterally order a private company to provide an allegedly free-standing service at no cost to certain select beneficiaries?
This is government by presidential fiat. In Venezuela, that’s done all the time. Perhaps we should we call Obama’s “accommodation” Presidential Decree No. 1.
Consider the constitutional wreckage left by Obamacare:
1) The assault on the free exercise of religiou
2) The assault on free enterprise
3) The assault on individual autonomy
This constitutional trifecta -the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies and the individual citizen -should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.
“The birth-control coverage mandate (issued by the Obama Administration) violates the First Amendment’s bar against the “free exercise” of religion. But it also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That statute, passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It was enacted in response to a 1990 Supreme Court opinion, Employment Division v. Smith.”
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent.” Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis
In one of the boldest, most audacious moves ever made by a President of the United States, President Barack Obama is on the brink of successfully rendering moot the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (emphasis added). If he forces the Catholic Church to comply with the Health and Human Services ruling to provide its employees with insurance that covers activities the Church has long held sinful — abortion via the morning after pill, sterilization and contraceptives — then the precedent is clear: when religious beliefs conflict with government decrees, religion must yield.
The fundamental question is whether the Catholic Church, and by extension, individual Americans have to engage in activities according to the rulings of this and future Presidents, or are we free to live our lives as we choose as long as we do not harm another. Are we free to engage in long standing religious practices that have never before been deemed unlawful, or has the federal government established a de facto state “religion” that it is prepared to enforce through the full coercive power of its financial resources and the imposition of financial penalties.
Scarcely two weeks ago, in its Hosanna-Tabor decision upholding the right of churches to make ministerial hiring decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically reaffirmed these longstanding and foundational principles of religious freedom. The court made clear that they include the right of religious institutions to control their internal affairs.
Yet the Obama administration has veered in the opposite direction. It has refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good—including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals—from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.