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Concern for Religious Freedom or Preaching Political Messages?

 
 
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:12 pm
Quote:
Here Is The Anti-Obama Administration Letter That Was Read To Almost Every Catholic Sitting In Church On Sunday
(Michael Brendan Dougherty, Business Insider, January 29, 2012)

The Catholic Church is fighting mad with the Obama Administration, and nearly every Catholic sitting in a pew this weekend heard the reasons why.

The Health and Human Services Department recently announced it will require all employers (with few exceptions) to provide health insurance to their employees which includes subsidized contraception, sterilization and coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.

This meant that religious institutions, like Catholic colleges and hospitals, or other Christian institutions would be compelled to violate their conscience by cooperating with that which they believe to be wrong. Currently many of these institutions purchase health-insurance plans which do not provide free coverage of these services.

To give an analogy, it would be like the government mandating that all delis, even Kosher delis, serve pork products and then justifying it by saying that protein is healthy, and many Jews who don't follow Kosher laws and many non-Jews go to those delis. The law wouldn't technically ban Jews from owning delis, but it would effectively ban their ability to run them according to their conscience.

Well, the Catholic Church isn't lying down and taking this.

In thousands of parishes this weekend, Catholic priests read a version of the following letter to their congregation denouncing this decision as an attack on their religious freedom. Each bishop personally sent the letter out, and so there were some local variations. What follows is the letter from the Bishop of Marquette:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.

In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette
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Type: Discussion • Score: 20 • Views: 27,944 • Replies: 245

 
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:44 pm
The link in your post is broken.

Here's the fixed one...

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/index.cfm
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:51 pm
Throwing the baby out with the bath water...
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:53 pm
Personally I don't understand the big deal, I have bought birth control pills with my insurance in the past, what is so new?
CoastalRat
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 01:02 pm
@revelette,
That is because your policy covers that. It has been possible to purchase policies that do not cover such items and many Catholic organizations have such policies due to their beliefs. According to the article, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to write policies that exclude those items, even though the organizations would not want to include those items.

Hope that clarifies it for you Revelette.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 01:05 pm
@revelette,
revelette wrote:

Personally I don't understand the big deal, I have bought birth control pills with my insurance in the past, what is so new?


People employed by the Catholic Church have only been offered insurance plans that do NOT cover any birth control procedures or medicine. The new Health and Human Services regulations forbid employers to restrict health insurance coverage.

Personally, I feel that the bishops need not have proclaimed the Obama administration as the enemy. The bishops could have urged parishoners to work for repeal of the new Health and Human Services regulations. By mentioning Obama over and over, the bishops seem to be sending a signal for church members to vote against Obama in this year's elections.
Questioner
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 01:08 pm
http://youtu.be/fUspLVStPbk
0 Replies
 
Questioner
 
  5  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 01:18 pm
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:

Personally, I feel that the bishops need not have proclaimed the Obama administration as the enemy. The bishops could have urged parishoners to work for repeal of the new Health and Human Services regulations.


Or, you know, just tell their parishioners that if you actually believe what you claim to believe . . . don't use that portion of your insurance. And maybe spend less time worrying about things like using condoms and more time worrying about child abuse and Hypocrisy.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  7  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 01:49 pm
@wandeljw,
The church needs to be careful if it wants to retain its tax-exempt status. The dance they play with the government right now is one of, "you don't mess with us and we won't mess with you" type of things. If either one gets too far out of line it's going to end up in court.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 05:51 pm
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:
Personally, I feel that the bishops need not have proclaimed the Obama administration as the enemy.

They didn't proclaim him the enemy, though. They correctly identified him as the author and supporter of a bill they oppose. What's wrong with that?
wandeljw
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 07:33 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

wandeljw wrote:
Personally, I feel that the bishops need not have proclaimed the Obama administration as the enemy.

They didn't proclaim him the enemy, though. They correctly identified him as the author and supporter of a bill they oppose. What's wrong with that?


If the bishops had sincerely wished to keep politics out of the pulpit, they would have specifically rallied church members against the regulation itself. Harping about the "Obama Administration" in a presidential election year from church pulpits everywhere is simply political. Not a proper pursuit for a tax-exempt organization or for a Christian organization. Christ was quoted as saying "My kingdom is not of this world" when he was approached to support freedom from Roman governance.
JTT
 
  -2  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 09:03 pm
@wandeljw,
Quote:
Well, the Catholic Church isn't lying down and taking this.


Instead, they are asking young altar boys to lay down and allow Sample to sample.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  4  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 09:19 pm
A Guttmacher institute survey which was released last week found that 98% of sexually active Catholic women used contraceptive measures the Church condemned (and doesn't want to cover in its insurance). 2% used the Church-approved rhythm method, Basically Catholic women do not give a **** what the pope or the bishops say. The women use what works. I don't feel that the Church should be let off the hook when its congregation plainly disagrees with the hierarchy, "religious freedom" or no.

The Church of Christ, Scientist (i.e. Christian Science) doesn't believe in medical ttreatment. Should it be able to offer health insurance that doesn't include any medical treatment?

There are times when "religious freedom" has to bow to reality.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 09:28 pm
@MontereyJack,
MJ has got it. If they were so intent on remaining pure to their ideals they shouldn't even want to live in a place where these ideals aren't practiced. Maybe they could resettle in the Vatican.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 10:40 pm
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:
If the bishops had sincerely wished to keep politics out of the pulpit, they would have specifically rallied church members against the regulation itself.

With respect, JW, you're moving your goalposts. Your previous goalpost was whether the bishops "proclaimed Obama the enemy". Now your goalpost is whether they "keep politics out of the pulpit." Churches can take an active role in politics, even from their pulpits, without declaring some politician "the enemy". Obama enacted a policy. The Catholic Church believes that this policy threatens the core values of their organization. Accordingly, the church publically takes a stand against the policy and its author. How is any of that even remotely out of order?
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 10:52 pm
@MontereyJack,
MontereyJack wrote:
The Church of Christ, Scientist (i.e. Christian Science) doesn't believe in medical ttreatment. Should it be able to offer health insurance that doesn't include any medical treatment?

If it requires its employees to conform with its theological principles, yes. I believe this would be analogous to the Amish not having to partake in the Social-Security system.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 11:03 pm
@Thomas,
Correction: Wikipedia is a little ambiguous, but the Supreme Court decision to which they link is not, and it contradicts what I just said.

Wikipedia, summing up the Supreme Court's decision in US v. Lee, wrote:
"On appeal, the Supreme Court noted that the exemption provided by 26 U.S.C. 1402(g) is available only to self-employed individuals and does not apply to employers or employees. As to the constitutional claim, the court held that, since accommodating the Amish beliefs under the circumstances would unduly interfere with the fulfillment of the overriding governmental interest in assuring mandatory and continuous participation in and contribution to the Social Security system, the limitation on religious liberty involved here was justified. Consequently, in reversing the district court, the Supreme Court held that, unless Congress provides otherwise, the tax imposed on employers to support the Social Security system must be uniformly applicable to all."

Source

Of course, this was a 5:4 decision 30 years ago. Who knows how the Supreme Court would decide today?
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  2  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2012 11:25 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

wandeljw wrote:
If the bishops had sincerely wished to keep politics out of the pulpit, they would have specifically rallied church members against the regulation itself.

With respect, JW, you're moving your goalposts. Your previous goalpost was whether the bishops "proclaimed Obama the enemy". Now your goalpost is whether they "keep politics out of the pulpit." Churches can take an active role in politics, even from their pulpits, without declaring some politician "the enemy". Obama enacted a policy. The Catholic Church believes that this policy threatens the core values of their organization. Accordingly, the church publically takes a stand against the policy and its author. How is any of that even remotely out of order?


Those phrases were never intended to be goalposts. I am describing the act of using church pulpits to deliver a political message. This is what the bishops are doing. To me, this is more than out of order, it is dangerous. Framing a political message in religious terms is how I would define extremism.
Irishk
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:10 am
@wandeljw,
wandeljw wrote:
I am describing the act of using church pulpits to deliver a political message. This is what the bishops are doing. To me, this is more than out of order, it is dangerous. Framing a political message in religious terms is how I would define extremism.
It's not like it's new or anything, though. Just since I've become more politically aware, I've seen similar issues hit the headlines. One church did have its tax-exempt status revoked, but it was accused of flat-out electioneering. Another that I recall was when the Catholic church came out against Bush (GW) because of the war or something. The most recent that I remember involved military clergy that preached against a bill before Congress that involved partial-birth abortion. A Catholic priest and a Rabbi, I believe, requested their respective congregations petition Congress to have the bill overturned and when DoD got wind of it, they issued a gag order. It was challenged in court and the finding was for the clergy. There are boundaries ... lines that musn't be crossed.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  2  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:14 am
@wandeljw,
Either you're naive or just focusing on one religion. Just recently, gay marriage bills have failed in many states because of the pulpit. Abortion, the day after pill, euthanasia, hell go back to prohibition, even slavery, all have been topics pontificated from the alter, by many religious leaders, some more noticeably than other. Religion is part and parcel of the american political history. I'd venture many, many countries have had the same interference.
 

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