The controversy over the HHS mandate is one that is bringing a number of festering issues to a head. Some have been orchestrated by an administration hostile to the Catholic Church in America. Some issues are a result of the Obama administration’s blind pursuit of their agenda – despite the cost. In a large part, it is due to contrary visions. The Catholic Church sees the First Amendment guarantees as the founders wrote it – a proviso that promised the ability to pursue our religious beliefs without untoward entanglements from the State. Mr. Obama sees the First Amendment based on the more modern – and flawed - Black interpretation of the ‘wall of separation’. So, is the prize merely bragging rights? The moral high ground? Who gets the Catholic vote in November? Sure – but it is much, much more.
The Citizen will be exploring this issue in greater detail over the next few weeks, but one important consideration must be explored now. And it must be acted on without delay. Mr. Obama’s compromise is an orchestrated tactic to give the Executive branch the power to determine who the First Amendment will shield – regardless of your particular interpretation. Catholic universities and colleges, Catholic social service agencies, Catholic hospitals and clinics – even Catholic Charities - will all come under the scrutiny of the Department of Health and Human Services. This gives the president the power to determine who will be exempt and who will not – a power that would be granted by acquiescence to this ‘compromise’.
We cannot allow this to happen. Hugo Black’s interpretation is not the Constitution – it is an opinion. The Amendment is clearly written not to protect the State from people of Faith, but to protect people of Faith from the State. The ‘compromise’ will gut this clause, rendering it meaningless. It is time – past time, actually – for our Bishops to take a stand. It is time – and past time – for the laity to rally behind the Church. Birth control is a Trojan horse; the administration knows that the Catholic Church would dig our heels in on this and abortion and now offer a ‘deal’. This kind of one-handed deal is typical of this administration’s idea of compromise. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed with ‘compromises’ – compromises that have largely been ignored or never honored to begin with.
We must not let it happen. It’s time to flood the White House with letters – emails mean nothing to them; letters and phone calls set the White House staff scurrying for cover. It’s time to call your Congressional delegation and demand that they stand for religious liberty.
Time to stand, brothers and sisters.