The Crusades were a series of nine major military expeditions launched by the Catholic Church to defend Christianity against Islamic aggression during the Medieval period. It has been over 700 years since a Pope felt Christendom so under threat that he launched a Crusade. Yet Obama may have just kicked off the 10th Crusade - this one to be fought on American soil against the advance of radical secularism at the ballot box on the first Tuesday in November.
In 2008, "Catholics, who accounted for about a quarter of the electorate, supported Obama, at 54% to 46% for McCain." Thus, Catholics form a very important part of the Obama coalition. Which makes it inexplicable that he has gone to war against the Catholics over the issue of whether Catholic religious institutions and related organization will have to "provide health insurance to their employees which includes subsidized contraception, sterilization and coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. Last week, HHS ruled that they must.
But go to war Obama has. And the Catholic Church is responding in kind. The day before the HHS issued its regulations, the Pope weighed in on the "radical secularists" war on religion in the U.S. Obama ignored that shot across the bow - and now, things have escalated. In virtually every Catholic Church in the U.S., letters from the Bishops have been read from the pulpit, all identical in their gist:
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. . . .
Those are fighting words. Read the rest of the letter at IBD.
And it is not only Catholics that Obama has to worry about. This is going to effect all Christian organizations - and virtually all have similar opposition to abortion, if not contraception and sterilization. Obama has given the finger to each and every person of the Christian faith.
Even knee jerk uber liberal E.J. Dionne - an Obama sycophant of the highest order - is coming down on the side of the Catholics on this one. In his most recent column, he points out that Obama has violated his promises to America's religious population made in the run up to the 2008 election, as well as violating the historical tradition of government respect for the conscience of the religious. This from Mr. Dionne:
One of Barack Obama’s great attractions as a presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health care law.
His administration mishandled this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the Church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.
This might not be so surprising if Obama had presented himself as a conventional secular liberal. But he has always held himself to a more inclusive standard.
His deservedly celebrated 2006 speech on religion and American public life was a deeply sophisticated and carefully balanced effort to defend the rights of both believers and nonbelievers in a pluralistic republic.
Obama’s speech at Notre Dame’s graduation in 2009 was another tour de force. His visit to South Bend was highly controversial among right-wing Catholics. Yet his address temporarily silenced many of his critics because it showed an appreciation for the Catholic Church’s contributions to American life — particularly through its vast array of social-service and educational institutions — and an instinctive feeling for Catholic sensibilities. . . .
Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here. . . .
“The tensions and the suspicions on each side of the religious divide will have to be squarely addressed,” Obama said back in 2006. “And each side will need to accept some ground rules for collaboration.” I wish the president had tried harder to find such rules here.
This decision fully illustrates the arrogance of the left, their disdain for Christianity, and their desire to push Christianity from the public square. It is both the most recent and, perhaps, the most significant attack in the U.S., in what has been a two hundred year war on Christianity. It is a war that started during the French Revolution, was given voice by socialism's greatest philosopher, Karl Marx, and has ever since been prosecuted by the secular left.
Professor Bainbridge, linked at the bottom of the page, points out that if the Catholic charities and social services only served Catholics, than these institutions would fall within the very narrow definition of religious organizations that HHS has carved out for exemption from the new healthcare rules. It is because of the very fact that the Catholic Church gives aid and charity to all regardless of their religion - and has done so since its inception two millennia ago - that HHS has chosen to subject the affiliated Church hospitals, schools and social organizations to this new mandate.
I find it hard to believe that Obama made this unforced error. Clearly he is pandering to his far left base. But in doing so, he is taking direct aim at religion. How historically ignorant do you have to be not to understand that you don't screw with peoples' religion.
True, its been almost a millenium since the Catholic Church launched a Crusade against such a fundamental attack on her religion. And it has been almost four centuries since the last of the Christian religious wars. But to think that Christian passions have so cooled that this will not drive the religious to vote their conscience in the 2012 election is, I think, a grand error.
Obama may be trying to fire up his base, but he has just done so at tremendous cost. If the election is close, this may prove the tipping point.
Update 2: Sen. Barbara Boxer has taken to the pages of the Huffington Post to engage in a truly Orwellian defense of a Obama's new policy. She claims that it actually advances religious freedom in America. Bookworm Room, in one of her finest efforts, has done a fisking of Boxer's column. It is a must read.
Update 1: Bookworm Room has a very thought provoking post on this topic:
There is nothing in the Constitution . . . that authorizes the Federal government (and, by extension through the 14th Amendment, any state government) to mandate that a religious institution be complicit in an act it believes constitutes murder. More to the point, the Constitutional grant of religious freedom, by which the government agrees to stay out of managing a religious institutions affairs, either practical or doctrinal, should prohibit such conduct entirely. This is one more example, as if we needed it, of the Obama administration’s fundamental lawlessness.
Nice Deb also has a great post on this issue: Obama Picks Fight With Catholic Church in an Election Year: Game On (w/videos)
Also much more on the statements issued throughout the U.S. in the comments to a post on Father Z's Blog.
Professor Bainbridge looks at the arguments of the left favoring the HHS decision and discusses how this is an attack on the charitable and social practices of the Catholic Church since its inception. It makes for a fascinating read.
Linked: Larwyn's Linx