“The United States Department of Health and Human Services has decided that pork should be freely available to everyone in the US including all Muslim persons. Every mosque in the United States is going to have to pay for its availability and offer pork to its employees. Now you don’t have to eat it, or agree with it, but you have to pay for it to be available for everyone and offer it to your employees or pay a penalty fine. For example, a charitable Muslim organization with 100 employees will have to pay the federal government $140,000 per year for the “privilege” of not underwriting pork providing services it believes are immoral.”
How would you react if you heard that announced at a White House press conference to a group of Muslim leaders? … or this one…
“The United States Department of Health and Human Services has decided that water is healthy and everyone should be required to drink water throughout the day. Muslim adults who fast from water from sun up to sun down during the days of Ramadan will be forced to comply with the governments new command because it sees the daily drinking of water as beneficial to the health of the American public. Now you may believe this act to be sinful, morally unacceptable, or contrary what you believe as truth, but our (read government) truth of health, which trumps yours, says that you will do as we mandate. Or of course you can pay a fine for the privilege of not providing water.”
Now replace pork, Ramadan, and Islam, with contraception/sterilization and the Catholic Church, and that’s what is happening right now with the Health and Human Services Mandate that is going through congress now. The fine amounts are not made up.
Sounds a bit outrageous, right?
The US Government is commanding the Catholic Church to do something that it considers to be intrinsically evil. Read it again. Commanding one to do something that it considers intrinsically evil. The basic argument as I understand it is “We understand what you believe, but what matters more than what you believe is choice. Choice overrides, in every instance as much as possible, yours and by extension everyones claims of truth.”
Choice overrides religious liberty. My truth trumps your truth. This sounds a bit dangerous.
Reminder: the first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”. I would interpret that to be a restriction on the government. “Congress shall not” … The intent appears to be keeping the State out of the church. With this mandate the state is deciding religious truths and fining the institutions if they does not violate their consciences and comply.
How far can this go? What other truth will be decided for me? This is not an issue of you agreeing with Catholic Teaching ( although that would be swell! ), but an issue of being free to hold your own truth and exercise it accordingly. At the risk of sounding like a wonky southerner… this is an American issue. If you believe anything to be absolutely true… anything at all, then this mandate is affront to you.
If you disagree with this mandate as I disagree with it call your congressmen.
[The scenarios at the beginning of the post are a version of a dialogue I overheard. I know little about legal processes and Islam (but I do know what rings as ironic to my ear) … and am open to correction if you will offer it.]
[UPDATE : This is different from the government saying that you can not perform a given action for whatever reason. It is the federal government forcing a group to do something that it believes is wrong. It’s not a “stop that now”. It’s a “you must do this”.
You could just as easily flip the coin and see a scenario play out like this … “Atheist group, you must show videos teaching creationism and intelligent design at your meetings. I know you disagree with it, but we think it is in the best interest of the American people if everyone watches this video. So do it or pay a fine. We will give you a year to comply with the mandate and violate your consciences.
Others have written on the matter as well. If I wasn’t convincing enough they hopefully will be ( I know some of these are the crazies from fox, but most are not so give them a read ) :
- In the current issue of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s newspaper, the Catholic New World, Francis Cardinal George has a must-read column in which he explains how high the stakes are in the fight against the HHS contraception mandate.
- US Catholic Bishops Resources on the Mandate,
- Letter Signed by Robert George and Other Public Intellectuals Against the HHS Mandate—Catholic Vote
- List of Bishops and Institutions Opposing the HHS Mandate—Catholic Vote
- War on Faith and Conscience,
- We are all Catholics Now,
- Not Just a Catholic Issue,
- Not just Catholic but Lutheran, Orthodox, Jewish, and Baptist groups have joined in agreement swearing disobedience to HHS mandate,
- More on the collective agreed disobedience,
- Stop the HHS Mandate—Ave Maria Radio
- Diverse Panel Testifies Against Contraception Mandate – Catholic Bishop and Muslim-American academic woman testify together
Found this as well. Sounds like Fr. Barron and I have similar thoughts.
On February 5, 2012 Father Sammie Maletta (who apparently is a lawyer himself) delivered a Homily at St. John the Evangelist Parish in St. John, Indiana. This Homily addressed how President Obama is threatening our Religious Freedom and declaring war with the Catholic Church.
“When did reproductive services become the national cry of our nation? When did it become more important than the bill of rights? More important than the constitution?”
“And so before you get upset with me or any priest at our bishops instruction for addressing a political issue, get more upset over what is happening in this country on this issue and how it will be devastating to your church.”
“Pray, fast, and ask God for Wisdom.”