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Part 1 Obama Administration refuses to provide religious exemptions

The recent ruling, concerning the Catholic Church and contraception, reinforces the evidence that President Obama is attacking religious liberties.  Prior to this ruling the administration adopted a new phrase that is supposed to sum up our constitutional religious freedoms by saying the people of the United States have the freedom to worship.This is not what the constitution says.  Freedom to worship is an effort to privatize all religious practice and remove all vestiges of religious symbols and practice from the public square.  The first amendment of the constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Notice this amendment only limits government from forcing their will upon the people.  It supports our personal freedom of religious expression public and private.  This political move by the current administration, to frame it as freedom to worship, is an attempt to limit our religious liberties, without violating our first amendment rights.  It is a veiled attack on all religious expressions.

Currently, we are witnessing an attack against the Catholic Church by the Obama Administration.  I believe this ruling on contraception and insurance is just one example of what is going to happen to any and all religious beliefs in the future if we reelect President Obama.  The following are highlights of a recent post by Chuck Colson concerning this ruling.

The Time is Now[1]by Chuck Colson

As you know by now, Obama Administration has refused to grant religious organizations an exemption from purchasing health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, surgical sterilization, and contraception.

The Catholic bishops responded quickly, decrying the Administration’s decision for what it is — an egregious, dangerous violation of religious liberty.  And folks, we evangelicals must stand with them. While all of us may not share the Catholic view of contraception, all true Christians believe that the taking of human life in utero, whether surgically or by abortifacient drugs, violates the basic human right to life.

Many bishops have already declared that they will not obey this unjust law. The penalty for such a move would be severe. Catholic hospitals, universities, and other organizations would be forced to pay punitive fines ($2,000 per employee) for refusing to purchase insurance that violates the teachings of their church.

But Catholic institutions aren’t the only ones affected by this mandate. Prison Fellowship, for example, which employs 180 people, could not morally purchase insurance for its employees that covers abortifacients. Nor could we afford the fines we would incur.

For some faith-based institutions, it would spell the end of their existence — and their far-reaching service to the public and to the needy. As Mike Gerson pointed out in his excellent Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday, it’s crazy that the government would drive charities like the Salvation Army and other Christian groups out of business. The government simply can’t afford to replace the services they provide — such as “homeless shelters, food banks, health care, welfare-to-work, prisoner re-entry programs” and much more.

I am not a member of the Catholic Church.  However, this issue is one of religious freedom and not about one particular church.  Decisions like this are a great threat to all religious liberty.   German pastor Martin Niemoeller, reflecting on the Nazi terror, said this:

First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.

We must stand in support of our Catholic brothers and sisters on this issue.  I encourage you to read and sign the petition prepared by the Becket Fund.  I am open to other ways to fight this injustice.  Please email me your suggestions by your comments.

Go to part 2 here


[1] http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/18710

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright April 29, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Steve;
    What’s the difference between:
    freedom to worship.
    and: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof?

    Please explain: Freedom to worship is an effort to privatize all religious practice and remove all vestiges of religious symbols and practice from the public square.
    Thanks.
    Tom

  • Steve April 30, 2013, 6:38 am

    Tom,
    Great question!

    To worship means it can be done by anyone, anywhere without any structure provided by an organized religion. Under freedom to worship there are no sets of beliefs or organized religions that would be protected; just personal freedoms of expression.

    Freedom of religion allows the belief system to set-up walls of protection for groups of people to practice their beliefs under an organizational structure. Freedom to worship doesn’t recognize religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, etc. It just recognizes personal expressions of belief. Freedom of religion protects groups or organized belief systems from government control.

    This is why the constitution provides the wording “freedom of religion” to protect the pluralistic beliefs of organized religions. The first Amendment right to freedom of religion must be protected at all costs. This is why we live in a country that protects those beliefs. Freedom to worship could undo those liberties and protection. This why the left wants to change the wording.

    Steve

  • Tom Wright May 25, 2013, 4:51 pm

    Steve;
    You say…
    Under freedom to worship there are no sets of beliefs or organized religions that would be protected; just personal freedoms of expression.

    What current religious beliefs need protection? Also, what is the problem with a private religious practice? What is so threatening about this?
    Tom

  • Steve May 27, 2013, 6:24 pm

    Tom,
    You said: “What current religious beliefs need protection? Also, what is the problem with a private religious practice? What is so threatening about this?’

    All organized religious beliefs need protection from the government. This is why it part of the constitution. Obama is trying to restrict the religious liberties of the Catholic Church and it seems he wants to find loopholes in the first amendment by changing the wording. Why else would he alter the words? Do you have an explanation?

    You asked about problems with private religious practice. There is nothing wrong to private religious practice. Where did I call for restrictions on private religious practice?

    You then asked why is private religious practice threatening? There is nothing threatening about private religious practice. It is protected by the first amendment. Where did I say it was threatening?

    The first amendment of the constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    All I am asking is for Obama and his administration to accurately quote the first amendment and not to change the wording, which in turn changes the meaning. Why doesn’t Obama and his administration simply quote the constitution accurately? Why change the words?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright May 27, 2013, 8:34 pm

    Steve;
    In reply…..

    Steve April 30, 2013 at 6:38 am
    Tom,
    Great question!

    To worship means it can be done by anyone, anywhere without any structure provided by an organized religion. Under freedom to worship there are no sets of beliefs or organized religions that would be protected; just personal freedoms of expression.

    I thought freedom of religion/worship/speech was already guaranteed by the const.

    Freedom of religion allows the belief system to set-up walls of protection for groups of people to practice their beliefs under an organizational structure. Freedom to worship doesn’t recognize religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, etc. It just recognizes personal expressions of belief. Freedom of religion protects groups or organized belief systems from government control.

    See above.

    This is why the constitution provides the wording “freedom of religion” to protect the pluralistic beliefs of organized religions. The first Amendment right to freedom of religion must be protected at all costs. This is why we live in a country that protects those beliefs. Freedom to worship could undo those liberties and protection. This why the left wants to change the wording.

    Do you have any info about this leftist plot?
    Cheers,
    Tom

  • Tom Wright May 27, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Steve May 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm
    Tom,
    You said: “What current religious beliefs need protection? Also, what is the problem with a private religious practice? What is so threatening about this?’

    All organized religious beliefs need protection from the government. This is why it part of the constitution. Obama is trying to restrict the religious liberties of the Catholic Church and it seems he wants to find loopholes in the first amendment by changing the wording. Why else would he alter the words? Do you have an explanation?

    I don’t have any explanation. Do you have any info on Obama’s plot to change the constitution? Also….how is he restricting liberties of Catholics?
    If you mean birth control in Cath. org’s insurance, by dropping birth control methods, this would infringe on the rights of non-Catholic employees, no?

    You asked about problems with private religious practice. There is nothing wrong to private religious practice. Where did I call for restrictions on private religious practice?

    You didn’t. My error. You seem to be trying to make the point that the word “worship” v. “religion” is somehow a threat to …..what? You’ll have to explain this to me again……remember, I’m 10 years older and partially senile.

    You then asked why is private religious practice threatening? There is nothing threatening about private religious practice. It is protected by the first amendment. Where did I say it was threatening?

    The first amendment of the constitution reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    All I am asking is for Obama and his administration to accurately quote the first amendment and not to change the wording, which in turn changes the meaning. Why doesn’t Obama and his administration simply quote the constitution accurately? Why change the words?

    Could you direct me to information that Obama or his administration is trying to change the constitution?

    Thanks.

  • Steve May 28, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Tom,
    Where did I say it was a leftist plot? You didn’t answer any of my previous questions. They answer why I am concerned when an administration tries to change the wording of the constitution.

    I am awaiting answers for the following:

    Where did I call for restrictions on private religious practice?

    Where did I say private practice of religion was threatening?

    Why doesn’t Obama and his administration simply quote the constitution accurately? Why change the words? Do you have an explanation?

    Steve

  • Steve May 28, 2013, 2:51 pm

    Tom,
    Forcing a religious organization to provide services that directly conflict with their beliefs is government trampling on the first amendment. All the services in question, abortion-inducing drugs, surgical sterilization, and contraception are available outside the church organization. No one is restricted from the freedom to use them. Religious organizations don’t want to pay or show support for services that violate their beliefs. A good example is most churches are pro-life; that abortion kills a precious unborn human person. Do you think religious organizations that try to protect the life of the unborn should be forced to provide drugs to kill the baby?

    The question is, should government be allowed to violate the first amendment rights of the Catholic Church or any religious organization by forcing them to provide services that violate their beliefs?

    You still need to answer why his administration avoids the precise wording of the constitution. I think he is trying to re-interpret what “freedom of religion” means. I think he is doing that to force his health program on religious organizations. Why else would he change the wording? Do you have a reason?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright May 31, 2013, 4:24 pm

    Hi, Steve;
    Misunderstood the reason for your concern about “worship v. religion”. You’re using the distinction in the context of the birth control coverage for religious orgs.
    I haven’t read anything about this attempt by Obama to change the constitution. Do you have any non-religious info from the web about this?
    But isn’t the Catholic church breaking the law by not providing a lawful healthcare product to their employees, free speech rights of the church aside?
    Tom

  • Steve June 1, 2013, 11:09 am

    Tom,
    You cannot set aside the first amendment. The church or Christian organizations or any religious organizations that are pro-life have the right not to support the killing of babies. So are you saying you support the Catholic Church should be forced to support a mothers right to kill their babies? Do you believe killing babies should trump freedom of religion?

    As I’ve heard it said, “Ideas have consequences.” You never answered why Obama changed the first amendment wording. I’ve heard Hillary Clinton use the exact same phrase. It seems they are pushing an idea, one that is not in the constitution.

    Over the last 50 years or so, people have pushed the phrase “separation of church and state.” Actually, Jefferson wrote: “wall of separation between church and state.” This comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. According to Wikipedia “Jefferson reflected his frequent speaking theme that the government is not to interfere with religion.” However, today many people believe that statement concerning the separation of church and state is in the constitution. And they use it to restrict any religious expression in the public square. Opposite of what Jefferson intended.

    My sister used the words “separation of church and state” on me to restrict any public displays of religion. When I said it’s not in the constitution, she went ballistic! Of course it is. My point is “Ideas of consequences.” If the left continues to replace the actual words, freedom of religion, with freedom to worship people might (like my sister and many others) begin to believe it is part of the constitution. Why are Obama and Hillary changing the words?

    If I could write him a letter I might say, please Mr. Obama use the phrase the original authors of the constitution used “freedom of religion.” What is your motivation for using freedom to worship? Why are you afraid to say freedom of religion?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright June 3, 2013, 9:25 pm

    Steve;
    First of all, this comment section would be better placed at the bottom….
    Are you saying Obama and Hillary changed the constitution? Didn’t see this in the news.
    I think the controversy in the Catholics medical coverage is about contraception, not abortion.
    Tom

  • Steve June 7, 2013, 6:03 pm

    Tom,
    On my computer the comment section is at the bottom, so I don’t know what you are referring to.

    No I don’t think Hillary and Obama have a campaign to change the wording of the constitution. If you read my comments I never said they are trying to change the constitution. They don’t have to. If they continue to misquote the first amendment and get others to do the same, people will ignore the actual wording and believe their misquote. I am asking Hillary and president Obama to quote the constitution accurately. My previous post said when someone misquotes the first amendment over and over again the truth gets lost (or any amendment). You have never answered me why they would misquote the first amendment. I am still awaiting an answer.

    The controversy is about both contraception and abortion. My major problem is forcing religious organizations to support killing unborn babies. Why do you think government has the right to force pro-life religious organizations to support killing unborn babies? Isn’t this a violation of the first amendment?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright June 8, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Steve; Your words:
    ” You never answered why Obama changed the first amendment wording. ”
    Seems unambiguous to me. How did he do this?
    I have no idea why they would misquote it. Are you saying he is trying to sneak it by the Supreme Court and the legislative branch without them noticing?…..Steve!!
    You didn’t answer my question about the rights of non-observant employees of Catholic Orgs.
    The gov’t has no right to force any organization to advocate abortion or anything else. Where did you get this?
    The gov’t is saying that all medical plans must offer CONTRACEPION; nothing about abortion.
    Tom

  • Steve June 8, 2013, 5:23 pm

    Tom,
    Obama and Hillary misquoted the first amendment rights by saying the first amendment was “Freedom to worship.” Here is what the constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It does not say the freedom to worship. All I am asking is they quote it accurately. I’ve previously argued “freedom to worship” changes the intended meaning of the amendment. It is about the free exercise of religion. This should be a dead issue.

    You are right I never answered your question: But isn’t the Catholic church breaking the law by not providing a lawful healthcare product to their employees, free speech rights of the church aside?

    The Catholic Church will be forced to break the new law because they being asked to violate their religious beliefs. This crosses the line on the First Amendment. This is what the entire discussion is about.

    You say this only about CONTRACEPTION. That is totally false. Other services are being forced on the Catholic Church and religious organizations. Here is the list: HHS mandate for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. They will have to offer abortafacients. These are drugs that kill the fertilized egg, which science says is a 100% human baby. The “morning after pill” and RU 486 each qualify as an abortafacient. As I asked before, should the government force pro-life religious organizations to support the killing of a precious unborn human baby? I don’t think you’ve answered this question.

    Steve

    Steve

  • Tom Wright June 15, 2013, 4:49 pm

    Hi, Steve;
    I’ve changed my mind about my position and agree that a private organization has the right to offer what they wish in med. plans. In reality a woman still can visit Planned parenthood if necessary.
    What is the difference between “freedom to exercise” and freedom of worship?
    Tom

  • Steve June 16, 2013, 6:08 am

    Tom,
    Glad to see we agree on the rights of private organizations. A woman can get the morning after pill on her own.

    I answered this previously. I copied and pasted from a previous comment and added some extra wording:
    To worship means it can be done by anyone, anywhere without any structure provided by an organized religion. Under freedom to worship there are no sets of beliefs or organized religions that would be protected; just personal freedoms of expression.

    Freedom of religion (or the free exercise thereof [religion]) allows the belief system to set-up walls of protection for groups of people to practice their beliefs under an organizational structure. Freedom to worship doesn’t recognize religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, etc. It just recognizes personal expressions of those belief. Freedom of religion protects groups or organized belief systems from government control. Freedom to worship protects the individual but not religions. I believe the constitution had a specific purpose for using the word “religion.” It is a protection against government control.

    Steve

  • Tom Wright June 16, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Steve; You write;
    Freedom of religion protects groups or organized belief systems from government control.

    How could the gov. attempt to control religion, if it is already established in the 1st amendment?

    Tom

  • Steve June 17, 2013, 5:44 am

    Tom,
    I think we have exhausted this topic. All I asked was for political liberals (Obama, Hillary, and others) to quote the first amendment accurately. Is that too much to ask?

    Oh and happy Father’s Day!

    Steve

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