Skip to comments.Obama Versus the Nuns: Threatening to Take Away Their Religious Freedom
Posted on 01/03/2014 8:29:16 AM PST by Kaslin
WASHINGTON - One of Obamacare's worst mandates that threatens to undermine our religious freedoms has run into a small, determined band of Catholic nuns.
As key parts of President Obama's health care program went into effect Wednesday, a surprising Supreme Court order delayed a provision that will force religious groups to provide birth control procedures in their health insurance plans.
In a David versus Goliath legal battle, Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued the stay late Tuesday in response to a plea from the Little Sisters of the Poor, a nonprofit order of nuns in Colorado who provide charitable services to low income and indigent, elderly people.
Their complaint: that the law's mandate violates one of their most deeply-held religious beliefs opposing artificial forms of birth control and abortion procedures, and thus is an attack on their religious freedom.
That mandate forces most employers to provide health care plans that will fully pay for drugs and procedures that include birth control pills, the morning-after pill to end a pregnancy, and surgical procedures such as tubal ligation.
The nuns were not the only group seeking protection from Obama's assault on religious freedom. Sotomayor's delay applied to over 200 religious, faith-based groups that have health insurance provided by the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, a company that follows Catholic teachings on birth control.
This is the latest development in a growing controversy over the mandates and regulations that will force religious groups to offer birth control services that they consider a sin against their faith, or else pay heavy fines for refusing to do so.
And not just religious orders like the Little Sisters of the Poor. It also extends to colleges and universities, parochial schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare and social welfare organizations run by or associated with a church.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified on December 15, 1791, states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
That is what's at stake in this widening battle over a healthcare mandate that thumbs its nose at fundamental religious beliefs that run contrary to government policy.
Earlier this week, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who heads the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops, complained in a letter to Obama that while some interest groups have won reprieves of one sort or another from the law, not those whose religious liberties are threatened.
Obama's law "harshly and disproportionately penalizes those seeking to offer life-affirming health coverage in accord with the teachings of their faith," Kurtz wrote.
The Obama administration tried to end the controversy by offering a compromise that would let women employed by non-profit religious organizations to receive coverage that was not paid for by their employer.
But more than 45 religious groups, Catholic dioceses and prominent educational institutions, like the University of Notre Dame, flatly rejected that approach and sued.
Mark L. Rienzi, senior attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who is representing the Sisters of the Poor, explained that the nuns would have to sign a paper requesting that their insurance, not their employer, pay for any and all birth control benefits to avoid substantial fines.
"At the end of the day, they can't be involved in certain things, and one of them is signing forms authorizing permission slips for those kinds of drugs," Rienzi told the Washington Post.
In a statement Wednesday that expressed their fears that they may be forced to end their charity work, the nuns said: "We hope and pray that we will receive a favorable outcome in order to continue to serve the elderly of all faiths with the same community support and religious freedom that we have always appreciated."
How this case will turn out is unclear, but the high court will hear arguments in two other cases that will probably be heard in March.
One concerns a Mennonite cabinet-making company in Pennsylvania that sought a religious exemption from the law for his employees. The other is the Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts business chain, whose owner argues that the law violates his freedom for religious expression.
What's at stake here is an unprecedented government denial of basic religious freedoms. For the first time in U.S. history, the federal government is demanding that medical insurance plans of religious groups must cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and even sterilization procedures, with no co-pay.
Obama's mandate, in direct violation of the Constitution, forces religious institutions to include life-ending drugs and procedures in their medical plans that are contrary to their religious teachings and for whom the sanctity of human life is a central doctrine of their faith.
This poses agonizing decisions on the part of religious people of good faith and the institutions and businesses who employ them.
"To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable," says Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
But this is not just a Catholic issue. More than 40 non- Catholic organizations that included Protestant-affiliated colleges and the National Association of Evangelicals, said they backed Catholic leaders who opposed the religious mandate. "We write in solidarity," they said in a letter to the White House.
Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, put it best when he said last year, "We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings."
While the administration seems to have dug in its heels in this fight, Democrats in Congress fear the issue will hurt them in the November elections.
Insiders, including the nuns' chief defender Mark Rienzi, now think the mandate will eventually be overturned.
Don’t mess with the nuns. Remember the end of The Sound of Music?
“..What’s at stake here is an unprecedented government denial of basic religious freedoms.”
It is what communists do.
No surprise. 0 hates anything Catholic. Even though half of Catholics had their heads up their anal passageway and voted for him.
May the nuns pray non stop for O’bummer which will keep him in torment until he changes. Prayers said for an evil person are like placing hot coals upon their head.
What a coincidence. They had to face NAZI’s then too.
The undocumented TYRANT does not even have a valid
birth certificate, or SS#, but who cares?
Not the hated, EXEMPT Congress.
Not the American “MSM”.
I seem to recall leaders of the Catholic Church supporting the passage of this law, now that it hitting them in the head they don’t want it.
This is another of Obama’s attacks to the main tenets of the Catholic Church and disrespect of Christians in general, which is in stark contrast to his deep respect and strong defense of Islam.
OPENING THE DOOR WITH TIMOTHY DOLAN
New Yorks newly installed archbishop issues an open invitation.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
Saint Patricks Cathedral, New York City On Tuesday the president of the United States gave a much-anticipated economic address at Georgetown University. While speaking there, a usually impossible-to-miss IHS a common monogram for Jesus Christ was missing from its perch at the center of the auditorium stage.
Georgetown is, of course, a Catholic university, and the fact that Jesus Christ is represented prominently in the schools much-used auditorium is no surprise. And it wouldnt come as a shock if someone from the school perhaps aware that a defender of infanticide was coming to speak attempted to remove any sense that Jesus might be endorsing the president (or his Sermon on the Mount-metaphor speech).
That the presidents people might have asked the school to remove the IHS wouldnt come as a shock either. After all, a speech on the economy is no Passover Seder at the White House, and who knows who might be offended. As it happens, the White House did request that the IHS be hidden during the presidents appearance. But Georgetown officials should have reacted immediately by asking that the speech be delivered elsewhere anything to avoid obscuring the schools reason for being.
If my e-mail inbox is any indication, folks are mad. Following the speech, many Catholics and Georgetown grads sent me compare-and-contrast photographs: Heres Jesus; here Hes not. In the wake of the University of Notre Dames decision to invite President Obama to deliver the schools commencement address this year, many Catholics are both angry and weary; theyre withholding funds and looking for leadership.
Well, that leadership showed up in New York City this week in the person of newly installed Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan. With a confident and endearing smile, he quickly hit upon several hot-button issues for Catholics including marriage, abortion, and euthanasia. He did so with a wise, prudent, and firm hand, and with a love that is both fatherly and brotherly. Most of all, he kept his focus where it has long been: on the Alpha and the Omega, Jesus Christ.
Here at vespers on Tuesday night, Archbishop Dolan ran with the image of a door. As part of the ceremony, he knocked on the cathedrals great door three times (representing the Trinity). He told the congregation and the countless viewers watching on local news and EWTN, the Catholic network that one of his favorite images of Jesus Christ is the familiar one of Him standing outside the door of a simple home, gently knocking.
He remembered seeing that image when he was in the second grade at Holy Infant School in Ballwin, Mo. His teacher, Sister Mary Boscowho flew in from Ireland to read from the first Letter of Saint Peter for the Tuesday-evening servicehad asked the second-grade class to indicate what seemed strange in the picture. There is no door knob! Carolyn Carey, a fellow second grader, announced.
Right, observed Sister Bosco, because Jesus cannot open up and barge in on His own. He patiently waits for us to open the door of our hearts and invite Him in to stay with us.
Dolan asked listeners on Tuesday night if theyre ready to open that door Sister Bosco told him about back in the second grade: Will we open up in faith, hope, and love to the God who gently knocks on the door to our being, asking Him in to live with us? Or will fear, self-absorption, and darkness keep us locked up in ourselves?
Rather than a voice of disapproval toward the world, Dolans is a voice of challenge. He challenges not only Catholics, but every person. He declared, firmly and lovingly, The Church is at her best, faithful to her mission, when she invites people to open the door and ask Jesus in. Thats precisely the invitation this Archdiocese of New York extends; thats the proposal the Church makes to the world. As Bernini explained the massive colonnade surrounding St. Peters Square, Those are the arms of Mother Church reaching out to embrace all people!
Those werent mere words aimed at the cameras. Dolan has committed his life to calling upon the world, believing that Everyone is a somebody in whom God has invested an infinite love. Everyone is called to embrace eternity through a life of holiness. In his 2008 book, To Whom Shall We Go? Lessons from the Apostle Peter, Dolan describes the possibility:
To this day I remember the story I heard for the first time in second grade, about St. Dominic Savio. Do you remember the little fourteen-year-old saint? Do you remember the motto that guided his life, Death rather than sin? Thats how much he dreaded sin, this young boy on the road to perfection.
The one who takes seriously Our Lords call to the deep, daily strives to fight sin. He or she is always at work on a particular one, and he or she frequently examines his or her conscience to let the light of Gods grace show the streaks. We are constantly on the fight against sin.
I remember being in Rome right before the canonization of Philadelphian St. Katharine Drexel, the great apostle to the African-Americans and Native Americans, when a reporter called me from [the] United States and interviewed me. He said, Monsignor, all these beatifications and canonizations that the Pope is doing isnt all this goodness and holiness and virtue unrealistic and impossible today?
I replied, Listen. The popes point is just the opposite! The popes point is that such goodness, holiness, and virtue are possible and not only possible, but expected, in those who claim to follow Christ.
Dolans motto is To Whom Shall We Go? The answer is to Christ, the continuing journey. Dolan concluded his inaugural homily as archbishop of New York with a request:
Let Him turn us around as He did those two disciples, turned them around because, simply put, they were going the wrong way, and sent them running back to Jerusalem, where Peter was, where the apostles were, where the Church was.
For three weeks in July, 1992, I was on pilgrimage in Israel. I had a wonderful Franciscan guide who made sure I saw all the sacred places in the Holy Land. The day before I departed, he asked, Is there anything left you want to see?
Yes, I replied, I would like to walk the road to Emmaus.
That we cannot do, he told me, You see, no one really knows where that village of Emmaus actually was, so there is no more road to Emmaus.
Sensing my disappointment, he remarked, Maybe thats part of Gods providence, because we can now make every journey we undertake a walk down the Road to Emmaus.
My new friends of this great archdiocese, would you join your new pastor on an adventure in fidelity, as we turn the Staten Island Expressway, Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, Broadway, the FDR, the Major Deegan, and the New York State Thruway into the Road to Emmaus, as we witness a real miracle on 34th street and turn that into the road to Emmaus?
For, dare to believe, that:
From Staten Island to Sullivan County
From the Bowery, to the Bronx, to Newburgh,
From White Plains to Poughkeepsie . . .
He is walking right alongside us.
Notre Dame screwed up this year. Ditto for Georgetown. But on the ceiling near the front of Saint Patricks remain the three letters that Georgetown obscured: IHS. Jesus Christ remains. He remains regardless of who the president is, of who your bishop is, or even of who the pope is.
Men, even some clergy, will turn off the road to Emmaus. But in a second-grade classroom this month some child may learn a lesson that will stick like Sr. Mary Boscos stuck with Timothy Dolan.
As long as we make sure that we have the door open and are traveling with Him, we have a shot.
Or, as Dolan closed his installation homily: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor of National Review Online.
And Catholics vote for Obama!!!
They never wanted it because of the abortion funding in it.
Oh, they still want it. They just want ‘their exemption’. Too bad about yours.......
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The Constitution nor Congress is not in use with this president.
Remember the phrase from the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, and are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain unalienable rights ..."
Never concede that our rights arise from the government!
It has already affected the diocese I teach in. We are now offered two choices in our healthcare plan for next school year. One is a health plan where we go to webmd for “heathy” living and they pay at 90% or I can go to a plan that pays 80%
Govt. intrusion at its best. I choose the latter.
That picture brings back bad childhood memories.
That's the issue for the D's? Not the 1st amendment violations of the first order but the most pressing concern for them is: "this might hurt us in upcoming elections".
Just reciting that passage from the Constitution doesn't resolve the legal issue in this case. A moment's thought will show that "I'm following my religion" doesn't automatically trump federal law:
Rastafarians' religion demands that they smoke marijuana every day. Are they exempt from drug laws?
Moloch worshipers believe in human sacrifice. Are they exempt from laws against murder?
Fundamentalist Mormons believe in plural marriage. Are they exempt from bigamy laws?
Quakers believe that paying taxes to support the military is a sin. Are they excused from paying income taxes?
The Catholic Church may win this case-- I can see it going either way at the Supreme Court-- but just saying that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion is only the starting point of the legal analysis, not the answer.
Obama's default option is to crush those who oppose him. But martyrs and the Church thrive on martyrdom and doom their enemies with their moral courage and their obvious goodness.
It’s a church and state issue the Constitution backs it for a reason I hope they win but with this regime nothing is sure.