Protecting Religious Freedom

A few days ago, I came across an interesting column in The Long Island Catholic written by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville CentreHe writes about President Obama’s healthcare mandate.

Here is an excerpt:

This mandate is a radical incursion on the part of our government into freedom of conscience founded on our religious beliefs! It contravenes the First Amendment and several federal laws. More importantly, it violates the law of God who gave us life and calls us to respect all human life. The Bill of Rights assures us that we have a right in this country to obey God’s law and follow our conscience, free to live out our religious beliefs as individual persons and as institutions. Forcing all of us to buy or provide coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion, is a radical incursion into our freedom of conscience and religious exercise.

There is in this mandate a very narrow exception clause that is practically meaningless to the exercise of freedom of conscience and religious belief. It would, in an alarming number of circumstances, not except or exempt even Jesus, or anyone else who offers the healing care of Jesus to others, from being forced to act like persons who do not share their beliefs. It is, therefore, a direct assault on our own right to freedom of exercise of our beliefs. Further, with so few exceptions protecting religious freedom, this mandate forces virtually all insurance plans to cover such services and, in so doing, endangers the ability of our Catholic hospitals to continue to provide health care according to the tenets of Jesus and the Church, rather than the government.

You can read his whole column here.

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25 Responses to “Protecting Religious Freedom”

  1. Casandra says:

    I may be Pro-Choice, but I can agree with this sentiment. Obama is pushing this down everyone’s throat and turning our nation into a socialist state in the process. Religious freedom will be the first to go if he has his way.

  2. Liz F says:

    God bless you and all of the bishops. We are praying for your strength and we are so grateful for your leadership. God bless the USA too! Happy Feast Day! St. John Bosco, pray for us.

  3. JohnE says:

    Thank you Archbishop for your column. I read it regularly.

    This recent problem of our government’s mandate that all health insurance plans cover contraceptives has caused me to look at my own health insurance here at HP. The plan I am enrolled in covers at least 80% of the following procedures:

    Tubal Ligation
    Vasectomy
    Voluntary sterilization.
    Surgical, non-surgical or drug induced Pregnancy termination
    Health services and associated expenses for elective abortion.
    Fetal reduction surgery.
    Contraceptive supplies and services – (covered under pharmacy)
    In vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) procedures, and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) procedures, and any related prescription medication treatment.
    Embryo transport.
    Donor ovum and semen and related costs, including collection and preparation.
    Artificial insemination
    Birth Control Pills

    What are my obligations, and what would be a good course of action for me and my family? Opt out of my company’s insurance and buy insurance on my own? Are there Catholic health insurance organizations where I could by health insurance and be assured that my premium dollars do not contribute to immoral medical practices? If such a company existed I would imagine they would be very competitive since there are so many unnecessary things my premium would no longer have to contribute to.

  4. Mary says:

    A question:

    If the President were to reverse this cannonball aimed at Mother Church, completely set it aside, admit it was a terrible lapse of constitutional judgement, ask the Church for a return to common ground partnership, do you suppose the bishops would go back to business as usual with this Administration and the politicians of the party of death?

  5. Ali says:

    I am pro-choice as well but this is not China and and Obama is not demanding abortions for everyone, he is giving that choice to everyone. Not to meantion the Catholic Church brought the issue to light when a nun from a Catholic Hospital in AZ was dismissed after preforming an abortion, apparently life saving procedures are frowned upon by the Vatican. This is is the type of abortion that Obama is trying to provide health care for.

    For those of you who do not want the coverage on your policies and feel premium you pay contributes to the coverage. Choice is the difinition of freedom, the church is oppressive not Obama.

    Oh and I read the whole article and if the issue were freedom of religion why are no other religions mentioned? It couldn’t be that the Church is threatened by a little science.

  6. Teresa Dillon-Lundgren says:

    Thank you for fighing this mandate. What can I do to help? Our parish did not read the mandate on the pulpit. How can I get the word out here in our state?

  7. JohnE says:

    Ali, your comment is simply uninformed, vindictive, and silly. Everyone has had the the choice to kill since Adam and Eve, and unfortunately with abortion it is wrongfully protected by U.S. law. That’s not really the issue here though. The issue is forcing organizations, even faith-based organizations (which people are free NOT to join) to pay for insurance which covers contraception, including some which induce abortions, and other procedures the organization believes is immoral.

    I think the deli analogy that I heard is very appropriate:
    “It would be like the government mandating that all delis, even Kosher delis, serve pork products and then justifying it by saying that protein is healthy, and many Jews who don’t follow Kosher laws and many non-Jews go to those delis [or work in those delis]. The law wouldn’t technically ban Jews from owning delis, but it would effectively ban their ability to run them according to their conscience.”

    The analogy breaks down somewhat though because unlike protein, contraceptives are not healthy, and abortion always kills. Other religions HAVE also complained to the deaf ears of the Obama administration. Catholics are not alone in this. Finally, science is on the side of the Catholic Church. Those who support abortion claim that the embryo is just a blob of cells. The science of ultrasounds show what a lie that is.

  8. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    And Teresa above has hit the proverbial nail on its head. This is happening because for 50 years our beloved Church did close to nothing when Roe V Wade was mandated by judicial fiat.

    A Catholic Church of the early 19th century would have stormed Congress and had this murderous Supreme Court ruling overturned. We did next to nothing.

    We are reaping what we have sown for the last half century.

    A good friend of mine decided to run for Yonkers city council on the Right to Life line. He handed out his literature on Sunday mornings as “catholics” entered and exited Church before and after Mass.

    You would not believe the comments he recieved from people who call themselves Catholic.

    The real problem here Your Eminence is that Presidential advisors such as Sabelius and other heterodox Catholics the President surrounds himself with, advise him not to worry, most Catholics are just like them. They contracept like non Catholics, they cohabitate, and they abort just as easily as non Catholics do. They tell him that he wouldn’t lose THAT many votes because too many Catholics are like them.

    Know what Your Eminence – she’s right.

  9. Maria says:

    Your Eminence:

    I wonder if the hierarchy ever asks how it is that the Catholic Church spawned the likes of Pelosi, Biden. Sibelius et al. Fifty percent of all Bishops publicly dissented against Humane Vitae at the time it was issued. We were told to follow our consciences. No one bothered to tell us that our consciences had to be formed. Sadly, no one bothered to help us form our consciences. With the greatest respect, I must say that if the faithful witness these same politicians being fed Holy Communion for lo these many decades, when the Gospel is not preached and dissent is nurtured like a small infant, truly, we cannot say now say that we are “horrified”, can we? As others rightly observed ninety-eight percent of all Catholics use birth control. Is this Obama’s fault? It seems we are forty years too late to this war, I fear.

  10. Lisa A. Marrero, MD says:

    I’m looking tonight at my very special grey stethoscope. It was blessed by Cardinal O’Connor, of dear memory during my first year in medical school. He was one of many gifts in my younger life, inspiring me and encouraging me often. Now looking at its well-worn edges, I object to the idea that our church “did close to nothing for 50 years”. I loved Cardinal O’Connor because he did what the church has always done: speak the truth. Because speaking the truth is speaking the Truth, Jesus Christ. It’s got to be more than words if those words were one Incarnate Word, right?

    Please do what he did. Make the case with words of truth, words of love, and words of prophecy. We are as a church, and as individual Catholics something that was once the epitome of modern martyr: conscientious objectors. I do not impose my belief on others insofar as I want others to be reminded that I too have civil rights.

    I can never lie to patents about where babies come from or where STIs come from or what this pill or device will and will not do. I have no right to lie or conceal any of that. But one thing I do know most certainly: if the conscientious objector, large or small, is not tolerated our beautiful nation will harbor a dictator one fine day. Whether from the “left” or “right” we would have clearly been asking for it. Please, as His Eminence once did, remind the nation from your pulpit. You are an American, and please God, still have Freedom of Speech.

  11. Lisa Menard says:

    With all due respect,

    During my entire adult life I have watched so-called “Catholic politicians” continue to pass laws against life and religion…Until Catholic cardinals and bishops excommunicate people like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, John Kerry, etc…regular Joe and Jane Catholic sitting in a pew will not worry if their own beliefs or actions will lead them into Hell It makes me very sad that leaders of the flock–sweet old and young priests not only are leading Catholics like lemmings into the pit of hell, but by their inaction they will find a special deep spot in Hades reserved just for them! God have Mercy on us all!

  12. Jay says:

    Dear Catholic Church,
    It is time to stand up for what we are sure to loose if we don’t.
    It’s time to defend what we know is right, appeasement must end they simply can’t have this, not now, not ever. I don’t want to read my bible in a basement. Please let me know what I can do to.

  13. Jon says:

    Your Excellency,

    I read in the news today that after nearly all of the bishops in the country speaking out against the mandata, Nancy Pelosi has chosen to go directly against you and the bishops and is trying to take many Catholics with her, her “fellow Catholics”. http://nation.foxnews.com/nancy-pelosi/2012/02/02/pelosi-obamas-anti-catholic-birth-control-decision-was-courageous

    At what point, if not now, is a public recognition that she is obstinately persevering in grave sin useful or beneficial. (I think you have already made that clear implicitly in your original response). However, is excommunication if you want to call it that, a thing of the past? I think most Catholics are waiting for this public recognition that these two women are not in communion because of public scandal and they feel that the longer she is able to slap you all in the face by posing other Catholics against you, the more she is effectively degrading the authority of the Church among those who are unaware of the gravity of the situation.

    It would be great if there could be some clarification on the issue. I don’t want to sound like I’m telling you all what to do, but it seems that Canon 915 might have just become important today.

    Thank you for what you do.

  14. Chris says:

    This is not a religious matter. The Catholic Bishops for purely political reasons have sought to frame the issues as such. This is an employment issue. The Catholic Church does not want to provide full health coverage to all of its non-church employees at Universities, Hospitals, etc.

    The positon that Archbishop Dolan has taken, along with the other Bishops is disingenuous and proof of the Catholic Church’s new anti-worker stance. You have used a hot button political issue to avoid extending healthcare insurance to your female employees.

    Individual freedoms are not at issue, nor is this the first time the Church has been required to provide this type of coverage. Several States have required the Church to fully insure all of its employees.

  15. RayM says:

    In these contentious times, as all times are contentious, political discourse can be fervent, but should never be misleading. So many speakers in an effort to persuade others to their cause violate the Eighth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. To state that the President has told the Catholic Church to “go to hell” is bearing false witness. The President did not say to the Catholic Church to “go to hell”. The President is not a socialist, not a dictator, not aiming a cannonball at Mother Church, not at war with Catholics and not affiliated with a “party of death”. I understand hyperbole, drama and metaphor, but these statements are false witness and the Word Of God says this is a sin. The Clergy is not leading parishioners like lemmings into a pit of hell and you will never need to hide in your basement to read your Bible in the United States.

    The article to which the Archbishop refers, and the topic of new regulations on health care have preoccupied me lately. The motives of the Health and Human Services is to provide women who are covered by health insurance to have access to contraception and birth control as is currently their right by law as American citizens. Their purpose is to reduce unwanted pregnancies and stem the spread of sexually transmitted disease. The motive of the Catholic Church is to live in the faith and not actively participate in behaviors it abhors and concludes are sinful. There is a huge gap between these positions, which will be filled with thoughtful discussion until this issue is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. There are no devils in this argument. No one needs to be ex-communicated or Canon 915′d.

    To me this highlights a bigger problem than an as yet unresolved controversy. The Center of Disease Control reports the number of Catholics who use contraception is at 98%. If the number was half this it is still unacceptable that so many Catholics (both men and women, as contraception is not generally used alone) defy, ignore or disregard Church edicts, strongly proclaimed by our Popes for decades. This means that if I were to state that everyone reading this has defied Humane Vitae, used contraception or birth control, I would only be offending 2% of you. I find this troubling and I hope someone can provide a new statistic to replace that of the CDCs. There is work to be done, or it will confuse the issue of the Catholic Church taking a determined stand on contraceptive health coverage.

  16. Rosana says:

    I have read the letter from the USCCB to the Obama administration and have read the actual mandate and I still don’t understand how the Church can claim that it is infringing on our religious freedom. How is offering equality in health care an assault on religious liberty?

    The mandate does not force women to take contraceptives or become sterilized. It only provides these services to them at no cost should they choose to use them. Women take contraceptives for other reasons other than preventing pregnancies. Doctors prescribe birth control pills for acne, hormonal imbalances, and menstrual problems. Should we be forced to pay for these medical procedures because the Catholic Church opposes drugs that would prevent procreating? Why stop there? Chemotherapy and radiation can prevent pregnancies in many instances. Doctors recommend waiting for several months to several years after treatment before trying to become pregnant. Should we ask individuals to pay for their own chemo drugs, or not take these drugs at all, because under this same theory, it goes against Catholic teachings of reproduction? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But it’s the same ridiculous stance as the contraceptives issue.

    It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the Catholic Church condemned abortion and took a position against birth control. There was a misconception about male superiority that came from church tradition and the Bible. The Church claimed that it was selfish for women to ignore their maternal duties by using birth control. Today they try to hide that same belief under the guise of “preserving and protecting human life.” Once again, conservative political and religious forces continue to suppress women’s rights. I am tired and frustrated at the male dominated leaders in the church deciding on what’s best for women. It’s about time that we women stand up to our religious leaders and speak for ourselves.

    Whether or not the Church prohibits the use of contraceptives, Catholic women will continue to use them as they always have, because it is “their choice.” And it’s not because we are only thinking about sex or about ourselves. It’s because we are trying to be responsible citizens and follow God’s teachings to care about our fellow man. We care enough to know that we could not bring another child into this world without being able to provide at least the very basic in needs. Children should not have to take their very first breath in this world as a victim of poverty, disability, disease, or not being wanted or loved. Birth control allows couples to delay childbearing until they are older, better educated, better prepared, and more financially secure. And how dare we try to tell a woman who has been raped, or been a victim of human trafficking or incest, that she should just keep her fingers crossed and hope she doesn’t get pregnant. What if no insurance company anywhere paid for contraceptives or the morning after pill? How would we be doing any justice for those new born children? Are we just going to keep opening up more orphanages and putting more children through the foster care system? We cannot sustain an uncontrollable population. We would just be continuing the cycle of poverty, starvation, disease, and war.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating for abortions or irresponsible sexual behavior. I can only assume what I would do if faced with an unexpected pregnancy. I am one of the lucky women who would have choices and a support system that could help me. But until I can walk in someone else’s shoes, I cannot pretend to know what would be best for anyone else to do. And our male religious leaders should not pretend to know either.

    The Catholic Church has already lost federal funding for its program that assists victims of human trafficking because it refused to refer women for contraceptive services or abortions. Instead, that money went to other organizations that would refer women for these services. The costs of providing birth control are small when compared to the long term financial, environmental, and human costs of doing nothing. Now the Church says that if the mandate doesn’t change, it will have no choice but to discontinue offering any health insurance whatsoever to its employees. Go ahead. Make that threat. The Church has already lost the gay community because of its narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy about sex. Is the Church prepared to lose the female community as well? It seems to me the church should focus its teachings on helping individuals establish a relationship with God and learn how to live a life that concentrates on contributing to society and helping others, rather than focusing on who’s having sex with whom. Maybe then we might be able to bring back those who have turned away from the Church.

    You say that this mandate forces us to have to pay for coverage that goes against our beliefs. Well don’t we all pay for coverage in our insurance plans for services we will never use? My current plan covers drug and alcohol treatment. I don’t ever foresee needing that treatment because drug and alcohol abuse goes against my beliefs. But I’m still paying for it. Just because we offer drug and alcohol treatment doesn’t mean we are forcing people to take drugs or alcohol. In the same way, just because we offer birth control drugs or the morning after pill doesn’t mean we are forcing women to take contraceptives or have an abortion. Current health care does not allow individuals to pick from a menu of services that we would like to have. So until it does, we will all have to pay for universal coverage. Just like we do with so many other services, like cable service, for example.

    I have been proud to say that I am a Catholic for my entire life. But these past few years have cast a dark cloud over the Church. With the recent sex scandals among priests and the focus on so many social issues, the only word that’s becoming associated with the Catholic Church is “sex.” Non-Catholics see us as hypocrites and uptight prudes. No one ever learns about the other good workings of the Church because the only thing we ever seem to take a stance on is sexual behavior.

    I beg the USCCB to stop trying to scare your congregation into taking action on what you claim is an infringement on their moral beliefs. Why not put that energy towards teaching our young people how to make wise decisions and never put their health, reputation, or piece of mind at risk in pursuit of sexual pleasure. Or why not focus on promoting alternatives to abortion? Why not advocate for governments to make adoption more affordable and accessible to couples and individuals, or give more assistance to single parents? Better yet, why not force governments to allow gay couples to adopt? Or is trying to stop gay couples from having sex more important to the church than providing a loving home to parentless children? This mandate is not an attack on religious freedom. It is an attack on narrow-mindedness. If you continue with this campaign, you will actually be harming so many women and children and will be alienating such a large population. THAT goes against God’s teachings!

  17. Henry Bartoli says:

    soon to be Cardinal Dolan: You are 100% correct in expressing the position of our church.

    I’m sure that from a poltical position this is creating a huge problem in the White House which is good because these people make decisions only based upon politics and their misplaced ideology.

    Keep the heat on and get all of the US bishops to push this on the pulpits throughout the country.

    God Bless You

  18. Gina says:

    Please do not make another pact with the devil. He will make more promises he will not keep. My values as a Catholic are very important and they had been while bringing up my children. Do not fall for false truths.

  19. AndyP/Doria2 says:

    In the early 1940′s there was a Protestant gathering called the Lambeth Conference whereby they voted to allow contraception in certain circumstances.

    It was the first time a Christian group gave the thumbs up for this behavior, ever.

    If any human with an ounce of sense does not see the damage that was done in our society since that decision I have a fish scale cleaner for your eyes.

    Even some Protestant groups are seeing what this decision did to transform our society. Every single social/sexual indicator has gone though the roof from forced single parenthood to the teen sex epidemic to the abomination of abortion.

    As our Holy Father said, contraception has caused or exacerbated the problem and I agree. The more these contraceptive devices become available the worse it gets. Folks are truly blind who do not see this.

    The doubters should read Pope Paul VI’ Humanae Vitae where he prophetically called these developments right on the proverbial head. He predicted all of it.

    I remember something else our current Holy Father said at the beginning of his pontificate. Pope Benedict XVI said that it seemed to him that our Lord’s only true Church would probably have to become smaller.

    Another great prophesy as all can see from some of the CINO’s – Catholics in Name Only you see on these very pages. They are the very dissenters and obstinate heretics who will just leave our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity and I pray for their immortal souls.

    Yes the Church will become smaller as St. Peter Canisius once said:

    Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.” –St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

    Read some of the above comments again. St. Canisius foresaw this.

    There’s no debating them folks. They won’t even listen to the fact that all of these problems would disappear if the majority just followed Church teaching like they did in the past. Now they prefer political parties, rights for this group rights for that group and become disobedient to “the all male” Church heirarchy which has served us well for two thousand years regardless of the fact that they love bringing up scandals but ingnore the overewhelming history of good this great institution has done.

    Not to worry though. As a great Pastor once sermonized in my parish, our Lord Jesus the Christ has already won the battle. Now it’s up to you to see which side you are on. Your eternity is at stake.

  20. Tom says:

    Peggy Noonan had some good advice in the WSJ today. I’ll paraphrase. The White House is backpeddling because of the strong response against this but don’t believe in anything they will offer that does not clearly state they are reversing the announced policy. They will try to confuse, delay, deflect in hopes of making it to election day and keeping the Catholic votes they got in 08. if they win, too bad. We said you have to do it and you will do it. we don’t need you anymore.
    So keep pounding away at them until you get an unconditional surrender.

  21. bill hayes says:

    It is about time the Catholic Bishops finally took a strong stance on issues of faith and the government. Most recently I read that in the mid west there is a court case pending to make Catholic priests discuss the details of a confession if it is related to a crime. Three cheers for the Bishops and dont be fooled to backing down and taking a solution that is against the teachings of the Church. As Mike Huckabee said yesterday “we are all Catholics now” More amazing to me is the support from Evangelical christians on the Bishops statement. Nice job

  22. JOHN says:

    THE PRESIDENTS “ACCOMODATION” IS A WONDER OF SMOKE AND MIRRORS.NOTHING IS FREE. WHEN YOU BUY CRACKERJACKS, THEY MAY CLAIM THE PRIZE IS FREE, BUT YOU EVERYONE KNOWS YOU PAY FOR THE PRIZE IN THE PRICE OF THE CRACKERJACKS. THE SAME WITH HEALTH INSURANCE. THE DIOCESE WILL PAY FOR THE ABORTION PILLS,ETC. IN THEIR PREMIUM NOTHING REALLY CHANGES.

  23. Maria says:

    I am disgusting for some of the comments, first complain to your parents for not educating out faith, I know the church has been some how timid, I believe the political correctness has been playing a big role, and it has hurted our sociaty.
    Abortion is a motal sin and anything that induce it, help in any way or form and is not an individual issue since it has ramification on all sociaty, and those catholic who ake communion nd they are not in grace state, they get condemnation, so you can do what ever you want, but you can not fool Jesus and His divina Justice, every action we do it has consecuancies (good or bad), The Catholic Church is always persecuted because It is the real and true church of Jesus Christ and lucifer is behind all this, he wants our babies in a trush can and wants to indignify the wound of the woman (where Jesus came to unite and live among us as human),,, The ignorance and lack of knowledge is amazing,,,,
    Jesus is putting us under a biggest test of our life, Blessed Mother has warning us for almost a century about the great trial and triffles that we have to endure and we need to be strong in our faith to defeit the enemy. we are here and the war has began, we have the most radical president in the history of the USA and his aim is TOTALITARIASM, if he get re-elected he will put his iron fist and good bye freedom for everyone even those who loves him today, we are already in a marrxist regime, those of us who has been there before we recognize every move this administation is doing………….. Keep dreaming and sleeping America, when you wake up it will be too late…
    his is not about contraceptives, they want you believe it is, so they can have the women on their side and hide the real agenda, no, is about freedom of religion and free speech, first amendment.
    Blessed Mother said only few make it to heaven and our faith is too week, repent, do penance and go to confesion

    Please Arbishop Dolan keep the figth, we are with you
    God Bless you

    ……..

  24. M.C. says:

    WAY TO GO!!!!
    DON’T BACK DOWN.
    NOT EVEN AN INCH.
    THIS IS A DEFINING MOMENT IN OUR HISTORY.
    LET US ALL PROVE KINDNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS!!!
    GOD BLESS YOU, ALL WHO ARE STANDING UP TO THIS ABONIMATION, OUR MILITARY AND GOD BLESS THE UNTIED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!!!
    LAND OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!!!!!!!!!

  25. mary says:

    I’m Canadian. In Canada there’s no private healthcare. In Canada a woman can have abortion up to full term of her pregnancy, all for free. If you don’t fight now you will end up like us. Keep up the fight. It’s worth it.