Religious Freedom: The Cornerstone of American Government

Today, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed article that I wrote on President Obama’s healthcare reform law and protecting our religious freedom. I thought you might want to read it. Here is an excerpt:

Scarcely two weeks ago, in its Hosanna-Tabor decision upholding the right of churches to make ministerial hiring decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously and enthusiastically reaffirmed these longstanding and foundational principles of religious freedom. The court made clear that they include the right of religious institutions to control their internal affairs.

Yet the Obama administration has veered in the opposite direction. It has refused to exempt religious institutions that serve the common good—including Catholic schools, charities and hospitals—from its sweeping new health-care mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.

Last August, when the administration first proposed this nationwide mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage, it also proposed a “religious employer” exemption. But this was so narrow that it would apply only to religious organizations engaged primarily in serving people of the same religion. As Catholic Charities USA’s president, the Rev. Larry Snyder, notes, even Jesus and His disciples would not qualify for the exemption in that case, because they were committed to serve those of other faiths.

small image of PDF Icon  You can read the whole op-ed here.

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65 Responses to “Religious Freedom: The Cornerstone of American Government”

  1. JohnG says:

    Dear Cardinal-Elect Dolan,

    I again respectfully request that you have a “Petition” inserted in each Mass said in our country asking God’s guidance on the Government and Citizens of the United States. This is the time to act.

  2. Andrea Fagin says:

    I hope you can post some opposing opinions and not just hip-hip-hooray, what a brilliant idea.
    I, for one, support mandating that health coverage includes contraception. If a person’s religious belief conflicts with contraception, then that person should not use that element of health coverage. But their individual religious beliefs should not spill over and control other individual’s rights to use contraception. A Catholic bishop does not speak for everyone or for me.

  3. g.l hege says:

    I object to your interference with the laws of the land, which allows your organization to own tax free property, and many of the other priveleges of religious freedom. You, as a thought-leader amongst your own followers, can ask your followers to conform to whatever tenents your faith may have, but you have NO RIGHT TO attempt to sabotage Federal Laws to suit your own beliefs. The law is designed to help those who need help and need to have procedures insured, your hospitals and clinics and other institutions that serve the public should abide by the law. If you feel the need to deny medical help to those who follow you, that is your business, but you cannot pretend to speak for all or any of us in this country. You are a simple religious leader, you are not a congressman, you are not a judge, you are not a diplomat from a foreign country (I continue to hope you are not) you have no purchase. If you could not control lobbying agains this law prior to it being approved, that is not our problem, you had plenty of time to lobby. The fact that your “lobbying” efforts failed, should make you abide by the laws like everyone else. Evidently it means lawmakers of your own faith chose to vote for the greater good, rather than the narrow interests of an organization that has never valued the medical needs of women, especially not those of your own followers. Please pray that you might one day turn into a good American as well as a Catholic. If you cannot do this, then go where there are laws you personally endorse. I for one endorse your right to leave the country and live where you like the laws. Open your mind , heart and institutions to the law, to the sense of it, and to the actual needs of women’s health issues, stop clinging to the archaic heirarchy that does not, and never has, valued any woman’s health. The fact that you exalt a few iconic female images in your faith does not make up for the millions of women your church has traditionally denied certain medical help. Leave the President alone, he is doing his job and you should do yours without believing your own press about your exalted position. You are a man, do not stand in the way of a nation of lawmakers and women who need help. I hope if you persist, your tax exempt status for your institutions is withdrawn by the majority of the people of this nation, through law. We are a nation of laws by design, faith is personal, if the women of your faith do not want a procedure, just let them say no on an individual basis. You are not their owner, and certainly have never been a protector, so get your religious views out of our governing process.

  4. ChuckL says:

    Your Excellency. I am what you call a fallen away Catholic. My viewpoint is that by failing to live up to the teachings of the church, the church has fallen away from their own teachings and that those who remain faithful have nowhere to go.

    It started with the failure to call Abortion Murder and with Catholic priests, one of whom was a classmate of mine campaigning for a non-citizen for president. (Obama’s father was a British subject. His step father took him to Indonesia and enrolled him in school stating his nationality as Indonesian.) There is no record of his ever being naturalized, and in any event that would also make him an other than “Natural Born Citizen” and therefore ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States.

    This was followed by several Catholic universities granting honors to Obama and hiding their Catholicity at his request.

    When it is convenient for the Church to support the social liberalism of the Democrat Party, it is done. No consideration is given to what this will do to those of us who struggle to survive, but do not take that which we have not earned. It is also in violation of the Constitution of the United States which prohibits the federal government from doing that which belongs to the states.

    You have mentioned a loss of Catholic membership. Perhaps you should look at the actions of the Church in supporting criminal invaders of this country in the name of “Social Justice”. What you inflict upon us can only be described as “Social Injustice”

    The total and complete “Patient Protection and Affordable care Act” is not authorized anywhere in the Constitution of the United States. It is “Unconstitutional”.

  5. Kate Wright says:

    Dear Cardinal-designate Dolan,

    Thank you for allowing us to communicate with one another through your website. And, thank you, Dr. Maroti, for you eloquent posting!

    Archibishop Dolan, two prominent lawyers in my parish (Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills) have agreed to help me organize our parish laity, even though our pastor claims he doesn’t “have enough time” to communicate this subject at the pulpit or in our bulletin.

    My thinking is that each and every parish in all 183 archdioceses can develop its own clip for YouTube featuring a meeting of the Faithful listening to the constitutional argument —- with corresponding responses from the Faithful. One of the hurdles to overcome is that the Media has misnamed this issue to suit the HHS mandate, so the laity (“We, the People!”) must reclaim the theological and constitutional arguments, based on Natural Law, the Right of Conscience and Religious Liberty. One of my primary concerns is that our laity is educated to the fact that that unalienable rights are God-given by birth, and therefore, cannot be surrendered! Next time I write, I will have a name for this grass-roots lay movement. For now, let’s “Restore Religious Liberty!”

    The Los Angeles St. Thomas More Society is meeting with Archbishop Gomez later this month, am hoping to attend.

    Thank you, again.
    Kate Wright

  6. Mary L De La Garza says:

    There are so many people who don’t understand the church’s teaching on contraception and abortion. The church is responsible to inform people that it is wrong to offer anything that will endanger anyones soul. This is why our bishops are speaking up against the President’s mandate. Many people do not have an inform conscience and think that they can do anything with their bodies. This is not so. The biggest point here is that we as Catholics being told, we must go against on conscience. The Constitution was written to protect us Americans against such wrongs. Catholic Institutions can not offer this mandate under pain of MORTAL SIN.

  7. Sabine Gumm says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan.

    I am not Catholic but as a Christian I am glad to finally see the Catholic Church waking up. The churches in this great Nation of ours (not just the Catholics) have been puppets of the progressives in this country.

    Our Nation became great because it was based on Christian values and the pulpit was the place that spoke the TRUTH. Instead today most churches preach “Social Justice”, water down God’s message not to offend it’s parishioners, don’t hold the flock accountable because “We are all winners here” and don’t forget your participation trophy at the door.

    We have “christian” churches in this country that are so PC, not wanting to offend, that they open their doors to Islam. Chrislam is the systematic destruction of the all non-islamic faiths. I don’t see any protests.

    We have a universal assault on religion as a whole. The President had the audacity to state that: “…we are no longer a Christian Nation….” We cannot say “Merry Christmas” and the left is succeeding in turning the word God into something shameful and dirty. I don’t see any protest.

    Now you say the contraception healthcare mandate goes against Catholic teachings. Absolutely!!! But it is not ONLY Catholic teachings. It goes against God, no matter if you are Jewish, Baptist, Amish, …., even Mormon.

    Why do you believe the Catholic Church should have greater privilege under the law in the United States than any other religion. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights speaks of EQUAL RIGHTS for all. Will God look kindly on us if we asked for special treatment over others? Would Mary approve?

    As a Christian I will stand with the Catholic church and defend your rights even though I may not agree all of your beliefs. We see antisemitism on the rise and I will stand with any Jew and say “Take Me First”.

    I truly believe that the only way to restore the pulpit and its message is to start joining with other religions and take back what the left / progressives are taking from us daily. We have to restore GOD in this country, we have to restore HONOR. Than and only than will contraception and abortions not find a seat at the table of the faithful.

    We can only fight this if we link arms and take a stand together against the evil that is growing in the world. Please reach out to other Faith Communities such as John Hagee Ministries. Pastor Hagee has been bringing people together for years. There are others out there ready to stand with you. Please reach out before it is too late.

    May Gods Blessings be upon you.

  8. Kim Blackiston says:

    I am not a Catholic, although my wife and her family are all devoted Catholics. I wanted to post here, a personal thanks.
    What the Obama administration has attempted to do, is truly pathetic. Not only are they attempting to once again circumvent the Constitution of the United States, but more importantly, additionally insult the religious doctrines. And had there been no stepping up by the Catholic Church on this issue, every single person of all religious backgrounds, would have been fair game for President Obama to attack.
    My sincere thanks go out to all who have voiced their concern and outrage about this mandate.
    The United States of America must, repeat, MUST, have our liberties protected, and the assault waged by the Obama Administration must, repeat, MUST, be stifled completely.
    My only hope here is that, even if President Obama relents and provides an exemption, that everyone must be fully aware that he will not hesitate at all, given another opportunity, to “throw the religious liberties of All Americans, under the bus” again.
    This president cannot be trusted. This President has a very discerning attitude about how things in America “should” be governed, and that includes our religious rights, and liberties. Please keep this in mind this year.
    My sincere thanks go out to all who have voiced their concern and outrage about this mandate and the possible repercussions that could occur. We are one nation, under God, not one nation under Obama.

  9. David Hils says:

    Archbishop Dolan,

    Thank you for your opposition to the immoral HHS regulations.

    We need your swift opposition to the new supposed “compromise.”

    As you have already said, “There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there’s no
    free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you.”

    Please be as forceful now as you were to start with. All of us Catholics will be forced to violate our consciences if this “free insurance” regulation is allowed to stand.

  10. Kelly Nash says:

    Now that you have used your considerable political power to get the President to back off the contraception issue, I would really like to see you use the same enthusiasm to end the death penalty.

  11. Suz says:

    When have any of you been told you can not worship? When have any of you been told you are not allowed to be Catholic or you must convert? When have any of you been told that you will be killed or tortured if you do not give up your faith? When have any of you ever had to worship in secret? NEVER. You do not appreciate your religious freedom and your insistence that everyone else must live by your doctrine or they are not honoring your freedoms is what is inciting secular society against you.

    But an employer that services secular society, pulls its staff from secular society, receives funding from from secular society, and refuses to allow their employees the CHOICE of health care services because of their own religious doctrine is the very definition of religious persecution.

    Not all Catholics agree with the Bishops’ spin.

  12. Kate Wright says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    You may appreciate knowing that this morning I attended a meeting featuring a prominent Guest Speaker who writes Supreme Court briefs for the Cato Institute, a non-religious think tank.

    The discussion turned to healthcare, and he articulated that Religious Liberty supercedes Commerce in constitutional protection, but he is not informed regarding “Conscience Protection” throughout history in the way that we have been educated through Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More.

    Thanks to Friday’s USCCB Statement as well as “Unacceptable” by Notre Dame’s Carter Snead and 90 others, I was able to articulate “Conscience Protection” and Religious Liberty for all individuals under the U.S. Constitution, people of faith and no faith. The “Conscience” exists prior (a priori) to speech and, in fact, any dilemma or choice (moral, economic, or otherwise) originates within the conscience(s) of any and all individuals, regardless of faith, or no faith.

    The audience was Jewish (except for me), and they cheered this (enlightened) presentation to this key litigator for The Cato Institute.

    In other words, our UNalienable right(s) extend to all individuals, regardless of faith, and canNOT be surrendered!

    Sincerely yours,
    Kate Wright

  13. Kate Wright says:

    Dear Cardinal-Designate Dolan,

    America’s Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook was supposed to have met with PRC Government Officials last week in Beijing, departing February 8. She was denied visas, and therefore, access.

    This disclosure came yesterday, February 14, in the Washington Post, four days after the (public) political treachery perpetrated against the USCCB last week. This also coincides with the diplomatically sensitive visit of future PRC President Xi Jinping, in which any discussion of Human Rights was denied. NJ Congressman Christopher Smith, however, held his own (sparsely attended) hearing on Capitol Hill.

    This is the first American Presidency to turn its back on Religious Liberty and Human Rights.

    My concern is that you understand the nature of this political and religious treachery.

    Kate Wright

  14. Alex says:

    Religious freedom means freedom to follow your preferred religion without persecution. How does an employer offering birth control as an option to an individual interfere with their religion?

  15. Vincent Bonczyk says:

    “If a person’s religious belief conflicts with contraception, then that person should not use that element of health coverage. But their individual religious beliefs should not spill over and control other individual’s rights to use contraception.”

    The rights of an individual extend only to the point where exercising them would infringe on the rights of another individual. This fact is sadly something that many of the entitlement-addicted people in America today are forgetting. The supposed right to health care (no such thing exists, last time I took a look at the constitution) CANNOT infringe on the rights of another individual to practice their religion, which includes the freedom from being forced to violate one’s moral beliefs.

    Under the HHS mandate, employers would be required to pay into premiums which provide coverage to employees for things which Catholics are morally opposed to, such as contraception, sterilization, and abortion-producing drugs (morning after pills, IUDs, certain hormonal birth control, etc…).

    Many objections to the Catholic outcry over this travesty are based on the fact that some of the employees in question are not Catholic and should be allowed to do as they please without the church being concerned. This is true to a point: God gifted all of us with free will to choose as we please. The problem lies in the fact that by paying premiums to provide these coverages the Church becomes an enabler or even an accomplice to someone committing a grave sin. This would be akin to forcing Alcoholics Anonymous to provide an open bar for employees in their offices since not everyone believes alcohol is bad.

    The issue is not about contraception, as most of the mainstream media and anti-Catholics would have you believe. It is about putting a stop to a government gone out of control that seems hell-bent on taking away our civil liberties under the guise of providing equality.