Tens of millions of Catholics across America are outraged over new ObamaCare regulations that will force religious institutions like Catholic schools, charities and hospitals to provide birth-control pills, abortion-producing drugs and sterilization coverage in their health plans for employees.
The requirement does not currently apply to churches themselves.
Failure to provide the plans would result in large fines being levied by the federal government.
More than 150 bishops have spoken out against the regulations with a leading bishop accusing Obama of waging a "severe assault on religious liberty".
Wrote Alexander Sample, the Bishop of Marquette (Michigan), "We Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees and suffer the penalties for doing so.”
Many of the nation’s 78 million Catholics could very well turn on Obama in the November election if the law is not withdrawn and their anger festers. Obama won Catholic voters by 54% to 45% for McCain in 2008. But a swing of just a few percents of Catholic voters in key states like Ohio and Pennsylvania could easily cost Obama the 2012 election.
“Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church,” said Bill Donohue, who heads the Catholic League.
And rest assured that this is much more than just another church-state spat.
So what ever happened to ‘separation of church and state’ which is so carefully cultivated by the left? Yet when the state wishes to control the church, there is no separation.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan has spoken out against the requirements and priests around the nation are reading objection letters during services. Donohue said Catholic officials will fight to the end to overturn the provisions. Some leaders are calling for a march on Washington, hardly what Obama wants to see in a re-election year.
“This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions, and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets,” said Donohue.
Republicans are going to strike back. House speaker John Boehner called the Obama policy a violation of First Amendment rights. "This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country cannot stand, and will not stand," said Boehner, who himself is a Catholic from the electorally critical state of Ohio.
GOP senators are pushing to undo the requirement. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire rightfully called the rule "an unprecedented affront to religious liberty. This is not a women's' rights issue. This is a religious liberty issue."
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said the real issue is "whether the government of the United States should have the power to go in and tell a faith-based organization that they have to pay for something that they teach their members shouldn't be done. It's that simple. And if the answer is yes, then this government can reach all kinds of other absurd results."
And this indeed is all true. Because this issue is a double-whammy for Obama. It is as much about religious liberty as it is about the very serious moral issues at hand – contraception, abortion and sterilization.
If the Congress undoes the legislation before Obama withdraws it or if Obama refuses to withdraw it, that could spell real trouble for the president. Because millions of centrist Catholics might have grudgingly voted for him for re-election because many of them are liberal-leaning. But they now will be swayed by this law. He now has aroused them and this genie is not going back in the bottle unless the requirement is withdrawn.
And even if he did withdraw it, there may be many who wisely see what Obama’s real goal is and who will vote against him as a result of the firestorm around the issue.
It is possible that Obama will play politics and withdraw the requirement. Nikitas3 predicts that he will withdraw it in order to appear magnanimous. He certainly understands the electoral ramifications, although his hard-left advisors will demand that he stay the course. Others on his team will pragmatically ask him to withdraw the regulation.
Unfortunately Catholics have only themselves to blame. Tens of millions of liberal Catholics voted for Obama even though we conservatives have warned them for decades about what was ultimately coming from the left. And there is more in store. This law is just another battle for the destruction of Catholicism and for all religion in America.
Indeed many Catholics have openly supported the Democrat party for decades with conclaves of bishops repeatedly siding with Democrats on myriad issues from government handouts to nuclear weapons.
But the emergence of this issue also is problematic on another front; it shows Obama reneging on an assurance that he made in 2009 in remarks at the University of Notre Dame about his planned health reforms.
"Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause", he said at the Catholic college.
And we conservatives have warned repeatedly that this man is full of empty words, just as Democrats have promised that churches will never be forced to marry homosexuals, which also is going to go out the window over the long run if Democrats have their way.
A White House spokesman said the requirements struck "an effective balance between religious beliefs and increased access to important preventative services".
Pro-abortion groups are going to fight for Obama. But that is not the point. The fact is that this health-care issue has introduced a whole new element into the election that can only be a negative for Obama. There is no upside for this president. He has awakened the proverbial sleeping giant.
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