By Dave Andrusko
Many pro-lifers remember Prof. Mary Ann Glendon. Some will because she was the recipient of the National Right to Life’s “Proudly Pro-Life Award.” Many others will know her for her decision to decline to be Notre Dame’s 2009 Laetare Medal honoree out of frustration with the University’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at the commencement AND award him an honorary degree.
She is a brilliant academician and a great pro-lifer. So when Prof. Glendon wrote a piece Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal headlined, “Why the Bishops Are Suing the U.S. Government,” I paid close attention.
If you went no further than the subhead—“ The main goal of the contraception mandate is not to protect women’s health. It is a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda”—you will have profited immensely from the op-ed which can be read in its entirety at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303610504577418201554329764.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop.
If you missed it, 43 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and other institutions filed suit, accusing Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services of violating the First Amendment and federal law by requiring Catholic organizations to “sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving all people in need.” Why? That is what Prof. Glendon explains with insight and sympathy.
Like most important developmnts, this resort to the courts has a history. She explains that the Obama mandate is not the first assault by this Administration that threatens to erode “conscience protections for church-related individuals and institutions.” Referring to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Glendon writes,
“Their top-rated program for assistance to human trafficking victims was denied funding for refusing to provide ‘the full range of reproductive services,’ including abortion. For a time, Catholic Relief Services faced a similar threat to its international relief programs. The bishops fear religious liberty is becoming a second-class right.”
She cites other examples, which have set off alarm bells. So there is plenty of context which Obama and his defenders conveniently ignore.
And because the Obama Administration has been so adept at misleading the public, Glendon affirms yet again what this is NOT about:
The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women’s health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.
Nor it is an exclusively Catholic concern.
“The media have implied all along that the dispute is mainly of concern to a Catholic minority with peculiar views about human sexuality. But religious leaders of all faiths have been quick to see that what is involved is a flagrant violation of religious freedom. That’s why former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared, ‘We’re all Catholics now.’”
As she wraps up her op-ed Glendon offers a powerful peroration.
“If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it, we are witnessing an effort to reduce religion to a private activity. ‘Never before,’ he said, ‘have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith.’”
Yesterday, I wrote a piece based on the filing of those lawsuits titled, “The Turning Point of 2012?” After reading Prof. Glendon’s essay, I am more convinced than ever that the Obama Administration made a huge miscalculation in cynically attacking the religious liberties of hundreds of millions of American citizens.
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