Opposition to Obama’s Mandate: an Encouraging Update

By Dave Andrusko

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, DC

A reminder, more to me  than to NRL News Today readers: just because you don’t read or hear a lot about controversy “A,” that does not mean it’s quieted down. It likely means it’s simmering.

So, aside from some gratuitously vicious (even by the standards of the editorial page of the New York Times) slams against the Catholic church and Catholic institutions, we haven’t heard as much recently about the ever-mounting resistance to the Obama mandate requiring religious institutions and individuals of conscience to pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and conscience.

The best known (although that is a comparative statement) were the lawsuits filed two weeks ago by 43 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and other institutions filed suit. They accused Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services of violating the First Amendment and federal law by requiring Catholic organization to “sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving all people in need.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, explained why the Archdiocese of Washington had gone to court in an op-ed written for the Washington Post. He wrote,

“The lawsuit is about religious freedom. As is the norm with such laws, the HHS mandate includes an exemption for religious organizations. If the religious exemption in this case were reasonable, there would have been no need for this lawsuit — after all, we are indeed ‘religious’ under any sensible definition. But this mandate’s religious exemption is the narrowest ever adopted in federal law. For example, it doesn’t include any organization that serves the general public. So under this mandate, our Catholic hospitals, schools and social service programs, which serve all comers, are not ‘Catholic enough’ to be allowed to follow our Catholic beliefs.”

We need to remind ourselves periodically what Obama’s Health and Human Services is demanding, what priceless values they want dumped overboard, AND what this assault on religious freedom stems from. Professional Gerald Bradley does an excellent job today in ferreting out Obama’s ideological assumptions in “What’s Behind the HHS Mandate?”

Prof. Bradley is optimistic that by hook or by crook (actually by one of four scenarios) Catholic institutions–from the University of Notre Dame through EWTN–will “be spared the Hobson’s choice between complying with the mandate and betraying its mission.” You don’t have to share that optimism to agree completely with him that even if this first assault is thwarted, the “day of reckoning” will have only been “postponed, not cancelled.”

Bradley argues “The ideological commitments that have emboldened the Obama administration about contraception are deeply held. They are held to be very important. They are resilient. They are not limited to the reproductive rights supposedly protected by access to contraception…”   Indeed, they are “deep convictions about liberty and equality and religion entail trouble for religious liberty, no matter which exit route the present mandate takes.”

If you have time, be sure to go to www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/06/5562). Prof. Bradley’s explanation of Obama’s deeply unsettling ideological commitments will give you a deeper appreciation of just how important the stakes are.

The good news there the waves of resistance to the mandate continue to roll in, with each successive crest higher the one before.

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