Irony of Ironies, The Lord-in-Chief Doesn’t Like Freedom of Religion

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“Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.” 

~ George Washington, Letter, United Baptist Chamber of Virginia May 1789 

Obama recently went after the Presbyterians. He tried to control their hiring and firing practices but lost at the Supreme Court level. Now he is after the Catholics. I am glad this issue is finally being talked about because this has been going on since August and the silence has been deafening.

When the HHS rule was written mandating abortifacient contraceptives be dispensed by Catholic hospitals, universities, and other health facilities, it came as no surprise. Obama wants the Catholic Church out of charity. He believes charity should be government-run. If he is re-elected, the next step will be to mandate pro-life health professionals perform abortions.

One of the first victims of this new abortifacient contraceptive rule was Belmont Abbey College, a monk-run college in North Carolina. Contraception, sterilization and morning-after pills go against their core beliefs and teachings. If the monks don’t do as the government demands, the fine is $340,000 a year, a fine that is unaffordable.

Belmont Abbey was joined by eighteen Catholic colleges and universities who sent a letter to HHS objecting to the contraception mandate. This was followed by 20 leading Catholic organizations including the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Relief Services.

In August, the EEOC, sent a letter to them stating that banning contraception is sexual discrimination because “only females take oral prescription contraceptives.”

This decision by the EEOC came straight out of Washington according to what they were told.

The college filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration stating that it violated their freedom of religion. The Abbey does not take any government funding and this is clearly a violation of their rights to practice their religion freely.

THE BECKET FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY has taken the Belmont Abbey case and combined it with suits by other Catholic facilities.

In all this time, Obama has made no effort to reconcile the situation. Instead of an exemption, he gave the Catholics one-year to comply. Suddenly, today, Axelrod said the administration would try to work out a compromise. There is no compromise! No church can give up their core beliefs and their freedom of religion.

This past week, the U.S. Army ordered Catholic chaplains to not read a letter from the Archbishop protesting the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage of contraceptives in health-care plans.

The Archbishop asked all military chaplains to read his letter, calling for efforts to reverse the administration’s policy, at Sunday Mass.

After negotiating, the Secretary of the Army rescinded the order but required the Archbishop to remove a line from that letter saying that Catholics “cannot—and will not—comply with this unjust law.”

That adds infringement of free speech rights to the original affront.

The following letter by a Rabbi who values our constitutional gives me hope.

In Defense of the Catholic Church

by Rabbi Dovid Bendory, Rabbinic Director,
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
Copyright 2012 JPFO

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

— Bill of Rights, Article 1

Rabbi BendoryI’m not a scholar of the United States Constitution, though like most citizens, I certainly have a basic understanding of the meaning and intentions of the Constitution and its Amendments. And like other patriots and defenders of the Second Amendment, I believe in the sanctity of this document and its integrity.

I’m no authority on Catholicism; with the exception of some comparative religion classes in college, my understanding of Catholic theology, ideology, and practice comes from growing up with a few Catholic friends and participating in interfaith dialogs among students studying for the clergy among various denominations.

But only a complete ignoramus of Catholic belief and Constitutional Law could fail to see hugely disturbing conflicts in a recent development in the executive branch of our federal government.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal (“A Battle the President Can’t Win”, by Peggy Noonan, WSJ 2/3/12):

The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says under ObamaCare Catholic institutions – including charities, hospitals and schools – will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business.

In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can’t be Catholic anymore.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Catholic Church’s positions on abortion, sterilization, and birth control, this draconian maneuver by the Obama administration is simply untenable. This isn’t just about the federal government vs. the Catholic Church. It is about the federal government vs. religious autonomy in America.

Therefore, as a Rabbi, an Orthodox Jew, and an American, I stand with the Catholic Church and its right to freedom of conscience. If President Obama can force Catholics to pay for abortions, then no religious belief is safe in America, and an America in which religious beliefs are not sacrosanct is an America that is unsafe not only for Jews but for all people of conscience — whether people of faith or secularists.

While JPFO’s main focus is on the Second Amendment, we have always stood for all of the Bill of Rights for All of the People. While Second Amendment is the “Guardian” of the Bill of Rights, all of the rights reserved for We the People must stand intact for any of them to have meaning.

With that in mind, I would remind Obama and his ilk that there are moral issues that decent men and women will fight for — with pens and lawsuits at first, with arms if necessary. Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are foremost among them. The Second Amendment preserves not only our right to take up arms in self-defense but also our right to defend against a tyrannical government. May it be a right we never need to exercise.

Shalom,

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Rabbi Dovid Bendory
Rabbinic Director
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
(http://jpfo.org)

Rabbi defends Catholics

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