Our First, Most Cherished Liberty
by David Trumbull -- April 20, 2012
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently published a statement on the attacks, by local, state and federal government, on religious liberty now happening across America. They cite case after case.
- The Obamacare mandate that Catholic institutions pay for medical procedures they find morally impermissible.
- The singling out of Christian student groups for expulsion from the campuses of public colleges.
- The banning, as in Massachusetts and other states, of Catholic organizations from assisting in adoptions of children.
- A City of New York "crackdown" on small Protestant churches.
- Actions in several states to prohibit Catholic, Episcopal, and Methodist churches from performing their long-recognized role of providing sanctuary for the oppressed.
The bishops have characterized the Obamacare mandate as unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional.
In the early days of our Republic Thomas Jefferson assured the an order of nuns who served a mostly non-Catholic population by running a hospital, an orphanage, and schools that the principles of the Constitution were a “sure guarantee” that their ministry would be free “to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. Such was the law in the 19th century and such was the law through the 20th century, and into the 21st century until the Obama Administration announced that Catholic institutions would have to operate as Washington bureaucrats dictated rather than in according with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The bishops have announced plans to pursue both "legislative and judicial efforts to restore respect for religious freedom in the nation." I am please to say that Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown supports legislation to restore the religious liberty we had for 224 years until August 2011. His Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, says that makes Senator Brown "extreme." The voters can settle that one in November.
In the meantime, the bishops have suggested that the fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, be dedicated as a “fortnight for freedom” and have urged Catholic institutions to work "in cooperation with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, and indeed, all who wish to defend our most cherished freedom."