Friday, February 17, 2012

The Union of Church and State?

The Left has always decried whatever they perceive to be
the coming together of the government and any religion or
religious body. Those on the left side of the political spec-
trum have yelled "Separate church and state!" whenever
religious sorts have engaged in opposing abortion on
demand, or supporting tuition vouchers for students
in church-operated schools, or else engaging in other
issues on the side opposed by the lefties. They
fear a takeover of government by a faith or a church
which would impose its ways on all citizens of our
country, having us order all that we do by their tenets.
But very recently, President Obama took an action which
--- if left standing --- would impose the government's
tenets upon the Catholic Church in the United States.
And the left-wingers seem to have no qualms about it
whatsoever; indeed, this uniting of church and state
is something that they can get behind.

On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule mandating
almost all private health insurance plans offer
coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contra-
ceptive devices, drugs, along with surgical sterilization.
The aforementioned health plans would have to cover
these items without co-pays. Non-profit religious
employers that currently do not provide such coverage,
and are not exempt under this rule's very narrow defi-
nition of religious employer, would have to obey this rule
and provide this coverage starting January 2014, religious
tenets be damned. How narrow is the definition of religious
employer? A vast number of religious hospitals, universities,
and service organizations are left out of the federal gov-
ernment's definition. 

The Catholic Church, with its myriad such organizations, will
be particularly hard hit by this edict if it is left to stand. The
church's bishops, joined by many Catholic entities such as
the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Relief Services,
Catholic Charities USA, and the Association of Catholic
Colleges and Universities, are protesting the mandate with
vigor; they are seeking a broader exemption which would
include more such organizations and ministries. Many
protestant denominations have rallied to the side of the
Catholic Church, as they also see the same threat to curb
their own faith-based beliefs and practices encroaching
upon them and desire to head this mandate off without

Now, your aware Peasant knows that many Catholics
do not follow all, or even most, of the Catholic Church's
teachings, including contraception-related matters. Many
Catholic women have used birth-control pills, going back to
the late 1950s, in increasing numbers over the years. But
many of these same Catholics vigorously oppose the Obama
Administration's overreach into the Catholic Church's
freedom to practice its faith and set its doctrines as it sees
fit. The reason that while they themselves may not
agree with and consequentially ignore Catholic teaching
and pronouncements on some matters, they do so of their
own volition. No one, including the state, is forcing them
to do so. But by the same token, they claim that Uncle
Sam has no right to interfere in their Church's internal
governance, making it do certain things that are diamet-
rically opposed to its doctrines, its philosophy, its
teachings to its flock. Many Catholics who voted for
Obama in 2008 are now seriously rethinking supporting
him again in this year's election as a result of this
audacious rule. Obama for Pope? Nope!

In addition to calling for a broader exemption from this rule
for religious institutions, the Catholic bishops are urging
fellow Catholics and concerned non-Catholics to support
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179,
S. 1467), contacting their representatives and senators
to ask them to vote for passage of this measure which
will ensure that those who participate in the health care
system "retain the right to provide ... health coverage
that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral
convictions." Your faithful (no pun intended here!)
Peasant, also a Catholic, supports this bill whole-
heartedly. Any of you, my dear readers, who would
like to speak up for this legislation protecting the
freedom of religious entities to practice their faith
as they see fit can do the following:

*Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121
or call the local offices of your members of the House
and Senate to urge them to pass The Respect for Rights
of Conscience Act.

*Write to Congress to state your support for the act and
to urge its passage. E-mailing is good but "snail-mailing"
is better, as it would be more likely to be read and
responded to.

*Visit your elected representatives either at their Capitol
Hill offices or at their local offices to ask their help with
passing this vital legislation.

The administration and the HHS have to realize this fact:
although the Catholic flock is very independent in their
actions regarding to Catholic doctrine, they do not want
governmental interference in their church's business.
Even many liberal Catholics are saying "Now just a
minute here ..." They know what the consequences are.
They may not always like what their church instructs
them to do, but they like government ordering their church
on what to do even less. And the left-wingers have to
realize that regarding the separation of church and state 
they cannot have it both ways.


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