“We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law,” Kansas City-Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann wrote in his letter to Sunday Mass congregations about the Obama administration’s health care mandate. “Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights.”
They are strong words that he does not use lightly. Here is a list of ways Catholics feel backed into a corner by the Obama administration.
(Update: Archbishop Naumann asked us to start a Memorare Army for religious liberty. Click here for details.)
1. Abortion Extremism. Most Americans call themselves pro-life when it comes to abortion. In this regard, the Obama administration is not at all like most Americans. As I documented at the National Catholic Register, Obama’s administration made attacks on the right to life priority No. 1.
2. Forced Contraception Coverage. If the administration forced Jewish delicatessens to serve pork that would rightly be denounced as an attack on religious liberty, both by those who “keep kosher,” those who don’t, and those who aren’t Jewish at all. By forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception and sterilization, the White House is doing exactly the same thing.
3. Forced Funding of Abortifacients. By forcing Catholics to pay for birth control pills, Obama has inadvertently forced into the light a medical fact that contraception’s supporters would like to forget: Contraceptive pills work in several ways. The Mayo Clinic lists them here. Among them: “Alter the lining of the uterus so a fertilized egg doesn’t attach to it.” A “fertilized egg,” in layman’s terms, is a newly conceived human being who is already male or female and with all the genetic information that will determine whether or not she is tall, short, good at singing or excellent at softball. And preventing implantation kills that new boy or girl.
4. Breaking Notre Dame Promise. When he spoke at Notre Dame, Obama assured Catholics that his still-new administration would “draft a sensible conscience clause” for Catholics. Forcing Jewish delicatessens to sell pork would not be a “sensible conscience clause.” Forcing Catholics to fund contraceptives is not a “sensible conscience clause.”
5. Anti-War Catholics Disappointed. Some Catholics who supported Obama said they did so because he was anti-war, compared to Bush. But Obama has not deviated from the Bush administration’s Iraq timetable, Afghanistan strategy or Guantanamo Bay policy. After he added a Libyan conflict to his record and spent a third of his 2012 State of the Union promoting his military record, the Nobel Peace Prize committee came under investigation for awarding him its prize.
6. Hushing Army Chaplains. At the same time, under the Obama administration, the Army has silenced chaplains who were instructed by their Archbishop to read a letter about the Obama administration’s forced contraception coverage. Kathryn Jean Lopez reports.
7. Government Regulating Ministers. If the Supreme Court had not stopped him, the Obama administration would have inserted the federal government in the hiring and firing of civilian ministers. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the unanimous January 2012 decision that the court was protecting “the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”
8. Catholics Officially Bigots. Obama campaigned claiming he was for protecting traditional marriage and against same-sex “marriage.” But as Bishop William Lori testified in the U.S. Senate, “The Federal Department of Justice has ratcheted up its attack on the Defense of Marriage Act by mischaracterizing it as an act of bigotry.” He cited several examples, including Catholics being driven out of adoption services because they will not assist homosexual couples in adoptions.
9. Federal “Catholics Need Not Apply” Policies. It was bad enough when local businesses barred Catholics from certain jobs in the early 20th century. Now the White House has put “Catholics Need Not Apply” signs up in key places, denying Catholics the ability to fulfill certain charitable grants. Bishop Lori provides several examples.
10. Anti-Immigrant Policies. President Obama’s unprecedentedly harsh deportation policy has drawn the ire of Latinos. Catholic bishops as recently as August had hoped for a change that would be more in line with Church teaching on welcoming immigrants.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.