Almost always the threat to religious liberty comes from the Democrats. The recent contraception mandate from Obama’s HHS is proof of that.
But it seems that the Republicans in Alabama are willing to step on religious liberty, too. And in the process they threaten the GOP’s effort to win over Catholic and Hispanic voters.
Bill Donohue explains the absurd immigration law in Alabama that could prosecute nuns providing food to illegal immigrants or even a priest providing Sacraments:
When the bill was first introduced last March, its author, State Senator Scott Beason, did not allow for religious exemptions. In practical terms, this meant that “harboring” an illegal alien could be interpreted as administering the Sacraments, as well as providing material assistance. In April, an amendment was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford to prevent the criminalization of certain religious activities. In May, it passed in the Senate and was then forwarded to the House. When the bill reappeared on June 2, the Bedford amendment was stricken from it. The bill was then approved.
It is not every day that the Catholic League is on the same side as the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Obama administration and the New York Times. But I hasten to add that those who are also protesting the bill are the Catholic bishops of Alabama, the Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church, and others. We are grateful for the information provided to us by John Whitaker, the attorney who represents the Birmingham diocese, which is ably led by Bishop Robert Baker.
The idea of punishing the clergy for doing what they are called to do—servicing those in need independent of any condition—is morally reprehensible and constitutionally offensive. Let the Alabama lawmakers rewrite the law, allowing for the kinds of religious exemptions stipulated by the Bedford amendment.
I’ll admit my own bias here. My aunt is Franciscan nun. I am certain that on many political issues, we find ourselves in disagreement. But I applaud her for providing water and food to prevent a person from dying in the Arizona desert. That’s exactly what the dignity of the human person demands of us. But if she were in Alabama, she could be prosecuted. This is madness.
Conservatives have long complained about the dangers of allowing millions of Americans enter into our country illegally. It’s not good for the illegal immigrant because they live in the shadows and can get exploited by unscrupulous landlords and employers. It’s also not good for social order to have millions of people living in constant fear of deportation.
We desperately need a solution to this problem. I think it starts with a secure border. Perhaps then we consider guest worker visas but not automatic citizenship.
But the failure of the federal government to secure our border is no excuse for Alabama to criminalize priests and nuns from fulfilling the commandment to minister to those in need.