1) By my updated count, over 70% of bishops who head dioceses in the U.S. have spoken out against the mandate (131 of 184). I think we’ll pass 75% this weekend easily as more and more bishops join the movement.
2) CNSNews reports that White House press secretary Jay Carney claimed there was “no constitutional rights issue” when questioned about the mandate. This coming from the administration that just lost their religious liberty argument 9-0 at the Supreme Court.
UPDATE — here is the video:
At one point he says: “I would also just note that our robust partnerships with the Catholic Church and other communities of faith will continue.” — I wouldn’t be so sure.
The Commonweal blog has a full transcript of both times the issue came up in the press briefing. Some clues are beginning to emerge about the Obama’s administration’s attitude towards the Catholic counter-reaction, but more on that from me later.
3) This is not just a Catholic issue (something we have to stress). The Becket Fund has released a statement from Protestant and Jewish leaders: “We Stand with Catholics“:
Today, more than 40 non-Catholic religious organizations including Protestant-affiliated colleges, National Association of Evangelicals, Focus on the Family, Assemblies of God, Northwest Nazarene University, and Eastern Mennonite University, sent a letter to the White House demanding religious protection against the newly issued HHS contraceptive mandate.
“We write not in opposition to Catholic leaders and organizations. We write in solidarity.” Says the coalition letter. “Leaders of other faiths are also deeply troubled by and opposed to the mandate and the narrow exemption.”
More coverage of this letter from Baptist Press.
4) GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich spoke out against the Obama/HHS mandate in an email distributed by Human Events:
“Last week, the Obama administration finalized a radical new rule that uses the health care law to require all health insurance providers to cover abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization as well as contraception, all free of charge,” Gingrich writes. “The administration based the rule’s “religious exemption” on a provision drafted by the ACLU, applying the rule even to religious organizations such as Catholic schools, hospitals, universities and charities that oppose such things as a matter of religious belief.” [Continue reading]
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney included this line in his acceptance speech last night after winning the Florida primary: “President Obama orders religious organizations to violate their conscience. I will defend religious liberty and overturn regulations that trample on our first freedom.”
5) It’s important during critical moments such as these to remember our history. Obamacare was amended to authorize HHS to make this coercive decision back on December 3rd, 2009 through the passage of the Mikulski Amendment (#2791) in the U.S. Senate.
Republican Senators Snowe, Collins and Vitter voted for that amendment, helping ensure passage (all other GOP senators voted NO). All Democrat Senators (except Ben Nelson and Russ Fiengold who went on to vote for Obamacare and help it pass) voted YES on the amendment.
The Senators who voted YES on the Mikulski Amendment and voted YES on Obamacare played a special role in authorizing HHS to make this bad decision. When Catholics and pro-lifers warned that passing this amendment would result in precisely this sort of coercion taking place down the road, these Senators ignored us. We should remember that when they all come up for reelection.
Ph/t: Michael Blissenbach for refreshing my memory on #5.