Three Reasons Obama’s Newest Attack on Religious Liberty Concerns Catholics

Catholic Charities of New York distributed food on Thanksgiving to people in need.

Last week, I reported that the Obama White House is working on an executive order that will impact federal contractors. Conceived as an effort to curtail unjust discrimination against LGBT persons, the new rule could impose a hefty price tag on Catholic and other faith-based federal contractors. In effect, the new order could force federally contracted Catholic adoption services – for example – to choose between conforming to President Obama’s progressive, anti-family agenda or closing their doors and shutting down.

But, why should this issue matter to Catholics? Why can’t Catholics let their federal contractor status lapse and hand the charitable social work done under that umbrella over to the government? The answer is that this issue matters a lot to us because it impacts the nature and mission of the Church and the reality of marriage and the family.

Here are three reasons Catholics need to heed the news about Obama’s new rule.

First, the new executive order poses a recognizable and undeniable threat.

Similar rules have forced archdioceses and dioceses around the nation to forfeit their contracted charitable social work. But, Christ The Lord calls the Church to the work of social justice, which is essential to her nature. The Church cannot give that work up. Indeed, she lives her life in this world in service to the whole integral good of man whether she carries out that service at the level of the individual or under the aegis of a federal grant recipient or a faith-based federal contractor.

Pope Benedict XVI taught in his inaugural encyclical letter, Deus Caritas Est, that “The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man.” And, the Church carries out her service to the integral good of the human person “in order to attend constantly to man’s sufferings and his needs, including material needs” (DCE, n. 19). As the encyclical puts it, this charitable social work is – in fact – a manifestation of Trinitarian love in the world.

But, some are calling upon the Church to wash her hands of her federal contractor status and to re-commit to performing her good works independent of Obama’s dollars. Folks, let’s not forget something here: Those are our dollars. They belong to the American people. We gave them to the Feds. Catholics have as much a right to them as anyone else. So, let’s not allow the Feds to crowd us out because we refuse to conform to Obama’s radical social agenda.

There’s something else worth considering here, though. If the Church sought to do good in the world in other ways, independent of the status of a federal contractor, she’d be capitulating to an insidious social agenda, which the new presidential mandate weaves into the fabric of our public life. And, that’s the second reason Catholics need to heed the news about this mandate.

Truth be told, the new executive order communicates the message that children are not persons – gifts – but claims to which someone can have a right. According to the logic of the new rule, gays and lesbians have as much a right to adopt a child as a family rooted in traditional marriage. But, by advancing that message, the new rule writes into the fabric of our law an anthropological heresy.

Contrary to that heresy, Catholics believe that children are meant to be received as gifts and that marriage and the family are the proper context for the reception of those gifts. Placing them in a household that is not built upon a stable marriage between a man and a woman open to life and capable of fatherhood and motherhood would deprive them of that basic right.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states “A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift.” Indeed, “the ‘supreme gift of marriage’ is a human person.” And, as such, “A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged ‘right to a child’ would lead.” Rather, “In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right ‘to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,’ and ‘the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception'” (CCC 2378). In this connection, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states that “It is in the family, therefore, that the mutual giving of self on the part of man and woman united in marriage creates an environment of life in which children ‘develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny'” (CSDC, n. 212).

In the simplest terms, the new executive order would write into our legal and political culture – without prior democratic discourse and debate – an affront to the nature and mission of the Church in the world and an anthropological heresy that would militate against the Gospel of the Family and the dignity and rights of children. It is for that reason that the Church must stand her ground: She has a duty to preach the Gospel of the Family and to protect the dignity of children.

But, in the midst of this Obama-induced fracas, there is at least one silver lining. And, that lining is the third reason Catholics need to heed this news now.

The new executive order is being drafted at an opportune moment. Between June 21 and July 4, the US bishops’ will hold their annual Fortnight for Freedom. As promotional materials for this year’s event point out, the focus of the event will be on “the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church’s teaching.” It goes without saying that President Obama’s executive order would negatively impact that right, constricting its free exercise.

As the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops observes, the 2014 Fortnight for Freedom will take place at “a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power — St. Thomas Moore and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.” We know that prayer is powerful and that the intercession of the saints is efficacious. So, let’s storm heaven with our prayers!

As we do so, let’s be sure to check out the website for the Fortnight for Freedom. It’s got some great resources we can all use in the battle ahead. You’ll find the website at


Categories:Religious Liberty

  • Kathy Crookston

    The ability to practice Religious beliefs are confined to “while in church” only. The church has allowed the government and the 3% lgbt community to make practicing religious beliefs illegal. Religious leaders must correct this – if they are Sunday only, they are irrelevant and government will become the religion of this country.

  • Micha Elyi

    “If the Church sought to do good in the world in other ways, independent of the status of a federal contractor, she’d be capitulating to an insidious social agenda…” for as long as her bishops remain married to the Democrat Party.

    I can’t find the Gospel passage in which Christ taught us to render the poor unto Caesar. Maybe a bishop can help me look for it.

    There is an alternative available to the Church in a democratic republic. Form the consciences of the people, teach them to recognize and detest the evil of a State grown beyond its few and limited proper tasks, and teach them that casting a moral vote is the duty of every citizen, especially those who follow the Lord.

  • Rich

    First Amendment: In new poll, marriage equality trumps religious objections
    16 1 0 Comments Print
    Charles Haynes
    June 26, 2014

    Charles Haynes
    A solid majority of Americans now supports equal treatment for same-sex couples despite religious objections, according to the State of the First Amendment survey released this week by the First Amendment Center.

    Sixty-one percent of respondents agree that the government should require religiously affiliated groups that receive government funding to provide health care benefits to same-sex partners of employees—even when the religious group opposes same-sex marriage.

    And 54 percent of the public agree that a business providing wedding services to the public should be required to serve same-sex couples, even if the business owner objects to gay marriage on religious grounds.

    These findings are consistent with the dramatic rise in public support for gay marriage—59 percent in a recent ABC News/Washington Post survey (75 percent among those under 30).

    What’s somewhat surprising, however, is the strength of that support in the face of religious objections. When the first legal same-sex marriage was performed in Massachusetts 10 years ago, conservative religious groups were able to mobilize voters to approve laws and constitutional amendments in many states—including deep blue California—banning gay marriage.

    Now the tide has turned—not only in the courts (which struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Indiana and Utah just this week), but also in the court of public opinion.

    While gay marriage remains unpopular in some red states, many conservative politicians and religious leaders have toned down the rhetoric as the public continues to migrate toward support for marriage equality.

    Early in the debate, religious objectors to same-sex marriage appeared to enjoy broad public support for their efforts to secure religious exceptions to laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. That may no longer be the case.

    A defining moment came earlier this year in Arizona when the conservative governor vetoed a bill that would have made it possible for religious business owners to seek exemptions from providing wedding services to same-sex couples.

    Lost in the Arizona debate were the nuances of the proposed law: It would only have allowed businesses to make a claim for religious accommodation—but with no guarantee of the outcome.

    In the mind of the public, however, the Arizona Legislature was attempting to legalize discrimination against gay couples in the name of religious freedom. Rather than be labeled the “no gays allowed” state, the Chamber of Commerce and many Republican leaders joined LGBT rights groups in the successful campaign to persuade the governor to veto the bill.

    As the Arizona outcome suggests, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is fast becoming politically and socially unacceptable. For a growing number of Americans, the movement for marriage equality is all about equal treatment under the law.

    Of course, religious groups have a constitutional right to oppose gay marriage and to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. And as long as we uphold the First Amendment, that will continue to be the case.

    But when religiously affiliated groups receive tax dollars to deliver social services or when wedding providers open their doors to serve the public, most Americans now believe gay couples should be treated just like everyone else.

    In the battle over equal treatment for same-sex couples, it’s all over but the shouting.

    Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001. Email:

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    Given that the above story is based in fact, it is reasonable to conclude that gays are predominantly religious, and most likely Christian.
    By NewerTestament at 1:32 pm Thursday, June 26, 2014 | Report Abuse
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  • HV Observer

    In the picture, the fellow on the left is Rusty Staub, baseball legend for the New York Mets and Montreal Expos; I believe the fellow in the middle is Father Sullivan, who runs Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of New York (they’re wearing CC aprons); I don’t recognize the other persons. Any guesses?

    • Desmond

      Homosexuals don’t have to try and adopt a child through a Catholic adoption service. There are secular adoption services.

  • Rich

    I pay taxes, state and federal. You don’t like my gay identity. You don’t like that I am civilly married to my husband. If you make the choice to exclude me and mine from public services you provide (with my tax dollars) you will know the full extent of the law when you choose to discriminate. It’s really very simple. The President and all other decent Americans understand this.

    • Pat Nelson

      Rich, there is no exclusion from public services. Catholic Charities serves everyone. What this article is saying is that the Government will be intolerant of the Church and Her teachings and demand it capitulate to the Government’s ideology just to be a help to others. For your information, the Catholic Church was at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic when most people wanted nothing to do with it out of fear. Christ’s Catholic Church will always help people, with Him not without Him.

      • Rich

        You are wrong Pat. What this means is incredibly simple. If Catholic Charities receives even one of my tax dollars then every service to the public CC provides must be always accessible to my husband and me. This includes adoption services. This is civil law and CC and/or any other publicly funded Church services must adhere or, as I said earlier, face the full extent of the law.

    • Desmond

      Homosexuals don’t have to try and adopt a child through a Catholic adoption service. There are secular adoption services. There are so many types of taxpayers with different beliefs, to demand that the view of those that agree with homosexual adoption dominate is unjust in such a society as ours.

      • Rich

        Desmond, what do you mean by domination? I mean to state that every organization, no matter what it is, is subject to anti-discrimination laws if they accept public dollars. This includes every adoption service that operates this way. No gay couple should ever be reduced to searching for a friendly (publicly funded) adoption agency at the risk of being refused for their sexual identity. Not one of my or your tax dollars should ever fund discriminatory public services.

        • James the lesser

          How sad it is that the relationships that are, through biological law, unable to conceive, must demand the subsidizing of their relationship by the poor choices of others. As if that weren’t enough, we reclassify an aberration on the biological sexual scale as natural and then call others who don’t agree, discriminatory or bigoted.

    • Harry Smith

      Thank you Rich for clarifying. Right on!

  • Mike Hartigan

    Liberal Catholics, my wife included voted twice for him. You got what what you wanted.
    You made the wrong choice. Now you live with it. Shut up. Did you expect something different?

    • Geoffrey Miller

      And the husband of the year award goes to…

    • http://NationalCath.Register Phil Ferguson

      We will not shut up. God gave us free will and reason.

      My queen and I are the parents of 7 children & 17 grandchildren.

      We DID NOT vote for Obama – rather we are constantly praying for him and his philosophical entourage (Pelosi, et al) to find Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life.



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