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April 16, 2012

Catholic Bishops Not Backing Down From Fight Over HHS Mandate

Topics: Faith, Political News and commentaries

This web video launched five weeks ago by Catholics Called to Witness, an organization of lay Catholics, underscore a message that while policies on jobs and the economy are negotiable, religious freedom and life are not. The video ad already has nearly 300,000 views (hat tip - Ed Morrissey):

Ed Morrissey points out that yesterday the ad caught the attention of Fox News, putting a focus back on the fight between the Obama administration and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, among others, over the HHS mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. Fr. Jonathan Morris reports that the bishops and the laity remain highly engaged and motivated in making the HHS mandate a big issue in the general election -- and not just the mandate, in terms of religious liberty:

As Fr. Morris says, the bishops plan on talking about this from now until the election, and about at the same pitch as the CC2W ad. In 2008, Obama won the Catholic vote by nine points on his way to a seven-point margin of victory in the national popular vote. He can't afford to lose that edge, and yet he and Kathleen Sebelius are so far refusing to take a simple and politically painless step to sideline the issue.

As George Weigel makes clear today in his Framing the Religious-Liberty Issue, the HHS mandate involves much more than what first appears on the surface:

Will the robust networks of free and voluntary associations that Alexis de Tocqueville admired as the sinews and musculature of American democracy continue to flourish? Or will the United States increasingly resemble Western Europe, where the associational instinct (and, with it, civil society) has atrophied under the heavy weight of the European nanny state?

The bishops, in other words, helpfully frame the religious-freedom issue in its broader context. To be sure, the bishops are very, very concerned about increasing governmental encroachments on religious freedom of recent years. Those encroachments include the HHS "contraceptive mandate" in the implementation of Obamacare, which brought the entire issue to the surface of public life; they also involve state laws that impede the Church's service to immigrants, attempts by state legislatures to turn religious communities into bureaus of state government, discrimination against Christian students on university campuses, and restrictions on the Church's capacity to draw on public funds in its service to orphans and victims of human trafficking. This shrinkage in the sphere of religious freedom is bad enough in itself, and deserves to be fought. But as the Ad Hoc Committee points out (in explaining that religious freedom "is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home"), the issue beneath these issues is the advance of Leviathan, often in the name of imposing the dictatorship of relativism:

If Team Obama thinks the HHS mandate issue is going away ... they couldn't possibly be more wrong.

Posted by Hyscience at April 16, 2012 1:42 PM

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