OWN GOAL

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 | Uncategorized

The Obama Administration’s decision to force the Roman Catholic and other Christian churches to pay for contraception and abortificients for employees who work in church-affiliated hospitals and other institutions may turn out to be one of the most disastrous US political blunders since the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Michael Gerson:

In politics, the timing is often the message. On Jan. 20 — three days before the annual March for Life — the Obama administration announced its final decision that Catholic universities, hospitals and charities will be compelled to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients.

Catholic leaders are still trying to process the implications of this ambush. The president had every opportunity to back down from confrontation. In the recent ­Hosanna-Tabor ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad religious autonomy right rooted in the Constitution. Obama could have taken the decision as justification for retreat.

It was a decision, says Gerson, that the Administration didn’t need to make.

And it would have been a minor retreat. The administration was on the verge of mandating nearly universal contraceptive coverage through Obamacare without public notice. There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.

Basically, the wall of separation between church and state, so well-beloved by this country’s liberals, no longer exists what with our idiot president having dynamited it.

Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. The religious exemption granted by Obamacare is narrower than anywhere else in federal law — essentially covering the delivery of homilies and the distribution of sacraments. Serving the poor and healing the sick are regarded as secular pursuits — a determination that would have surprised Christianity’s founder.

Although other churches will be affected as well, our idiot president’s principal target is the Roman Catholic Church.

Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875 — a measure designed to diminish public tolerance of Romanism, then regarded as foreign, authoritarian and illiberal. Modern liberalism has progressed to the point of adopting the attitudes and methods of 19th-century Republican nativists.

Quite simply, this is the greatest American government intrusion into religious affairs that this country has ever seen.

The implications of Obama’s power grab go further than contraception and will provoke opposition beyond Catholicism. Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

Gerson finishes thus.

The administration’s ultimate motivation is uncertain. Has it adopted a radical secularism out of conviction, or is it cynically appealing to radical secularists? In either case, the war on religion is now formally declared.

Tru dat.  But Gerson used to work for George W. Bush.  What do 2008 liberal Catholic Obama voters think?  Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter won’t be voting for our idiot president this fall.

No, I come at this issue as a liberal and a Democrat and as someone who, until yesterday, generally supported the President, as someone who saw in his vision of America a greater concern for each other, a less mean-spirited culture, someone who could, and did, remind the nation that we are our brothers’ keeper, that liberalism has a long vocation in this country of promoting freedom and protecting the interests of the average person against the combined power of the rich, and that we should learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. I defended the University of Notre Dame for honoring this man, and my heart was warmed when President Obama said at Notre Dame: “we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity — diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief. In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family.”

Because getting shivved by somebody you thought was your friend is no fun at all.

I accuse you, Mr. President, of treating shamefully those Catholics who went out on a limb to support you. Do tell, Mr. President, how many bullets have the people at Planned Parenthood taken for you? Sr. Carol Keehan, Father Larry Snyder, Father John Jenkins, these people have scars to show for their willingness to work with you, to support you on your tough political fights. Is this the way you treat people who went to the mat for you?

So Mike’ll be sitting out November.

But, yesterday, as soon as I learned of this decision, I knew instantly that I also could not, in good conscience, ever vote for Mr. Obama again. I once had great faith in Mr. Obama’s judgment and leadership. I do not retract a single word I have written supporting him on issues like health care reform, or bringing the troops home from Iraq, or taking aggressive steps to halt the recession and turn the economy around. I will continue to advocate for those policies. But, I can never convince myself that a person capable of making such a dreadful decision is worthy of my respect or my vote.

Even reliable leftist E. J. Dionne Jr. has serious reservations.

One of Barack Obama’s great attractions as a presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health care law.

His administration mishandled this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the Church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.

Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.

While a friend of Rod Dreher cannot contain his anger.

As an openly pro-Obama Catholic in 2008, allow me to express OUTRAGE at the recent HHS regulations on insurance coverage.  Today’s NYT piece explains the situation and despite its avowedly anti-Catholic tone — more on that in a minute — it makes abundantly clear that Obama has not a leg to stand on. All right-wing hyperbole to one side, this is an attack on religious liberty, and a naked one.

Politically, I do not understand the thinking here. In an election year in which your health care plan will be the central plank of your opponent’s case, you decide to give a large middle finger to Catholics (last time I heard an important demographic in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania). Note that the bishops want to be, and should be, the prime supporters of universal health coverage. But Obama, to placate the abortion lobby, has decided to not merely ignore Catholic concerns as he already did, but now to affirmatively attack them. It is unimaginable that he could be this politically stupid.  He now provides evidence that makes ME ( largely a liberal Democrat)  wonder if this administration and elements in the Democratic Party are not in fact pursuing a wider agenda to reduce religious voice and presence in the public square.  Until now, I had left that kind of theorizing to the conservative talk shows — but what else explains this move?

Since I don’t know the relationship between the views of National Catholic Reporter commenters and those of the Catholic population as a whole, I honestly don’t know whether (1) all this will blow over in eleven months or (2) Barack Obama just took very careful aim and shot himself in the foot.

I suspect (2) is probably closer to the truth.  Obama got a substantial number of Catholic votes in 2008.  If this HHS policy motivates conservative Catholics to turn out to vote against him while convincing people like Michael Sean Winters to stay home, I don’t think that our idiot president stands a chance of keeping his job.

37 Comments to OWN GOAL

Donald R. McClarey
January 31, 2012

Most Catholics refer to the National Catholic Reporter as the National Catholic Distorter. It is the far left of Catholic opinion in this country.

Most Catholics are boiling mad over this raw religious bigotry by the Obama administration and getting madder. My Bishop, Daniel Jenky of Peoria is typical:

http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/01/30/bishop-jenky-saint-michael-and-the-obama-administration/

I think Obama may soon have a Yamamoto moment over this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ft699vWKvc&feature=player_embedded

FW Ken
January 31, 2012

Most Catholics refer to the National Catholic Reporter as the National Catholic Distorter.

Or, just ”Fishwrap”.

Serious question : are there any Christian churches other than the Catholic Curch, that officially reject contraception? I know that some evangelicals have, as individuals, engaged the issue. However, it my understanding that all the protestant mainline, as well as at least some Orthodox jurisdictions, accept artificial birth control.

Mike
January 31, 2012

A good compilation, Chris, and “own goal” is an accurate assessment. It seems like the administration decided to go “all in” to make the pro-abortion faction happy–a page right out of the oh-so-successful TEc playbook. I’ve never seen the bishops move this fast and forcefully–they are getting the word out in a big way. The president better be secretly hoping that legislation to override the HHS rule bails him out.

Bill2
January 31, 2012

This is wholly in line with the administrations strategy to ignore the white working class and focus on minorities and the “smart set” like academe and the hard left apparatchiks on the coasts.

Hopefully this will wake everyone up to the perils of the leviathan government. Somehow I think folks like EJ Dionne will miss the broader lessons of this.

Chris
February 1, 2012

Bill, that’s what I see from most of the comments from the leftists. They seem to be missing the point that if the government runs healthcare it gets to set the rules. It violates the Constitution to have the Feds running it anyways. Why is it shocking that the Feds would then violate the First Amendment.

I’m betting it is going to be #1. It will blow over and they will support him anyways.

KenW, I know the LCMS doesn’t have an official position but the general position is that some forms of birth control are acceptable for some reasons. For example, say you have a couple in their late 30′s, early 40′s with multiple kids, it would be acceptable to practice birth control for reasons of being too old to raise another young child, too risky, etc. Planned childlessness though is not acceptable.

Personally, I’ve never understood the Catholic position of it is acceptable to have Natural Family Planning (i.e. sex to avoid procreation) but certain forms of birth control are unacceptable. The intent is the same.

Margaret Catherine
February 1, 2012

It’s not (solely) to pander to the pro-abortion lobby. It’s intended to marginalize the Catholic Church and establish the government as the unquestioned provider of health, education, and charitable services.

Danby
February 1, 2012

Chris,
The effects (end) do not justify the means (method). The point is that it’s never illicit for a couple not to have sex. On partner has no right to refuse sex to his/her spouse, but no couple is required to have sex at any particular point, even if the purpose of the timing is to avoid pregnancy. The means (abstaining from sex) is itself not in any way objectionable.
What is objectionable about Artificial Birth Control is not engaging in sex without making babies. People have always done that. It is in fact an integral part of God’s plan. What is objectionable is trying to drive God from the bedroom, by making sex artificial and sterile. Both the means (distorting sex) and the end (taking control from God) are bad.

Elaine S.
February 1, 2012

“one of the most disastrous US political blunders since the Kansas-Nebraska Act”

Or maybe even since the Fugitive Slave Act. With that law the federal government crossed the line from simply allowing slavery to continue where it already existed, to actively compelling residents of free states to cooperate in keeping/returning slaves to their bondage.

LaVallette
February 1, 2012

“Quem (or quos) Deus perdere vult, dementat prius.”

and:

How many divisions does Obama have?

The Pilgrim
February 1, 2012

LaVallette:

“How many divisions does Obama have?”

He is CinC. He has about 19 0r twenty, not counting reserves.

Michael Berry
February 1, 2012

What I have never understood is the liberal assumption that the power they give to the federal government in derogation of the Constitution will never be used against them.

And in this case the Catholics are not so much exercised against the power they were instrumental in giving the federal government through Obamacare, but that they didn’t get an exemption.

A far better solution was to have held fast to the Constitution and never ignored it to give the federal government this power in the first place.

Fuinseoig
February 1, 2012

What kills me about this requirement is that they trotted out the line about preventative services and the well-documented evidence that contraception protects women’s health. Well, phooey!

If they had required, on grounds of medical necessity, coverage for non-contraceptive prescription of the combined hormone oral contraceptive (the Pill), then I don’t think anyone would have objected. There are valid medical grounds for such prescriptions and in those instances, such as “polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, adenomyosis, menstruation-related anemia and painful dysmenorrhea; for mild or moderate acne; irregular menstrual cycles or disorders where there is dysfunctional uterine bleeding; some protection against breast growth that is not cancer, ectopic pregnancy”, then yes, preventative services and women’s health are served. If an employee at a Catholic university presents a doctor’s prescription for treatment of her PCOS, then I think the authorities could work out some way of including that in her medical coverage.

But that’s not good enough. All kinds of contraceptives (including mechancial methods) plus the ‘morning-after’ pill plus sterilisation has to be covered. In those instances, the only prevention is that of pregnancy, and outside of certain grave conditions (such as eclampsia and hypertensive disorders), that is treating normal pregnancy as a disease.

In other words, it’s not about treating medical conditions, it’s about enforcing the attitude that the solution to poverty and disadvantage is killing the poor. Like a freakonomics proposal that crime fell because more abortions, especially in the lower classes and ethnic populations, killed off potential criminals before they could even be born, this is appealing to eugenic instincts and placating their supporters by forcing the enemies of the sexual revolution (the Catholic Church which is so repressive of women and anti-equality!) to fall into line.

Katherine
February 1, 2012

There’s good news this morning: the Komen Foundation is ending its funding of Planned Parenthood because of the protests. Perhaps the Obama administration can be forced to back down on this, too.

Katherine
February 1, 2012

Here is the same story at the AP site, for non-Fox News fans.

tjmcmahon
February 1, 2012

I suspect that the Supreme Court will never get the chance to hear the case, because it won’t get that far. Obama just cost himself several tens of millions of votes- and any new president with any common sense will make fixing this his first order of business.
Note that (official) TEC and its representatives on the RCRC (it has member on the board) are fully behind Obama. Think about that when voting for the usual ultra-revisionists to send back to your diocesan convention.

Deacon Michael D. Harmon
February 1, 2012

Praise be to God, my diocese doesn’t have conventions. It has bishops instead.

Deacon Michael D. Harmon
February 1, 2012

Sorry, I should have said “faithful, Godly bishops.” Precision is important.

Upstate
February 1, 2012

All my theologian friends on those “Catholics urging Republicans” (the Boehner letter, the Santorum and Gingrich letter, etc.) documents are all now backtracking madly while trying to save face ‘CUZ THEIR GUY done threw ‘em under the bus. SIC TRANSIT MUNDI.

I don’t think it’ll blow over in 11 months b/c the bishops and others won’t let it and good for them.

Michal
February 1, 2012

This was predictable. I have been astonished and saddened many times in the last three years by people who should have known what would happen with this POTUS. Maybe now they’ve learned their lesson. Let’s hope that he’s thrown out on his rather large ear, along with all his cronies, this coming November.

Michal
February 1, 2012

…and I believe the phrase is: Sic transit gloria mundi. Usually translated “All glory is fleeting.” More literally, “Thus passes the glory of the world”. I think this POTUS has opted for secularism in a whole-hearted way. He never had his “triumph” with a servant [word edited for the obvious reasons] in the same chariot whispering that in his ear. Maybe now he’ll find out the real fruits of his labor.

Denise
February 1, 2012

Chris, as a cradle Catholic I have to tell you I struggled with your exact question for quite a while. After much prayer, study,training in bioethics, and reflection I have figured out that the Church is exactly right. May I suggest you read Paul VI Encyclical Humanae Vitae. This was written in 1969 and brought howls of protests from bishops, priests, and Catholic laity. Looking at it 4 decades later, one can see its prophetic nature. From the view of Natural Law, every marital act has both a procreative and unitive nature. Whenever we try to separate these two, we pervert the marital embrace. Many assistive reproductive technologies try to have procreation without the unitive portion. Contraception wants the unitive aspect without procreation. You might also appreciate this article. http://tiny.cc/5m1gd

Barney
February 1, 2012

BarryO: So guys, who else can we insult and marginalize? The election is in 10 months and we need to finalize out strategic goals…

Chief Priest: O, Mighty One! With your recent edict the destruction of the Papal Legions we have started out campaign to destroy the middle classes.

Priest Two: (ala Peter Lorey) Yes! Yes! Destroy them… crush them…

CP: Your next target is the teacher unions, who are already reeling from your educational policies that have set unionist against the Boards of Education.

P2: yes… yess…

Priest 3: The UAW, Teamsters and AFL-CIO are still with you, but many of their members are Roman and you have lost that vote; many are also married to school teachers and they are turning against you.

BarryO: School Teachers? I own school teachers! They Love Me!

Priest 4: Not in many large cities… your policies have cost thousands of teachers their job and have increased class sizes by 60-100%.

BarryO: Piffle.. I’ll make a couple of stops in Detroit, Philly and some other slum cities and they will all fall back in line.

CP: Let’s move on to the topic of your next golfing vacation and spending spree by the girls…

BarryO:… good idea, I need to work on my game…

MargaretC
February 1, 2012

For Elaine S.:

Ralph Waldo Emerson on the Fugitive Slave Act: “This filthy enactment was made in the 19th Century by men who could read and write. I will not obey it, by God!”

All this noble sentiment requires is a little updating…

Dave Pawlak
February 1, 2012

I suspect that the Supreme Court will never get the chance to hear the case, because it won’t get that far. Obama just cost himself several tens of millions of votes- and any new president with any common sense will make fixing this his first order of business.

I hope you’re right. Because if Obama is re-elected, he will enforce this, and he’ll be willing to defy any and all court rulings which don’t go his way, up to and including SCOTUS.

Winston
February 1, 2012

A few unrelated observations:

I agree with Margaret Catherine that one of the administration’s unstated objectives is to get the RC
Church and other non-government agencies out of health care and social services.

I think they cater to an anti religion view that is part of the belief system of what I label the “Upper West Side Lot”. Ironically, that lot has many attributes of religion.

To me this is more evidence of Obama’s cultural isolation.
He has led an atypical life and does not connect with the mainstream of American history or culture. He does not want to understand it; he wants to transform in ways he considers more fair and responsible, both to the mass of people in this nation and the rest of the world. What happens to individual liberty and the Constitution is not even regrettable. It is irrelevant.

Mark Windsor
February 1, 2012

It’s difficult, at times, for me to even look at the Fishwrap’s scribblings, much less the comments that go with them. But they do represent about half the catholic population in the US (the half that supported Obama in the first place). If 80% of their readership is turning on Comrade President, then about 40% of the LibCats are likely right behind them.

Like all of us, they have very short memories. If the indignation lasts through election day, it will be a very cool thing to watch the Trads and LibCats join forces as the weirdest of political bedfellows.

Mark Windsor
February 1, 2012

And in the good news department:

http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/gallup-state-numbers-predict-huge-obama-loss/352881

This was before he ticked off the Fishwrap and it’s readership of useful idiots.

Smurf Breath
February 1, 2012

Thank you, Obama. Your impatience is finally starting to awaken even liberals. Perhaps you know your days are numbered and are just trying to inflict as much damage as possible. It’s hard to believe anyone could be intentionally this stupid.

gppp
February 1, 2012

I think that affirmative action will never be a legitimate way to staff the Oval Office no matter who or well qualified the beneficiary.

gppp
February 1, 2012

And the current staffer there is totally clueless about anything other than his ideology.

Kathleen Lundquist
February 1, 2012

In this ruling, I keep seeing the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (remember that?) roaming like a zombie across the political landscape.

He did promise PP and NARAL he’d do this kind of thing if/when elected. I don’t know why people like E.J. Dionne and M.S. Winters are so shocked (shocked!) that Obama and his administrative minions don’t want anyone “punished with a baby”.

If i ever see Kathleen Sebelius in person, I hope I have the courage to call her Traitor to her face.

ccinnova
February 1, 2012

But Gerson used to work for George W. Bush.

True, but Michael Gerson is more of a moderate than a conservative. Then again, he’s conservative when compared with the Washington Compost Heap’s editorial board and most of its op-ed columnists.

LaVallette
February 2, 2012

@ The Pilgrim
February 1, 2012

If we are going to be literal, Uncle Joe Stalin in his drive towards Scientific Atheism and the establishemtn of the Workers’ Paradise had more than double that and he failed!!!!

The Pope had NONE. ZERO, NIL, ZILTCH, NADA!!!

Allen Lewis
February 2, 2012

Well maybe Liberal Catholics will have to grow up, but I doubt it.

I hope the furor lasts through the election so that the abomination called “Obamacare” will be decisively repealed as soon as the new Congress is seated. One can only hope.

Maybe the blinders are beginning to fall off. This man hates both this country and its founding documents and institutions.

WannabeAnglican
February 2, 2012

Funny how brilliant minds think alike, Chris. I, too, was thinking Obama may have just blown the election for this very reason.

I do think his pollsters will come screaming into the Oval Office any day now and lay the damage before him. And it would not shock me if he tries to take back this decision in some fashion. Because the re-election of the Dear Leader is even more important than Holy Obamacare, don’t ya know.

PNP, OP
February 2, 2012

In my seminary, we called it the Nasty Critical Rag.

I think we were being kind.

F. Philip Neri, OP

Susan
February 2, 2012

As a Catholic, I believe that it will have an impact in a more subtle and longer-lasting way.

There are a lot of Catholics (like Jews) who have always voted straight down the line for the Democratic tickets. An unknown proportion will change this practice. It will not be in the millions or anything like that, but depending on where close elections are, it could well influence this election and others.

However, the church leadership is truly shocked and sees with alarm the growing hostility to the Catholic Church from Democratic politicians. The fact that many of these Democratic politicians call themselves Catholic only rubs salt into the wound. That will have a longer and more significant impact, I believe.

At any event, we shall soon see if these guesses are correct.

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