Our country's bishops have asked Catholics to pay attention. One of our basic rights are about to be taken away. One of our First Amendment Rights is threatened. The right to practice our religion is in jeopardy.
Don't let the media dupe you. You will see and hear that the Bishops don't want their employees to have contraceptives. You'll hear that the Catholic Church doesn't care about women's health. These claims are so ludicrous that they're not even worthy of consideration. Who takes care of women better than Catholic Hospitals, Catholic Shelters, Catholic Homes for Unwed Mothers, Catholic Clinics, Catholic Medical Centers, Catholic Colleges, Catholic religious institutions, Catholic Charities, etc? Pleeeze.
The talk shows, newspapers, bloggers, radio hosts, magazines, are off focus. Don't get into a debate with them. They'll draw you off the subject. They don't get it. They don't see what's happening here. They miss the point.
This is all about Catholics wanting to practice their religion. We are not forcing other people to believe as we do---we just want the same respect. Do not force Catholics to go against their consciences.
After all, the Amish do not have health insurance. That's permitted. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone. The new health care reform law respects that. Quakers and others that object to war are excused. The government respects the principle of conscientious objecting.
Can't Catholics be respected? Is freedom of conscience for all Americans -- except Catholics?
Catholics are not the only ones concerned about this. Thinking people from all religions and no religion, and all walks of life have spoken against this Department of Health and Human Services health insurance plan that would require all private health insurance to provide coverage for sterilization and contraception. This HHS plan goes against the Catholic conscience.
Protestant and orthodox Jewish leaders join in opposition to HHS contraceptive mandate. I quote from the Becket fund for religious liberty.
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.”
In a letter sent December 21, 2011, the group expressed deep concern about the contraceptive provision in the Health and Human Services mandates, which includes the most narrow “religious employer” qualifications excluding protection of most-faith based organizations.
“We are all deeply concerned about the narrow exemption, including proposals made to expand it while still leaving unprotected many faith-based organizations.” The letter continues, “We believe that the Federal government is obligated by the First Amendment to accommodate the religious convictions of faith-based organizations of all kinds, Catholic and non-Catholic.”
You better believe you should pay attention. If the rights of Catholics' conscience protections are taken away, what's next?
This is not about the Catholic Church wanting to force anybody to do anything! Au contraire, it's about the federal government forcing Catholics to act against their own beliefs.
Let us pray.
O GOD OUR CREATOR,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.