Obama backlash: Rubio introduces “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012″

Someone whose name, and profile, have both become more prominent this election year is now staking out his turf in the looming battle over the recent HHS ruling on contraception.

From National Catholic Register:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 today, marking the GOP’s first legislative response to the Obama administration’s regulation requiring coverage of contraception and sterilization for all private employer health plans.

The bill is designed to repeal the narrow religious exemption included in the federal rule. Approved on Jan. 20, it has since been denounced by Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and more than 100 bishops throughout the nation.

In a statement released Jan. 31 marking his sponsorship of the legislation, the freshman senator described the contraception mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a violation of “the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people.”

“Under this president, we have a government that has grown too big, too costly and now even more overbearing by forcing religious entities to abandon their beliefs. This is a commonsense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so,” Rubio said.

Richard Doerflinger, the associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the USCCB, said that the conference was still “studying” the new bill.

“We first saw the bill introduced by Senator Rubio today,” said Doerflinger, the USCCB’s chief lobbyist on life issues. “Our present focus regarding the HHS ‘preventive services’ mandate is the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467), which has over 135 co-sponsors in Congress [including Rubio] and would ensure that no coverage mandate in the new health-care reform act is used to violate conscience.”

“The Rubio bill relates only to religious objections to contraception and sterilization, and so would not address other problematic mandates issued under this act or any objection based solely on moral grounds. At present, our efforts to advance the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act are continuing and growing,” said Doerflinger.

Read the rest.


  1. Mark LaVergne says:

    Glad to see that the USCCB is carefully examining Rubio’s bill. This young Senator from Florida has been in D.C. less than two years but is already making his mark.

  2. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    It seems sadly obvious that this Administration is- as a minimum- oblivious to the concept “Freedom of religion–or even worse–working to gain the support of anti-Catholic bigots.
    It seems that this president is pandering to extremist radical groups that supported him and dissing those more moderate groups that supported him.
    His administration even placed his admin on the side of the government mucking around in a church’s employment policies regarding who should teach the Lutheran faith. For the admins efforts it was overruled by a unanimous Supreme Court that included its Jewish members and the two put on the Court by Pres. Obama.
    That he continues to plod on attacking First Amendment religious rights should serve as a warning to all religious believers that the issue isn’t just one particular law or policy, but a wider and deeper contempt for those who actually have a religious faith and want top follow their consciences free of what is gradually becoming government tyranny.

  3. The fact that this bill is being introduced is a good thing in the sense that it publicizes a ruling that is certainly in violation of our constitutional rights. I really don’t believe that such a law is necessary and that the Supreme Court wouldn’t have difficulty in making a ruling that the HHS contraception mandate is unconstitutional. Yet, one never knows! I wouldn’t want to jump too quickly in supporting the bill, without having read it, but it’s good that the USCCB is reviewing it.

  4. Richard Doerflinger assured to the conference that there was abortion coverage in the bill, and needless to say that assertion was wrong and made the USCCB look like idiots. Now I get to wait with bated breath for more analysis. Meh. The USCCB made their lot with the Republicans during the drafting of health care reform, and now they are doubling down. It is silly and pointless not because being principled is so, but because it isn’t going to do a bit of good. The best outcome for them is an exemption.* They could have actually gotten more, but that would require foresight, prudence, and the ability to recognize that windmills aren’t dragons.

    *This amounts to little more than whoppee. Hospitals (and schools for that matter) as charitable ventures ceased to exist at least two decades ago. They are big businesses with their own agendas, whether they have Catholic on the cover or not. The Church’s support to either is trivial and in many cases nonexistent.

  5. MZ,

    Why doesn’t Obama start his own organization, instead of forcing organizations started by other people and groups to do his job?

    It’s still not up to the state to determine how religious an organization is.

  6. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    I noticed both Gingrich and Romney tonight spoke up in defense of the Catholic Church and the First Amendment and against the Obama admin’s. “war against the Catholic Church.” Can Obama win re-election if large numbers of Catholics who gave him 54% of their votes jump ship???

  7. friscoeddie says:

    “if large numbers of Catholics who gave him 54% of their votes jump ship???’
    Are these ‘large numbers’ coming from the 90%, who ignore the Church’s position on BC. How many of the 5% anti- BC are already in the GOP camp?
    This small potato issue will be resolved before ‘a screaming Obama hates Catholics’ war campaign gets out of the church parking lot. Pack it in..

  8. Obama may or may not hate catholics. My gut tells me that he probably does. But he certainly hates the Catholic Church as an institution. Our little Domitian in the White House wants to force us to pray to his secular gods, including abortion on demand.

  9. Yeah Catholics tend to maintain “Catholic identity” regardless of their personal beliefs or actions. I’ve even seen Catholics pretty stridently defend that being Catholic should be, more or less, a cultural identifier and not anything much like a religion.

    White Catholics who attended Mass weekly gave Obama less than 40% from what I can tell. I’m not trying to be racial there that’s just how the survey broke it up. Although I think Hispanic/Black Catholics maybe emphasize economic/social-justice teaching to an extent. To be fair I think faithful White Catholics, me included, maybe ignore Catholic views on the economy a bit.


  10. @friscoeddie-I think you are missing the point on this issue. It’s not an issue of the support or non-support of BC and abortion that the Church is upset about. It is about the government infringing on the rights-the Constitutional rights of the Church and it’s members to practice the tenents of its faith. In this regulation, the government is saying that the Church must act against it principals, against matters of strongly held core beliefs or it is violating the law. Even very liberal Catholic pundits and others in the MSM who actually do not hold to these beliefs are defending the rights of the Church and it’s members to not be forced into these practices against their will. It comes down to what I believe Patrick Henry said which was that he might not agree with what you say or believe but he would defend your RIGHT to say it even unto his death. That is what is at stake. I hope that the bishops and other Catholic hierarchy make sure this gets communicated as the key issue at stake here. If the government wins and is able to intrude on how one practices his religion, what rights are trampled upon next?

  11. “Little Domitian” LOL that is a so true! Great comparison Kevin. Perhaps the “Little Horn”?

  12. Alas I only know classical Rome for reference points. Maybe Gog and Magog works in this situation too though. Domitian fit to me given the way he was deified, much as the modern media constantly portrays the One with a halo around his head.

  13. “Catholics may have to suffer for the integrity of their institutions, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska announced in his response to the Obama administration’s contraception mandate.

    “We cannot and will not comply with this unjust decree. Like the martyrs of old, we must be prepared to accept suffering which could include heavy fines and imprisonment,” Bishop Bruskewitz wrote in a letter he ordered to be read at every Sunday Mass in his diocese on Jan. 29. “

  14. In the Diocese of Phoenix, Catholics heard a message from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, who declared that people of faith would not be “made second-class citizens” and “stripped of their God-given rights.”

    In Marquette, Michigan, Bishop Alexander K. Sample said that if the rule takes effect, “we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees and suffer the penalties for doing so.”

    New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond stressed the need for action in his letter to the faithful over the weekend, as he decried the “unprecedented attack on religious liberty” by which the state was “violating our rights to make choices based on our morals and Church teaching.”

  15. I heard a statistic that about 70% of all dioceses in the US have had their bishops speak out.

  16. I wonder if Sebelius will ever be officially excommunicated.

  17. RomCath, I’ve been wondering that too. It’s high time I’d say. She’s free to take the actions she has taken, and the Church is free to respond.

  18. I’m looking forward to the backlash against candidates who want to slash funding for other things Catholic stand for: funding for prenatal care and infant/child nutrition; Medicaid; Medicare (e.g., the Catholic Paul Ryan who wants to undo Medicare and turn it into a voucher that will leave most elderly people without access to good health care). I’m also looking for my fellow Catholics to stage a backlash against candidates for public office (e.g, Rick Perry, George W. Bush, that sort) who brag about executing many people, which obviously stops many beating hearts. Those too are sinful stands that deserve a backlash. Been waiting for that backlash for a while now, actually…

  19. I am just looking forward to the backlash against BHO.

  20. Donna Wolf says:

    I applaud the courage of the Bishops in speaking out. It is also heartening that many non-Catholics are supporting their stand, and see the mandate as a violation of the First Amendment ‘s right to Religious Freedom. One article recently published was headed – It’s Catholics now, whose next?

  21. Sheila Lechner says:

    Freedom of religion doesn’t apply to corporations, such as hospitals or schools that service the public. Freedom of religion is an individual concept and I only wish the USCCB would spend their millions of lobbying dollars helping the unfortunate rather than overturning a perfectly reasonable health care law that provides coverage to millions.

    At best, the USCCB and this farce is only being used as a surrogate for those that have wanted to overturn the ACA from the beginning. At worst, the Catholic bishops followed the GOP willingly, with Santorum as their standard bearer.

  22. Sheila Lechner says:

    Constitutional rights are individual rights, not corporate rights. If you want to participate in the marketplace as a business, you’re subject to US law. To follow the USCCB’s logic to it’s end, then why wouldn’t other employers claim they want to return to racial segregation? I mean, why bother with abiding by OSHA or other marketplace laws, claiming a “religious exemption”? Why bother paying taxes (if applicable)?

    If the Catholic bishops don’t want to abide by US law, then they are more than welcome to withdraw from the marketplace.

  23. Sheila Lechner says:

    True, abortions are not covered in the bill and the USCCB is following the GOP, to their own detriment.

  24. Sheila Lechner says:

    I can only guess you’re not familiar with the tax code. I’m not myself, but I think that churches and relgiously-affiliated schools or hospitals are classified differently. Churches, serving a homogeneous population are in a different category than a school or church that services (and employs) a heterogeneous population. As for guesses on a SCOTUS decision (though with the specious logic of this stance it’s unlikely to make it that far), it’s more likely they’ll side on the rights of the individuals than a corporate entity.

  25. Sheila Lechner says:

    Individuals have a constitutional right to “freedom of religion”, not churches. Or affiliated-hospitals and schools or other corporate entities. I’m pretty sure a business cannot claim exemption from US employment or tax law. And if you think that the SCOTUS (or any court that entertains this folly) will side with, say, University of Notre Dame versus their employees or students…..well, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  26. Sheila Lechner says:

    A little hyperbolic, isn’t it? Or do you honestly think that the end point is a free Starbucks latte with every abortion? Or a punchcard with: pay for 9 get the 10th free? And isn’t secular gods a contradiction in terms? I’m a Roman Catholic and the position on birth control is absurd and extremely offensive to me, since I had a tubal ligation after my last kid. For the church to potentially overturn a reasonable healthcare plan that has already added coverage to millions of college kids otherwise excluded. And providing that insurers can’t raise rates willy nilly or disenroll you for a “preexisting condition” has been a step in the right direction. Now the USCCB wants to throw it all away for an issue that has never been covered in decades, as my experience.

  27. Spot on, Sheila. The GOP and American Catholic Bishops are purposefully mischaracterizing this debate as one of religious freedom. Their position is much like the state religion our Pilgrims fled more than two hundred years ago. In the US, our Constitution allows all of us religious freedom, not just Catholics. If the Catholic Church, which does wonderful things for our society, wants to avoid labor laws, they can simply avoid secular business ownership. Nothing forces them to participate in schools and hospitals, for example. There is plenty of competition without them. Why is apparent at the moment, since the Church has been paying taxes in their secular operations for years, is that they’re trying to undermine and influence our laws. I would like to see them lose their tax free status and, then, welcome them into the political lobbying role they seek.

  28. I would love to see Roe overturned and returned to the states as you would, but for a different reason; to prevent the GOP for falsely asserting that they would overturn it simply to win elections. And fooling many hundreds of thousands of true believers who follow them despite that fact that when the Republican party controlled all three branches of the Federal Government between 2001-2006, they buried the issue under the carpet and refused to pass legislation to overturn Roe.

    Actually, as a secular Nation, the US must follow our Constitution and refuse to favor or advocate just one religion. The Catholic Church should know this. Different faiths have every right to their own religious beliefs including this one:


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