Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop Lori to Senate: Oppose Bill that Attacks Religious Freedom


I received a blanket email from the USCCB last night, asking me to contact my United States Senator in opposition to S 2578.

S 2578 is the little ditty that Majority Leader Reid and his cohorts have dreamed up to overturn the Hobby Lobby decision.

The USCCB also has a notice on their web site that provides background and a clear-cut statement of reasons behind this opposition. As a member of the Democratic Party, I wish to apologize for this attack on religious liberty by some of my party’s leaders. I also ask all Catholics who read this to consider taking action at the grassroots level to begin to process of converting this party back to what it should be, which is the party of working people.

I’ll talk more about what Republicans need to change in their party in other posts.

Nobody gets off the hook here. We’re Americans. Government of, by and for the people, means that we are at least partly responsible for this mess, if for no other reason than that we haven’t used the power we have to set things straight.

I’m going to do my best to track votes on S 2578 for you. It’s a litmus test on religious freedom. If your senator votes for this thing, there are no ameliorating circumstances. R or D, it makes no difference. They have attacked our First Freedom.

In the meantime, here is the USCCB article, in full.

Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop Lori To Senate: Oppose Bill That Attacks Religious Freedom

July 14, 2014

WASHINGTON—In a letter sent July 14 to all U.S. Senators, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore stated their “strong opposition to the misnamed ‘Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014’ (S. 2578).” Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively.

“Though cast as a response to the Supreme Court’s narrow decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the bill ranges far beyond that decision, potentially attacking all existing federal protections of conscience and religious freedom regarding health coverage mandates,” they wrote.

The two bishops identified several areas of concern with the bill, including its unprecedented curtailment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993; its potential for overriding other federal conscience protections, including the Hyde-Weldon amendment on abortion; its application to coverage mandates beyond the HHS contraceptive mandate; its application to employers beyond for-profit businesses; and its denial of religious freedom for employees and their minor dependents, not just employers.

“In short, the bill does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty. Indeed, if it were to pass, it would call that commitment into question. Nor does it show a genuine commitment to expanded health coverage, as it would pressure many Americans of faith to stop providing or purchasing health coverage altogether. We oppose the bill and urge you to reject it,” they wrote.

Full text of the letter is available online:

Keywords: USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, U.S. bishops, Pro-Life Activities, Religious Liberty, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop William E. Lori, U.S. Senate, HHS mandate, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, RFRA, religious liberty, religious freedom, S. 2578, #HandsOffRFRA

# # # # #

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh
O: 202-541-3201

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  • CathyLouise

    Well, Rebecca, I believe California State Senators Feinstein and Boxer, would be
    completely and totally deaf to any protest I send. Even if every single
    catholic in the state were to write them with one voice and one sentiment, they
    would be unmoved and they will march lockstep (goose-step) to the party line. I may decide to do this as an exercise in futility, but I really do believe that’s all it is. They are utterly predictable.

    • hamiltonr

      I understand. They are hopeless.

      Why don’t you write your Archbishop a letter of encouragement, instead?

      Also, even if you are Republican, drop these people a word of support. They are our only voice in the Demo party right now.

      We need to establish pro life bridgeheads in the Democratic parties of every state, but New York and California, most of all.

    • hamiltonr

      Correction: I have an archbishop. I don’t know if you have an archbishop, a bishop or a cardinal. Also, if you have any Southern Baptists, you might write them a letter, thanking them for their fellow Southern Baptists, the Greens of Hobby Lobby.

  • Theodore Seeber

    Just like with the Republicans, follow the money. At this level the party is all about campaign contributions, not serving the public. In this specific case, it’s all about Planned Parenthood and Pharmaceutical Companies, who find their profits gained from exploiting women threatened by faith.

    • hamiltonr

      I agree Ted. Democrats do not believe that they can run for national office unless they are pro abortion.

      • islandbrewer

        Erm, Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dan Lipinksi (D-IL), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), should I name more?

        The abortion issue isn’t a plank in the Democratic national platform, as it is in the Republican platform. The grand conservative shift in the US over the past 3 decades have made the Democratic party far more open (if not entirely embracing) of pro-life Democrats than the Republican party has or will ever be to pro-choice Republicans.

        • hamiltonr

          I’m not sure what you’re saying. Not disagreeing. Just don’t quit grok it. Would you try again?

        • FW Ken

          The Dem platform does in fact have an abortion plank.

          Protecting A Woman’s Right to Choose. The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.

          I could not find a parallel in the R platform, but might have overlooked it. Republican women, in particular, tend to be pro-choice. My past Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson was, I believe, as is my current Congressional rep, Kay Granger. At least they used to be.

          • islandbrewer

            Huh, didn’t know it was in there. Well thanks, I like be proven wrong.

            • FW Ken

              You might double check me. I’m not expert at reading those things.

  • hamiltonr

    Point taken. The reason I said “some” was that I am guessing and hoping that there are at least a few people in the Democratic party leadership in the states who are pro life. I personally do not know any.

    Oklahoma has a number of pro life Democratic legislators. They catch unmitigated grief from both sides of the debate. Their own party harasses them. Pro life people disregard them and attack them for being Democrats. I’ve gotten and continue to get a dose of this myself.

    I was the only pro life Democrat in OK who actually passed pro life bills and would speak out on the issue, so I got the full hate. But it’s VERY important to make that distinction. There are pro life Democratic elected officials.

    They are becoming more scarce, due to the combination of attacks from their own party and attacks from pro life people just because they are Democrats. As this happens, the Democratic party falls deeper into the abyss, and, in case you haven’t noticed, drags the country with it.

    There are pro life elected Democratic officials all around the country. They consistently take a beating from both sides.

    As for those who are running the party at the national level, I don’t know of any pro life people at that level. If they are there, they’ve been beaten into silence.

    The choice of the word “some” does downplay it too much. I didn’t think about that until I re-read it per your question. As I said, point taken.

    • fredx2

      The worrisome thing is that the Democrats are becoming the “Anti-religion” party. This Hobby Lobby bill only reinforces that view.

      • hamiltonr

        I agree. What worries me is that it is not just a perception. It’s true. I do not say that as a Democrat. I say it as an American and a Christian. We absolutely must convert this party. It is essential.

      • Asemodeus

        Reversing the terrible hobby lobby decision would only expand religious freedom.

        • FW Ken

          Oddly enough, I never thought of killing human life to be a “religious” freedom.

  • hamiltonr

    Thanks Mary.

  • fredx2

    Ahh for the days when Democrats were the party of the working people.

    The way I see this move by Reid etc is as an attempt to draw Republicans into a position where Democrats can claim that Republicans are waging a “War on Women”. Since it looks like the Democrats are going to lose big in November, Democrats are struggling to whip up some issue that will inflame people.

    Just ignore them. They can’t pass it, since the House will not vote for it.

    • FW Ken

      My dad was what we call in Texas a “yellow dog Democrat” who threatened to disown me if I voted for Phil Graham after he switched parties. He always said it was because the Dems stood up for the little guy.

      I brought him am “Ann Richards for Governor” button in ’94, which he wrote with great pride. :-)

  • hamiltonr

    I don’t want to get too specific because these things are private. But I’ve sat in meetings at the dnc where everybody in the room acknowledged that dems could not get elected at the national level unless they were pro choice. Since President’s Obama’s extreme positions have taken hold, I believe that’s become pro abortion.

    The figures you cite do not represent how pro choice actually funds candidates. The money — and it is massive — comes through individuals rather than pacs. The pro choice people are very well organized, much more so than pro life people, and they are absolutely protective of their own, again, much more so than pro life people.

    Now, I’m dominating the discussion on this post, so I need to shut up. :-)

  • Sus_1

    “S 2578 is the little ditty that Majority Leader Reid and his cohorts have dreamed up to overturn the Hobby Lobby decision.”

    This is the same thing as immigration issue. The Supreme Court decided on the issue, but Reid et al can’t let it rest. Another holding pattern instead of moving on. So dumb. I think Hobby Lobby was dumb for the law suit too. Just another case where everyone is wrong.

    • David Raineri-Maldonado

      They were being forced to violate their religious commitments, as well as their consciences.