HHS Mandate: NOW Obama Says He Wants to Compromise

Obama-Portrait.jpg

Talk about giving the last drop of political blood.

President Obama defended the HHS Mandate until it got swacked at the Supreme Court, then he and his supporters in the United States Senate tried to kill the court decision with statutes. Now, after all that, the White House announces that it will come up with an “opt-out alternative for Catholic and other religious employers.”

I am guessing this is in advance of what he sees as a catastrophic (at least to him) spanking from the Supremes over the Little Sisters of the Poor.

From CatholicPhilly.com:

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Obama administration has filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver indicating it plans to develop an alternative for Catholic and other religious nonprofit employers to opt out of providing federally mandated contraceptives they object to including in their employee health care coverage.

Several media outlets, including AP, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, reported July 23 that the administration said it would come up with a “work-around” that would be different than the accommodation it currently has available to such employers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the health care law, requires nearly all employers to cover contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs for all employees in their company health plan. It includes a narrow exemption for some religious employers that fit certain criteria.

Currently, there is an accommodation for those employers who don’t fit the exemption but who are morally opposed to providing the coverage. They must fill out a self-certification form — known as EBSA Form 700 — to direct a third party, usually the manager of an employer’s health plan, to provide the contested coverage.

Many religious employers who have sued over the mandate argue that even filling out Form 700 makes them complicit in providing coverage they find objectionable.

According to an AP story, the alternative the Obama administration said it plans to draft would allow these employers to opt out of the coverage they oppose without having to submit the form.

Little Sisters of the Poor and Hiring a Hit Man to Kill Your Neighbor

Supporters of the HHS Mandate often refer to an “opt-out” as a reason why the Mandate does not put the government in the position of forcing Christians to violate their religious beliefs.

One commenter in the Washington Post even went to so far as to label the Little Sisters of the Poor and their ministry as “religiously affiliated” rather than “religious,” meaning, of course, they aren’t a “legitimate” religious enterprise. This is the sort of specious argument you can expect from people who are trying to thread the needle of the HHS Mandate without admitting that they are attacking the First Amendment. The same author called the arguments in the lawsuit filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor “hooey.”

I guess you could go with the obvious deep-thinking in that statement. But it might be more informative to consider what the arguments in the lawsuit actually are. The simplest analogy I can use to try to explain those arguments would be to say that even if all you do is hire a hit man to kill your neighbor, you are still guilty of your neighbor’s murder. By the same token, even if all you do is require someone else to commit a grave sin in your stead, you have still taken part in committing that grave sin.

Requiring a Catholic to hire a hit man to kill their neighbor is forcing them to violate their religious belief that murder is a sin. By the same token, requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor to hire an insurance company to provide contraceptives and abortion coverage to their employees is requiring them to provide those things themselves.

For those who aren’t acquainted with the concept, it’s called morality.

If you want to read the exact language in the Little Sisters of the Poor’s reply brief, you’ll find it here. Go to page 8 and read for a couple of pages to get the Little Sisters of the Poor’s position.

The real issue here is not the same old meaningless arguments that we keep hearing from HHS Mandate supporters. It’s why religious people are being forced to answer them by making obvious points over and over. Is this really the best they’ve got?

This isn’t rocket science. Only people who are deliberately refusing to see the truth can deny that the Little Sister of the Poor and their ministry to frail elderly people are a good deal more than just a “religiously affiliated” organization. If there’s any “hooey” going on here, it’s the attempt to claim (for political purposes) that the religious commitment of these nuns is not for real.

By the same token, I, at least, am weary of explaining that forcing someone to hire someone else to do something for them is not an exemption from that activity. I think the people who keep repeating this nonsense are just saying it because they have taken a position and this is the best argument they can come up with to defend it.

Instead of going around in circles by repeating the same completely bogus argument or resorting to crude religious bigotry, perhaps they should own their HHS Mandate for what it is and be done with it. The HHS Mandate is a blatant attempt to restrict the historic religious freedom given to all Americans by the First Amendment by limiting it to only organized and federally recognized churches. It is aimed directly and obviously at the largest single denomination in America, which is the Catholic Church.

It is an egregious attack not only on the Catholic Church, or even only on people of faith, but on the bedrock freedoms on which this country was founded and which has made it the great nation that it is today.

The HHS Mandate is an obvious and deliberate government attempt to destroy the moral and prophetic voice of the Catholic Church by forcing it to violate its own teachings. The HHS Mandate is designed to force the Church to kiss Ceasar’s ring.

Since the Mandate was first promulgated, the administration’s running dogs in the press have put forth these identical arguments over and over ad nauseam. Any time the administration gets its nose bloodied in court, all you have to do is count 3, 2, 1 and here they come with the same old stuff they’ve been peddling since the beginning.

Does anybody believe that these people all wake up in the morning with the same set of thoughts in their minds? I admit they do come across as the Stepford Columnists, but I think it’s far more likely that they’re working from the same script and that script was generated, either directly or indirectly, by the administration.

Here is a summary of the impact of the HHS Mandate.

Check out The Anchoress for more discussion on this topic.

Little Sisters of the Poor: Doing God’s Work. Fighting Goliath.

 

The Little Sisters of the Poor, the stand up nuns who’ve taken on the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate, are a bunch of tough customers.

I mean that in the best understanding of the word “tough.” Providing frail elderly people with loving care on a 24/7 basis is work that would make the average Navy Seal turn weak in the knees.

When I say 24/7, I mean twenty-four hours, right around the clock; every single day, right around the calendar. Caring for a frail elderly person is more demanding in a lot of ways than caring for a toddler. They are both sweet, precious and strong-minded. The differences are that the toddler isn’t always trying to die on you, and they don’t have a memory of having once been a strong, independent adult.

The Little Sisters of the Poor do God’s work here on earth by providing care for people who are at the end of their earthly journey. The last phases of life are not a waste, and they are not a bother. Elderly people are beautiful, wonderful gifts to all of us. The fact that they require a bit more of us than our me-ism allows only makes them more precious.

The closest anyone will ever be to God in this life is not while sitting in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, but when they are sitting on the bathroom floor at 3 am, holding a croupy baby while the shower runs, or when they are changing the sheets on the bed of their incontinent elderly parent. Jesus is standing right beside you when you do these things, because when you do them for the least of these, you are truly doing them for Him.

This work of caring for those who can’t care for themselves is the life’s work of the Little Sisters of the Poor. They have given their lives to caring for Christ in the disguise of our frail elderly.

It’s no surprise to me that someone like this would become such a thorn in the side of the mighty and powerful United States Department of Justice. It’s also no surprise that those who want to force these sisters to accede to the will of a galloping secularism that seeks to mow down religious expression in public places in these United States should find the Little Sisters so problematic.

How do you turn public opinion against a bunch of nuns who have given their lives to care of the frail elderly?

The usual method in cases like this, where the problem persons are just too good to attack directly, is to redirect your venom by choosing an easier target. You might, say, go at a Catholic Supreme Court justice and that mean old Catholic Church and, of course, everyone’s favorite bugaboo, the Catholic bishops.

The trick is to make the fight about something other than those sweet little nun ladies with their bedpans and rosaries. Shift the focus and make the fight about the big, bad Catholic Church and you can count on the Pavlovian Catholic haters lining up on your side of the argument.

But the fact is, the argument is precisely about the Little Sisters of the Poor, along with their bed pans and rosaries. It’s about every Christian everywhere who wants to exercise their right as free Americans to practice their faith without government interference.

As much as its proponents try to twist and turn it, the HHS Mandate is a direct attack on the Constitutional protection of the free exercise of religion of American citizens.

The HHS Mandate is a regulation, promulgated by an appointed committee and signed by the president. It has the force of law, but it is not a law. It is a star-chamber bit of special interest government bullying that seeks to make an end run around the First Amendment of the Constitution. It is a vile piece of work that directly contradicts the guarantees in the Affordable Health Care Act, which is the legal authority by which the HHS Mandate was created.

Did that last bit go in a confusing circle? There’s no surprise in that, since it is circular. Congress passed the Affordable Health Care Act, which contained guarantees of religious exemption. The act also gave regulatory powers to the Department of Health and Human Services. Then (deep breath) …

… HHS created a committee to draft these regulations, and this unelected committee of representatives of special interests wrote the HHS Mandate which goes against the specific language in the law guaranteeing religious exemptions that gives the committee its power to promulgate the regulation in the first place.

Now. Is that clear as mud? The truth is, if the whole thing seems circular, it’s because it really does go in circles. But, to add to the confusion, this circle, unlike every other circle, has a starting point.

That starting point is a president who lied.

The HHS Mandate directly contradicts the president’s own executive order guaranteeing religious exemption as part of the enforcement of the Affordable Health Care Act. The fact that the president signed the HHS Mandate and has staked his presidency on it, means that he lied when he issued that executive order, in the promises he gave Congressman Bart Stupak and to the American people.

Enter, the living saints, the Little Sisters of the Poor and their tough-as-nails insistence on their Constitutional rights as American citizens.

What to do with a bunch of nuns who take care of sick old people?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see attacks on the nuns themselves sooner or later. That would be the usual behavior track. But for now, the administration apologists are confining themselves to attacking the Church.

In the meantime the Little Sisters continue to do God’s work in many places, including, here, here and here.

For information about the on-going debate on this topic at US News and World Report, check out Frank Weathers.

Defending the Little Sisters of the Poor: Deacon Greg is Beautiful When He’s Angry

Have I told you that Deacon Greg Kandra is my hero?

Seems I have.

But let me repeat myself. Deacon Greg Kandra, journalist, Deacon and Catholic Patheosi extraordinaire, is my hero. I wish I could write headlines like the Deacon writes them. I wish I had a nose for news like the Deacon’s got. I wish … well you get the idea.

When Deacon Greg Kandra gets enough, you know that anybody else would be froth. The Deacon got enough when he read an over-the-top Catholic/Christian bashing opinion piece in US News and World Report.

The topic of the opinion piece? Why, it’s the Little Sisters of Charity and their “outrageous” appeal to the courts that they be allowed to follow the teachings of their Catholic faith. You know, that First Amendment stuff about the government not interfering with the free exercise of faith.

In case you don’t know about that part of the First Amendment, here is the whole thing for your consideration, emphasis mine:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, aren’t those words in that magnificent document beautiful?

Think for a moment about the self-proclaimed Constitution worshippers who want to shear the first clause from the second and use it as a club to beat religious people into silence. Can you imagine any of the Constitutional-rights-for-me-but-not-for-thee crowd actually writing a law like the First Amendment?

US News and World Report, by publishing a Catholic-bashing hate piece posing as an opinion piece, has jumped on the bandwagon of hating on Christians and publicly hazing them. The subject of this particular piece was those pesky nuns with their bigoted religiosity and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It was all about Catholics and Catholicism and how we are out of line for not letting the government tell us to stop practicing our faith.

Despite the fact that the faith in this particular frying pan was Catholic, the same treatment extends to every traditional Christian. Make no mistake about it my brothers and sisters in Christ, it was about all of us.

Deacon Greg took it on in his typically measured, fair and well-founded manner. Frank Weathers followed with a hilarious segue into Chuck Norris (an Oklahoma boy, I might remind you,) while The Anchoress gives a brilliant survey of the power politics and faux feminism involved, while Tod Worner compared the Little Sisters with St Thomas More and Joanne McPortland took a turn at bat, providing us with absolutely delicious Joanne irony. The Catholic Patheosi have got this handled.

I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already said a hundred times. We are not the aggressors here. The government is trying to force religious people, in this case, a group of nuns to violate the teachings of their faith. The fact that this commenter thinks that allowing nuns to forego violating their faith undermines the rights of all women doesn’t even begin to make it so.

When someone stoops to this kind of bigoted name-calling to defend their position, it is usually either because they are too stupid to defend their position intelligently or because the position itself is indefensible. I would guess that in the case of this commenter, the reasons she is resorting to this tactic are that her position is indefensible by reasoned argument, and also that bigotry against Christians, particularly Catholics, is so widespread in certain circles that she thinks an appeal to it will win unmerited support for her ideas.

The bottom line for those of us out here in the audience is this: If you are a Christian, you need to stand up for Jesus.

Don’t be a jerk about it. By that I mean keep your language clean, don’t name-call or attack any person. Do not try to use satan’s weapons to fight satan.

Just stand up strong for Jesus Christ and the right of Christians to be Christian without being attacked, reviled, slandered or bullied in our society. Make your case as the son or daughter of the living God.

Bigotry is bigotry, even when it’s aimed at the followers of Christ.

From US News and World Report:

Et tu, Justice Sonia Sotomayor? Really, we can’t trust you on women’s health and human rights? The lady from the Bronx just dropped the ball on American women and girls as surely as she did the sparkling ball at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Or maybe she’s just a good Catholic girl.

The Supreme Court is now best understood as the Extreme Court. One big reason why is that six out of nine Justices are Catholic. Let’s be forthright about that. (The other three are Jewish.) Sotomayor, appointed by President Obama, is a Catholic who put her religion ahead of her jurisprudence. What a surprise, but that is no small thing.

In a stay order applying to an appeal by a Colorado nunnery, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Justice Sotomayor undermined the new Affordable Care Act’s sensible policy on contraception. She blocked the most simple of rules – lenient rules – that required the Little Sisters to affirm their religious beliefs against making contraception available to its members. They objected to filling out a one-page form. What could be easier than nuns claiming they don’t believe in contraception?

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

Sotomayor’s blow brings us to confront an uncomfortable reality. More than WASPS, Methodists, Jews, Quakers or Baptists, Catholics often try to impose their beliefs on you, me, public discourse and institutions. Especially if “you” are female. This is not true of all Catholics – just look at House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. But right now, the climate is so cold when it comes to defending our settled legal ground that Sotomayor’s stay is tantamount to selling out the sisterhood. And sisterhood is not as powerful as it used to be, ladies.

Catholics in high places of power have the most trouble, I’ve noticed, practicing the separation of church and state. The pugnacious Catholic Justice, Antonin Scalia, is the most aggressive offender on the Court, but not the only one. Of course, we can’t know for sure what Sotomayor was thinking, but it seems she has joined the ranks of the five Republican Catholic men on the John Roberts Court in showing a clear religious bias when it comes to women’s rights and liberties. We can no longer be silent about this. Thomas Jefferson, the principal champion of the separation between state and church, was thinking particularly of pernicious Rome in his writings. He deeply distrusted the narrowness of Vatican hegemony.

The seemingly innocent Little Sisters likely were likely not acting alone in their trouble-making. Their big brothers, the meddlesome American Roman Catholic Archbishops are bound to be involved. They seek and wield tremendous power and influence in the political sphere. Big city mayors know their penchant for control all too well. Their principal target for years on end has been squelching women and girls – even when they should have focused on their own men and boys.

Doing Good

SheepfollowingJesus

I’ve talked quite a bit about people who — without being aware of it — are guided by satan in their actions.

Is there another side?

Of course there is! For every rapist, batterer, abortionist, thief, pederast there is any number of good people, living the Gospel day by day.

Here are some examples:

Sisterangelique

1. Sister Angelique Namaika, a Roman Catholic nun, received United Nations recognition for her work helping women whose lives have been destroyed by the atrocities committed against them in Congo’s civil war.

Forgiveness 2

2. Hernan Prado of Argentina lost his brother when he was murdered as he sat in his car with his two children on September 6. “I am a Catholic and I believe in Jesus Christ,” Prado said, “If God forgives us every day and gives us the chance to start over, how can I not forgive somebody else?”

Sr veronica

3. Little Sisters of the Poor filed the first class-action suit about the HHS Mandate. “Like all the Little Sisters, I have vowed to God and the Roman Catholic Church that I will treat all life as valuable, and I have dedicated my life to that work,” Mother Loraine Marie Clare Maguire, superior of the congregation’s Baltimore province said.


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