Posts Tagged ‘www.usccb.org/conscience’

Dr. James Dobson is taking a defiant stand on Obamacare and issuing a loud and clear message to President Obama: “I WILL NOT pay the surcharge for abortion services. … So come and get me if you must, Mr. President. I will not bow before your wicked regulation.”

The evangelical Christian author and founder of Focus on the Family minced no words when he accused Obama of deceiving the American public in his exclusive WND column, “The president’s Obamacare lies.”

Dobson notes that the president issued the following statement on the night of Sept. 9, 2009, when he gave an address to a joint session of Congress in an effort push members of the House and Senate to pass his health-care bill:

“And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

However, he said, “The speech was filled with promises and assurances that have proved to be shockingly false, and the president’s premise was based on deception.”

In numerous speeches, Obama assured his pro-choice constituency that coverage for abortion would be “job one” within his health-care plan, he noted.

“I knew from deep within my soul that the president was not being truthful about this matter of life and death,” Dobson recalled, noting that Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., was so outraged by what he was hearing that he blurted out, “You lie!”

By March 2010, the Obama administration had officially approved the first instance of taxpayer-funded abortions under Obamacare – giving Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the legislation in preparation for a $5 billion national roll-out.

“The Big Promise of Sept. 9 had already been abandoned,” Dobson lamented.

Read more here.

I am a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but today, I call myself a Catholic. Why? Because the state is telling the Catholic Church to violate its principles and teachings. So if you are a person of faith, you must call yourself a Catholic.

Today, the Catholic Church is defending a historic American freedom. We tend to forget that many of America’s earliest European settlers were religious refugees. Europe was not a kind place to the faithful if the state didn’t approve: Jews in Spain, Puritans in England, Protestants in France and so on. You were cast out, or worse.

Our Founding Fathers remembered this. They knew if you can’t serve God as you choose, you are not free. And so they enshrined that right in the First Amendment of the Constitution: The state “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

This is why Americans are offended by the ruling from the White House that would force church-run institutions to pay for birth control and morning-after pills, which are tantamount to abortion. The so-called compromise is no compromise – under government-approved health insurance plans that the church pays for, abortifacients would be covered. Sin by proxy – that’s the compromise.

This isn’t a fight over abortion or birth control. This is about whether the state can force someone to pay to have their religious beliefs violated.

Read more here.

A leading Catholic charity group wants the public to know it has not endorsed the Obama administration’s latest policy requiring free contraceptive coverage for employees, despite “mischaracterizations in the media.”

Catholic Charities USA has occasionally been cited as a supporter of the new policy, after the administration announced last week it would no longer require religious organizations to directly offer contraceptive coverage to workers. That’s almost certainly because the White House listed the group on an official blog that cited “praise from a wide range of individuals and organizations” for the policy change.

Along with statements from Planned Parenthood and other supporters was a brief statement from Catholic Charities. The group said at the time that it “welcomes the administration’s attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community” and looks forward to reviewing the final language.

“We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction,” the group said.

But the organization has since posted a clarification on its website, after that statement was interpreted by some as an endorsement.

“We have not endorsed the accommodation to the HHS mandate that was announced by the administration last Friday,” the group said.

Rather, the group said it would “unequivocally share the goal” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to “uphold religious liberty.”

“Any representation to the contrary is false,” Catholic Charities said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has voiced serious concerns with the new policy.

Read more here.

On Tuesday — Valentine’s Day — former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had a not-so-loving message for President Barack Obama. In an interview with FOX News’ Greta Van Susteren, Palin unleashed on the president’s contraceptive mandate, calling his actions against the Catholic Church “un-American.”

“Very poor politics that they would choose such a battle,” Palin said. “One — to pick a fight with faith-filled Americans. You know, we will fight…to the death for our freedom of religion and for the rights that are protected by our United States Constitution.”

Following these remarks, she unleashed her “un-American” label not once, but twice:

“This is an un-American act of our president. Anything that would so blatantly violate an amendment within the United States Constitution is un-American and Barack Obama needs to re-think what he has just done to the people of America because we’re rising up on this one. We‘re not going to back off and we’re not going to say ‘Okay, it is alright that such a violation of conscience — such a violation of those things that our founders fought and died for — we’re just going to sit back and let it happen to us.’ Not this time.”

letter to the editor:

Regarding the Catholic bishops’ opposition to President Barack Obama’s contraception compromise, the issue is not freedom of religion.

The issue is religious overreach into the secular area.

Here are facts:

» The Declaration of Independence gives equal weight to the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As written, no one value transcends the others. Unlike the Constitution, the Declaration is not a legal document and lacks legal force. It is a statement of philosophy, principles and ideals — not law.

» Religions are faith-based and subjective in nature. Beliefs, however sincerely held, vary widely all over the place. No religion has a monopoly on objective truth or wisdom. No group of bishops, ayatollahs or whatever can claim absolute rightness.

» The (legally binding) First Amendment of the Constitution protects both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

» Contraception is preferable to abortion. Without a conception, the question of whether to abort does not arise.

» There is a factual, moral aspect to abortion that needs to be faced. This is the question: Is it more moral or immoral to bring an unwanted child into the world? What is more moral — to bring an unwanted, unloved, potentially alcohol-, drug- or HIV-impaired and/or potentially unprovided-for new person into a world already facing overpopulation and stresses, or to end a pregnancy early on? This is a legitimate, honest moral issue.

» In the absence of absolute rightness or truth via any religion, the “moral” thing to do is to respect that aspect of our right to the pursuit of happiness that is freedom of choice. Roe v. Wade was in that sense decided correctly.

» Persons working in nonreligious jobs for faith-affiliated entities are entitled to the same health insurance and other benefits legally available to the larger society. To say requiring such freedom of access violates religious freedom is fraudulent. Religionists who oppose contraception and abortion are free not to avail themselves personally of them. They are not free to deny them to others.

» Both the Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment mean religions have every right to try to persuade people to respect their stipulated values voluntarily. They also mean that religions do not have the right to use secular government and laws to impose — force — their values on anyone. Period.

D. Thomas Longo Jr. lives in Delmar.

The standoff between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church intensified Monday, as a leading clergyman freshly urged Catholics and worshippers in other religions to protest a federal policy that the White House indicated it is not inclined to revise further.

“People need to speak up,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said during an appearance Monday on the Fox News program “America’s Newsroom.”

“There’s one thing in the heart of this nation that we’re counting on, and that’s the basic fairness of the American people.”

At issue is a ruling last month by the Department of Health and Human Services mandating that all employers provide free access to contraception for female workers. Devout Catholics oppose the use of contraception and objected to the rule as an attack on religious liberty, arguing the federal government was forcing Catholic-affiliated charities, hospitals and schools to violate deeply held doctrine.

President Obama – who won the Catholic vote in 2008 and was eager to quell a growing controversy as he girds for a tough re-election fight in the fall – announced a modification of the rule on Friday. Under his proposed “accommodation,” such Catholic-affiliated organizations would not have to pay for the contraception offered under their employees’ health care plans; instead, the relevant insurance companies would do so.

After initially regarding the president’s announcement with cautious optimism, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, headed by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, issued a second statement late Friday rejecting it.

“Today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions,” the bishops said. “The lack of clear protection for key stakeholders – for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals – is unacceptable and must be corrected.”

It was not at all clear, however, that redressing some of these concerns would end the impasse. “If there is an exemption for Catholic institutions that self-insure,” Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum asked Cardinal Wuerl, “do you think that the church’s response to the president would then be favorable?”

“We would have to see what that would look like,” the archbishop replied. “But even if we were to find some satisfactory conclusion of the question of immoral activities and paying for them, we still have to get to the more basic issue, and that is a fundamental freedom of religious, faith-based groups to carry out their ministry unimpeded by government directives.”

Top White House officials, for their part, have suggested the issue is – at least for now – settled.

“So you’re not going to change, despite what the bishops say?” Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” asked White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew over the weekend. “Our policy is clear,” Lew replied. “Meaning no revisions to the revisions?” Wallace persisted. “We have set out our policy,” Lew answered.

The White House has posted on its website a short list of Catholic-affiliated groups that welcomed the Friday announcement, in varying degrees. They include Catholic Charities, the Catholic Health Association, and Catholics United. Both Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association endorsed the president’s health care law in 2009.

Read more here.

After initially saying the changes to President Barack Obama’s contraception mandate were a good “first step,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said late Friday they have “serious objections” to the new policy and that it remained “unacceptable,” CNS News reported.

Under Obama’s alteration, religious-affiliated employers may refrain from paying for contraceptive coverage themselves, but their insurers are still obligated to provide the coverage for free — a change that still raises “serious moral concerns,” the bishops said in a statement.

“It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write,” the bishops said. “At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate…the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders…is unacceptable and must be corrected.”

The bishops said they also object to the plan’s retention of the “nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients.”

“This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty,” the statement said.

Saying the proposal “continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions,“ the bishops vowed to ”continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem.”

President Barack Obama’s compromise on free birth control coverage left health insurers stuck with the bill, sparking worries over the precedent set by the new policy.

Obama on Friday made insurers responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups, aiming to placate outraged leaders of the Catholic church who oppose contraception and to defuse an election-year landmine.

Free birth control is mandated under Obama’s 2010 healthcare law. The administration has exempted houses of worship from the rule, but requires the coverage be made available to employees of religiously affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities.

Providing free birth control is not expected to hurt profits for the multibillion dollar insurance industry. But insurance companies questioned the principle of making them pay for coverage with no clear way to recoup the expense.

“We are concerned about the precedent this proposed rule would set,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group. “As we learn more about how this rule would be operationalized, we will provide comments through the regulatory process.”

Zirkelbach said insurers “have long offered contraceptive coverage to employers as part of comprehensive, preventive benefits that aim to improve patient health and reduce health care cost growth.”

Employers who have signed on for such health plans in the past paid part of the cost of birth control prescriptions, while their employees also bore some expense through co-payments.

An Obama administration official said the new policy would not allow health insurers to increase their premiums, charge co-payments or deductibles to make up for the cost of contraceptives.

The National Organization of Women estimates that nearly 3 million employees of religious groups and their dependents are affected by the birth control policy. U.S. Catholic institutions like colleges and hospitals are estimated to employ over 630,000 people.

PRIME TARGET

Health insurers were a prime political target of the Obama administration as it sought to rally momentum behind the healthcare law, which aims to extend affordable insurance coverage to millions more Americans.

The law has added oversight of the industry’s premium rate increases and forced insurers to pay the lion’s share of their premium revenue on medical care rather than administrative costs. It also prohibits insurers from turning away patients with pre-existing conditions.

In the case of the new requirement on free birth control, insurers may still seek less obvious ways to pass it through, either to the same employers or other corporate clients.

Thomas Carroll, an analyst who covers health insurance companies for Stifel Nicolaus, said that, “in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a material cost to be added to the managed care company or the employer.”

Read more here.