The Federal Assault on Freedom of Religion

Right From the Start

The Catholic Church believes that abortion is the taking of a human life – an innocent human life. It makes no distinction between an abortion and murder. I stand with the Catholic Church.

Despite that stance, the Church has avoided a direct confrontation with the federal government regarding the issue of abortion even in spite of the Roe v. Wade decision and even the funding of abortions with taxes extorted from dissident taxpayers. Even though priests and nuns, along with the faithful, routinely participate in right to life organizations and are generally in attendance at their rallies, the Church itself has confined its response to prayer, vigils and periodic sermons regarding the sanctity of life.

The Church’s quiescence has been so routine that nominal Catholic politicians have become among the most strident in supporting both abortion on demand and taxpayer funded abortions – Vice-President Joe Biden, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Democrat presidential nominee John Kerry, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and the list goes on to include virtually every Democrat in Congress who claims to be Catholic. (In fact, it has become so common among Democrats that it is virtually impossible to obtain a Democrat nomination for any office of significance without first praying at the altar of the National Abortion Rights League.) This passive approach has even encouraged some nuns, like Sister Margaret McBride, to actively and publicly support abortions even though a continuation of this practice after counseling and reprimand has routinely led to their excommunication.

I say this because it is apparent that it takes a lot to raise the ire of the Catholic Church to a point of overt action. It is also apparent that President Barack Obama has, by demanding that Catholic institutions provide insurance coverage for abortions, crossed the line. The Church through the National Council of Bishops has publicly protested this decision and has been instrumental in a series of lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of such a requirement as a direct attack on the First Amendment.

The Church also appears to be taking steps to build a public consensus opposing Mr. Obama’s assault on religious freedom.

Catholic organizations in concert with many of the Church’s bishops and priests have been routinely encouraging its members as well as members of the general public to see the new movie, For Greater Glory, the True Story of Cristiada. The movie portrays the 1926 revolution in Mexico in the aftermath of a repressive Mexican government’s attempt to silence the Catholic Church and ban both Catholic clergy and Catholic religious services. The parallels between then and now regarding the government’s assault on religion are apparent although the violence of the Mexican government then is absent thus far today. But the underlying message of the movie is as true today as it was in the 1920’s of Mexico – it takes a great deal of courage, including the willingness to sacrifice one’s life, to espouse one’s faith in the face of a powerful government.

And, within the last several weeks a new video entitled Test of Fire produced by Catholics Called to Witness has gone viral on the internet. For those wishing to view it you can find it at The video challenges voters to reflect their religious convictions in the Fall elections with regard to abortion and gay marriage. While the video does not specifically call for voting against any particular candidate, those forwarding the video to friends and family have shown no such reticence. There is almost uniformity in the encouragement to deny Mr. Obama re-election and to begin to weed out those who support taxpayer funded abortion on demand.

Also, in recent weeks, bishops and priests have, usually at the conclusion of services rather than during their sermons, discussed the federal government’s assault on religion. But there continues to be a reluctance on the part of the clergy to clearly identify those principally responsible. At one mass the parish priest spoke obliquely about the federal government’s action but treated it as if it was an amorphous entity without features or identity. At another mass, a monsignor went so far as to identify Kathleen Sebilius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, apparently unaware that voters can neither directly elect nor remove Ms. Sebilius. (By the way, Ms. Sebilius portrays herself as a Catholic despite the fact that she is one of the nation’s leading proponents of taxpayer funded abortion on demand.)

And therein lies the problem. Until the Church is prepared to put a name and a face with those that have caused the problem, there can be no solution. Voters cannot rid themselves of the amorphous “federal government”, but they can rid themselves of a particular administration of the federal government. Voters cannot rid themselves of Ms. Sebilius, but they can rid themselves of the president who appointed her.

It is possible that the Catholic Church is taking a measured approach to dealing with this problem. Many Catholics are also Democrats. By beginning the resistance and the call to action through direct criticism of Democrats, the Church runs the risk of “turning off” those to whom the message is directed. However, by beginning with common ground – opposition to abortion on demand – the church can instill the call to action before identifying the action needed. It is similar to building a consensus about the evils of obesity before identifying the causes of obesity.

But in the end, the Church, in one form or another, must instruct the faithful that support of Mr. Obama will result in the continuation of the government assault on the Catholic Church, particularly with regard to taxpayer funded abortion on demand. The act of courage needed here is not unlike that required of Mexican Catholics during the Cristiada Revolution. And while Catholics in America are not facing soldiers with rifles as their counterparts in Mexico did, they are facing the awesome power of the federal government to exact revenge and retribution in extraordinary ways.