NRL News

“Stand up for Religious Freedom” rallies send a powerful message

by | Jun 8, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

As I write this, tens of thousands of concerned Americans are participating in “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies in about 160 cities in 49 states.  These rallies are a grassroots response to the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed attempt to coerce religious institutions and individuals of conscience to pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and consciences.  The Catholic Bishops have been instrumental in raising high the banner of religious liberty and in helping bring the rallies together.

I can appreciate (and anticipated) that the usual suspects would vent their spleens. And it would not be fair to say that everyone or even most who have written so vitriolically in opposition are anti-Catholic.  But it is no less true that the gatherings has provided those hate the Catholic Church for one reason or another with an excuse to spew their venom in ways that shock even a Protestant like me.

On a side but related note, hats off to They went to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for her take on the lawsuits filed recently by 43 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies, and other institution.

As you recall these lawsuits accused Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services of violating the First Amendment and federal law by requiring Catholic organization to “sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving all people in need.” (See

Pelosi, who is Catholic, has never been shy about attempting to marginalize and “correct” the Bishops. Here’s what CNS News wrote about her remarks:

“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said on Thursday that the 43 Catholic institutions—including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and the Archdiocese of New York–that are suing the Obama administration over its regulation mandating that all health-care plans must cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortifacients are not speaking for the Catholic Church.

“ asked Pelosi, who is Catholic, whether she supported her church in the lawsuits it has filed, which argue that the administration’s regulation violates the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“’What about the 43 Catholic institutions [that] have now sued the administration over the regulation that requires them to provide contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients in their health care plans?’ asked. ‘They say that violates their religious freedom.  Do you support the Catholic Church in their lawsuits against the administration?”

“’Well, I don’t think that’s the entire Catholic Church,’ Pelosi responded. “Those people have a right to sue, but I don’t think they’re speaking ex cathedra for the Catholic Church.  And there are people in the Catholic Church, including some of the bishops, who have suggested that some of this may be premature,’ Pelosi said.”

As CSN News noted, “’Ex cathedra’ refers to the infallible authority that Catholics believe the pope exerts when he makes a formal and solemn declaration on matters of faith and morals,” adding drily, “It is not a term to describe lawsuits the church files in civilian courts.”

And, of course, Ed Morrissey observed, critics of the Catholic Church are preaching what they (incorrectly) assert the Bishops are practicing:

“The problem in this case is that Barack Obama, [HHS Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius, and Nancy Pelosi are trying to dictate ex cathedra their definition of religious expression — in order to curtail it.  The Constitution doesn’t allow them to do that, and the bishops are making that point plain.”

That—the curtailment of religious expression—is why all these many, many people protested from one end of this country to the other.

When the 12 separate lawsuits were filed, Catholic News Service quoted Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, who said the decision to file the lawsuit “came after much deliberation, discussion and efforts to find a solution acceptable to the various parties.” He added,

“This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives. For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions.”

And all this has direct relevance to single-issue pro-lifers. As National Right to Life was the first to point out during the debate over ObamaCare, a provision dealing with “preventive health services” would empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate coverage of any medical service, including abortion, merely by adding the service to an expandable list.

A conflict was inevitable, only the depth and breadth would be in question. As we have seen, are seeing, and will see more of in the months to go, the resistance is growing.

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Categories: Religious