NRL News

Religious Freedom: the “Sleeper” issue of 2012

by | Sep 26, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Life Mitt Romney delivering commencement address at Liberty University.

In every election, there is a “sleeper” issue. That is the case because its importance is minimized because, like an iceberg, comparatively little is visible. Such, I believe, is the issue of religious freedom which the Obama Administration finds easy to abridge if doing so serves the agenda of Obama’s supporters.

Here’s the opening two paragraphs from an entry posted today by Kathleen Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online:

“In a new poll from the Susan B. Anthony List, 69 percent of likely swing voters in Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida disagreed with the notion that ‘the federal government should force institutions to pay for drugs that violate their conscience or religious belief.’ Fifty-one percent of them ‘strongly disagree.’

“Sixty-six percent said they’d reject candidates who support the HHS mandate. Forty-four percent of them said they are ‘much less likely’ to support a candidate who supports such restrictive efforts.”

The first paragraph, of course, is exactly what the mandate from Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services compels. Alas, as often as we write about it at NRL News Today, not enough people—even pro-lifers—know that Mitt Romney strongly opposes that mandate. Unlike Obama, religious freedom is a core value for Romney.

Lopez then writes about Romney’s comments in July in Ohio when he said, “I feel we’re all Catholic today.”

As we wrote in July, Romney said.

“Religious liberty… [is the] first freedom of those enumerated in the Bill of Rights. And the president and his administration said they are going to usurp your religious freedom by demanding that you provide products to your employees, if you’re the Catholic Church, that violates your own conscience.

“And so whether it’s a Catholic businessperson or the Catholic Church itself they’re being told what they have to do that violates their religious conscience. That attack on religious freedom I think is a dangerous and unfortunate precedent. And I know we’re not all Catholic in this room. Many presumably are. But I feel that we’re all Catholic today.

“In our battle to preserve religious freedom and tolerance and freedom in this country, it is essential for us to push back against that.”

But note that this was nothing new for Mr. Romney; that truth tends to get lost in the hurly burly of campaign coverage. A while back NRL News Today reported on Mr. Romney’s Commencement Address at Liberty University, all in all a terrific speech (

In one section he deftly combined an allusion to the Obama Administration’s mandate requiring religious institutions and individuals of conscience be forced to pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and consciences with a defense of the unborn. Romney told the graduates,

“The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate.  It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with.  Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.

“But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man.  Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution.  And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.”

Previously, in a brilliant February 3, 2012, column written for the Washington Examiner (“President Obama versus religious liberty”), Romney stated unequivocally,

“My own view is clear. I stand with the Catholic Bishops and all religious organizations in their strenuous objection to this liberty-and conscience-stifling regulation. …. And on day one I will eliminate the Obama administration rule that compels religious institutions to violate the tenets of their own faith. Such rules don’t belong in the America that I believe in. The America I believe in is governed by the U.S. Constitution and I will not hesitate to use the powers of the presidency to protect religious liberty.”

All those many people—and not just voters in four swing states—who so passionately disagree with the Obama mandate need to know that Romney is in their corner.

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Categories: Mitt Romney