Obama’s Imperial Reach and War on Faith
I have written before about President Obama’s attempt to erect Big Brother statism and his war on Christianity in America. And I have mentioned his most recent assault on the church, his draconian plans to tell Catholic and other health providers how they must think, act and believe.
The good thing about his most recent audacious and arrogant move is that it seems to have woken up a slumbering giant. Catholics like never before are now aware of what a coercive utopian Obama is, and how he is slowly but surely turning America into a secular dictatorship made in his own image.
So many Catholics have reacted to his latest bit of anti-Christian bigotry that Obama has had to already make some minor concessions. As one commentator puts it: “After two weeks of hearing from outraged citizens, President Obama announced today that his administration will alter the mandate in the federal health care law forcing religious employers to purchase insurance that offers all forms of contraception, possible abortion-causing drugs and sterilization for employees free of charge.
“Rather than forcing faith-based groups and charities to offer them directly, Obama said it will be insurance companies’ responsibility to foot the bill and reach out to women who work for faith-based groups that morally oppose those products — even though religious employers will still be required to buy insurance policies or pay a fine. ‘Religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women,’ Obama said. But faith-based organizations said the ‘changed’ policy was only a fig leaf — not an olive branch.”
Or as Albert Mohler put it, “Anyone who celebrates this ‘compromise’ as a victory is hiding behind an accounting trick. That accounting trick cannot hide the great moral tragedy at the heart of the President’s policy — a policy that leaves religious liberty in peril and Planned Parenthood smiling.”
Indeed, people like Mohler, Chuck Colson and plenty of other Protestants are well aware of what is at stake here. This is not some minor “Catholic” issue, but a freedom of religion and freedom of conscience issue. Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said he would go to jail over this. And evangelical pastor Rick Warren has come out saying the same. So there are two Protestant leaders who have said they will fight this all the way.
Colson rightly states, “Make no mistake. The raging controversy over the Obama Administration’s refusal to exempt religious organizations from onerous health care mandates is a big deal. A very big deal.” He continues, “Despite what the media and the Obama Administration are telling you, it’s not just a battle between the so-called ‘archaic beliefs’ of the Catholic Church on the one hand and advocates of women’s health on the other. It’s not just about access to abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization, bad as that is.
“And it’s even more than a battle over religious freedom. I have to say, the Obama Administration’s move boggles the mind. What part of ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .’ does the administration not understand?”
He concludes, “I have said before, now is the time to speak out—and to remain vigilant in the face of the government’s enormous appetite for power over the lives and liberties of its citizens. What’s really at stake is whether we will continue to be a free country.”
Al Mohler in a different column also warned about the importance of all this: “This decision will lead to nothing less than the secularization of the good work undertaken by these religious institutions. Faith-based adoption agencies, hospitals, and educational institutions are being forced to secularize or cease operations already. This decision will add tragic momentum to that process.
“Religious organizations are being told to comply with the government’s order, or face the consequences. A Roman Catholic college in North Carolina has challenged the Obama Administration in court, an action now also taken by Colorado Christian University, an evangelical college. Concerted calls for a legislative rescue from Congress are being made.
“And yet, the decision of the Obama Administration is clear. The edict from President Obama to religious institutions is this — violate conscience and bend the knee to the government, or face the consequences. We will soon learn just how much faith is left in faith-based institutions.”
Perhaps the most recent and most important piece on this comes from Jeffrey T. Kuhner. Writing in today’s Washington Times, he is worth quoting at length: “Is America sliding toward autocratic rule? This is the essential question of Barack Obama’s presidency. Mr. Obama vowed to ‘fundamentally transform’ the United States. Despite his incompetence and economic failure, the president is making good on his central promise: the destruction of our constitutional republic. He is trying – piece by painful piece – to reverse the legacy of the Founding Fathers.
“Conservatives have underestimated him at their peril. For Mr. Obama is not simply an inept, liberal president in the mold of Jimmy Carter. He is an ideological revolutionary who seeks to sweep away traditional America.”
He continues, “Mr. Obama is acting like an arbitrary tyrant. He is running roughshod over the Constitution, egregiously, repeatedly and deliberately violating its restraints and clear limits on federal power. He has publicly admitted that he finds Congress a nuisance, an ‘obstacle’ to his secular socialist project. He has said that he often thinks about ‘going it alone.’ In fact, this is what he has done – so far, largely with impunity….
“His greatest assault, however, is on religious freedom. Fortunately, his latest effort sparked a rebellion. Mr. Obama had declared war not just on the Catholic Church, but on the First Amendment. The administration ordered almost all religious organizations to provide health insurance coverage that includes free birth control and sterilization procedures – even the morning-after pill, which can induce abortions. Otherwise, under Obamacare, Catholic hospitals, charities and universities would face major fines totaling millions of dollars. The choice was clear: Catholic institutions must either abandon their fundamental tenets or go bankrupt. The contraceptive mandate denied the conscience rights of the church. It was state-sanctioned coercion of private entities to act against their explicit religious beliefs. This is why it triggered such furor among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. If such basic liberties could be trampled on, then nothing – and no one – is safe from big government’s crushing grip. Fortunately, a three-week outcry forced him to back off.
“Like many on the radical left, Mr. Obama is an anti-Christian, anti-religious bigot. His goal is to purge Christianity from civil society, to marginalize religion from the public square. He essentially told the church that Washington, not the Vatican, will dictate how it must run its affairs and administer its social services. He demanded that Catholics sacrifice their beliefs on the altar of secular liberalism. The state – with him at its helm – is the new pagan church….
“Mr. Obama could win a second term. Hence, Obamacare – along with its contraceptive mandate – might not be repealed and may even expand. If so, he will have succeeded in giving birth to his Frankenstein monster: a post-constitutional, post-American soft tyranny.”
It is tyranny all right. Fortunately Obama may have overstepped the bounds here, and he may have provoked something he really did not expect: Christians who will stand up and be counted, and tell Obama he can get lost on this. Religious freedom is far too important, and this just may be the church’s finest hour.