December 3 2013
Notre Dame: HHS Rules Impinge on Our Religious Liberty
One of the great propaganda coups of all time is the Obama campaign’s convincing women that the GOP was coming for their birth control. The issue was always religious freedom—but maybe that is too subtle?
Father John Jenkins, the president of University of Notre Dame, who bucked vocal elements of the Catholic community to host a newly-elected President Obama on campus, has issued a clear statement on this matter. The occasion was Father Jenkins’ announcement that the university has refilled a suit asking for relief from a Department of Health and Human Resources regulation that would require the university to pay for insurance policies that provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients.
Father Jenkins said:
Our abiding concern in both the original filing of May 21, 2012 and this re-filing has been Notre Dame’s freedom—and indeed the freedom of many religious organizations in this country—to live out a religious mission.
We have not sought to prevent women from having access to services, nor even to prevent the Government from providing them. For over a year we have been in conversation with Administration officials to resolve this matter.
We believe that participants undertook these discussions in good faith, and we are grateful to the Administration for the time it gave to this matter and for its efforts to accommodate our concerns.
We have concluded, however, the Government’s accommodations would require us to forfeit our rights, to facilitate and become entangled in a program inconsistent with Catholic teaching, and to create the impression that the University cooperates with and condones activities incompatible with its mission. In these ways, we contend, the regulations compel us to violate our religious beliefs.
(Thanks to Kathryn Lopez for the transcript of the statement.)
On the other side of the issue, Sally Korn presents an illogical argument that employers who don’t want to foot the bill for practices they consider morally abhorrent are trying to impose their religious values on the rest of the country. (She is writing specifically about the challenge to ObamaCare from Hobby Lobby, a Christian company.)
Is it too subtle for Korn to see the difference between refusing to buy something for someone and trying to prevent them from buying a product for themselves? Either that or the Democrats know they are being dishonest and just can’t bring themselves to be honest about religious freedom.
Notre Dame’s Father Jenkins, who has written extensively on civility in the political arena, went out of his way to praise the Administration’s good faith in agreeing to engage Notre Dame on the issue.
This was quite gentlemanly of the priest, and he is to be commended for not attacking the motives of others. Ms. Korn and others could take some lessons in civility from Father Jenkins. (Also, a logic course would not come amiss, Sal.)
This is obviously a suit that has been refilled reluctantly and only because the University of Notre Dame, which conferred upon President Obama an honorary degree when he spoke at the campus early in his tenure, sees that its religious liberty is in jeopardy.