“Don’t impose your religion on me”

By Tom Quiner

I received this e-mail last week:

Mr. Quiner:

I was out of town when the Des Moines Register July issue came out, so did not read your article on Obama removing your religious rights until recently (“The Catholic vote could tip the election”).

What bothers me is that I am not a Catholic, but a Lutheran Christian.  My branch of Christianity believes in the policies of Obama as to contraceptives, sterilization, and have a different view on abortion.  We struggle with our conscience and the Word on many issues and even disagree among ourselves at times.

Our Bishop does not demand obedience.

So by you demanding that Obama follow the tenets of the Catholic church, you are taking away the religious rights of other Christians and the rights of those who do not believe in the Christian God.  I do not want my government telling me which theology to follow.

Our Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities have long been considered giants in helping others as is our Christian duty.  When either of these organizations (or others) sign a contract to supply helping services to others, they are using taxpayer funds and must comply with the rules of the contract which includes civil rights issues for those they serve.  Discrimination against some is not allowed.

So if the Catholic church wants to continue doing business with the government, they should comply with the law.


Jo Rod, Ames, Iowa

Here is my response:

Dear Jo:

Frankly, I’m confused.

In the entire history of the United States of America, the government has not required anyone to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization against their wishes. It was never considered a “civil right.”

Until now.

For the record, the HHS Mandate was never legislated, it was imposed by Kathleen Sebelius at the behest of Barack Obama. It is certainly not a civil right.

Obamacare would never have passed if Democrats had been honest and said: we are going to require Catholics to pay for these types of things.

Catholics are certainly not imposing their religious views on anyone else. After all, these products and services were already included in 90 percent of the health plans around the country. Catholics simply didn’t want the government making them provide something that violates their conscience.

How in the world do you make this leap that it is Catholics imposing their religion on others?


If the HHS Mandate loses in the courts, and it just lost its first court case in Colorado, that doesn’t affect Protestants, liberals, or atheists who want it in their own coverage.

Go find coverage that offers it. There’s no shortage of it.

If you want to use birth control, fine.

In fact, it is government mandates at the state and federal level that have contributed to excessive rate increases in health insurance premiums. Why on earth impose yet another mandate, especially when so many of the faithful find it repugnant?

Out in Colorado, a Catholic family took the Obama Administration to court so they wouldn’t have to violate their conscience by providing services they believe to be immoral.

Colorado District Judge John Kane agreed with them, stating that the government’s arguments …

“are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion.”

Do you know what’s really offensive to Catholics? It’s the whole mindset of this administration that treats human life as a disease. As the president said of his daughters:

“I want them to control their own health care choices.”

And if their health care “choices” don’t work out, and contraception fails as it often does, the next step is to simply abort.

To be clear, the HHS Mandate isn’t just about pregnancy prevention, it is about abortion, since abortifacients which end a human life are included.

The Obama administration has gone to extreme lengths to exclude Catholic groups from helping women in need if they don’t refer them for abortions. Catholics refuse to comply with immoral policies such as these. And for the record, there was never a “law”passed which requires faith based agencies to refer women for human abortion.

For example,  the Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services division is now disqualified from a federal contract to provide services to victims of human trafficking because they will not refer women for abortions.

Obama simply imposed this requirement.

It seems the president is imposing his own secular humanist religion on Catholics, not the other way around.

For the record, I have tremendous respect for Lutherans, the Lutheran church, and the great work being done by Lutheran Social Services. But you are misguided when you say Catholic social services must “comply” with the law if they wish to continue to serve the needy.

We will never comply to policy which require us to harm the most vulnerable in our society.

The Obama Administration has imposed an evil mandate on all citizens of our country.

They jeopardize our religious liberty.

Catholics will not countenance this immorality, and Mr. Obama should not count on our support in November.

Thanks for writing.

Tom Quiner, Des Moines, Iowa


  1. Paul Sharp on July 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Very interesting exchange. I believe it explains the demise of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. No wonder ELCA membership is dropping.

    • quinersdiner on July 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Yes, interesting how this issue can be viewed so differently. Thanks for writing.

  2. Lisa Bourne on July 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Beautifully stated Tom, as always. Trouble is, truth does not matter to some. And now the some seem hell-bent on pushing this socialist anti-life and otherwise immoral agenda on the totality of the nation AND have the ridiculous audacity to require us to pay for it. Subsidizing objectionable things for others is upholding civil rights? What? What flavor kool-aid did that come with? Oh and as far the giants Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities doing their Christian duty and in the process signing a government contract to supply services to others, the letter writer said, “So if the Catholic church wants to continue doing business with the government, they should comply with the law.” I believe the most operative words there are “doing business with the government.” The great Peter Kreeft nailed it squarely on the head in his visit here last fall when he said: “Judas Iscariot was the first recipient of a government grant.”

    • quinersdiner on July 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      What a great quote by Kreeft. Thanks for writing and sharing it.

      • Lisa Bourne on July 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        Dr. Kreeft in that same visit also nailed it another time when he said we have the most pro-abortion president in history. Just sayin.’ But we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for the some to recognize that truth either.

  3. illero on July 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Excellent essay. Thanks for sharing expanding on your view of this.

    • quinersdiner on July 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      Thank-you, and thanks for writing.

  4. Bob Vance on July 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    For over a millennium, the Church wielded great power. Many whom the church deemed heretics were severely tortured and / or killed. Today, church leaders can council its members, but in the end, to use or not use contraceptives comes down to a personal belief / choice.

    If a person finds that using contraceptives goes against their church’s teachings, they have the freedom to choose not to use. Having contraceptives covered under your insurance policy does not force you to have to use them. Whether you like it or not, it is a personal choice that each individual must come to terms with in their religious beliefs.

    It’s not like churches are being required to hand out condoms during communion. Let’s face it, many (perhaps most) Catholics in the child-bearing age group use birth control.

    • quinersdiner on July 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I was with you part way. You are correct about personal choice on contraception. However, the Church and its affiliates also require personal “religious choice” to not pay for products and services they deem immoral. That’s why we have the First Amendment. Personal choice ends when human life is taken, as is the case with abortifacients which the HHS also imposes on faith-based organizations.

      • Bob Vance on July 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

        Regarding religious choice, even within the Catholic Church there is a difference of opinion on abortion and birth control.

        As I stated below, we all end up paying for things we don’t want to. Mormon Church doctrine forbids its members to smoke or drink alcohol or even caffeine on religious grounds, but ultimately the church pays more in medical costs / insurance premiums due to smoking and drinking.

    • J on July 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Two common and significant logical errors in this argument.

      1) “Having contraceptives covered under your insurance policy does not force you to have to use them.” Has nothing to do with anything. Our objection is that we are being forced to pay for OTHER people’s contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients — directly in the case of Catholic employers, and indirectly in the case of every citizen forced to dump their money into insurance programs that cover these things. You seem to be totally missing the point.

      2) “Let’s face it, many (perhaps most) Catholics in the child-bearing age group use birth control.” This non-argument is completely irrelevant. So the fact that some members of a religious institution violate that institution’s teachings makes it okay to force the entirety of that institution to violate its own teachings? That doesn’t even make sense.

      We’re not trying to force our beliefs on anyone, that’s entirely on the government and everyone who supports its massive overreach. They need to get their interfering paws out of our business.

      • quinersdiner on July 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Agreed. Thanks for writing.

      • Bob Vance on July 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

        1) Life is full of things we don’t want to do or pay for. I don’t like paying high insurance premiums because people chose to smoke or don’t want to eat healthy or abuse prescription medication. I would much rather pay for someone’s birth control if it stops a future abortion.
        2) As stated before, we no longer live in the dark ages where failure to follow canon law deemed you a heretic and resulted in torture and/or death. Today, the church can council you on what you should do, but it comes down to each individual and what they believe.

    • Karen Quiner on July 30, 2012 at 8:57 am

      I cannot understand why you can’t seem to understand what we are saying Bob. Abortion, contraceptives, and particularly abortifacients are things our church teaches is an evil. No employer should be required to pay for something that their church considers evil. It is the employer whose religious freedom is being violated. Religious freedom is a foundational value in America. It is one of the primary reasons that the pilgrims left their homes to come here.

    • Lisa Bourne on July 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      The assertion that, “even within the Catholic Church there is a difference of opinion on abortion and birth control,” is not correct. Most people in general are unaware of the medically poisonous affects of chemical contraception. Most Catholics are equally clueless as to the specifics of why contracepting in any fashion is immoral and contrary to the Lord’s plan. They, along with society at large, mistakenly fall prey to the myth that the Church wants everyone to breed like rabbits.

      Abortion and birth control are very much interlocked in the slippery slope of immorality, in playing God and in an absence of proper regard for life.

      The myth lies in the position that birth control reduces abortion. Those Catholics referred to that “form their consciences,” to accept abortion and contraception, do so very much outside the Church.

      There is no disagreement whatsoever on this within the Church.

      “Let’s face it, many (perhaps most) Catholics in the child-bearing age group use birth control.” Really? We have no choice but to face that because it’s a fact. It in no way, however, makes it right. Those many/most Catholics are wrong in their choice, they just might not have full realization of the fact. And given that in regard to abortion the term “pro-choice” is at best profusely dishonest, and the fact that yes, the Church holds that abortion is very much an intrinsic evil without exception; referring to a group calling itself Catholics for Choice as an authentic representation of the Catholic Church is little more than an attempt to rationalize sinful behavior, and it point-blank misrepresents the Church.

  5. SgtZim on July 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    To be clear, Jo Rod is not speaking for the LCMS which to my understanding is completely in agreement with the Catholic church in opposing the HHS mandate, abortifactants, and abortion. Jo Rod’s logic is completely ridiculous on it’s face. If an (already) evil government requires you to support human sacrifice in order to do good works, what exactly does that make you if you comply? Stupid, evil, ignorant, or all of the above? It seems to me that most self described Christians that can’t see just how wrong and evil the slaughter of innocent human life is, they need to do some serious reevaluation of their relationship and understanding of God! Sorry to put it so bluntly, but there can be no compromise with evil.

    • quinersdiner on July 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      Good comparison. Thanks!

    • Bob Vance on July 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      From about 1100 to 1900, canon law stated that abortion was exceptable. There was a window of 30 days for males and 60 days for females.

      You may see life beginning at conception. Many don’t, and the current law backs them up on it. On religious grounds, you would have a hard time proving them wrong.

      • quinersdiner on July 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm

        The Church has always viewed abortion as an intrinsic evil.

  6. Maudie N Mandeville on July 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Tom- Yes they will. Not all, but most Catholics will countenance this immorality. Since Vatican II, most Catholics have their own theology and don’t see it as immoral. Led by their bishops, they are in union with The Obama. The lawsuit is for show.

    • quinersdiner on July 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      Hope you’re wrong. Thanks for writing.