It’s not just about the mandate

By Lee Burleson

 There has been so much attention in the media to the egregious HHS mandate that other attacks on our religious liberty have been overshadowed. For instance:

• New York City is banning religious groups from renting schools on weekends for services even though non-religious groups are still allowed to rent the same facilities for any other use.

• 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.

• Catholic Charities has been forced out of adoption and foster care services in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the entire state of Illinois for refusing to place children in same-sex couple households.

• The Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings College of Law was denied student organization status because it required its leaders to support an abstinence pledge.

Religious liberty is not just about being able to go to church on Sundays; it is about being able to live out and practice one’s faith in the public square.

As Bishop Stephen Blair of Stockton recently said,

“We serve people because we are Catholic, not because they are Catholic!”

Catholic institutions are open to all in need. Unfortunately, local, state, and federal government entities are making it harder and harder for them to serve the needy unless they fit themselves into various bureaucratic boxes that violate our beliefs. Catholic and Christian groups around this country hold a proud cultural tradition for many. Yet, government at every level is forcing them to change some of the very things that make them great.

As for the other issues at stake this fall, individual prudential judgment flows from principles and cannot be commanded or dictated.  So on these matters, (e.g. healthcare, economics, care for the poor) Catholics of good conscience may disagree in their implementation. But there are certain issues which are not a matter of prudential judgment (e.g. abortion, same-sex unions, and religious liberty) but instead are moral imperatives which must be satisfied and are dominant in the hierarchy of issues for the Catholic voter.

As for President Obama, his record on life issues is abysmal. Sister Patricia’s service is to be commended, and she is right to be concerned about where our country is heading, but many of her comments are misguided when put into the perspective of critical voting issues. She has chosen to defend and even endorse someone who is an enemy of the Church, and sadly shames herself and her order in doing so. She is a clear example of what is spoken of in Jeremiah 23, which happens to be the reading from last Sunday. Thankfully we have a perfect servant-leader in Jesus Christ.

 [Thanks to Lee Burleson for sharing excerpts of a letter which he sent to his friends and family. It responds to a nun’s recent essay in the Des Moines Register which proclaims that Barack Obama represents good, Catholic values. Mr. Burleson’s essay references information he received from Catholic Advocate.]