A Battle of Biblical Proportions






As reported by Fox News, I was in federal court yesterday (District Court for Washington, DC), along with Janet Morana, our Executive Director  and our attorneys from the American Freedom Law Center, for a hearing regarding the lawsuit of Priests for Life against the HHS mandate. (Our lawsuit was one of the first to be introduced against the mandate, and also includes as a plaintiff Dr. Alveda King, our Director of African-American Outreach and the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

The mandate we are opposing requires us, come January 1, to include coverage for contraceptive and other immoral “services” in the health care plan we provide for our employees.

Never mind that the Church teaches that these activities are immoral. Never mind that our organization exists to build a culture of life, based around exactly the opposite mentality. Never mind that we are supposed to have the freedom to practice our religion in this country, not only in Church on Sunday but in the workplace on Monday.

The government says that they care, but their actions say otherwise. As psychiatrists are wont to say, “Believe behavior!” If someone is vigorously drinking from a water fountain and, between gulps, turns quickly to you and says, “I’m not thirsty!“, will you believe his words or his behavior?

And, in fact, the government wants us to be just like them, and make our religion a matter of words while contradicting it with our behavior. What do I mean?

The Obama Administration has indicated that it wants contraceptive “services” more widely and easily available than they already are. Hence arises the requirement — on employers and insurers — to provide coverage for such “services” in health insurance plans.

But this stated goal of the Administration is completely contrary to the goal of the Church and of pro-life organizations like Priests for Life, which are trying to build a culture in which every life is welcomed and protected.

Our religion, and the integrity of our conscience, require us not only to say we disagree with the government’s goal of expanding access to objectionable practices, but in fact to work against that goal, and to avoid doing anything to advance it.

But the government is requiring us to help them advance their goal, because as of January 1, if we offer health insurance to our employees, that insurance policy will cover these objectionable “services.” The government told us in court yesterday that, in fact, our health insurance will cover those practices no matter what we do or don’t do. This, of course, creates the unacceptable situation of having to choose either to drop insurance coverage for our employees, or cooperate in advancing a goal contrary to our religion and our conscience.

Oh but wait — the government said in court that its regulations provide us a way out of this dilemma. Their proposed solution? We sign a document saying that we are a religious, not-for-profit entity which objects to the coverage of contraceptives and other objectionable services in our health insurance.

We were told in court that by doing this, we still “profess” and “stand on” our religious and moral convictions, and that we have to do nothing different than we would have done if the policy did not cover immoral activities. Our behavior, they told us, would not change, because we would simply be providing our insurance company with the names of our employees, and objecting to any immoral practices.

But here’s the problem. We still have to provide the objectionable coverage. The assertion of the government that we are not the ones who pay for it still doesn’t solve the problem. The fact remains that the employees have the coverage precisely through their employment with Priests for Life, which chooses to offer them health insurance.

The government says we have the right to object, and seems to think that’s all the freedom we need. But freedom of conscience does not mean just the right to object; it means the right to refuse to cooperate. It means the right to say “No” to being part of a project, plan, and goal that we oppose.

The government says that, under the HHS mandate, our behavior does not have to change: we do the same thing we would have done before, namely, set up our insurance plan and object to immoral practices. But by making coverage for those immoral practices a necessary part of the insurance plan, the government does in fact require a change in our behavior.

The change is not hard to understand. It’s the difference between providing health insurance that covers immoral practices and providing health insurance that does not cover immoral practices. Before the mandate, we were able to do the latter; now we can’t. That’s a pretty big difference in behavior.

This battle is not over minutiae. And it is not up to the government to decide what is or isn’t important in our religion, or when our conscience is or is not satisfied. This battle is of Biblical proportions, and we at Priests for Life say today — along with millions of other Americans — what the apostles said when they were told not to preach about Jesus anymore: “We will obey God rather than men!”

2 Responses to “A Battle of Biblical Proportions”

  1. A thinking Catholic says:

    I hate to say it, but taking our Jewish roots into account, contraception is not morally questionable. This also applies to Islam and indeed the prohibition of contraception is unique to Christianity.
    Within Christianity itself, Martin Luther struggled to define the spheres of lthe state and religion. St Augustine clearly identified the “City of a God” as a different entiety from the earthly city. It is only later that Christianity aligned itself totally with secular governments. Therefore the current secularisation of governments is nothing but restoring the ancient idea of a society governed by reason.
    This does not impede the right of the Catholic Church to voice their concerns and nobody is doing so. To argue that the HHS mandate constitutes persecution however belies the daily threat Christians face in many Muslim countries or the growing sentiments towards Muslims in this country or against Jews everywhere.
    A culture of life includes so much more than a fight against contraception – what we need is a culture where the education and raising of children is financially sustainable for all. A culture which does not cut welfare for families in need and recognizes that free education is a human right as well.
    Nobody denies the right of religious freedom to Catholics. Maybe it is time that the Church starts to accept the law, catchesises it’s members and employees instead of wasting money in courts. The mandate provides exceptions for religious institutions. Democracy is about compromises.

  2. Dennis Flynn says:

    Dear “thinking Catholic,”

    Enough of the sleight-of-mind legerdemain. You seem to know little about your “Jewish roots.” According to Genesis (9: 6), “Whoever sheds human blood, by a human being will his own blood be shed; for God made human beings in his image.” Rabbis teach that unless an unborn child, the image of God, is a direct threat to the life of a mother, it is immoral to kill the child. In fact, some teach, if the child’s head has entered the birth canal it is immoral to kill the child even if the child is a threat to the life of the mother.

    You seem equally ignorant about Islam, most of whose teachers have stated that ensoulment of the unborn child takes place at four months of gestation, after which it is immoral to kill the child.

    You seem to be a Catholic far from thinking. The fact is that many “contraceptives” mandated by the Obama administration kill unborn children. Like the Obama administration you seem to dismiss the killing of unborn children as merely a form of birth control. Declare that you do not preach the killing of unborn children or stand unthinking and not truly a Catholic.

    As for contraceptives that are merely contraceptive, rather than abortifacient, it is true as you say that a culture of life includes more than a fight against contraception. But the culture of life is a seamless weave including this thread recognized by truly thinking Catholics: contraception is a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love.

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