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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

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The Catholic bishops in America have responded quickly, decrying the Administration's decision for what it is—an egregious, dangerous violation of religious liberty—and mobilizing a vast grassroots ...

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Displaying 1–35 of 35 comments

James Cowles

February 21, 2012  3:29pm

The problem, of course, with allowing Catholic teaching to take priority over government policy regarding contraception is that, in order to conform to the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment, that same principle will have to be followed with other religious groups, as well. So, e.g., suppose a Muslim mosque community wants to practice genital mutilation on young girls as part of Muslim teaching. (Actually, genital mutilation is not part of Muslim teaching, but it would not be the government's business to point that out, given the "free exercise" clause of the First Amendment.) If we allow the Catholic community to set its own rules irrespective of government policy, then should not very conservative Muslim mosques be allowed to engage in female circumcision? Likewise, should fundamentalist church schools not be free to exclude the teaching of evolution and to teach creationism / intelligent design instead? How far are we as a society prepared to go?

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KENNY GALLAGHER

February 16, 2012  10:11am

How many evangelical churches and others [catholic ] are misusing there nonprofit status to further there own purposes? We need to show that we are willing to pay our fair share to the country in other ways than building mega-churches with "donated" labor and tax loopholes.This is not a not a Christian nation and if past actions of our government are to be taken in to account it never has been. If you take the time to read the "content" of the early documents of this country you will find anything, but Christian principals. Do you want separation of church and state or do you not? Not to offend a billion catholics, but why not get the Vatican to pay for their own healthcare for their employees, it is certainly a growing trend in secular American business. A popular calvinist pastor [Piper] just said he tells people to make out any checks for outside weddings, speaking engagements, and the like to the church so he does not have to pay taxes on it. I love Jesus, and I pay my fair share.

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DALE R YANCY

February 16, 2012  5:58am

And 5th on the "to do" list is to vote Obama out of office. Sad to say that many CT subscribers along with CT staff helped to put Obama in office and CT sold Obama to us as a committed Christian. But all along, some of us who were paying attention knew that he was nothing more than a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

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Jonathan Brouillette

February 14, 2012  1:40am

St. Ignatius of Antioch, student of the Apostle John - See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

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Jonathan Brouillette

February 14, 2012  1:36am

The Apocalypse of Peter "And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25 [A.D. 137]).

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Jonathan Brouillette

February 14, 2012  1:33am

St. Hippolytus "Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!" (Refutation of All Heresies [A.D. 228]).

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Jonathan Brouillette

February 14, 2012  1:33am

Minucius Felix "There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide" (Octavius 30 [A.D. 226]).

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Tim McGhee

February 13, 2012  6:34pm

Jennie, It's not just contraception. It's the "full range of FDA-approved contraception." The full range includes "emergency contraception." Emergency contraception is what you use when normal contraception "fails." Failed contraception means you got pregnant. Emergency contraception is intended to fix that. Fixing that means ending the pregnancy and aborting that conception. That so few can do so little to object to a mandate so widely applied is why there is cause for alarm. Friday's announcement by the President ended with a filing later that afternoon implementing the amended rule "without change." Source documentation can be found here: http://bit.ly/PreventionTimeline As to the religious exemption, that is questionable, too: http://bit.ly/ChurchExemption Tim 12,671 days

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Jennie Pappas

February 13, 2012  3:42pm

You misstate and mislead your readership. The only coverage required is contraception! Not abortion, not abortofacients! Since when have evangelical Christians opposed birth control? 98% of Catholics have used birth control. What sin is it??? Is salvation found in Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible or only thru Holy Mother Roman Catholic Church? I believe the former. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church believes that it is the true universal church and all who truly believe will be part of it one day. Then there is the issue of all the government funds that the RC Church takes. Then there is the question of Religious Liberty for women who may work for a Catholic institution. I am very dismayed at the lack of doctrinal purity and political involvement of evangelicals. Preach the Word, take care of the poor! Enough nonsense

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Chris Clark

February 10, 2012  9:39pm

"We do not exaggerate when we say that this is the greatest threat to religious freedom in our lifetime. " Actually, it is a complete exaggeration.

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Mary West

February 10, 2012  5:32pm

I disagree that this is the greatest threat to Christianity when no one spoke up about prayer being taken out of the schools and the right to openly pray that was and is our greatest threat. This open the door for everything we are experiencing until all Christian right this wrong we will continue to have problems. We cannot pick and choose what to fight for we have to fight for what is right and prayer is surely right. If we are in this together we can not ask for unity for what just hit our pockets or our beliefs but what hurts all brothers and sisters. The Bible says we ought to pray always. I know we have a failing grade in protection of our children and training up our children this is true of every group religious and race most of all we are failing God. We are trying to make these situations politically instead of asking God for his direction through prayer the one thing we did not fight for.

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Pax Paws

February 10, 2012  9:13am

Part 2… Now, OC is on the docket of the Supreme Court whether to uphold that it is unconstitutional, and Attys General in a majority of States oppose it, not to mention many American people. These are all facts that minds need to recollect. But the OC machine rolls on, putting into place a foundation of a structure none will be able to escape. Today we are arguing here “is it SO BAD that the Catholic-based orgs offer sterilization, contraception, and the morning after pill.” Folks, not only is this a 'DO or PAY the extreme consequences’ edict to provide something against their convictions, it’s making them be the VEHICLE of abortion with the morning after pill. When will the Machine require all orgs to provide abortions? When will the Machine ‘decide’ that an 82 year old’s skin cancer isn’t worth the time, money and attn? Please think about the bigger issues and not get trapped into ‘this isn’t so bad’ positions on minutia. The next decision lost could be yours.

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Pax Paws

February 10, 2012  9:07am

In the beginning, ObamaCare was sold as the humane thing to do to provide healthcare to about 1% of our citizens who do not have it. Instead of addressing that need, a bill was written for Congress to pass that put govt in the driver’s seat of regulating and controlling the direction of healthcare for us all. A great number of our citizens opposed this takeover--the specifics of which even those voting on it did not know because of its volumes and forced-short deadline. While OC was secondarily sold as a means to control spiraling healthcare costs, there were many options available that would not have given the federal govt another entitlement program to manage. Truly, opposition of the takeover was not opposition of finding solutions. In the end, OC was passed ONLY when Mr Obama promised an Exec Order to prevent fed dollars to pay for abortion to a key Democrat voting bloc, a deal which ultimately tipped the scales to pass the bill. (See part 2)

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MICHAEL MCCLEARY

February 10, 2012  6:49am

"Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficul...ty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife." Pope Paul 6th - Humanae Vitae -1968

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Frank Weathers

February 09, 2012  9:48pm

Thanks for this article, and for supporting Catholics in fighting for our God-given rights, protected by the U.S. Constitution. Send a message right.in.the.White.House.living.room! There’s a way to do that. ==>>(http://wh.gov/kl3) http://shar.es/fizjK

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Chad Washington

February 09, 2012  8:21pm

Chuck says: "Again, health insurance is all about the patient." While this may be true, I personally believe any mandate like this made by the government is unconstitutional to begin with. However, setting that argument aside since it is one I would never win in modern times; can you see no difference between forms of reproductive control, and other medical treatments intended for someone's general health and well-being? The state I live in doesn't offer insurance that covers a pregnancy as a benefit, but it does have employee insurance that covers contraceptive medicines and procedures. Is there not a difference between someone's health and someone's lifestyle choices? The government and the medical industry treat pregnancy as if it is a pre-existing disease, and contraceptives as the preventative medicine. Is it about money or the general well-fare of our society? One thing is clear to me: it isn't about personal liberty or religious freedom.

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C. Nalty

February 09, 2012  2:13pm

When Niemoller was asked why he supported Hitler he said "I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews ... I really believed, given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler's assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now.

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Steven Greydanus

February 09, 2012  12:18pm

A number of comments reveal mistaken ideas about the HHS mandate. In particular, Kimberly Tucker is incorrect that the mandate only applies to institutions that take federal money: It applies to EVERY religious charity, school, university or hospital, regardless whether they take a dime of federal money. Jason Johnson is incorrect that the federal mandate is comparable to what has been enacted at the state level previously: The HHS mandate combined a broader mandate with a narrower religious exemption than ANY existing state mandate.

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todd trebuna

February 09, 2012  5:17am

I am not sure why the Church would need to seperate from the State as some commentators would suggest. The Government offers benefits to private organizations, in the guise of altruism because it's coffers are larger. I don't read that the Government forces the organization to submit to it's reign and rule in order to receive the benefits. That sounds like fascism. It would be preposterous for the government to refuse monies or fine organizations for violating constitutional guarantees. For example, (just an example) Same sex marriage is not legalized according to the Federal Government, yet those organizations that support it and endorse it do not experience any penalty for doing so from the fed. And it would be wrong for the Fed to do so. The Fed has asked that the Organization to violate the tenants of it's own faith statement,which is the whole reason America exists. Making rules for everybody is intolerant and unconstitutional. It is contrary to the spirit of diversity.

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David Rowe

February 08, 2012  10:02pm

First they came for the worn out cliches. Or should anyway. I believe that this admin is handling this improperly but please please spare us the oh poor Roman church nonsense. The political structure erroneously referred to as a church has had centuries to perfect it's bully techniques and attempt to enforce it's dogma on the rest of us through the law. And certainly some "evangelicals" are the same. So there's little justification for them to turn around and complain when the gov't does the same. This isn't a church/state issue it's two overgrown political structures facing off, and as usual it's the innocent people getting hurt.

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Chuck Weigel

February 08, 2012  9:10pm

Why do employers provide health insurance in the first place? I know there's a reason, but I just can't remember. I got the letter from my bishop, and I read it, and I thought it tremendously self-serving. That letter, as this letter, reflects on the way health care hurts or bothers them, the provider. Let us all remember that health care is about the patient and not all about the provider. A patient's health care should involve the patient, his/her conscience, and a physician. The reason an employer contracts with an employee to provide health care is for the insured, the patient. Let's look at this another way, childhood immunization is required by most states before school age, but anyone can opt out on religious grounds... What if my employer (who contracts for my insurance) is a religious organization that doesn't believe in child immunization, must my child suffer in the process? Again, health insurance is all about the patient. Stop making it all about the provider.

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Kimberly Tucker

February 08, 2012  8:53pm

I agree with Eugene Suen.This has nothing to do with mandating a particular people of faith to do something that they believe is sinful.The Catholic institutions would not have to comply with President Obama's mandate if they agreed to not accept Federal monies in any way, i.e., student scholarships, medical assistance, Medicare, etc.If Catholic hospitals and schools wish to be separate from the state, then they should do so.They can't have their cake and eat it too.I also agee that the article smacks of fear-mongering--something that Christians should not lower themselves to.

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Eugene Suen

February 08, 2012  6:48pm

As a Christian, I'm sympathetic, but the letter portrays the issue more simplistically than is actually the case- churches/institutions whose function is religious in nature (and whose employees are of faith) are exempt from the mandate. The real debate, which the letter ignores entirely, lies in whether or not religiously-affiliated organizations that receive public funding and employ/serve the public at large- e.g. a Catholic university that employs and serves people who do not (and need not) subscribe to Christian doctrines- should take care of its (non-religious) members according to a broader, more secular standard that permits the use of contraceptives. And it is foolish to compare the effort to increase the range of health insurance coverage and help people - however problematic the dictates of that effort might be- with the Nazi/the systematic extermination of Jews. Smacks of the kind of fear-mongering that has no place in fair-minded discussions of such complex issues.

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Jason Johnson

February 08, 2012  5:36pm

A previous commenter wrote: "I can’t imagine anyone prior to Obama mandating that Catholic institutions pay for abortion pills or contraception for their employees. The very idea would be inconceivable and yet the Obama administration mandates it sooo effortlessly. " The idea isn't inconceivable or unprecedented--contraception mandates are in place with different exemptions at the state level--do a Google search for "state contraception mandates." For example, Romney unsuccessfully vetoed a contraception mandate that was passed when he was governor of Massachusetts. What's unusual is that this mandate is at the federal level, not at the state like usual.

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David Poe

February 08, 2012  5:05pm

Despite all of the name-calling and shaming of the authors, it's very closed-minded to see this is a "right wing" issue. Chris Matthews and EJ Dionne -- no friends of the right -- sharply criticized the ruling. Mark Shields has done the same, and I expect a few mainline/liberal churches to come out in defense of the Catholic church before this is over. This was a very short-sighted move from the Obama Administration, and that he doesn't understand why is telling.

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RICK DALBEY

February 08, 2012  5:03pm

I can’t imagine anyone prior to Obama mandating that Catholic institutions pay for abortion pills or contraception for their employees. The very idea would be inconceivable and yet the Obama administration mandates it sooo effortlessly. I am not Catholic but I respect their position on contraceptives. It is like mandating that Jews or Muslims serve pork to their employees. It just wouldn’t occur to you...unless you were from Obama’s clueless, radical background. Why the surprise in comparing this to the erosion of freedom in pre-war Germany? The point is, they were always small steps, small compromises that well-meaning liberal people simply went along with. Small steps like, churches can no longer can meet in schools, marriage is redefined to include homosexuals, Catholics must pay for abortion pills and contraceptives, Navy chaplains can’t pray in the name of Jesus. Anyone in opposition is crying fire? Really?

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Christine Thomas

February 08, 2012  4:40pm

I'm so encouraged at the comments of most of you. I am so tired of the far right's indiscriminate illusions to Nazis and Hitler. It makes their evil so banal. The same people who don't want a woman to have an abortion want to eliminate her access to birth control? What kind of stupidity is that? Who are these people and where did they get their education? Never mind their education, what happened to their hearts. They want women to have babies and no food stamps? They give Christians a bad name. It's not easy to share the same Savior with some people....

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DOUG CONING

February 08, 2012  3:14pm

In Eric Metaxes's excellent book, Bonhoeffer, one of the prevailing themes throughout the book is how much the church acquiesced each time Hitler's government would demand a little bit more. Many in the German church just wanted to get along. Others blurred the lines and considered patriotism greater than following biblical convictions. While comparing this to the holocaust may seems like a stretch, if we don't defend religious liberties, they will be taken away.

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Lewis Herbert

February 08, 2012  3:10pm

I certainly agree that this is an important issue that warrants civil and rational petition to government. But seriously “We do not exaggerate when we say that this is the greatest threat to religious freedom in our lifetime” akin to “Nazi terror”? Have you lost your minds? Is anyone being rounded up and taken to a concentration camp for their faith? The use of such inflammatory rhetoric is irresponsible and must be condemned.

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Dianne Adams

February 08, 2012  2:59pm

I suppose my insurance covers a lot of things I will never use. I don't feel abused by paying for them in my reduced-cost group coverage. This is another big stink about very little that makes evangelicals look crazy. Way to go, CT! By giving the wacky right wing more airplay, you make us all a little less relevant, each and every day.

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WENDY HOLLAND

February 08, 2012  2:56pm

"FIRE!!! FIRE!!! FIRE!!!" Or, you know, you could just post this article.

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robert puharic

February 08, 2012  2:21pm

This article is precious beyond belief, literally. Chuck Colson, a convicted felon who is now a professional Christian, continues his polyanna hysteria about the disappearance of religious freedom. He's done this so often he's like the boy who cried 'wolf'. It's what he does and it's been good business for him. They cite Niemoller, starting with labor unions. Ironic since this very week right wing Christians in Indiana passed legislation that continues to destroy America's virtually non-existent labor unions. AND legislation similar to this requirement already exists in a number of states where Catholic owned institutions are required to offer their employees coverage for contraception, etc. Colson spent time in prison, a punishment he richly deserved. The right IS waging war against labor unions, practicing class warfare against the poor (witness Gingrich's comments about food stamps), etc. This article is for only the gullible.

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Jason Johnson

February 08, 2012  2:10pm

The fundamental issue is that in our current employer-provided health insurance system, your boss chooses what health services will be covered by your insurance. That is, employees, who may not be of the same faith as the religious-run organization they work for, are limited in their personal medical choices by the faith of their bosses. Under the current system, the personal liberty of employees is balanced against the religious liberty of the organizations. Obama tipped the scale in one direction, but Colson's comparison to the Holocaust is overwrought.

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Sam Cook-Stuntz

February 08, 2012  1:32pm

First, comparing a mandate for Catholics to cover birth control as part of health insurance to the Holocaust? I care deeply about religious freedom, and I know that this is a serious issue, but do you really think invoking Niemoeller's words is appropriate here? And second, you say that "when the government violates the religious liberty of one group, it threatens the religious liberty of all." Where was the evangelical Christian outrage when a presidential candidate went on TV and said that communities should have the right to ban mosques? How many evangelical Christians were standing with Muslims when an Islamic Community Center was branded as a "victory mosque" or "terrorist headquarters"? Where was the indignation when Christianity Today published a quote by Bryan Fischer claiming that First Amendment rights don't actually apply to Muslims?

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Theophile

February 08, 2012  12:33pm

Hi Chuck, Timothy, Since Caesar cannot guarantee, as in replace, repair, or restore, any ones health. Caesar has no right to insist we buy his buddies insurance for the false promise to do so. Back when this country got started, our 1st supreme court justice John Jay gave us a course of action, for cases such as these: "No one is bound to obey a unconstitutional law, and no court is bound to enforce it." Let's face it; The debit/credit card, electronic cash transfers via cell phone, illegal immigration, & Federal insurance mandate, all add up to very good secular arguments to mandate a: Bio Electronic Automated Secure Transaction, type mark. To stop health insurance fraud against the gov. of course.

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