Bishops File Appeal in Defense of Reason and Truth

April 20, 2012 09:00 AM

What do sex trafficking and abortion have in common? Well, according to a federal judge, Catholic service agencies that refuse to offer abortion to women victimized by sex trafficking are not eligible for government funding.  

In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the federal government, arguing that the government “has allowed the USCCB [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] to impose its religious beliefs on trafficking victims by prohibiting sub-grantees from ensuring access to services like emergency contraception, condoms, and abortion care.” In other words, the ACLU takes the position that affirming womanhood and improving the lives of victimized women includes the act of killing their preborn babies.  

This makes absolutely no sense. The federal government’s programs should never require actions from its grantees that are contradictory to the policies of a charitable entity with religious affiliation—be it Catholic, Protestant, or otherwise. Funding for programs designed to support maltreated women should not require contraception or abortion. The ACLU does not agree, nor does the federal government, as the recent Obama mandate makes clear.  

Being encouraged to abort one’s baby is itself an act of disrespect toward the woman and an act of violence toward the baby. After all, abortion is murder. Hasn’t the human trafficking victim already suffered enough violence?  

This current case is a harbinger of what could occur with the Obamacare mandate in regard to religious employers and their insurance policies. Otherwise the president would have immediately issued a statement taking exception to U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns’ March 23 ruling. According to one news source, the judge echoed Obama-like statements when he said,

“No one is arguing that the USCCB can be mandated by government to provide abortion or contraceptive services or be discriminated against for its refusal to do so.” . . . Stearns . . . added that protecting the separation of church and state does not discriminate against religion.

“Indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others.” 

The judge is clearly off track in much the same way the Obama administration is detouring toward denial of religious liberty. For this reason the USCCB filed a notice of appeal in this case this past Tuesday and issued a statement which says in part:  

“First, the decision takes restrictive Supreme Court precedents and stretches them, almost beyond recognition, to encompass the facts of our case; and at the same time, the decision all but ignores generous Supreme Court precedents that are squarely on point. Justice William O. Douglas famously noted long ago that when the government acts to accommodate religion, ‘it follows the best of our traditions.’ This decision says and does the opposite. . . .

“Indeed, all faith-based service providers are threatened, because the court’s novel rule severely restricts the ability of government to accommodate any contractor’s religious commitments, Catholic or otherwise. The people most in need of human services—the poor, the sick, the marginalized—would suffer the most from such a broad exclusion of faith-based providers from cooperation with government.

So what is at stake in this struggle? 

Now, at this critical hour, the Catholic bishops need our prayers as they meet the challenge of revisiting not only the legislative and judicial oppression of the moment, but the manner in which they have taught Catholic people the truth about the evils inherent in the practice of contraception and acquisition of abortion. There is no government official or agency that should ever be free to require Catholic people or employers to violate the laws of God. Such a concept is anathema to people of faith.

The bishops must lead the way in helping people see that, if the government continues to erode the freedom citizens have to take their faith and God’s truth into the public square, “the evil growth of socialism” will have the upper hand and the United States of America as we know it will be unrecognizable.

Judge Stearns has laid down the gauntlet. The game is on and we pray that reason prevails.

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