President Obama and the Catholic vote

I had written about this subject a week and a half ago, and Yorkshire added another article on it today, but more needs to be said. President Obama may well have ended his chance to be re-elected with this decision by his administration.

It is not particularly surprising to your editor that President Obama is somewhat insensitive when it comes to religious issues. Though Mr Obama claimed to be a Christian, he was sufficiently inattentive to the sermons delivered by his pastor that that he claimed not to have heard the Reverend Jeremiah Wright saying any of the things which caused Mr Obama grief during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The Bishops of the Catholic Church are not just laying down and taking this.

Bishops Refuse to Comply With Obamacare Birth Control Mandate

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 1/30/12 6:54 PM

At least three Catholic bishops have said they will not comply with the mandate the Obama administration put in place recently in Obamacare that will force religious employers to pay for birth control, contraception and drugs that may cause abortions in their health care plans.

The Obama Administration issued a statement re-iterating the “contraceptive mandate” requiring all insurance providers cover the full range of FDA-approved drugs and devices would remain intact. This mandate, originally proposed in August, includes drugs that work after conception to destroy life rather than prevent it. The statement included a postponement of one year for religious groups that do not already carry contraceptives and additionally would not be exempted under last year’s narrow definition of “religious employer.”

The mandate not only violates such existing conscience protections on abortion such as the Hyde/Weldon Amendment (in so far as Plan B and Ella are covered), but also violates the principles of the Church Amendments which protects conscience rights for those who object to contraceptives and other services on moral or religious grounds.

Responding to it, Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix announced that his diocese will not comply with the mandate and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati and Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, agreed to refuse to comply.

They issued similar language in public statements saying they would not do so.

Much more at the link.

The Administration is on somewhat shaky ground. The United States Supreme Court, in the recent decision Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, ruled unanimously that the Constitution does not allow for “government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.” The case was on a different subject, concerning whether there is a ministerial exception for churches in hiring and firing which puts such decisions beyond the scope of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but it set the threshold for government action which impinges upon the mission of the churches very high. There is some question as to whether previous law, which bound, for example, Catholic social service agencies to include prospective parents who were homosexual as legitimate candidates to be adoptive parents,1 would survive scrutiny under the Hosanna-Tabor ruling.

The shutting down of Catholic Charities adoption and foster-care agencies was a large issue to a relatively small group of people, but the regulation being pushed by the Obama Administration would be a very large issue to a very large number of people: one out of every six Americans receives at least some care from a Catholic health care institution every year. If the Administration’s ruling is allowed to go forth, thousands upon thousands of Catholic hospitals and schools would be forced to either drop providing health care coverage completely, or would have to close their doors. What would the people of Lexington, Kentucky, a not-very-Catholic city, have to say if Saint Joseph’s Hospital was forced to close down due to a ruling from the Obama Administration?2

In 2004, the Democratic Party chose Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to be it’s presidential nominee. Senator Kerry, who claimed to be a Roman Catholic, was a consistent and persistent supporter of abortion, and though the Church did not officially oppose his election, more than one bishop noted that Mr Kerry ought to be barred from receiving the Eucharist due to his support for abortion. In the 2004 general election, President George Bush, a Methodist, beat Senator Kerry 52% to 47% among Catholic voters; Catholic voters comprised 27% of the electorate in that election. Catholics normally being a significant Democratic demographic, this was a real blow to the Kerry candidacy. In 2008, Catholics gave 52% of their votes to Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).

In the main, Catholic voters are more liberal than are Protestant Christians, and the Church places a heavy emphasis on issues which could be grouped under the “social justice” heading. The Church is very supportive of the social welfare system in the United States, and supported President Obama’s health care reform effort, though, as I noted here and here, the Democrats double-crossed the Church. However, the Church strongly holds to its pro-life and anti-contraception stances, and, as the closure of the Catholic Charities adoption agencies demonstrates, will not compromise on issues of faith. In Philadelphia, Catholics are already upset by the planned closure and consolidation of several parochial schools due to declining attendance; if the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that all of the Catholic schools would have to close due to this regulation by the Obama Administration, Catholics would be outraged, and President Obama could easily lose Pennsylvania.

The Northeast is the most Catholic area of the country; it is also President Obama’s strongest region, and the Democrats have carried the Northeast for several election cycles. The President cannot afford to lose Northeastern states if he hopes to be re-elected. And all of the Republican presidential candidates have promised to rescind this proposed regulation on the day that one of them is inaugurated.

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