Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’ve probably heard about the HHS mandate requiring everybody, even religious institutions, to provide health insurance to employees that covers both contraception and sterilization. We (by we I mean “we the people”) were promised by the administration that the new health care mandate would include a “conscious clause” that would allow religious institutions to be free from violating their consciouses by providing services that they believe to be immoral. In the end, however, that clause ended up defining “religious organization” so narrowly that no religion I can think of would qualify. In order to qualify as a religious organization you have to both serve and employ only members of your religion. In other words, in order to be a religious organization the government says you must not serve people outside of your religion. Which not only disqualifies the Catholic Church (as well as pretty much any other church), but would have disqualified Jesus’s ministry as well.
In order to qualify for the “conscience clause” Jesus would have had to tell the centurion “sorry, can’t help you”. He would have had to tell the thief on the cross “today, you will be going to Hell. I can’t help you”. He certainly couldn’t have told his Apostles to go out and give the Gospel to the gentiles. According to our current administration, these acts of kindness would have disqualified Jesus’s ministry as a “religious organization”. As a result, He would have been forced to provide his employees (Apostles, woman traveling with Him, etc.) with health care that would pay for things that would kill the very creatures that He creates. ”Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” can only go so far, I would imagine.
Don’t get this confused though. Although Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, and pretty much any other religious organization is up in arms over this, this is not just a fight for religious organizations (real religious organizations, not the self serving ones defined by the government). A government that can redefine religion by a definition so narrow that no religion qualifies is a government that can do whatever it wants without limitation. The current administration feels that the world is a better place if every woman has access to contraception and every man has access to sterilization procedures. Well, in about eight months we will have another presidential election and there is a possibility that an actual practicing Catholic could be elected. Now, maybe he thinks that the world would be a better place if everyone attended Mass on Sunday, and gets congress to pass a law requiring it. People would be outraged and fight it, but the new president would explain “By ‘right to freedom of religion’ the founding fathers really meant that you were free to attend Mass on either Saturday night or Sunday morning. Now that’s what I call freedom!” I know it sounds ridiculous, but is it really any more ridiculous than defining a religion by saying that it can only serve members of the same religion? Isn’t that pretty much the exact opposite of what a Church is supposed to do?
I am thrilled to see that 100% of the U.S. bishops have come out against this mandate. I am also thrilled to see the backing that they are getting, not only from inside the Church, but in the world in general. I saw more than a couple articles by national people with the theme “I am a proud (insert religion here), but today I call myself a Catholic”. Of course, their not actually Catholic, but they are talking about solidarity with the Church when it comes to this issue. I believe that this is an opportunity for Our Beloved Church to once again come to the forefront of our country’s moral conscience and fight for the freedom of everyone. Sometimes God gives us a challenge in order to bring us together, maybe this is one of those opportunities. I ask anyone who reads this to click on the picture at the top of this post, and sign the petition. Also, look for opportunities to show your support for our bishops and to speak out against the HHS mandate. This fight is a big one, and no one can sit on the bench. Our Church and our God are calling us to act, and we must respond.