The recent conflict between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration came to a head when various Catholic institutions across the country filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama contraception mandate. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) had been threatening to sue after the Obama administration failed to come up with a satisfactory compromise to its initial contraception mandate.
The mandate would require employers to provide workers with birth control coverage. The Catholic Church teaches that artificial contraception is immoral; thus a mandate compelling employers to provide contraceptives infringes upon the religious freedom of Catholic employers.
In response, the Obama administration composed a compromise that allowed exceptions for religious groups, but instead shifted the requirement of providing contraceptives to insurance companies. Of course, the US bishops were not at all placated by this failure to address the issue, and lawsuits from dioceses in eight states and the District of Columbia were subsequently filed. Indeed, many religiously affiliated institutions would have to shut down, including the large number of Catholic hospitals and many Catholic charities, if the mandate were to be carried through.
This issue has become relevant in the Stanford community in recent weeks, as events such as the “Leading, Mobilizing and Funding the Reproductive Rights Movement for the 21st Century” and the “Pro-Life, Pro-Family Reception” have attracted many student attendees. For Catholic students in particular, it has become readily apparent that they will have to choose sides, and no longer be ambivalent towards the issue, as their Church and religion are being directly attacked.
The US Bishops led by Cardinal Dolan of New York have made the official stance of the Catholic Church abundantly clear: they cannot in any way support the use of artificial contraception, and therefore cannot support President Obama’s mandate. Thus, by forcing Catholics to do it anyway infringes upon their religious freedom.
The issue has been seen to cause commotion at other universities already, including Georgetown University. The Jesuit school invited Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary for Health and Human Services, the organization which would be adopting the Obama mandate, to make a graduation speech. The university made the press when Cardinal Wuerl and other Catholic leaders spoke out in criticism of the selection.
At Stanford too, things are rapidly coming to a head between the push for the mandate and the Catholics whose religious freedom is being chipped away. The US bishops have encouraged Catholics everywhere to become aware of the issue and to support the Church in the defense of Her religious freedom. Catholics at Stanford can start on campus, where they can raise awareness for the issue and courageously stand up for what their faith teaches despite whatever opposition may confront them.
Several religious groups have shown their support for the Catholics’ unwavering stance, and it has become a rallying point for Conservatives of all kinds of religious backgrounds who oppose Obamacare. President Obama’s mistake of ignoring the religious liberty of the Catholic Church will prove fatal as the powerful institution and Conservative groups across the country are joining together to defeat Obamacare once and for all.