Citizen Media reporting at its finest
Posted on Friday, March 23, 2012
Today tens of thousands of Americans gathered in 140 cities to peacefully protest the "HHS Mandate". This recent mandate of the US Department of Health and Human Services requires religious institutions and faithful employers to provide insurance coverage of contraceptive drugs and devices, sterilization services, and abortion-producing drugs, even if this coverage is anathema to them. The mandate levies crushing fines on any institution that attempts to opt out of paying for such coverage. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims are all strongly opposed to providing coverage of such services, and since HHS and the Obama Administration have been absolutely adamant that they would not change this provision of Obamacare, these protests were organized.
In DC, the protest was held directly in front of HHS headquarters, where presumably Kathleen Sibelius and her minions could not be unaware of it. Organizers anticipated a few hundred demonstrators, but counted 1300 before they began the rally. In the unseasonably pleasant spring sunshine, families gathered with babies and older children; nuns, priests, and monks came to watch and pray; determined individuals brought large American flags, smaller signs, and splendid banners. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians were represented, and both Catholics and Protestants came to show support. With their signage, their prayers, and their massed voices, all proclaimed one message: We will not comply!
The principal speaker was Presbyterian minister Patrick Mahoney, the rally captain and organizer for DC. What a motivating, high-energy speaker he is!
Other speakers included--
--the splendid, electrifying Star Parker, a former welfare mother who stopped living a dissolute life and became a Christian speaker, broadcaster, and writer
--Dr Milton Lee, a Korean pastor who had flown in from Seoul to thank America for her friendship
--a truly electrifying black preacher who had some serious warnings for our stubborn, unChristian president about facing Christ when he dies
--the beautiful Lila Rose, who spoke against abortion from the perspective of one who had survived an attempt to abort her
--Father Marcel Guarnizo, a holy priest, a conservative, and a brilliant scholar.
I want particularly to note the concluding remarks of Father Marcel. Many of you will have heard of the recent controversy about him, when his gentle and quiet refusal to give the elements of Communion to an openly practicing lesbian created an international media firestorm. His quietly adamant position about this finally caused the gay-sympathizing Archdiocese of Washington to punish him, withdrawing his faculty to operate as a priest in the DC area. He has been in seclusion since the incident at the end of February, and this rally was his first public appearance since then. It was a risk, for his absolute dedication to the cause of Christ has brought unbelievable hatred as well as grave threats from liberals and gays.
Nevertheless, this courageous little man would not allow threats to silence him. He gave a closely-reasoned speech which made no appeal to emotion, but discussed our Constitution and the First Amendment. The crowd was spellbound as he created his case: that this matter is not just about healthcare, or contraception, or even abortion, but about the existence of the United States as a Constitutional republic. For in depriving us of our religious freedom and compelling us to subsidize a culture of death, the Obama Administration removes every
freedom, in the manner of a totalitarian government. If this stands, he says, we have resigned all our freedoms and will be living under a totalitarian government.
"Every word employed in the Constitution is to be expounded in its plain, obvious, and common sense, unless the context furnishes some ground to control, qualify, or enlarge it. Constitutions are not designed for metaphysical or logical subtleties, for niceties of expression, for critical propriety, for elaborate shades of meaning, or for the exercise of philosophical acuteness or judicial research. They are instruments of a practical nature, rounded on the common business of human life, adapted to common wants, designed for common use, and fitted for common understandings. The people make them, the people adopt them, the people must be supposed to read them, with the help of common-sense, and cannot be presumed to admit in them any recondite meaning or any extraordinary gloss."
-- Joseph Story, Constitution (5th ed.) 345, SS 451.
In addition to the 15 Catholic bishops
scheduled to speak at Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom locations, countless other influential speakers from all walks of life will also be addressing rallies throughout the country this Friday, March 23.
The speakers at the more than 130 Rally sites represent a wide array of backgrounds and professions, including members of Congress, physicians, college presidents, pastors, radio hosts, law professors, heads of organizations, publishers, religious sisters, pregnancy resource directors, and rabbis.
The New York City Rally will feature several big names, including Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and pastoral associate of Priests for Life; Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Msgr. Philip Reilly, and Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, Superior General of the Sisters of Life. Continue reading ...
U.S. Clarifies Policy on Birth Control for Religious GroupsNew York Times
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration took another step on Friday to enforce a federal mandate for health insurance coverage of contraceptives, announcing how the new requirement would apply to the many Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies that insure themselves.
In such cases, the administration said, female employees and students will still have access to free coverage of contraceptives.
The coverage will be provided by the companies that review and pay claims — “third-party administrators” — or by “some other independent entity,” it said.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the government would guarantee women access to contraceptives “while accommodating religious liberty interests.”
The new proposal escalates the election-year fight over the administration’s birth control policy.
President Obama had previously announced what he described as an “accommodation” for religiously affiliated organizations that buy commercial insurance but object, for religious reasons, to covering contraceptives and sterilization procedures. In these cases, the White House said, the insurer “will be required to provide contraception coverage to women free of charge.”
On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services went a step further and said it would propose a similar requirement for group health plans sponsored by religious organizations that insure themselves.
The new proposal did not mollify Republicans in Congress.
“It’s a Washington accounting gimmick,” Representative Jeff Fortenberry, Republican of Nebraska, said Friday in an interview. “The administration is twisting itself in all directions to expand the ‘accommodation’ for faith-based institutions. Why is it the government’s role to decide who gets an accommodation? The White House is creating an unnecessary political firestorm.”
Mr. Fortenberry has introduced a bill to let certain employers and insurers opt out of the mandate for contraceptive coverage. More than 220 House members have signed on as co-sponsors.Read this story at nytimes.com ...
Toward the end of last month, a woman attended the funeral Mass for her mother at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md. (not far from where I live). She went out of her way to inform the priest who was to celebrate the Mass of her sexual relationship with another woman. In accordance with the clear requirements of the Catholic Church’s rules governing the Eucharistic ministry, when Barbara Johnson the approached the altar for communion, Father Marcel Guarnizo “quietly withheld communion, so quietly that even the Eucharistic minister standing four feet from me was not aware that I had done so.” Willfully taking advantage of his effort to act with discretion, Johnson “promptly chose to go to the Eucharistic minister to receive communion and did so.”
Asserting that she had been “humiliated,” Johnson promptly demanded that Father Marcel (as he is often called by those who know him) be removed from the diocese
. A short time ago the archdiocese, apparently catering to her demand, issued a statement announcing that Father Marcel’s “assignment at St. John Neumann Parish is withdrawn and he has been placed on administrative leave with his priestly facilities removed until such time as an inquiry into his actions at the parish is completed.”
I spoke with Father Marcel this week, confirming firsthand the account he shared in his recently released public statement. God knows why the Archdiocese of Washington would choose this moment to take a punitive stance toward a priest who simply carried out his clearly prescribed duty...
Right now the Catholic Church, and a large part of the whole American Christian community, has taken a firm stand against the coercion of conscience involved in government mandated support for abortion forced upon Church-related institutions. But the stance of conscientious objection requires and presumes conduct that consistently gives first priority to the demands of conscience as they conform to God’s will. Is it credible to defy the provisions of civil legislation on grounds of conscience while contravening the demands of conscience codified in the laws of the Church? Is it right to demand that the government show greater respect for the Church’s conscience than responsible Church officials do? If, despite the risk of grave spiritual harm to individuals and to the community, the accommodation of manifest grave sin is tolerable for priest and other members of the Catholic Church with respect to what the Catholic Church regards as an indispensable tenet of the Catholic faith, why is it so intolerable with respect to the similarly grave issue of complicity in abortion? Both involve deadly spiritual damage. Abortion involves the infliction of deadly physical harm as well. Is it consistent with the Church’s true priorities to suggest that it sees the latter as somehow more worthy of conscientious observance? What then of Christ’s priorities when he said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”Read this story at wnd.com ...
Coach is Right
Congress has just made it easier to arrest and convict those who exercise their 1st Amendment rights of protest and assembly.
A number of articles have recently appeared on the web concerning the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” a bill recently passed by Congress which makes it a criminal offense to “impede or disrupt” the activities of the President, Vice President or anyone under the immediate protection of the Secret Service.
The measure also makes it illegal to engage in “disorderly behavior” at a special event of “national significance” or in the proximity of a “restricted building or grounds.” Anyone who violates a provision of the proposed statute is subject to fine, imprisonment of up to 10 years or both. (1)
In short, Congress figures it would be a good idea to keep tight rein on anyone who demonstrates a little too energetically about the decisions coming out of Washington DC or the people who make them.
But more interesting than the content of the new bill is the fact that the Restricted Buildings and Grounds Act already exists in federal law. It is legislation which has been around since the late 60’s, making the same threats against protesters and imposing the same penalties.
So the obvious question is, what prompted Congress to unearth and amend this decades old measure?
A careful reading of the amended Act makes the intentions of DC politicians... Read this story at coachisright.com ...
"For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter."
-- George Washington, address to the officers of the army, Mar. 15, 1783
"The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right."
-- James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, 1798