Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Deploring how our government discourages having children, in a USA Today commentary, James Dobson rightly deprecates well-known government policies that penalize couples for having children. Yet few observers have exposed the insidious population control agenda hidden in the Obama administration's contraceptives and abortifacients mandate.
While the mandate plainly assaults religious liberty by forcing conscientious objectors to participate, buried deep in the administration's rationale for the plan is a disturbing and unfounded assertion by our government--that insurers must submit to paying for contraception nationwide because preventing babies supposedly will be cheaper than delivering babies.
Such an argument may appeal to those more focused on protecting abortion rights than children, but advocating alleged short-term cost savings of preventing babies over the long-term intrinsic and social value of children rips apart the very fabric of American culture and society.
The long-term economic and security consequences of fewer babies are obvious: A population top-heavy with older adults cannot sustain social security and health programs, and a shrinking base of young adults will cripple our military defenses.
It's time to reject ideologies and government policies that devalue our children and imperil our future. With President Obama unwilling to rescind his draconian mandate, we now must depend on Congress and the courts to overturn his reckless social engineering.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Excerpted from "Rick Warren’s Shadow SOTU," National Review Online, February 18, 2013--‘I’m not interested in politics,” Rick Warren announced to a small press gathering. Warren, the Evangelical author of The Purpose-Driven Life, which has sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages, leads southern California’s Saddleback Church, where he once hosted a presidential forum between John McCain and Barack Obama, back in the day. But on this particular day Warren was focusing on an issue here at home, an issue he has been speaking out about this past year. He was challenging the leaders in our nation’s capital to do a little soul-searching about the nation’s stewardship of the gift of religious liberty.
“Freedom is fragile. It never, ever, ever lasts unless we protect it, preserve it, defend it,” Warren said, sitting in Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall. The "first freedom," Warren says, “is the freedom to practice my faith and values and not just to believe it.” He adds that “it’s also the freedom to convert,” though “it isn’t faith if it’s forced.”
“Religious liberty is not given by the state,” he observes. “It is given by God. Some people are so afraid of coercion, they oppose persuasion.” Clearly not this preacher man.
Warren was asked why he was digressing from his mission abroad, where he is fighting poverty, disease and human trafficking and working to make sure kids have clean water. Why is he setting all that aside to quibble with the Obama administration about an issue widely perceived to be about access to contraception? Warren was firm, contending that there are enough of us to fight all the various forms of injustice. He stands “100 percent” with his Catholic brothers and sisters. Under the current rule, he said, “You have to change your beliefs or pay a fine.”
He continued: “We’re not going to agree on values in America. Because we don’t. We have different values. But can we all agree on freedom? Can freedom be a unifying factor? History proves that freedom is incredibly fragile and it never, ever, ever lasts unless it is nourished and protected and it is defended.” He says we can lose it out of neglect, surrender it out of fear or “license it away.” “It is the duty . . . of every generation to re-preserve the freedom.”
I met privately with Pastor Warren just before this news conference. As we discussed challenges to protecting religious liberty in the U.S., I handed him a replica of an anti-slavery coin minted in the 18th century by Britain's William Wilberforce and the Clapham Group abolitionists. We discussed the importance of imitating the ingenuity of those abolitionists by taking our religious freedom message to our culture in creative ways--notably through the entertainment industry and the arts.
Pastor Warren agreed and said he would contact several Hollywood producers. He also noted, 'People remember slogans, not sermons: 'We shall overcome,' 'Ask not what you can do… .'' He observed that the model for advancing religious liberty in our culture is the civil rights movement, adding, 'The power of non-violent protest is enormous and Christ-like. The willingness to suffer will win even more people than advertising.'"
For this reason, Warren has told the owners of Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned company facing millions of dollars in fines by the administration for declining to participate in the HHS abortifacients mandate, "If you guys go to prison, let me know and I'll go with you." As Warren explains, "If I don't have the right to believe what I want, [all other] freedoms are irrelevant."
Protecting our religious liberties is protecting the right to share our faith, to live according to conscience guided by God and to help others in the name of Christ. May God prepare us, as he did Queen Esther in biblical days, for 'such a time as this' and give all of us such courage to stand up for what is right.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Abortion advocates contend that without abortion on demand, which the Supreme Court imposed on all states 40 years ago through Roe v. Wade, "women are unable to participate equally with men in the nation's social, political and economic life." That would be news to the millions of women who have had children while also making impressive and meaningful contributions to society, politics and professional enterprises.
Meanwhile, women who face financial and personal challenges during pregnancy and after giving birth are receiving financial, medical and practical help plus emotional and spiritual support from pregnancy centers around the country, such as those overseen by CareNet and Heartbeat International.
Unlike billion-dollar abortion enterprises like Planned Parenthood that get half a billion in tax dollars a year while performing a million abortions in three years,[i] these pregnancy centers provide compassionate and life-changing services through charitable contributions, devoted staff and volunteers who demonstrate love in action. Women are able to "participate equally with men" as the young fathers learn--through pregnancy centers' education, counseling and mentoring--to share in the responsibility and fulfillment of bringing a new life into the world.
With such safety net resources and a life-affirming perspective, surely we can all--women, men and children--live and thrive together.
[i] Based on Planned Parenthood’s annual report for fiscal year 2011-2012 showing that the organization has net assets exceeding $1.2 billion, received $542 million in taxpayer funding and performed 333,964 abortions during fiscal year 2011. Their previous annual reports show that the organization performed 329,445 abortions in 2010 and 332,278 abortions in 2009, bringing the total number of abortions in three years to nearly 1 million abortions.
Although President Obama asserted in his recent inaugural address that "being true to our founding documents…does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way," nine recent federal court decisions indicate that Mr. Obama's definition of religious liberty is not true to the Constitution.
Forcing religious objectors to submit to his administration's contraceptives and sterilization mandate violates not only the broad "free exercise" of religion and conscience under the First Amendment but also federal law requiring the government to demonstrate a "compelling justification" and employ "the least restrictive means" to avoid "substantially burden[ing] religious exercise."
Forcing religious charities to participate in providing conscientiously objectionable contraceptives or else pay draconian fines hardly meets the "least restrictive means" test when existing government health programs could accomplish the goal. And President Obama himself undermined any notion of a "compelling justification" when he asserted that 99 percent of women already use contraceptives, thus ranking them among the least necessary products to provide under government compulsion.
Now that the mandate has served its apparent purpose of stirring up the President's political base to vote to oppose an imagined "war on women," the President should realign his health policies with the Constitution.
Friday, February 8, 2013
My commentary on the HHS mandate in The Washington Post below, followed by the original submission if you're interested to see how the Post edits submissions.
What the contraception fight is about
Published online February 7, print February 8
E.J. Dionne Jr. pontificated that “America’s Big Religious War ended Friday” [“Obama’s olive branch to Catholics,” op-ed, Feb. 4]. After a slew of court losses, the Obama administration now grudgingly exempts from its contraception mandate organizations it deems sufficiently religious. Mr. Dionne called that concession “a clear statement that President Obama never wanted this fight,” but the president and his campaign gleefully promoted this fight as a “war on women.”
Mr. Obama undermined any pretense of a compelling health justification for a government mandate by unwittingly observing that 99 percent of women already access contraceptives. His health department dismissed concerns of economic consequences, blithely contending that preventing babies is cheaper than having them.
The First Amendment protects all individuals — not merely government-certified religious institutions. Yet the administration continues to coerce conscience-objecting individual employers.
Mr. Dionne castigated the faith community for claiming First Amendment infringement since the government coercion did not restrict the “freedom to worship or to preach.” The Founders, however, clearly construed the First Amendment to also protect the free exercise of conscience.
Jonathan Imbody, Washington
The writer is the Christian Medical Association’s vice president for government relations.
Original submission: (The Post editors edited out what I thought were especially relevant historical quotes by Neville Chamberlain in the beginning, Thomas Jefferson in the middle and Winston Churchill at the end.)
Reprising Neville Chamberlain's infamous "peace for our time" speech, E.J. Dionne Jr. pontificates, "America’s Big Religious War ended Friday" ("Obama's olive branch to Catholics," Opinion, Monday). After a slew of federal court losses, the administration now grudgingly exempts from its contraceptive mandate certain organizations it deems sufficiently religious. Dionne calls that concession "a clear statement that President Obama never wanted this fight."
The president and his campaign gleefully promoted this fight as a "war on women." President Obama undermined any pretense of a compelling health justification for a government mandate by unwittingly observing that 99 percent of women already access contraceptives. His health department dismissed concerns of economic consequences, blithely contending that preventing babies is cheaper than having them.
Dionne castigates the faith community for claiming First Amendment infringement since the government coercion did not restrict the "freedom to worship or to preach." The founders clearly construed the First Amendment to protect not only worship and preaching but also free exercise of conscience.
The First Amendment also protects all individuals--not merely government-certified religious institutions. Yet the administration continues to coerce conscience-objecting individual employers.
Thomas Jefferson asserted, "The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God."[i]
We shall never surrender.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Published in The Washington Examiner, Feb. 7, 2013
Re: "New Obama rule would spare churches but not believers" Editorial, Feb. 3
In an otherwise excellent editorial on the Obamacare abortifacient contraceptives mandate, The Washington Examiner warns, "It would be a mistake for conservatives to frame this issue in terms of cost" because the ubiquity of cheap contraceptive pills disproves the case for a government mandate.
True, but the Obamacare mandate also forces insurers to also provide expensive sterilization surgeries and implanted contraceptives for free for everyone from Newark to Beverly Hills. The administration claims -- without proof -- that it's justified forcing insurers to provide products and services for free because it will be cheaper to prevent babies than to deliver them.
So besides trampling religious freedom, respect for the sanctity of life and private enterprise, the administration is also foisting its population control ideology on the nation. Now it's up to the courts and Congress to stop this blatant deprivation of our Constitutional rights to "life, liberty, and property."