health care reform

Religious Right Hyperbole on Contraception Coverage Mandate goes into Overdrive

The extreme and hysterical arguments emanating from the Religious Right over the contraception mandate in insurance plans would continue to amuse if not for the fact that their pathetic arguments only trivialize actual cases of religious persecution. While speaking with American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, talk show host Janet Parshall claimed that the health care reform law shows that President Obama is “blinded by a doctrine of death” and is a “person whose heart is hardened.” She warned of an “erosion of free speech” and “an erosion of our practices” under the Obama administration:

Chuck Colson even told Jim Daly on Focus on the Family Radio that the contraception mandate may even lead government to dictate to churches on the doctrine of the Trinity:

Not to be outdone, Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council compared the contraception insurance coverage mandate to Nazi Germany, saying that churches should prepare to follow the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazi government for his involvement in the resistance movement and the plot to kill Adolf Hitler:

In recent days, Jewish rabbis have joined all Catholic bishops in the United States in expressing alarm over the President's "healthcare" mandates and other violations of the Constitution. The National Clergy Council deliberated for the last week on what it would do, consulting pastors, moral theologians, organizational executives and activists from around the US. As a result, the Reverend Rob Schenck, president of the Washington, DC based group, will begin the holy season of Lent 2012 by appealing to President Obama for answers with a "State of Emergency and Time for Speaking" declaration to be hand-delivered to the White House on Ash Wednesday morning, February 22, 2012.



As Rev. Schenck explains in the document, the action he and his committee have taken is inspired by the Nazi-era hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "the German pastor and martyr, who is an exemplar of what it means to hold to and to exercise one's religious, moral, and ethical convictions, even to the surrender of every other right, including the right to one's life." Bonhoeffer wrote on the "status confessionis," a time when churches must speak out. Schenck says in his letter this is such a time, "during which we must take extraordinary action to respectfully resist your decrees, state our deeply held and felt reasons for doing so, and call our coreligionists, and all people of conscience to stand with us." President Obama was publicly given a copy of a recent biography on Bonhoeffer by the author, Eric Metaxas, when Mr. Metaxas and the President shared a podium at the February 2 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel Action even likened the situation to the American Revolution:

Barack Obama is literally forcing insurance companies and self-insured religious organizations to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to Americans who want to pay for neither.

As I told you on Friday, President Obama has once again grossly overstepped the constitutional authority of his office. Thankfully, it appears that Americans have finally had enough.

Former Attorney General Edwin Meese, a leading member of President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet, recently said the Obama administration is “…as close to a monarchy as there’s been since the days of George III.”

In reality, our situation today may be even worse than during the founding era since King George III merely TAXED the goods that inspired the Boston Tea Party. Even so great a despot as he did not imagine he could FORCE the colonials to BUY the stuff!

Issa Stacks Hearing to Attack Contraception Compromise

Rep. Darrell Issa, who has followed through on his threat to turn his Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into an attack dog on the Obama administration, today held a one-sided hearing attacking as a threat to religious liberty the administration’s recent compromise on health care regulations requiring insurers to cover contraception.

Not present at the hearing was a representative of the Catholic Health Association, which has embraced the administration’s compromise. When asked about the CHA’s position, Bishop William Lori, head of the Catholic bishops’ new “religious liberty” task force, said archly that the CHA doesn’t speak for the church as a whole – the bishops do. But polls show that the bishops actually speak for a small minority of American Catholics on these issues.
 
Issa – who had no concerns about separation of church and state when he was pushing for federal funding for religious school vouchers in the District of Columbia – labeled his stacked hearing “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” It was striking for some of us who are accustomed to hearing conservative politicians and Religious Right figures denouncing the separation of church and state, and dismissing the letter in which Thomas Jefferson used the phrase, to hear Issa and his colleagues vigorously endorsing the concept – or at least the rhetoric – and invoking Jefferson.
 
Issa and fellow Republicans used the “religious liberty” frame as an excuse to prevent testimony from women affected by the lack of insurance coverage of contraceptives, which also serve as treatment for a variety of medical conditions.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (one of several Catholic Democrats who attended the heargin) and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, forcefully raised the issue of women’s health, only to be told that access to health care was not the topic of the hearing. DeLauro drew a distinction between religious organizations as service providers – Catholic hospitals are not required to perform abortions, for example – and as employers. Nothing in the First Amendment, she said, says that religiously affiliated employers aren’t subject to same rules as every other employer. Republicans on the committee embraced the goalpost-moving standard staked out recently by the bishops, which is that not only should religiously affiliated organizations be exempt, but that any business owner should be able to cite religious beliefs as reason not to provide his employees with coverage.
 
The hearing made it clear that the GOP has decided to aggressively pursue their election year strategy of portraying Obama as an enemy of religious liberty.  There was no rhetorical “bridge too far” at this hearing – it was suggested that the Obama administration was a few keystrokes away from completely eliminating religious freedom, and that it was using government coercion to force churches to change their religious doctrine. Even Joseph Stalin was invoked. GOP members of Congress encouraged panelists to portray themselves as willing martyrs to religious liberty – and panelists complied, with some saying they would be willing to go to jail rather than side with government over God. 
 
It’s worth remembering with all the rhetoric about the end of freedom in America that the compromise plan would not require religious groups to provide or pay for coverage: insurance companies would contact employees directly, offer coverage to those who want it, and pick up the tab.
 
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, also Catholic, said he had had concerns with the original rules and believes the compromise addressed religious liberty concerns. He denounced Issa’s hearing as a “sham” and a “shameful exercise.”  He scoffed at the going-to-jail rhetoric and told panelists they were being used, wittingly or not, as part of an anti-Obama political agenda.  

Issa Stacks Hearing to Attack Contraception Compromise

Rep. Darrell Issa, who has followed through on his threat to turn his Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into an attack dog on the Obama administration, today held a one-sided hearing attacking as a threat to religious liberty the administration’s recent compromise on health care regulations requiring insurers to cover contraception.

Not present at the hearing was a representative of the Catholic Health Association, which has embraced the administration’s compromise. When asked about the CHA’s position, Bishop William Lori, head of the Catholic bishops’ new “religious liberty” task force, said archly that the CHA doesn’t speak for the church as a whole – the bishops do. But polls show that the bishops actually speak for a small minority of American Catholics on these issues.
 
Issa – who had no concerns about separation of church and state when he was pushing for federal funding for religious school vouchers in the District of Columbia – labeled his stacked hearing “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” It was striking for some of us who are accustomed to hearing conservative politicians and Religious Right figures denouncing the separation of church and state, and dismissing the letter in which Thomas Jefferson used the phrase, to hear Issa and his colleagues vigorously endorsing the concept – or at least the rhetoric – and invoking Jefferson.
 
Issa and fellow Republicans used the “religious liberty” frame as an excuse to prevent testimony from women affected by the lack of insurance coverage of contraceptives, which also serve as treatment for a variety of medical conditions.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (one of several Catholic Democrats who attended the heargin) and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, forcefully raised the issue of women’s health, only to be told that access to health care was not the topic of the hearing. DeLauro drew a distinction between religious organizations as service providers – Catholic hospitals are not required to perform abortions, for example – and as employers. Nothing in the First Amendment, she said, says that religiously affiliated employers aren’t subject to same rules as every other employer. Republicans on the committee embraced the goalpost-moving standard staked out recently by the bishops, which is that not only should religiously affiliated organizations be exempt, but that any business owner should be able to cite religious beliefs as reason not to provide his employees with coverage.
 
The hearing made it clear that the GOP has decided to aggressively pursue their election year strategy of portraying Obama as an enemy of religious liberty.  There was no rhetorical “bridge too far” at this hearing – it was suggested that the Obama administration was a few keystrokes away from completely eliminating religious freedom, and that it was using government coercion to force churches to change their religious doctrine. Even Joseph Stalin was invoked. GOP members of Congress encouraged panelists to portray themselves as willing martyrs to religious liberty – and panelists complied, with some saying they would be willing to go to jail rather than side with government over God. 
 
It’s worth remembering with all the rhetoric about the end of freedom in America that the compromise plan would not require religious groups to provide or pay for coverage: insurance companies would contact employees directly, offer coverage to those who want it, and pick up the tab.
 
Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, also Catholic, said he had had concerns with the original rules and believes the compromise addressed religious liberty concerns. He denounced Issa’s hearing as a “sham” and a “shameful exercise.”  He scoffed at the going-to-jail rhetoric and told panelists they were being used, wittingly or not, as part of an anti-Obama political agenda.  

Supreme Court's Decision to Hear Health Care Challenge: Conservative Ideology vs. The Constitution

The Supreme Court today announced that it would hear arguments in several cases challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature achievement and the most important piece of health care reform legislation in a generatio

House GOP Playing Politics With Women’s Health

In a shameless attempt to stir up a Right Wing “culture war,” House Republicans are drafting a continuing resolution that would include the removal of all Title X family planning funds from the federal budget.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Health Care Reform Legislation

District Judge Roger Vinson today issued a ruling that would strike down key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

African American Clergy Condemn Vote to Repeal Health Care Reform

Today, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the comprehensive health care reform bill passed in the last Congress. Members of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, a nationwide multi-denominational group of progressive African American clergy, voiced the following reactions to the vote:  

Health Care Reform Repeal: Bought and Paid for by Citizens United

Alarming new research by PFAW shows that empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporate-backed groups intent on the repeal of the health care reform law spent an enormous amount of money to help defeat vulnerable supporters of reform and elect candidates who vowed to repeal it.

Congress Overcomes Right Wing Attacks to Pass Historic Health Care Legislation

Last night, Congress passed historic health care reform legislation, extending coverage to over 30 million Americans and fulfilling a major promise made by President Obama on the campaign trail.

People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement:

Extreme Anti-Choice Measure Voted Down in Senate

The Senate today voted down a restrictive anti-choice amendment to health care reform legislation. The amendment, which would have prohibited health insurance plans that participate in the new exchange from providing full reproductive health benefits to millions of American women, was modeled on language in the House bill proposed by Representatives Bart Stupak and Joseph Pitts.

Keep Stupak Amendment Out of Senate Health Care Bill

In support of a rally held today to oppose the inclusion of restrictive anti-choice language in the Senate health care bill, People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan said, "Health care reform is a tremendously important issue for the Senate to be considering, and no one should attempt to hold it hostage in an effort to deny women a meaningful right to reproductive choice."

Right Plays the Race Card

Right-wing pundits and political leaders committed to the destruction of the Obama presidency have been openly fomenting racial resentment or tolerating those who do. In one breath, they accuse President Obama of being racist and in the next they and their media allies howl with indignation if their own racial rhetoric is challenged.

Health Care Hostilities Result From Right's Declaration of War on Obama

Vituperative attacks on Democratic-led efforts to reform the nation's health care system reflect right-wing leaders' strategic decision to do everything in their power to destroy the Obama presidency. The disruptions at congressional town hall meetings by angry, misinformed mobs are the result of an opportunistic coalition of convenience between deep-pocketed corporate opponents of reform, Religious Right leaders who see opposition to Obama as a religious duty, right-wing media outlets eager to use any bludgeon at their disposal to weaken the Obama administration, and Republican officials all too eager to play along in hopes of strengthening their political position.

To Hell with Health Care Reform: Religious Right Leaders Attack Obama, Spout GOP Dogma about "Socialism" While Fanning Flames on Abortion

Much of the Religious Right's organizing energy has been devoted to incendiary and false claims about the administration's alleged stealth plan to force every health plan to cover - and force all doctors to provide - abortion services. None of these approaches are actually included in the plans working their way through Congress. In fact, anti-choice members of Congress are using health reform to institute a new nationwide abortion ban in private insurance plans taking away coverage women already have.
Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious