Editor's Note: The following opinion column was written by Tom McFadden, who serves on the executive board of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party. A compromise announced over the weekend is still causing controversy including opposition by U.S. bishops.
This January 20, the Obama Administration issued a regulation requiring all employers to provide health care coverage for their employees for sterilization, contraception and abortive drugs or be penalized $2,000 per employee.
The only exception given was to churches, the actual houses of worship, but not to any other affiliated religious-based institutions such as, hospitals, schools, hospice centers, charities or other religious service organizations. This ruling is in direct violation of the basic religious principles of Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and many other religious institutions.
It is also in direct violation of our First Amendment clause stating “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise (of religion)." Notice, not even Congress can pass a law to this effect, never mind issuing a simple regulation from the executive branch.
The outraged response by the Catholic bishops was immediate; they had their pastors all across the nation read a letter to all their parishioners this past Sunday stating they cannot “comply with this unjust law without compromising our convictions." The Catholic Archbishop for Military Services, Timothy Broglio, went even further; He called on all Catholics “to resist the policy initiative…because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the US Constitution."
Unfortunately, Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, had the Office of the Chief of Chaplains direct senior chaplains not to read the archbishop’s letter but to make an edited version available at the back of the chapel.
Such a contentious and insensitive ruling by this administration reflects a grievous disregard for our individual rights so clearly defined in our Constitution and a display of arrogance that should sound an alarm to all Americans, regardless of party, to denounce such action and demand its repudiation.
To paraphrase an old adage, “First they came for the Catholics, I did not speak out because I was not Catholic, then they came for other Christians, and I did not speak out because I was not Christian, then they came for Conservatives, and I did not speak out because I was not a Conservative, then they came for me, but there was no one left to speak for me”. It’s time to speak out.
The next meeting of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 2 at the Charles Chrin Community Center in Palmer Township.