Theological doctrine has split Catholics, Protestants and Jews for centuries, but President Obama has found a way to unite them in America.
The problem - for Obama and his re-election prospects - is that he’s united them against him. And they are ready to go to war.
The conflict started when Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a proposed regulation implementing Obamacare, which requires religious institutions such as hospitals and schools to cover contraception benefits for employees, including the Morning After pill that is effectively a pharmaceutical abortion.
As noted this morning by the Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell, Bill Donohue, head of the lay ministry Catholic League, warned that Obama was forcing 70 million Catholics to choose between their faith and their government.
"Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church,” Donohue said. “This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions, and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets."
Similarly, a senior official with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), called the proposed Obamacare regulation “a dangerous precedent” and called on Obama and Sebelius to back off.
“Freedom of conscience is a sacred gift from God, not a grant from the state,” said NAE vice-president for government relations Galen Carey. “No government has the right to compel its citizens to violate their conscience. The HHS rules trample on our most cherished freedoms and sets a dangerous precedent.”
Depending upon how the term "evangelical" is defined, the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College estimates that there are approximately 90 million Americans who consider themselves in that camp.
Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, pointed to the assumptions behind the regulation as equally disturbing as its assault on the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.
“Most troubling, is the administration’s underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its ‘religious’ character and liberties,” Diament said.
“Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration’s ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization’s religious principles. This is deeply disappointing. The Orthodox Union will support legislation in Congress to reverse this policy.”
Then there is the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which issued a joint statement declaring the proposed regulation “unjust” and calling for its withdrawal.
“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for ‘contraceptive services,’ including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions,” the assembly said in its statement.
“Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment,” the assembly said.
Perhaps most surprising in the outpouring of protests from religious groups is the statement published by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod from its president, Rev. Matthew Harison:
“Increasingly we are suffering overzealous government intrusions into what is the realm of traditional and biblical Christian conscience. We believe this is a violation of our First Amendment rights,” Harison said.
“We will stand, to the best of our ability, with all religious and other concerned citizens, against this erosion of our civil liberty. Come what may, we shall do everything we can, by God’s grace, to ‘obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29),” he said.
Obama, Sebelius and their underlings may not know it, but that last reference to obeying God rather than men is a traditional Christian rationale for rebelling against what is perceived to be an unjust sovereign.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.