THE subtlety of abridging religious freedom was riding on the tide of complacency until, in the United States, the Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became a law and recently upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. Reportedly, a dozen of lawsuits started making their way through US courts challenging those areas in the legislation which the Church views as breaching the First Amendment.
Last month New York Cardinal Tomothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, lead the launching of national campaign opposing President Obama’s health care mandates and other government policies that threaten religious freedom. He was quoted saying, “Sometimes, throughout our nation’s history, we have had to lift our hands in defense, and take up arms to defend our sacred liberties. Today we lift up our hands in prayer, to thank God for them and ask him to protect them.”
As in no point in American history, the American Catholic Bishops are now challenging the Obama administration over a requirement that many religious institutions, including hospitals, provide employees with insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and other forms of birth control. And there is more stack of other contentious issues that smack of abridging religious liberty, such as the following: New York City’s push to prevent congregations from holding prayer services in public schools; some state’s termination of contracts with Catholic Charities because the organization will not place adoptive children with same-sex couples; and Catholic organizations’ losing contracts to fight human trafficking because they will not refer victims for abortions or contraception.
At first blush one would think that these controversies are just confined to the legislative process and, consequently, in view of good governance. But on a deeper perspective, it may not take a space scientist to realize that those instigating these legislations stem from a growing hostility against the Catholic Church primarily because of its teachings on the dignity of life and human sexuality. The streaks of such a foreboding scenario was already in sight right from the attacks hurled both from within and from without against Paul Paul VI when he issued Humanae Vitae in 1968.
In the Philippines it is not implausible to think that those obsessively working for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill and all other anti-life bills now inching in both houses of Congress proceed from the same deep-seated antagonism against the Catholic Church and its teachings. Expectedly, the louder the proclamation of the Church on the Gospel of Life, the deeper the counter-hostility that it will create among those ganging up against her.