by Peter Grady –
Following a decision by the Obama administration to force religious organizations to offer contraception drugs that could cause abortion, the Pentagon sent an e-mail to chaplains advising them not to read a letter critical of the policy.
Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights, issued a regulation on Jan 20. The regulation would require all healthcare plans in the United States to include sterilizations and all FDA approved contraceptives, including those that cause abortions.
The regulation covers all Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable institutions. Additionally Christian businesses that oppose abortion would not be exempt.
HHS claims it has a religious exemption; however, it is so narrowly tailored that very few organizations qualify.
The qualifications include being a recognized non-profit under IRS guidelines and serving and employing only those who are of the same religious faith as the institution.
The Gazette previously reported how HHS refused to state how narrowly it was going to interpret the phrase “share its religious tenets.”
Keith Maley, a spokesman for HHS, said, “The rule is the rule, I can’t break it down any more than what it actually says.” The Gazette then asked if the section stating an organization had to “primarily serve people who share its religious tenets” referred to services such as a hospital admitting patients. He responded, “It is what it is and what it states.”
In an attempt to placate Catholics upset with the rule, the administration is permitting religious groups to take up to a year to implement the new regulations.
Not content to roll over, the Catholic church has gone on the offensive over the new regulations. Priests in pulpits across the country have read letters expressing outrage over the regulation as an assault on religious liberty.
Archbishop Timothy Brogilo, head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, sent Catholic chaplains a letter to be read at Sunday masses around the world.
The letter states that the Obama administration “strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith.”
Brogilo went on to say, “The Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to choose between violating our consciences or dropping health coverage for our employees (and suffering the penalties for doing so).”
Throwing down the gauntlet, Brogilo said, “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.”
Following the issuance of the letter, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains attempted to keep Catholic Army chaplains from reading the letter.
A spokesman for the Army’s Office of the Chief of the Chaplains confirmed to CNSNews that such an email was in fact sent. The email asked chaplains not to read the letter, but instead to mention it during Mass and make it available afterwards for those who wanted a copy.
National Review was told by a spokesman that the Army was concerned that, “the letter contained language that might be misunderstood in a military setting.”
In an attempt to clarify what was meant by “misunderstood the Army issued a statement saying, “The Chief of Chaplains was concerned that one line in the 456-word letter could be misinterpreted as a call to civil disobedience within our nation’s military ranks.”