New at Live Action – Bogus Church-State Ruling Defunds Bishops’ Aid to Sex-Trafficking Victims

My latest Live Action post:
As if we didn’t have enough on our plate with the battle over forced contraception coverage, the Obama administration is currently embroiled in another religious fight, this time with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over federal aid money for sex-trafficking victims.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act provides money to fund medical and mental health services for victims of sex trafficking, and since 2006, the bishops have been allowed to limit the money they receive to contractors who are uninvolved in abortion. But in its infinite wisdom and compassion, the current administration has decided to revoke the bishops’ grant money entirely rather than keep funding their charitable work. Now a federal judge has ruled against the bishops:

Although the nation’s Catholic bishops said the ACLU lawsuit is “without merit and an affront to religious liberty,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns ruled on March 23 that the government’s accommodation of the decision not to make abortion referrals is unconstitutional. Stearns, a Massachusetts judge, said the government violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment “insofar as they delegated authority to a religious organization to impose religiously based restrictions on the expenditure of taxpayer funds, and thereby impliedly endorsed the religious beliefs of the USCCB and the Catholic Church.”
Stearns also said is not about forcing the bishops to violate their pro-life views but about “the limits of the government’s ability to delegate to a religious institution the right to use taxpayer money to impose its beliefs on others (who may or may not share them).”

As a matter of policy, HHS’s decision is indefensible. It’s disgusting enough when the government funds abortion directly, but to throw out all of an organization’s charitable work, which is achieving the stated goal of helping sex-trafficking victims, simply because that organization’s members don’t want to be complicit in abortion?
Read the rest at Live Action.
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Rick Santorum Is Losing Me

In January, I enthusiastically endorsed Rick Santorum for President, having been convinced that he finally demonstrated the political acumen to complement his philosophical integrity. For a while, Santorum’s performance seemed to affirm my decision—he effortlessly assumed the role of adult in the room during the Florida CNN debate, and his strength in the polls remains far stronger than most would have predicted just a few months ago.

Unfortunately, a handful of incidents over the past two weeks have forced me to reconsider. First came his lackluster performance in the Arizona CNN debate, during which he rationalized his support of No Child Left Behind thusly:
I have to admit, I voted for that, it was against the principles I believed in, but you know, when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake. You know, politics is a team sport, folks, and sometimes you’ve got to rally together and do something, and in this case I thought testing and finding out how bad the problem was wasn’t a bad idea. 
Voting against your own principles because your team leader wanted you to? That’s not only about as un-Tea Party as you can get, it also stands in stark contrast to Santorum’s own one-word description of his candidacy that very night: “courage.”

Next, Santorum came under fire for saying that John F. Kennedy’s famous Address to Protestant Ministers made him want to “throw up”:
I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.  The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country. This is the First Amendment.  The First Amendment says the free exercise of religion.  That means bringing everybody, people of faith and no faith, into the public square.  Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, no, “faith is not allowed in the public square.  I will keep it separate.” Go on and read the speech “I will have nothing to do with faith.  I won’t consult with people of faith.”  It was an absolutist doctrine that was foreign at the time of 1960.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand as well as anyone the truth and importance of Santorum’s underlying point, that the Left has twisted the Establishment Clause to obscure and erase America’s Judeo-Christian foundations. We need a candidate and a president who will make that case to the American people. But we don’t need a candidate who makes it so easy for the Left to caricature that case. While some of JFK’s rhetoric could be interpreted as Santorum describes it, it’s hardly an obvious or indisputable inference—I suspect most Americans would read it as simply meaning he wouldn’t discriminate against Protestants or take his marching orders from the Vatican. What’s more, how much mileage do you think the Democrats will get out of ads which present Santorum as a wild-eyed theocrat who “wants to throw up” when he hears passages like:
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
Or:
I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
And most recently, he and Mitt Romney have been fighting over a robocall which asks Democrats to vote for Santorum in the Michigan primary. While Romney’s reaction is overblown and hypocritical, the fact remains that it contradicts Santorum’s own stated disdain for Democrats influencing Republican primaries, and its message was worse:
Romney supported the bailouts for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailouts. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker, and we’re not gonna let Romney get away with it.
Not only is Santorum resorting to the very same class warfare he so admirably resisted not so long ago, but it raises the question: how can it be a “slap in the face” for Romney to oppose the auto bailout, but not for Santorum himself to do so? Attempting to give voters a false impression that you supported something you actually oppose isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. (And for what it’s worth, one need not support either bailout to recognize substantive differences between them.)  

I’m not saying I won’t still vote for Rick Santorum in the Wisconsin primary. Many of his biggest assets—his unquestionable sincerity on social issues, his foreign policy expertise, and his relative purity on the crucial issue of government-run healthcare—remain unshakeable. Mitt Romney’s shortcomings (the latest example being this clumsy attempt to neutralize his wealth as a campaign issue) remain substantial. But I am saying I’m no longer certain he’s a stronger general election candidate than Romney, and so I must revert from identifying as a Santorum supporter to being undecided between Santorum and Romney.

Both men are far superior to Newt Gingrich (and Ron Paul, whose name shouldn’t even be spoken in the same breath as Gingrich’s). Both men have checkered pasts but are running on strong, unambiguous full-spectrum conservative platforms. Both men have denigrated themselves with petty, misleading infighting. Both men have displayed the capacity to change their tune for political expediency. Both men have shown promise in their ability to make the case against Barack Obama, but both men have also proven themselves to be disturbingly gaffe-prone.

I like and admire Rick Santorum. But I’m simply no longer confident enough in him to guarantee that he’ll get my primary vote. He and Mitt Romney have between now and April 3 to convince me they can get their act together and run a serious, focused, and reasonably caricature-proof campaign. May the best man win.

New at Live Action – Newt Gingrich Tries to Paint Mitt Romney as an Enemy of Catholic Hospitals

My latest Live Action post:

What many have decried as an unusually nasty campaign got even nastier earlier this week, as Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich accused rival Mitt Romney of being insensitive to religious liberty and conscience rights:

“You want a war on the Catholic Church by Obama? Guess what: Romney refused to allow Catholic hospitals to have conscience in their dealing with certain circumstances,” Gingrich said, apparently referring to the handling of emergency contraception in universal health care laws.

But HotAir.com provides more context, revealing that the truth is more complex. In 2005, Romney actually did just the opposite: he vetoed a bill that would have forced Massachusetts hospitals to offer abortive contraception:

[T]his particular bill does not require parental consent even for young teenagers. It disregards not only the seriousness of abortion but the importance of parental involvement and so would weaken a protection I am committed to uphold.

Read the rest at Live Action.

ALL Alert: Catholics vs. Catholic Health Association

This just in, from Michael Hichborn at American Life League:

CATHOLICS URGE BISHOPS TO END RELATIONSHIP WITH CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION

Washington, DC (9 February 2011) – American Life League is urging the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to dissolve its relationship with the Catholic Health Association, following a series of reports linking CHA to support for abortion.

American Life League cited the following reasons for the USCCB to end its ties with CHA:

• CHA fully endorsed pro-abortion Obamacare, in direct opposition to the U.S. bishops
• CHA member Catholic Healthcare West gives millions of dollars to pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage organizations
• CHA’s recent Chairman of the Board was a “co-architect” in the creation of Healthy San Francisco, which covers birth control and abortion on demand
• CHA president, Sr. Carol Keehan, maintains a duplicitous position in claiming that local bishops have the authority to interpret the U.S. bishops’ ethical and religious directives (ERD), while maintaining that St. Joseph’s Hospital properly applied the ERDs in approving and performing an abortion in 2009.

“It’s clear that CHA is more interested in politics and money than maintaining Catholic teaching,” said Michael Hichborn, director of American Life League’s project, Defend the Faith.

Last month, in an online video report entitled, “Nun-Catholic Healthcare,” ALL revealed that CHA spends one fourth of its annual budget to pay its six highest paid employees, including Sr. Keehan’s $900,000 salary.
 

“When one considers that the mission of the USCCB is to ‘support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization,’ maintaining a relationship with a group like CHA can only hinder that mission,” said Hichborn.

American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to natural death. For more information or press inquiries, please contact Jim Sedlak at 540.659.7685.

ALL Press Release: "Research Reveals Catholic Healthcare West Pays For Abortions; Refers for Sterilizations"

From American Life League:

MEDIA RELEASE
20 December 2010
Contact: Shaun Kenney
American Life League
skenney@all.org | 540.659.7900
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Research Reveals Catholic Healthcare West
Pays For Abortions; Refers for Sterilizations
Catholic Healthcare West contributed money towards healthcare system providing abortions to 12-year olds  —
— SF Gate: Catholic Healthcare West leadership involved health care plan that performs abortions —
— Sterilizations performed inside at least 12 Catholic Healthcare West facilities —
WASHINGTON, D.C. (20 December 2010) – American Life League has uncovered damaging new information regarding the anti-Catholic activities of San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West.
Specifically, the new information included in a prepared dossier released at 2pm Eastern today reveals the following highly concerning details:
  1. Catholic Healthcare West granted money to the San Francisco Health Plan, a health care program that provided funding for abortion to children as young as 12.  Worse than this, the San Francisco Health Plan does not provide parental notification or consent for these services, meaning that one’s 12-year old daughter could have an abortion performed upon her through the plan without a mother or father’s knowledge or consent, and with the financial backing of a Catholic institution.
  2. Catholic Healthcare West CEO Lloyd Dean co-chaired the creation of the abortion-providing Healthy San Francisco Health Access Plan, a subsidiary of the San Francisco Health Plan.  The list of services includes “family planning services” that — according to the San Francisco Gate in November 2009 — included coverage for abortions.
  3. 12 Catholic Healthcare West member hospitals/medical centers performed female sterilizations as far back as 2001 and 20 Catholic Healthcare West members currently refer to staff physicians for vasectomies. 
The details of these and other alarming policies and positions of Catholic Healthcare West can be found at the following link:
On Friday, American Life League asked a few questions regarding Catholic Healthcare West.  After careful investigation and documentation, these are the answers that staff uncovered:
  1. Have any CHW affiliated hospitals provided contraceptives, sterilizations, or other proscribed so-called reproductive health services?  Yes.  As of 2001, at least 12 CHW members performed tubal ligations and currently at least 20 members refer for vasectomies by staff physicians on their websites.  In fact, not only does CHW member Woodland Health Care list “contraception: as one of its services, but the CHW’s 2008 Arizona Medical Plan and $250 deductible plan covers abortifacient oral contraceptives and diaphragms.
  2. Have any CHW hospitals provided contraceptives which can possibly interrupt the implantation of human beings in their embryonic state (abortifacients)?  Though evidence for procedures actually being performed at Catholic Healthcare West facilities is inconclusive, Catholic Healthcare West does list a number of known abortifacient contraceptives in their health care plans preferred drug list.
  3. Has CHW, through its community grants program, provided funding to any organization that promotes activities or lifestyles that are opposed to Catholic teaching?  Catholic Healthcare West has given to at least six grantees that actively promote abortion, birth control, and homosexual lifestyles.
  4. Has CHW given its support to any public policy or legislation which would provide funding for abortion?  In 2006, Catholic Healthcare West CEO co-chaired the Universal Health Care Council for the creation of the healthy San Francisco Health Access Program, which covers elective abortions.
  5. Did CHW support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act despite the admonishment of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ not to support the bill on the grounds that it provided taxpayer funding for abortion?  In 2009 and 2010, Catholic Healthcare West’s CEO gave full and unqualified support for the act before and after its passage.
  6. Most importantly, will CHW comply with Bishop Olmsted’s requests?  Catholic Healthcare West has yet to comply with Bishop Olmsted’s request, even after a gracious extension of the Friday deadline.
American Life League and hundreds of thousands of Catholics concerned about what is being done in the name of a faith committed to the defense and protection of human beings in all stages are very eager to hear that Catholic Healthcare West is taking Bishop Olmsted’s requests for fidelity to heart.

Another Catholic Leader for Amnesty

Among the unpleasant truths more conservatives need to confront is the fact that organized religion isn’t always on our side. In particular, the Catholic Church has allowed itself to be hijacked by the Left, particularly on health care, the Middle East, and illegal immigration.

Now, Archbishop Charles Chaput has endorsed the deeply-flawed DREAM Act:

Archbishop Chaput said the bill “is about fairness to high school graduates who were brought to this country unlawfully through no fault of their own, since they came with their parents.”

He added that those who would benefit from the act are “talented, intelligent and dedicated young persons who know only the United States as their home.”

He called the bill “a practical, fair and compassionate solution for thousands of young persons in our nation who simply want to reach their God-given potential and contribute to the well-being of our nation.”

“This important piece of legislation is critical for the lives and hopes of thousands of young people across America,” the Denver archbishop said, urging people to contact their federal senators and representatives. Voting in favor of the act “is the right and just thing to do,” he said.

First, methinks the archbishop should familiarize himself with the bill a little more; the requirements for qualification are extremely lax, people are eligible until they’re thirty-five, and those who’ve made it can use their status to bring in more relatives – making the DREAM Act hardly practical, and about rather more than “fairness to high school graduates.”

Second, someone needs to explain to me how Catholic principles – heck, how any flavor of Christianity – requires us to look the other way as our immigration laws are violated, or how it’s inhumane to treat the citizens of other countries as, er, the citizens of other countries.

Fortunately, the DREAM Act is dead for now. But the Catholic Church shows no signs of waking up from its nightmare any time soon.