I have tried to make sense of Mr. Obama's latest utterance about religious freedom. I am having a difficulty celebrating his rhetoric.
Somehow the President's recent words to the Islamic community in Baltimore about his regard for the religious freedoms of Americans fail to persuade and fall heavily upon the ear with a resounding lack of authenticity. His words of praise for religious freedom are again weighed down with multiple contradictions: witness his Administration as it seeks to force the Catholic religious order, Little Sisters of the Poor, to provide birth control to their employees.
This politically correct attempt on the part of the Obama Administration to force the Sisters to act against their deeply-held, historically validated religious beliefs is morally and theologically repugnant to all faithful Catholics and should be so to all aware Americans. It seems beyond outrage that such a crass political act should be levied against the Little Sisters, a religious Order of Catholic sisters whose only work for 177 years has been -- and remains -- giving shelter and aid to poor, abandoned and dying elders around the world.
By this act, our government violates the religious freedoms of these Sisters and exhibits legalistic disregard toward the manner of service and selfless care, self-restraint and extraordinary moral behavior which is the daily rule of life for these extraordinary women. The Little Sisters of the Poor offer countless personal examples of explicit, public religious professionalism which is the basis of their profound generosity to those who cannot help themselves. Their lives and work provide constant and consistent examples of religious belief and commitment in action in their most admirable public form.
It is, thus, an indefensible travesty on the part of the Obama Administration, representing America, that these religious women are now forced to seek judgment from the Supreme Court to protect their fundamental moral and religious beliefs which run life-long deep in their Catholic culture and in the Church from which they draw their inspiration and support.
President Obama explicitly told his Muslim audience at the Baltimore mosque that he was speaking in his official role as President of the United States. During his Presidency, he has repeatedly expressed great concern about, and affiliation with, the Muslim community both in America and around the world, even proclaiming Islam as a central ingredient of American history. Since the first attribute of authenticity is consistency, one is compelled to wonder to what extent Mr. Obama actually believes what he says - especially when he speaks to a select audience about their religious freedom and, at the same time, compels the Little Sisters of the Poor to seek costly judgment from the highest legal authority in the land.
Mr. Obama ended his speech by reminding Muslim Americans, “You are not alone, your fellow Americans stand with you.” And he reminded others that the country’s diversity “is not a weakness, that is one of our greatest strengths.” It would be reassuring to many Americans to hear Mr. Obama address the Little Sisters in similar fashion.