The HHS Mandate takes effect -- and the Obama Administration releases a report on religious freedom

Yesterday, the contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate went into effect for everyone except those religious organizations who qualify for the one-year delay. Interestingly, the President’s campaign speech yesterday ignored the mandate , as did the First Lady’s campaign speech.

Now, there could be any number of reasons for omitting this historical attack on religious freedom in their speeches. The President and his wife focused on the economy, health care, and education, which makes sense because those are the public policy issues Americans care most about. Additionally, Romney is doing a pretty good job of hammering Obama on his recent “you didn’t build that” comments, so the President really does need to try and regain momentum in that area.

On the other hand, the President’s campaign so far has mostly constituted of making Romney appear to be an “other” by attacking his wealth, his tax rate, his participation in the alleged War on Women, etc. Switching to the economy is very risky, considering the utter failure of the President’s policies on the economy and the unpopularity of the health care law. One would almost expect the President to continue trying to distract from the unemployment rate by dangling an unconstitutional mandate in front of supporters and undecided voters.

But perhaps the President’s avoidance of the mandate yesterday was more than a simple re-election strategy. Via Rob Bluey, a release from the Family Research Council:

In a sad irony, yesterday marked the marked the release of the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2011. The opening paragraph states: “To think, believe, or doubt. To speak or pray; to gather or stand apart. Such are the movements of the mind and heart, infinitives that take us beyond the finite. Freedom of religion, like all freedoms of thought and expression, are inherent. Our beliefs help define who we are and serve as a foundation for what we contribute to our societies. However, as the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report documents, too many people live under governments that abuse or restrict freedom of religion.”

Today marks the day the United States should officially be listed as one of the nations in that report. President Obama has made it clear–by his legislation, public remarks, and his lawsuits–that he believes religion and conscience should take a back seat to his pro-abortion, -sterilization, and -contraception agenda. The President might think that violating people’s consciences isn’t a big deal, but to many, it’s the deepest insult of all. If the courts or Congress won’t address this injustice, civil disobedience may be inevitable.

Now, of course, liberals will say the FRC’s last sentence is a bit extreme. Yet this is the same kind of thing that led to the Cristeros War in Mexico nearly 100 years ago, and when reviewing “For Greater Glory” I couldn’t ignore the parallels between the religious persecution faced by Catholics then and America’s religious communities now. Perhaps Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-PA) comments on the importance of the mandate’s implementation weren’t so radical after all.


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