On Thursday, February 6, I took the time to watch the 61st National Prayer Breakfast and heard what I can only describe as an amazing defense of religious liberty and the pro-life cause from President Barack Obama (read the full text here). At first, I was inclined to think that he finally has had a change of heart concerning the true sanctity of all human life and human dignity, as well as the right of each of us to the free exercise of our religious liberty.
However, one speech does not constitute a change; concrete actions fulfilling the words of this speech are what give evidence of sincerity or insincerity. I went back and read what the president said about religious liberty and the sanctity of all human life in his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in 2009. His remarks then are similar to what he offered at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. Again, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
Between 2009 and today, the president has imposed on every person’s free exercise of religious liberty by forcing his HHS mandate on all, even though it is directly contrary to the conscientious religious beliefs and practices of so many. In his own words, the president is the perfect defender of and advocate for the pro-life cause. He said: “We believe that each of us is ‘wonderfully made’ in the image of God” and we “therefore believe in the inherent dignity of every human being–dignity that no earthly power can take away.” By the public record, the president is the most determined promoter of abortion and the most strident defender of Roe v. Wade.
In fact, on January 22, 2014, the 41st anniversary of that Supreme Court decision, the president said in part: “…(We must) recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.” (Bismarck Tribune, 1-22-2014)
Are you confused about our president’s position on the “inherent dignity of every human being?” Do not be fooled. The president’s recent remarks are for public consumption and meant to divert attention from the fact that his actions are a total contradiction of his words. Based on his actions, the president is not a believer in and defender of the “inherent dignity of every human being.”
The president then continued his remarks about the inherent dignity of every human being and said: “And central to that dignity is freedom of religion – the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.”
He continued by saying that in the U.S. “we affirm the freedoms endowed by our Creator, among them freedom of religion”. He said that this freedom both “safeguards religion and strengthens America”. Are you confused about our president’s position on religious liberty? Again, do not be fooled. Unless and until the president uses his famous “pen” and “phone” and totally rescinds the HHS mandate, he is neither a friend nor a defender of religious freedom.
As Catholics what are we to do? Keep praying that the president has a real and total conversion of mind and heart and that he truly does defend all human life and our religious freedom.
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