The mix of politics and religion can be an intoxicating cocktail. Just now, you can smell the incense everywhere, from Martha's Vineyard to Washington. For a left that obsesses over a wall of separation between church and state, when death comes and health care bills need rallies, there is little hesitation to break out the devotional smells and bells. But the loss of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, one of the most prominent Catholic politicians in the United States, a leading proponent of health care reform and major supporter of the president's agenda, should not obscure a pivotal fact: Barack Obama has put himself at war with the Catholic Church.
In one of the most overlooked news stories of the health care debate, the president said, during a conference call organized by liberal religious activists: "I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate. And there's some folks out there who are, frankly, bearing false witness."
It's doubtful that the president actually wants to engage in a public examination of political conscience. Because bringing up the eighth commandment inevitably makes one meditate on the fifth, which deals with human life itself. Obama's accusation was made in direct reference to the debate about abortion and the health care bill. "You've heard this is all going to mean government funding of abortion," the president said. "Not true." According to Obama, "fabrications" "have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation"; in other words, that most righteous and noble of ideas: socialized medicine.
And with that, the president inadvertently began to pull away the vestments from the eyes of Catholics who think he is a perfectly acceptable representative of their views.
On August 11, Cardinal Justin Rigali sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives about the health care legislation under consideration. He highlights legislative language that would open the door to taxpayer-funded abortions. He points out that when amendments were introduced this summer that would protect against this -- protect life -- they were shot down. That's a bad precedent. If that's how life fares when the C-SPAN cameras are on, what happens when it comes time for the final closed-door compromises?