Tim Huelskamp

When President Obama took the oath of office three years ago, he swore to defend the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of all Americans. There were no asterisks denoting exceptions for health care providers, religious employers, service members, or military chaplains. More than three years later, his inaugural words fail to match his actions and those of his administration.

President Obama gave America a preview of his warpath against organized religion and people of faith when he undid parts of a President Bush Executive Order protecting health care providers from being required to perform, participate in, or provide a medical procedure with which they had religious or moral objection.

But in the past month alone the Obama Administration has gone guns-a-blazing, full-force against both religion and the Constitution.

First, President Obama and his “Catholic” Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius finalized a rule that will require Catholic employers to cover and pay for contraception – including abortion drugs – and sterilization. The fact that the Catholic teaching excludes artificial contraception or abortion matters not a single bit to President Obama. HHS argued that a one-year exemption is all religious organizations need in order to comply with this law. What President Obama and Secretary Sebelius do not get is that religious organizations and people of faith do not need time to renounce their faith; they need their First Amendment views to be protected.

Second, President Obama’s Secretary of the Army – a political appointee – silenced Catholic chaplains from speaking out against this HHS rule attacking religious freedom. If you are Catholic you heard in your Sunday Mass a message from your Bishop that “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law.” But not if you were serving in the military defending the freedoms of other Americans. Instead, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains attempted to censor the reading of the letter from Archbishop of Military Services Timothy Broglio. After a conversation between Archbishop Broglio and Army Secretary McHugh, it was decided that line would be eliminated.

Non-Catholics, those not in the military, and even those who support the use of abortion drugs and contraception should take offense at and be outraged by the actions of the Obama Administration. It could just as easily be something other than sterilization or abortion drugs next time. This HHS rule requiring religious entities to act in contravention of their teachings is a clear violation of their rights to exercise freely their religions. The gag order on Catholic chaplains amounts to an obvious violation of free speech. Who or what is next?

Tim Huelskamp

Congressman Tim Huelskamp represents the First Congressional District of Kansas. He serves on the House Budget, Agriculture, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.