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Obama accused of 'disrespecting' Catholics

The Obama administration, with the Obamacare health care takeover, either doesn’t care about or doesn’t like Catholics so much it is forcing them to choose between their beliefs or the federal law, according to the opening brief in a court case over the constitutionality of the law’s contraceptive coverage mandate.

“The defendants offer numerous secular and even religious exemptions to the HHS mandate, but fail to offer the same respect to the Catholic beliefs of the plaintiffs – showing that defendants either care so little about those professing Catholic beliefs that they will not be bothered to address their concerns or showing that defendants are patently discriminating against and disrespecting those holding Catholic beliefs,” said the brief filed this week in support of a preliminary injunction that would protect the plaintiffs while the case moves through the courts.

“Neither provides the defendants with a constitutional justification for violating the law.”

The filing is from Thomas More Law Center, which is arguing on behalf of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Weingartz Supply Co. and Legatus, the nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business leaders.

A hearing is scheduled later for the decision about the injunction, and Judge Robert H. Cleland noted, “the government agreed not to enforce the regulation against plaintiffs prior to Jan. 1, 2013 …”

The Michigan case is against Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others. It seeks to permanently block the implementation of the Aug. 1 mandate, “which requires employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception.”

The grounds are that the Obamacare requirement “imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.” It cites the First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and free speech as well as the establishment clause.

Weingartz is run by Christians who object to what they say is a violation of their rights, and Legatus represents some 4,000 Catholic member business owners and leaders.

“It is not surprising that in our country founded by individuals, who sought refuge from religious persecution, the Supreme Court of our country has succinctly avowed, ‘If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,'” Erin Mersino of the Thomas More Law Center wrote in the brief.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to permanently block the implementation of the HHS mandate that requires employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for abortions and contraception on the grounds that it imposes clear violations of conscience on Americans who morally object to abortion and contraception.

The timely decision on the injunction is very important, the brief explains.

“Plaintiffs must now make decisions to change or terminate their health care plans. Under the HHS mandate, plaintiffs are forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs or violating federal law,” the plaintiffs explain.

They argue that “‘causing death’ can never be considered a form of medical treatment,” and the federal rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, burdens the free exercise of religion, breaks the First Amendment and contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s own writings that “government may not enact laws that suppress religious belief or practice …”

In a separate case making the same challenge, WND reported earlier when U.S. District Judge John J. Kane of Colorado granted a Christian-owned company a temporary injunction blocking Obamacare’s mandated coverage of sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs from being applied to the private business.

That mandate took effect nationwide Aug. 1, but Hercules Industries of Denver, a company that manufactures air conditioning products, filed suit against the government in April, arguing Obama’s mandate conflicts with the Christian faith of the business’ owners.

The government fought back, claiming Hercules is not a faith-based organization. It threatened the company, which employs 265 people, with millions of dollars in fines if it refused to comply.

In a radio interview with WND’s Greg Corombos, Hercules Vice President Andy Newland said, “We realized we had a choice nobody should really have to face. That’s the choice to do business according to our faith, which we think is really important, or pay onerous crippling fines. And nobody, we believe, should be forced to make that decision.”

The two temporary victories, in Michigan and Colorado, for religious rights could be just the tip of the iceberg, too.

The Catholic Association, or TCA, released a statement warning, “August 1, 2012, indeed marks a seismic shift in the world of religious liberty in America. Once the mandate goes into effect, the government has codified into law the notion that employers may be required to violate the teachings of their faith if they are a for-profit employer. … August 1 is D-Day for religious freedom in America.”

There have been at least 24 lawsuits filed across the nation to stop the contraception mandate from applying to various businesses.

Earlier, Wheaton College announced it had joined the Catholic University of America in filing suit before District of Columbia federal court.

Other organizations filing similar lawsuits include the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and the Catholic University of America.

And leaders of of a multitude of religious-advocacy groups are warning of the Obamacare contraception mandate consequences for business owners of faith: