February 11, 2012
Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak
Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
927 S. Logan Boulevard
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
Dear Bishop Bartchak,
I write to you today, a few short hours after President Obama announced his decision to make an “accommodation” to religiously-affiliated institutions, for three reasons:
First, to express my gratitude to you and your fellow Bishops for taking a stand against this unconstitutional and unconscionable mandate. Thank you for your leadership that says, by its action, that there absolutely is a power greater than the federal government, that our rights and liberties flow directly from the Creator to individuals, free from the capricious interpretation of any official, elected or otherwise.
Second, to assure you of my absolute and unwavering support of you and the Bishops’ position on this issue. As a Catholic and owner of a business that employs more than 30 people, I too cannot and will not comply with this administration’s illegal rule. We have seen that this administration has no problem lying directly to Cardinal-designate Dolan, other members of congress and to the American people about his intentions. He has abused and is not therefore worthy of our trust.
Finally, I ask you and your fellow Bishops to stand strong in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Please do not be swayed by the administration’s simple attempt at obfuscation. Mr. Obama’s “accommodation” is aimed solely at still getting to his desired outcome without regard to the fact that “free contraception” is no more a right than free candy.
In fact. this overtly shallow attempt at social engineering and redistribution is insulting to any thinking citizen. The mandate steps beyond the law and creates a positive obligation that one entity (employer, insurance company, taxpayer, etc.) pays for something for someone else. This is illegal and immoral. More ominously, the administration’s clear disregard for the constitution and for individual rights shows that they see no limits on their own power nor on the government’s power to pick winners and losers. Bottom line: this is not the proper role for government and in fact, these rules serve only to pit one constituency against another.
Progressives like the president are fond of using the “it’s complicated” explanation followed by the offer of a false choice. In this example, the president said yesterday:
"This is an issue where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone," Mr. Obama said Friday. "With today's announcement, we've done that. Religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women."
It is a lie to say that this is complicated. It is not. The government has no role here. Secondly, it is a lie and a false choice to say that if women do not receive free contraception, they are discriminated against. Finally, it is a lie to state that this rule protects religious liberty. It does not.
I beg you and your fellow Bishops not to accept the President’s sham of an “accommodation.” If the insurance companies pay for contraception and sterilization how is this any different? We, the employer, still need to pay the insurance companies. Perhaps this is emblematic of Mr. Obama’s own failure to see obvious truth when it gets in the way of his own ambition.
Let’s stand together as a people of God. I pledge my support in any way you require.
Robert R. Shearer