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“I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2013, as Religious Freedom Day.”
Yesterday, January 16th, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation proclaiming it to be Religious Freedom Day. It’s traditional for presidents to release such a proclamation but this president is different. With President Obama, this is a hypocritical head-scratcher. Any American who assumes that religious freedom is safe and sound under the protection of the Constitution and the Obama Administration has not been paying attention.
Time and time again over the last four years we've seen this administration put their agenda over religious freedom for all Americans. In terms of Obamacare alone, this administration has trod on the religious freedom of countless citizens. Although churches are exempted from providing medications and services which are against their religion, Christian colleges, hospitals, and other organizations are not so lucky. Christian employers are also out of luck. In the case of Hobby Lobby, the owners are racking up millions in fines and fees to stay true to their religious beliefs against government diktat.
Catholic groups have also taken the administration to task for walking all over the right of a religious institution to hire at will despite these laws, an issue which went to the Supreme Court just one year ago. Even the Supreme Court which stood up for Obamacare stated that “We cannot accept the remarkable view that the Religion Clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.”
Catholic groups are also facing legal action for refusing to accept that they must take part in ceremonies which are against their religion, as though the government supersedes their beliefs.
When Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on this date in 1786, could he have foreseen such blatant disregard for religion just over two centuries in the future? I think he would have agreed with Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, who wrote to Obama saying “In its many and varied applications for Christians and people of faith, is now increasingly and in unprecedented ways under assault in America. This is most particularly so in an increasing number of federal government programs or policies that would infringe upon the right of conscience of people of faith or otherwise harm the foundational principle of religious liberty.”
In the proclamation, Obama wrote that “As we observe Religious Freedom Day, let us remember the legacy of faith and independence we have inherited, and let us honor it by forever upholding our right to exercise our beliefs free from prejudice or persecution.” We’re trying, Mr. President. Why don’t you get out of the way and let us?