Catholic Bishops Ready for Civil Disobedience: ‘Disobeying Some Unjust Laws Justified’
A new document published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops(USCCB) is preparing Catholics across the nation for the prospect of engaging in massive civil disobedience in response to the HHS mandate requiring Catholic-affiliated institutions to provide free contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs to employees.
The document, which has been prepared as a church bulletin insert, to be distributed in Catholic parishes throughout the country, suggests that the current campaign for religious liberty may be the largest example of civil disobedience since the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago. The bishops refer to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who boldly asserted, “I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’”
“The civil rights movement,” the document states, “was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences.” The bishops go on to say:
Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.
This document follows a dozen organized lawsuits, featuring 43 plaintiffs, in federal courts across the country, claiming that the Obama administration is violating the religious freedom of Catholics and others through the HHS mandate.
Despite the bold response to the HHS mandate presented by the Catholic bishops to the Obama administration, a Rasmussen poll indicates that 77% of liberal voters and 66% of all Democrats say it would be unlikely for Catholic organizations such as schools, hospitals, universities and charities, to shut down to avoid the mandate. The poll shows that most Democrats and two-thirds of liberals believe most religious organizations should be required to implement the law even if it violates their beliefs.
The Catholic bishops have called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a two-week “special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action,” from June 21st to July 4th. The first day of the “fortnight” is the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, who were both beheaded in 1535 by King Henry VIII when they refused to act against their conscience and take an oath asserting that the king was the supreme authority over the church in England.
In Ohio, California, and Iowa, both President and Mrs. Obama responded, during campaign speeches, to the lawsuits filed by the Catholic dioceses and organizations. President Obama said:
We don’t need another political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, or getting rid of Planned Parenthood or taking away affordable birth control. We don’t need that. I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same economic opportunities as my sons. We’re not turning back the clock. We're not going back there.
Similarly, Mrs. Obama asserted:
You can tell people how, because we passed health reform, insurance companies will now have to cover preventive care--have to. Things like contraception, cancer screenings, prenatal care--and they have to do it at no extra cost. People have to understand that’s what that fight was for.