Our federal government, charged under the Constitution not only to respect, but to protect and defend, our most fundamental freedoms, has now imposed upon people of all faiths a mandate that their institutions provide insurance to their employees to pay for abortion inducing drugs, surgical sterilizations, and contraceptives.
There is, for all intents and purposes, no recognition of the rights of conscience for those Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or other faith-based employers to be free of this imposition.
The Catholic Church, as the largest provider of faith-based education, health care, and social services for the poor, is on the front lines of the struggle, but because of the required abortion drug coverage and the violation of religious freedom at the heart of the mandate, it is a struggle that implicates all believers. If the mandate is rammed down the throats of Catholics, no people of faith will be safe.
The Catholic bishops of the United States, dozens of whom are signers of the Manhattan Declaration, have made clear that they cannot and will not bend to the mandate. If forced to choose between the law of Christ and the edict of Caesar, they have no doubt about which master they will serve. If necessary, they are prepared to close institutions, and even go to jail, rather than comply with a human dictate in violation of what they believe, in conscience, to be the will of God.
All of us pledged such fidelity in the Manhattan Declaration. We saw this day coming, though few of us realized it would come so soon. Now we face the test: Will we, as we promised to do, “ungrudgingly give to Caesar whatbelongs to Caesar, but under no circumstances give to Caesar what belongs to God”?
The above was adapted from the Manhattan Declaration website on February 7th by Carol Conley. Conley is director of the Maine Family Policy Council.