Another champion of people of conscience entered the battle waging between President Obama and the Catholic Church yesterday, as Kentucky’s senior senator, Republican Mitch McConnell stood up in the U.S. Senate and defended the First Amendment rights of Americans from the current Democratic onslaught. Speaking in opposition to the Obama administration’s decision to force a mandate on healthcare providers, contrary to their religious freedom, Sen. McConnell threw down his gauntlet:
Make no mistake: the Obama Administration’s decision to force religious hospitals, charities, and schools to comply with a mandate that violates their religious views is abhorrent to the foundational principles of our nation. No one in the United States of America should ever be compelled by their government to choose between violating their religious beliefs or be penalized for refusing. Yet that’s precisely what this mandate would do.”
Of course, this battle of conscience is not limited to this nation’s Catholics; many Jews, Moslems, Protestants, and agnostics have moral objections to the mandatory financing of contraceptives and abortion pills, as the Obamacare mandate will require.
But in his speech Tuesday, Sen. McConnell stressed the fact that 1 out of 6 patients in America is treated at a Catholic hospital, and “Catholic Charities is the largest private provider of social services to poor children, families, and individuals in America… These institutions have thrived because they’ve been allowed to freely pursue their religious convictions in a country that, until now, respected their constitutional right to do so.”
McConnell suggested that the Obamacare mandate “…should send a chill up the spine of people of all religious faiths — and even those with none at all. Because if the state is allowed to violate the religious rights of one religion, then surely it can violate those of others.”
He concluded his address by prevailing upon the Obama administration to reconsider its draconian mandate. “And if they don’t,” McConnell promised, “Congress will act. The First Amendment rights of the American people must be protected. And those of us who recognize the fundamental importance of religious freedom to our nation will see to it that it is respected by this government and restored in full.”
Today, Sen. McConnell reappeared before the Senate and criticized the Democrats for refusing to allow consideration of an amendment on the Obama administration’s mandate in the health care law that violates the First Amendment rights of religious institutions:
“Republicans are trying today to reaffirm that basic right. But Democrats won’t allow it. They won’t allow those of us who were sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution to even offer an amendment that says we believe in our First Amendment right to religious freedom. I never thought I’d see the day. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life defending the First Amendment. But I never thought I’d see the day when the elected representatives of the people of this country would be blocked by a majority party in Congress to even express their support for it.”
Later this afternoon, Sen. McConnell spoke to the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, and pledged that Republicans will work to repeal Obamacare.
“Republicans in Congress want to get a waiver from Obamacare for every American,” he said. “We will fight Obamacare until Congress repeals the law or the Supreme Court strikes it down.”
When Sen. McConnell was serving as Jefferson County Judge/Executive, he no doubt frequently passed by the statue of Thomas Jefferson which stands in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse (now called Metro Hall). A gift of the Bernheim distilling family, the cast-bronze image of the author of our Declaration of Independence stands atop a reproduction of the Liberty Bell. Beneath the statue is a marble pedestal, on the western side of which is inscribed the following quotation from our third president: "I Have Sworn Upon the Altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Looks like Mitch must have taken that to heart.
The First Amendment Rights of the American People Must Be Protected
Mitch McConnell at CPAC 2012:
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