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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Obama Is Finishing The Work Of The American Communist Party

"I ... place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. ... Taxation follows that, and in its turn wretchedness and oppression. ... We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude." — Thomas Jefferson (1816)

A fascinating theory has been advanced by Dick Morris, which, in turn, is being considered by Rush Limbaugh and other leading conservatives. Morris speculates that the Obama HHS mandate on contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients is a fight with the Catholic Church that Team Obama wants — and with the focus based narrowly on contraception, not abortifacients.

Dick Morris may be right. It seems no accident that Obama publicly noted that the vast majority of Catholic women use contraception. Yes, the vast majority does, but the vast majority does not support abortifacients — that is, "contraceptive" drugs that cause or induce an abortion.

Obama is underscoring "contraception" generally, not abortifacients specifically. Sadly, our superficial media, which reflexively ramrods everything into a 10-second sound-bite, is aiding and abetting his tactic. Again and again, I hear reporters refer to Obama's mandate not as a mandate on "contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs" (which it is), but as simply one on "contraception" and women’s health

If Obama can successfully frame the debate that way, which should be easy with the American public, he can make great headway on this assault on the Roman Catholic Church. He will appeal to many apathetic Roman Catholics as well as many Protestants who disagree with the Catholic Church on contraception. Among non-evangelical Protestants, Obama will find lots of sympathy from the liberal mainline denominations that flew off the hinges decades ago, and some of which are members of the hideous Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Their split with Rome over matters of birth has roots in the Episcopal Church's embrace of contraception a century ago.

Speaking of a century ago, if this is indeed a gambit by Obama to pit religious believers against the Catholic Church, it would be nothing new from the radical left. Consider some examples:

In Paul Kengor’s book, Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, he highlighted the case of Anna Louise Strong. Strong was an editor to the flagship publication of the communist front Friends of the Soviet Union, which masterfully manipulated progressives like Upton Sinclair. He published a photo of Strong and Sinclair together on the "Friends" editorial page, where a stoic Sinclair vows to "expose the lies and slander" against poor old Joe Stalin — maligned by those mean American anti-communists. Click here for more photos.

Anna Louise Strong was a loyal American Bolshevik. In a July 1953 report, Congress described her as "one of the most active agents for the Communist International." She did dutiful propaganda work for Moscow, shamelessly arguing that Stalin had "conquered wheat," even publishing a widely read pamphlet by that name, when, in fact, Stalin launched a famine that killed millions.

Among Strong's propaganda work was to enlist Protestant clergy against theAnna_Louise_Strong Catholic Church. One egregious example was an incendiary letter to the editor Strong placed in the October-November 1941 issue of The Protestant. There, she made the claim that the Vatican was calling for religious freedom in the USSR not because the Soviets were blowing up churches, killing priests, and gulaging nuns, but because the Church was seeking control of Russia. This was ludicrous, but it was just what some anti-Catholic Protestants wanted to hear.

Among Strong's propaganda work was to enlist Protestant clergy against the Catholic Church. One egregious example was an incendiary letter to the editor Strong placed in the October-November 1941 issue of The Protestant. There, she made the claim that the Vatican was calling for religious freedom in the USSR not because the Soviets were blowing up churches, killing priests, and gulaging nuns, but because the Church was seeking control of Russia. This was ludicrous, but it was just what some anti-Catholic Protestants wanted to hear.

That letter from Strong was so deceptive and such blatant Soviet propaganda that it was highlighted by Congress in a major report on subversive activities by American communists.

Among the communist organs that Anna Louise Strong wrote for was the Chicago Star, known to locals as the "Red Star." The editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Star was Obama's childhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, who was a card-carrying member of Communist Party USA. You can read more about Frank Marshal Davis by clicking here.

Davis, too, targeted the Catholic Church. He wrote articles with titles like "The church's weakness," reprimanding Rome, the American bishops, and the Catholic laity for their anti-communism. In an October 1947 piece, Davis growled that "the Catholic hierarchy" had launched a "holy war against communism."

Indeed it had. As communists knew well, the Roman Catholic Church had been issuing scathing indictments of communism since the publication of Marx's Communist Manifesto in 1848 — yes, that far back — not to mention in encyclicals by Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, and others. Communists were furious when the Catholic Church issued a brilliant, blistering 1937 encyclical on atheistic communism, titled Divini Redemptoris, which called communism a "satanic scourge." One of the most prominent American Catholics leading the fight against the scourge of communists was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who had a weekly TV show from 1951 to 1957. He predated Glenn Beck in the use of a blackboard on TV.

Committed communists like Frank Marshall Davis thus took on the Catholic Church.

Davis left the Chicago Star in 1948 to head for Hawaii, where he wrote for another communist-controlled newspaper, the Honolulu Record, and where he continued to confront the Catholic Church. In one column, titled "Challenge to the Church" (September 29, 1949), Davis framed communism as friendly to Christianity and anti-communism as un-Christian. An atheist, Davis painted an image of Judgment Day, where anti-communist Christians would be called to account for opposing communism. "The Christian churches, and the Catholic church in particular," asserted Davis, "are making a grievous error in their shortsighted belief that the major enemy of Christianity is Communism." Not only was Soviet Russia not anti-religious, insisted Davis, but Stalin had spared the planet of Hitler's "anti-Christian paganism." Christians ought to thank Stalin, not criticize him.

In another typical column from this period, Frank Marshall Davis referred to anti-communist Christians as "the Pontius Pilates of 1949."

In short, American communists and the radical left generally have long targeted the Roman Catholic Church. They know their enemy, one that is both spiritual and eternal. They have long attempted to pit Protestants and Catholics against each other. It's an old art, really, that's totally forgotten today.

And so, is this tactic being resurrected right now under Barack Obama? Is this more of the "fundamental transformation" we were promised — elected by oblivious Americans in November 2008?

Though proud of Davis, and very affectionate toward him, Obama sought to obfuscate the identity of Davis in his book, Dreams from My Father, where he strangely referred to him only as "Frank," conspicuously avoiding his full name. Politically, Obama needed to make Davis anonymous, whereas, personally, he could not avoid acknowledging in his memoirs a man who meant so much to him.

If Obama can frame his mandate as a matter of contraceptive freedom — rather than an obvious constitutional affront on religious liberty — he may be able to successfully pit large numbers of Protestants and even many Catholics against the institutional Catholic Church. It would be the kind of religious agitation that would make the Marxists of the last century — particularly Obama's mentor — very proud. How's that for "hope" and "change"?

What amazes me is that 56% of Roman Catholics voted for Obama in 2008 and that Notre Dame University invited him to address their commencement in 2009 and bestowed an honorary degree on him. I am sure Bishop Sheen is turning over in his grave.

Last Friday, the White House announced that it would revise the controversial ObamaCare birth-control mandate to address religious-liberty concerns. Its proposed modifications are a farce.

The Department of Health and Human Services would still require employers with religious objections to select an insurance company to provide contraceptives and drugs that induce abortions to its employees. The employers would pay for the drugs through higher premiums. For those employers that self-insure, like the Archdiocese of Washington, the farce is even more blatant.

David Rivkin and Edward Whelan write in the Wall Street Journal that the the birth-control coverage mandate violates the First Amendment's bar against the "free exercise" of religion. But it also violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That statute, passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and by a 97-3 vote in the Senate, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It was enacted in response to a 1990 Supreme Court opinion, Employment Division v. Smith.

That case limited the protections available under the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion to those government actions that explicitly targeted religious practices, by subjecting them to difficult-to-satisfy strict judicial scrutiny. Other governmental actions, even if burdening religious activities, were held subject to a more deferential test.

The 1993 law restored the same protections of religious freedom that had been understood to exist pre-Smith. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act states that the federal government may "substantially burden" a person's "exercise of religion" only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person "is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest" and "is the least restrictive means of furthering" that interest.

The law also provides that any later statutory override of its protections must be explicit. But there is nothing in the ObamaCare legislation that explicitly or even implicitly overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The birth-control mandate proposed by Health and Human Services is thus illegal.

The refusal, for religious reasons, to provide birth-control coverage is clearly an exercise of religious freedom under the Constitution. The "exercise of religion" extends to performing, or refusing to perform, actions on religious grounds—and it is definitely not confined to religious institutions or acts of worship. Leading Supreme Court cases in this area, for example, involve a worker who refused to work on the Sabbath (Sherbert v. Verner, 1963) and parents who refused to send their teenage children to a public high school (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972).

In the high-school case, the Supreme Court found that even a $5 fine on the parents substantially burdened the free exercise of their religion. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers who fail to comply with the birth-control mandate will incur an annual penalty of roughly $2,000 per employee. So it is clearly a substantial burden.

Objecting employers could, of course, avoid the fine by choosing to go out of business. But as the Supreme Court noted in Sherbert v. Verner, "governmental imposition of such a choice puts the same kind of burden upon the free exercise of religion as would a fine imposed against" noncompliant parties.

The birth-control mandate also fails the Religious Freedom Restoration Act's "compelling governmental interest" and "least restrictive means" tests.

Does the mandate further the governmental interest in increasing cost-free access to contraceptives by means that are least restrictive of the employer's religious freedom? Plainly, the answer is no. There are plenty of other ways to increase access to contraceptives that intrude far less on the free exercise of religion.

Health and Human Services itself touts community health centers, public clinics and hospitals as some of the available alternatives; doctors and pharmacies are others. Many of the entities, with Planned Parenthood being the most prominent, already furnish free contraceptives. The government could have the rest of these providers make contraceptive services available free and then compensate them directly. A mandate on employers who object for religious reasons is among the most restrictive means the government could have chosen to increase access.

The mandate also fails the "compelling government interest" test. Given the widespread availability of contraceptive services, and the far less restrictive other ways to increase their availability, the government can hardly claim it has a "compelling" interest in marginally increasing access to birth control by requiring objecting employers to join in this effort.

The "compelling interest" claim is further undercut by the mandate's exclusion, for purely secular reasons, of employers who offer "grandfathered" plans. These are employer-provided plans that existed at the time ObamaCare was enacted and can continue to operate so long as they do not make major changes. They cover tens of millions of enrollees, according to a recent estimate by Health and Human Services.

In an effort to rally its base in the upcoming November election, the Obama administration seems more interested in punishing religiously based opposition to contraception and abortion than in marginally increasing access to contraception services. It is the combination of the political motive, together with the exclusion of so many employers from the mandate that has profound constitutional implications. It transforms the mandate into a non-neutral and not generally applicable law that violates the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause.

In short, the birth-control mandate violates both statutory law and the Constitution. The fact that the administration promulgated it so flippantly, without seriously engaging on these issues, underscores how little it cares about either.”

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