OPINION: Federal contraceptive coverage rule is an attack on religious freedoms in the U.S.
The U.S. State Department has eliminated sections on religious freedom from its latest reports on human rights in the world’s nations and apparently will print that report separately as an International Religious Freedom Report.
I cannot help but wonder if that decision might have been made because of our country's current battle over the HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate (requiring health insurance coverage of contraceptives) and its attempt to encroach on the religious freedom of so many Christian organizations in the U.S. Might not the U.S. have to embarrassingly report on its own lack of religious freedom?
The following sentence opens the statement found at the State Department's website (www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/) for the International Religious Freedom Report: "The Office of International Religious Freedom has the mission of promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy." Would that it would be the core not only of our foreign policy but also of our domestic policy.
The International Religious Freedom Report has not been published in two years. This report is mandated by, and presented to, the U.S. Congress. The website further states: "The designation by the Secretary of State (under authority delegated by the President) of nations guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (H.R. 2431) and its amendment of 1999 (Public Law 106-55). Nations so designated are subject to further actions, including economic sanctions, by the United States." Are not the repercussions of the HHS mandate a "severe violation of religious freedom"?
The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Department "publishes a newsletter, Religious Freedom in Focus, covering cases involving religious freedom around the United States. In addition a number of NGOs who monitor human rights issues around the world also report on conditions in the United States." I look forward to its next issue to see how fair its coverage will be of the nation's own issues in this area.
On May 21, 43 Catholic dioceses and organization sued the Obama administration over the definition of a "religious institution" under the ObamaCare law. The Catholic Church has never undertaken something of this magnitude, yet all the major networks ignored it except for CBS Evening News, which devoted only 19 seconds to this historic event. I honestly do not have much hope for anything more than that from the Freedom Report.
Does no one else find this disturbing?
Sr. Dorcee Clarey