A proposal in the U.S. Senate to ensure continued protections offered to religious institutions under the Constitution was effectively defeated in a procedural vote of 51-48 last week.
The defeat of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), was a defeat for religious liberty and conscience rights. Unfortunately, the debate leading up to the vote was dominated by misrepresentations and even outright fear mongering by those who opposed the legislation. Sadly, Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse voted to kill the bill and added to this blunt attack on religious freedom in our nation by President Obama and his pro-abortion allies.
The Blunt Amendment is a response to the Obama Administration’s recent healthcare edict that requires all organizations to cover, for free, contraception, sterilizations and abortion inducing drugs for women regardless of their religious or moral convictions. Failure to do comply with President Obama’s mandate would result in punitive measures. The Obama Healthcare Mandate has been described by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as an “unprecedented attack” on religious liberty. USCCB President, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan suggested: “We know so very well that religious freedom is our heritage, our legacy and our firm belief, both as loyal Catholics and Americans. There have been many threats to religious freedom over the decades and years, but these often came from without. This one sadly comes from within. As our ancestors did with previous threats, we will tirelessly defend the timeless and enduring truth of religious freedom.”
Unfortunately 51 U.S. senators betrayed Catholics and Americans of every faith and no faith who support the freedom of religion in our nation. In voting to defeat the Blunt Amendment they demonstrated that they would rather adhere to partisan and divisive election year politics rather than the great American tradition of religious freedom. Unfortunately 13 professed Catholic senators including local Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and John Kerry (D-MA) joined in this betrayal of freedom as they chose party politics above freedom of religion.
However, two other Catholic senators demonstrated great courage in rejecting the Obama Administration’s partisan politics and boldly supported the Blunt Amendment. We commend Senators Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV) for their vote for freedom of religion and conscience. Their courageous vote in support of religious freedom stands in stark contrast the 13 Catholic senators who shamefully voted to effectively kill the Blunt Amendment. These 13 Catholic senators proved once again that they prefer to be disciples of party politics rather than faithful servants of the common good.