In an article in The Hill’s Healthwatch, Alexander Bolton raises the specter that President Obama has not only lost the support of some Catholic voters over the religious liberty issue, but that the situation could worsen when the U.S. Catholic bishops stage their planned religious liberty rallies during the two weeks leading up to July 4th. If the protestors engage in civil disobedience, which is apparently a strategy being considered, then the media photo-fest of nuns and priests in handcuffs would spell bad news for Mr. Obama.

The religious protest might even throw the election to the Republicans, said a pollster for The Catholic Association, an organization I had never heard of. I tried to find out, but its Web site defines it as “dedicated to being a faithful Catholic voice in the public square.” The site includes no address and no names or photos of real members, leaders, or backers; it gives an email and phone number for a single media contact. One can almost see the Great Oz behind this site, pushing buttons from behind the curtain, only the curtain is Internet anonymity. Virtual reality is over the rainbow, where you can make up a new name and “found” hundrends of organizations if you have the time, money and inclination. And this organization does; it has paid for a national survey on religious liberty, the results of which are to come soon.

Still, the arrest of sincere religious protestors does sound like a situation the Obama administration (or any) would want to prevent. It is troubling that the many avenues of negotiation and dialogue possible between religious and political leaders seem to be obstructed during an election year. I wonder how much resolution either side is seeking now. Mr. Obama’s opponents seem to prefer litigation to negotiation; litigation always pays off, at least for the litigators.

Karen Sue Smith

Comments

Tom Maher | 4/25/2012 - 4:36pm
Tom Blackburn # 7

To bring everyone up to speed,  a companion aritcle in this weeks America Magazine titled "Demand Freedom" states the Bishops in an April 12 statement titled "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty"on Religious Liberties in Ameirca called for a "forthnigh for freedom from June 21 to July 4th as a special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action".  

So it is now common knowledge the Bishops are openly involved with promoting public imformation and support events for Religious Liberties.   The Bishops' statement says that Religous Liberties are under attack in America and need to be supported. 

Many Catholics before this April 12 statement were already well aware that there is a problem with thte federal and some state and local governements who continue to  limit the free exercise of religion and intrude in the practice of religion, most notably in the case of the HHS regultion whcih defines what a Religous institution is and is not - a well recognized Consistutional violation where the government attempts to define a  religion and its practices, and a regul;ation requiring a religious insitution to act against its religious  beliefs as if we do not have First Amendment Religious Liverty rights.  

The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land and very important to most Americans.  The Bishops are preforming a major public service in reminding all of us of these imost mportant rights and the need to protect and perpetuate Religious Liberty  rights. 
ed gleason | 4/25/2012 - 7:06pm
Josh; from past posts I think you are a youngster. you say
''I remember many priests (including Jesuits), nuns and lay people being publicly arrested and led away in handcuffs during the Bush 41 administration in protest of its activities in Central America'
I think you mis-remember. It was the Reagan administration that brought out the CA protests.  When Bush 1 invaded Panama.. the protestors were silent.. [even the Jesuits] next?
Michael Appleton | 4/25/2012 - 6:19pm
Frankly, I find the idea of an anonymous "Catholic" organization offensive.  Any group that purports to speak on behalf of Catholics while hiding the identity of its leadership lacks genuineness.  I would not at all be surprised to learn that this "association" consists of two guys and a checkbook.
JIM MCCREA | 4/25/2012 - 5:55pm
This is a case where my gramma was correct when she wagged here finger and intoned:

Fool's names and fool's faces will always be found in public places.

An attempt to elicit sympathy within the general populace most likely will engender snarkiness and rejection.  The idea that members of this church with a 2,000 history of persecution under its belt actually expect the public to believe that they are being persecuted is beyond belief.
T BLACKBURN | 4/25/2012 - 5:17pm
Now that everyone is up to speed, let us count the six leading offenders specifically noted by the USCCB. We have an "especially Alabama" (governor, both houses of the legislature, Republican). We have the state of Connecticut (governor, both houses Democratic). We have various states and the District of Columbia. We have the law school of the University of California at Hastings. We have New York City (mayor independent). And then we have President Obama with two counts of attacking religious liberty.

We look around this great and diverse land and see infringements on the religious liberty of Muslims, Indians, Jehovah's Witnesses and others. But the bishops did not look around this great and diverse land for examples of religious depredations against other folks (with the odd exception of New York City's no-church-services-in-schools rule, which hits small Protestant bodies more than Catholics).

But anyway, we have, by the bishops' count, one-third of the offenses being committed by Mr. Obama, and if you expand your vision you can find offenses at any and all levels of government, regardless of party (or lack thereof).

So how come nearly everyone who comments on the June-July plan knows it is directed against Barack Obama? Get me up to speed on that, please.
T BLACKBURN | 4/25/2012 - 2:29pm
Tom Maher, the  article in The Hill doesn't quote any bishops. It quotes "religious activists" and Deal Hudson. Maybe Mr. Hudson knows something the rest of us don't know, but there seems to be a heavy dollop of wishful thinking there.

But since "fortunately" the Church is not a fringe or marginal organization in this age, it "fortunately" doesn't need to threaten mob rule, as you say. Of course, the question, then, is why a fortunate institution is, even in the top, gettings its albs into such a twist.
Tom Maher | 4/25/2012 - 1:56pm
This article's assessment of Religious Liberty demonstration encouraged by the Bishops is very  unrealistic.  This  article misanalizes what the true motivations, purposes and goals and resources of the Bishops are.  The suggestion that the Bishops would have any interest, need or aim to casue or promote any civil unrest, civil disobidience or civil disorder is fantasy.

Glaringly this assessment very badly underestimates the considerable persuasive resources the Bushops have to communicate directly with the public.   The Bishops have no need or inclination to be secretive or indirect in communicating to the public any grievance the Church may have.  

Very fortuantely in this age the Church is not a fringe or marginal organization.  Rather the Church is a significant and well established moral and political force in our society that should be reconned with.  Yet extremely unwisely and against the advice of several top White House advisors  the Obama admisnistration deliberatley attacked the Church during an election year.  So yes the Obama administration in its ineptness without the Bishops doing anything  has once again proven to be its own worst enemy.  The Obama administration has reckelssly miscalculated that an attack on the Church would be a net politcal advnatage with certain political groups such as women.  The likely result without the Bishops doing anything is significant number of Catholics will be very skeptical if the Obama adminstration wantonly divisive political tactics, 

The Bishops job now is to simply remind the public of the imporatnce of First Amendment Reglious Liberties to protect the Church adiscourage the Obama administration or anyone else from further attacks on Religious Liberties.  
Joshua DeCuir | 4/25/2012 - 1:04pm
"It is troubling that the many avenues of negotiation and dialogue possible between religious and political leaders seem to be obstructed during an election year. I wonder how much resolution either side is seeking now. Mr. Obama’s opponents seem to prefer litigation to negotiation; litigation always pays off, at least for the litigators."

I remember many priests (including Jesuits), nuns and lay people being publicly arrested and led away in handcuffs during the Bush 41 administration in protest of its activities in Central America.  I'm certain there were America writers back then decrying the "obstruction" of dialogue and negotiation from those troublesome rabble rousers, right?

As for being open to negotiation and dialogue, Commonweal notes that the Administration just hired the spokesman for Planned Parenthood as the HHS spokesman.  Real openness to alternative points of view.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 4/25/2012 - 11:43am
When left-wing nuns and priests want to be photographed in handcuffs, they break into military bases and symbolically attack nuclear weapons. Could some habit and cassock circus be planning something like that? Break into an HHS office building and symbolically tear up insurance contracts? 

Left-wing nuns and priests who get themselves jailed for assaulting nuclear weapons usually elicit a huge yawn from the press. How much difference will gaudy medieval costumes make? Maybe they'll bring along a host in a monstrance and try to get it confiscated?

The police know a lot about preventing these stunts. It's very rare that anybody manages to get arrested at an abortion clinic and it's certainly not because they're not trying.

Personally, I'm still planning to vote for Romney, becaue he's clearly the best-qualified for the job. In my book, social issues are political theater for the (not unsubstantial) part of the electorate who are too dumb to grok economics and foreign policy. But if the GOP really insists on making a complete laughingstock of the 1HCC, I just might pull a lever for Obama.
David Pasinski | 4/25/2012 - 11:21am
My poor spelling and proof-reading. As you may guess, I was trying to say that the religious congregations have been "maligned" by the hierarchy and I would not predict them to join hands in protest. However, that shortchanges some of the 10% or so of more traditional congregations who may be in full habit and particpate in whatever!

And I'm still wbaiting to see any fallout from whatever happens in Philly and KC....and with Jenky's rhetoric!
David Pasinski | 4/25/2012 - 10:55am
While the theatre would be fascinating, I think the framing of the issue and the protest itself wirh "chains" to what is a mystery. An HHS directive? Perhaps some would choose the more graphic route of Operation Rescue, but I don't think most would see that as effective.
And the reaction of "the fathful"? And the CHA- wkith its many religious who have been aligned by the bishops?  And other bed-fellows? Many variables that would be grist for the mill, but not necesssarity damage the Administration except for those already voting against it.
T BLACKBURN | 4/25/2012 - 10:53am
Protests?
You mean like Westboro Baptist Church making fools of itself and its doctrine by protesting gay rights at military funerals? I didn't realize the NCCB was that hysterical.

Protest what?
A law that hasn't taken effect? The pre-4th of July ralliers won't be able to practice civil disobedience because there won't be a law to disobey yet. The only way they can get arrested, then, is to throw a rock at a policeman or do something else equally irrelevant and obnoxious. Lovely thought. I won't be there. The anonymous Catholic folks promoting this nonsense may think they miss Pontius Pilate, but they probably would have been in the back of the pack when he was around.

And BTW, Obama lost my vote over other things back when the bishops were still practicing saying "dewfall" without giggling and getting their "graciously grant"s in order. He may, however, get it back out of sympathy if the current hysteria continues to grow.