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Thomas: Why is the Catholic Church surprised?
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In the months prior to the 2008 U.S. presidential election, then-candidate Barack Obama said, "The first thing I'll do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."

FOCA, as co-sponsor Sen. Barbara Boxer described, "supersedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman's right to choose. That means a poor woman cannot be denied the use of Medicaid if she chooses to have an abortion."

Back in December 2008, just after Obama's election as president (winning 54 percent of the Catholic vote), I noted that, according to New York Post columnist Ray Kerrison, Obama's commitment to the Freedom of Choice Act "dominated (the U.S. Catholic Bishops') discussions at their annual convention in Baltimore last month."

In his column, Kerrison said that FOCA "would also compel taxpayers to fund abortions and provide abortions in military hospitals. Most provocatively of all, it would force religious hospital and health care institutions to perform abortions in violation of their convictions."

Kerrison added that, "If President-elect Barack Obama goes through with his campaign pledge to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act, holy hell is going to break loose." He concluded that, "FOCA means war."

Of course, FOCA never made it out of Congress. Thus, Obama never got the chance to keep his pledge to sign the infamous bill, and the "war" with the Catholic Church had to wait a few years.

Furthermore, while a member of the Illinois state Senate, Obama opposed a bill that mirrored the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. He took to the floor and gave the only speech against the bill, saying, "I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute." (What? We need the "equal protection clause" to tell us that we shouldn't kill our children?)

The Catholic Church teaches that health care is "a basic human right," and has been very supportive of the idea of the U.S. federal government implementing universal health care. Enter Obamacare. For months leading up to the final passage of Obamacare, Catholic Bishops lobbied heavily for its passage, minus federal funding of abortion. Once House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to add the Stupak amendment to the House version of Obamacare, the bishops were onboard.

Though the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the version of Obamacare that passed (because of the removal of the Stupak amendment), they did not support GOP efforts to repeal it once Republicans took control of congress. Also, some Catholic leaders supported Obamacare in spite of the lack of the Stupak amendment.

Regardless of previous positions on Obamacare, and in spite of Obama's recent retreat, the Catholic Church is now in an all-out war with the Obama administration over contraception. This begs the questions: Why the outrage now? What did they expect?

In other words, there was no reason to believe that Obama was going to be anything other that a radical liberal on social issues. The time for "war" with Obama was before he was elected leader of the free world. However, in partnering with Democrats and liberals, it seems that many within the leadership of the Catholic Church have for far too long been willing to violate my proverb that, "It is no act of charity to be generous with someone else's money."

Or, as Paul Rahe recently put it, the American Catholic Church decades ago "fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States — the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity — and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor."

The contraception mandate is classic example of "state paternalism." It is exactly what one gets when the people surrender that kind of power to their government. If liberals remain in power, the result will be no different when the issue comes to marriage or any other matter precious to Christians and other like-minded Americans.

Left unfettered, the slow creep of liberalism knows no bounds. As Mark Steyn recently noted, "In Sweden, expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church ... In Canada, the courts rule that Catholic schools must allow gay students to take their same-sex dates to the prom."

Elections have consequences. If Americans continue in their willingness to surrender more of their liberty in order to receive another entitlement, we will even further embolden those, who, while claiming to serve us, are seeking to become our masters.

Trevor Thomas is a Hall County resident and frequent columnist.

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