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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
-- Bill of Rights, Article 1
I’m not a scholar of the United States Constitution, though like most citizens, I certainly have a basic understanding of the meaning and intentions of the Constitution and its Amendments. And like other patriots and defenders of the Second Amendment, I believe in the sanctity of this document and its integrity.
I’m no authority on Catholicism; with the exception of some comparative religion classes in college, my understanding of Catholic theology, ideology, and practice comes from growing up with a few Catholic friends and participating in interfaith dialogs among students studying for the clergy among various denominations.
But only a complete ignoramus of Catholic belief and Constitutional Law could fail to see hugely disturbing conflicts in a recent development in the executive branch of our federal government.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal ("A Battle the President Can’t Win", by Peggy Noonan, WSJ 2/3/12):
The president signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling that says under ObamaCare Catholic institutions – including charities, hospitals and schools – will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. If they do not, they will face ruinous fines in the millions of dollars. Or they can always go out of business.
In other words, the Catholic Church was told this week that its institutions can’t be Catholic anymore.
Whether you agree or disagree with the Catholic Church’s positions on abortion, sterilization, and birth control, this draconian maneuver by the Obama administration is simply untenable. This isn’t just about the federal government vs. the Catholic Church. It is about the federal government vs. religious autonomy in America.
Therefore, as a Rabbi, an Orthodox Jew, and an American, I stand with the Catholic Church and its right to freedom of conscience. If President Obama can force Catholics to pay for abortions, then no religious belief is safe in America, and an America in which religious beliefs are not sacrosanct is an America that is unsafe not only for Jews but for all people of conscience -- whether people of faith or secularists.
While JPFO’s main focus is on the Second Amendment, we have always stood for all of the Bill of Rights for All of the People. While the Second Amendment is the "Guardian" of the Bill of Rights, all of the rights reserved for We the People must stand intact for any of them to have meaning.
With that in mind, I would remind Obama and his ilk that there are moral issues that decent men and women will fight for -- with pens and lawsuits at first, with arms if necessary. Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are foremost among them. The Second Amendment preserves not only our right to take up arms in self-defense but also our right to defend against a tyrannical government. May it be a right we never need to exercise.
Rabbi Dovid Bendory
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Rabbi Bendory is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor.
The Rabbi's Archive page.
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