WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Obama administration’s attacks on faith-based groups represent a political power grab that, by attempting to control even the definition of religious expression, are an unprecedented danger to America’s tradition of liberty, according to the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

Carl Anderson, the head of the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, published the remarks on National Review Online on Thursday, the same day he gave remarks at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The prayer breakfast follows on the heels of the announcement of a new HHS mandate forcing religious groups to pay for abortifacient drugs, sterilizations, and other forms of birth control.

The Knight of Columbus recalled the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, who warned against the Communist’s ideological manipulation of history that caused “a closing, a locking up, of the national heart”: “even though compatriots apparently speak the same language, they suddenly cease to understand one another.”

“Religion has long been a key component in America’s national life. But today it is increasingly marginalized and erased,” said Anderson. “Today we find a new hostility to the role of religious institutions in American life, while the role of government is expanding in unprecedented ways.”

Anderson pointed to the Obama administration’s assault on religious institutions, both through the HHS mandate and the recent Supreme Court battle Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, as signs of a dangerous turning point in the government’s perspective of its relationship with religion. “The administration’s logic is shockingly consistent on these matters: Faith-based groups may function only if their ‘faith and mission’ are acceptable to the government,” he said.

“There is now, a new and unprecedented government intolerance of religion.”

Now, Anderson notes, religious leaders speaking out on moral issues in the public square are criticized for breaching the “separation of church and state” by “government officials who use their power to refashion church identity according to their own design.”

The very concept of the separation of church and state, he notes, has been corrupted to bring about precisely the “political use of religion at the service of the state” it was intended to prevent.

“I think Jefferson would have been the first to agree that if America amputates religion from American public life, liberty will soon vanish as well,” wrote Anderson.

Read Anderson’s full column on NRO here.