One of the more absurd traditions in American politics is frequent use of Presidential “proclamations.” George W. Bush made dozens in each year he was in office, and President Obama has followed suit.
However, last week's “Religious Freedom Day 2014” (RFD) is in a category of its own: President Obama actually issued a proclamation declaring January 15, 2014 a day dedicated to federal recognition of religious freedom.
That's right. The president who is trying to force nuns and priests to violate their religious beliefs is declaring official federal support for religious freedom.
The proclamation even included the following phrase:
Today, America embraces people of all faiths and of no faith.
Absurd doesn't begin to explain the insanity of the proclamation. First, the idea that America needs a RFD is redundant because the First Amendment clearly provides for freedom of religion:
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.
Second, the administration's contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate violates the religious beliefs of those whose views differ from the president's. Religious beliefs whose freedoms are guaranteed in the Constitution, a document the President seems to have forgotten about in both his regulatory policies and his ridiculous proclamation.
If President Obama really believed that America “embraces people of all faiths and no faiths,” then the religious beliefs of those who own businesses and work for religiously-affiliated hospitals, nursing homes, and schools would be considered of equal value in his administration's policies. Instead, the HHS mandate puts the beliefs of those who think contraception, abortion, and sterilization are morally acceptable above those who do not.
Does the United States of America truly “embrace people of all faiths and of no faith?” Ask those who are seeing their rights yanked away by the mandate, which went into nearly full effect on January 1 of this year. Or you can simply look at how 52 of 59 courts across the country – including the Supreme Court, in a decision by Obama appointee Justice Sotomayor – have protected those whose religious beliefs America does not embrace under our 44th President.
This post will not attempt to uncover President Obama's motives in issuing this proclamation. Whether unacceptably obtuse or intentionally insulting, the proclamation has no place in 2014's America.