Floyd Reports Opinion


The HHS Mandate, Twitter, and America’s Outrage



During the period of time in which the first few Republican debates took place, President Obama had been asked what he thought of the candidates’ performances; he had smugly responded that he hadn’t watched them. He probably didn’t watch the post-primary speeches either; perhaps he should have. On January 31, Gingrich  stated regarding the ObamaCare HHS Mandate that  “the Obama Administration has declared war on the Catholic Church.” He adding that as President,  he would sign an executive order on his first day in office repealing all anti-religious legislation by the Obama administration. After Gingrich got trounced in the Nevada Primary on Feb 4, he made another statement about the HHS mandate, this time in much more detail and with an absolute outrage at the government’s encroaching reach into our religious freedoms. Few reporters were present, and none of the networks discussed his remarks. That he had made a statement about the HHS mandate couldn’t be determined from the Leftist articles and blogs that abounded. According to the media: his remarks were “rambling,” he had “railed for twenty minutes” on Romney’s attack ads, he had “snapped” at a reporter, and he was “defiant.” None of this was true. What was true was that he eloquently expanded on his repudiation of the HHS mandate, and he also predicted that the Catholic church would rise up in outrage at this intrusion on religious liberty. He began with this statement:  “The Obama administration has declared war on religious freedom in this country, and people need to understand that. This is a decision  so totally outrageous and an illustration of such radical secular ideology, that I believe the entire hierarchy will oppose it every inch of the way.” What Gingrich probably didn’t realize, however, was that it would take about four days for this to occur, and what would occur would in fact not be outrage. It would be  something much more, including Christian calls for civil disobedience, the willingness of some to go to jail, and in some cases the willingness of some to die to avoid violating their beliefs.


Let us back up for a moment and give a chronology of what occurred in this four day period, and also discuss why the public went from moderate anger on the evening of February 4 to calls for civil disobedience by February 8.


January 26 
Catholic bishops across the country send out a letter that is to be read in all parishes across the United States, which repudiates the ObamaCare HHS mandate, calling for civil disobedience rather than violate their conscience. Each parish is allowed to tailor the letter to their specific congregations. One letter read in part:


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as part of their policies. 
In so ruling, they have cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And, as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
January 28
petition is created on the White House website, stating that the HHS mandate is unconstitutional and that it should be rescinded.
January 31
During the Florida post-primary speech, Gingrich states that “The Obama Administration has declared war on the Catholic Church” in regards to the HHS mandate.
February 1
Gingrich writes an open letter to conservatives repudiating the HHS mandate, expanding on his statement of January 31, the crux of which is that President Obama’s order is a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of conscience and an unprecedented assault on Christianity.
February 3
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) responds to a posting on the White House Blog (which appears to have been removed) addressing the concerns the Catholic church has with the HHS mandate, in which the organization states unequivocally that the statements made by the White House were either misleading or outrightly false.
February 3
An article appears on Business Insider stating that Army chaplains had been planning on reading the January 26 USCCB letter to Catholic troops; however, because the letter called for civil disobedience (and would be tantamount to sedition), the chaplains were ordered to censor portions of the letter.
February 4
Gingrich makes another statement about the HHS mandate after the Nevada Primary, this time in much more detail and with an absolute rage at the government’s encroaching reach into our religious freedoms.
February 6
USCCB sends out a detailed statement entitled “Six Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate.”
February 6
Jim Towey, President of Ave Maria University, states that his university will not comply with the HHS mandate.
February 7
An article originally appearing December 1, 2011 quoting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi referring to  bishops opposed to the HHS mandates as “lobbyists” appears all over.
February 7
Congressman Tom Rooney calls the HHS mandate unconstitutional; he states it should be rescinded and that ObamaCare should be repealed.
February 8
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, calls for civil disobedience of the HHS mandate and expresses his willingness to go to jail rather than comply with the mandate.
February 8
Senator John Thune calls the HHS mandate a dismantling of religious liberty during press a conference.
February 8
Senator Rand Paul writes an op-ed for National Review Online calling the HHS mandate totalitarian and authoritarian.
February 8
Obama meets with a small group of Democrats, mostly women, in which he states that he will refuse to back down on the HHS mandate. Several of those included in the meeting hold a press conference, castigating Republicans for attacking women and trying to rescind the HHS mandate. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand states in part:  “The power to decide whether or not to use contraception lies with a woman—not her boss. What is more intrusive than trying to allow an employer to make medical decisions for someone who works for them?”
During these four days, from February 4-8, there were innumerable articles written, too many to list them all. Many posted blogs. Hundreds of thousands of emails were passed back and forth.  More importantly, however, a huge discussion occurred on Twitter, including links to articles, websites, calls to support the Catholic church, and even calls for civil disobedience; watching the timeline was like watching a large caldron of water slowly come to a boil. For those of us who spend a lot of time watching the Twitter timeline advance, we saw there were a few tweets about the HHS mandate beginning on February 4th, but by the evening of February 8, the traffic was like a flood, a tidal wave.
Twitter has become the river, the lifeblood of America. The discussion of the HHS mandate rode within that lifeblood, like oxygen bringing life to a public gasping because of a biased and ineffective media. That river, evaporating into the sky, gathered in dark clouds and rained down on the American people. It was like an approaching storm, then a flood, then a tidal wave. It began as a few drops, an irritation by Catholics that government was once again intruding into their lives. The drops became more frequent as irritation turned into outrage. It was then a downpour with thunder and lightning, which was a call to take to the streets. Water filled the streets; people were swept away, with some calling for civil disobedience and willing to go to jail. That flood became a tidal wave, washing everything away. Christians state they would die before being forced to comply with an intrusion on their religious liberty. Death? This type of fervor has not occurred for a very long time. Remember that people have chosen to be burned at the stake instead of giving up their religious beliefs. Or even crucified. Has America come to that? Is that where Obama has brought us?
Newt Gingrich got a lot of flack for praising Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad, charging it was a nod to Chrysler and Obama’s success at bailing them out. I beg to differ. If Romney would have repeated the metaphor, “It’s Halftime in America,” trying to be a conservative, he would have been speaking a second language. If Santorum would have said it, it would have simply been an echo of what America felt. But when Newt Gingrich said it, it was because his heart beats with ours. He felt our outrage at the HHS mandate before we felt it. Gingrich is America and we are Gingrich.
Kris Zane is editor of The Obama Files

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.


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