Joe Biden’s secularism pervades the federal government. He is rooting out all the rules and regulations that his predecessor established in defense of religious freedom. Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rescinded Donald Trump’s rule protecting religious foster care and adoption agencies. Biden seeks to cut off federal funding to any such agencies that do not conform to his LGBTQ agenda.
Xavier Becerra, Biden’s HHS Secretary, dismissed Trump’s rule as “a blanket use of religious exemptions against any person or blank checks to allow discrimination against any persons, importantly including LGBTQ+ persons in taxpayer-funded programs.”
According to National Catholic Register, Becerra is also hatching a broad plan to wipe out the religious freedom of health-care providers — a rule that would force them to “comply with abortion and gender-transition agendas.” The publication reports that the Biden administration is working with secularist groups to formulate this new rule, which would go far beyond Barack Obama’s contraceptive mandate.
In a recent legal filing, HHS acknowledged the existence of a “health-care task force of activist groups coordinated by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights that included Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Center for American Progress, the Human Rights Campaign and others,” reports National Catholic Register. “HHS was discussing with these groups how to change the rule for Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.”
This change would crush religious hospitals. They would find themselves under a mandate to perform transgender surgeries and abortions. “There’s no place to hide from this,” Doug Wilson, CEO of the Catholic Benefits Association, said to National Catholic Register. The rule change, he said, “would effectively remove all religious considerations from issues around life, family, marriage, the very nature of men and women.”
HHS is working off a memo put together by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights that treats the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as a hindrance to be ignored. The memo asserts that “RFRA is not a prophylactic statute that imposes rulemaking requirements on government agencies.” National Catholic Register also reports that the memo “takes explicit aim at religious exemptions from government mandates and specifically criticizes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ‘Ethical and Religious Directives’ that govern Catholic health-care providers.”
“Religious exemptions have serious and harmful implications,” says the memo. “They were thought of as a way to preserve religious freedom and independence. However, they often come as a societal cost that can impact other community members. Impacts of a religious exemption cannot be siloed from other areas of society.”
In other words, the fulfillment of liberalism’s abortion rights and LGBTQ agenda requires suppressing religious freedom. Biden is itching to secularize Catholic hospitals in particular, because they provide treatment to such a large number of Americans.
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori calls HHS’s plans “breathtaking in their scope and completely lacking in any religious-freedom provisions.”
“I am very concerned that such rulemaking is now in process,” Lori told National Catholic Register. “I think it is important that dioceses, religious orders and Catholic apostolates of all kinds be aware early on this is coming down the track. And it is not simply about covering things in our insurance plans, objectionable as that is, but it’s also about the providing of [objectionable] services, particularly on the part of our health-care ministries.”
During the Obama era, the late Chicago Cardinal Francis George mused that Catholic hospital directories might one day become souvenirs, as Catholic hospitals “close” under secularist edicts. He thought that those hospitals would go bankrupt under punishing fines or simply be “co-opted” by the federal government. He noted that the secularists, far from respecting the separation of church and state, sought to control the religious: “The bishops would love to have the separation between church and state we thought we enjoyed just a few months ago, when we were free to run Catholic institutions in conformity with the demands of the Catholic faith, when the government couldn’t tell us which of our ministries are Catholic and which not, when the law protected rather than crushed conscience. The state is making itself into a church.”
He was right. Obama was turning the federal government into a national religion of wokeness — a project utterly at odds with the First Amendment that Biden hopes to complete.