Never has religious liberty been more seriously threatened than it is today. That the man responsible for this all-out assault professes to be a Catholic is all the more offensive. It is his Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that are leading the charge.
News of Biden's latest war on religious liberty was selectively leaked to the media in mid-November. A draft memo by OCR to HHS indicates the Biden administration is planning to revoke the Trump administration's policies governing religious liberty, including conscience rights.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who has a long record of trampling on religious liberty, is working in tandem with OCR to eviscerate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In his capacity as California Attorney General, he sued the Little Sisters of the Poor for resisting the HHS mandate of the Obama Administration; it tried to force the nuns to provide for abortion-inducing drugs in their healthcare plans.
OCR is contending that the Trump Administration "took an expansive view of the use of RFRA that resulted in negative impacts for underserved communities." Translated this means that attempts of radical homosexual and transgender activists to impose their secular agenda on religious institutions and agencies were blocked from doing so by the previous administration. The Biden team wants to undo all of that.
Becerra is actively seeking to gut a wide range of religious liberty exemptions that lawmakers and the courts have granted. He is doing an end run around legislators, appealing to the courts to satisfy his agenda. In court filings obtained by the Catholic Benefits Association, there is a symbiotic relationship between HHS and left-wing activist organizations, the most prominent of which is the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The evidence shows that transgender rights and abortion rights are being pursued full throttle. Their success depends on the destruction of religious liberty exemptions put in place by the courts, lawmakers, and administrative agencies. More than any other entity, it is Catholic institutions that are under the most severe attack.
If Biden gets his way, Catholic doctors and hospitals will lose their autonomy. They will either have to shut down or bend to the anti-Catholic norms of his administration. It's just that serious.
Currently, no Catholic doctor can be forced to perform gender-transition surgery, and Catholic hospitals can refuse a request by a transgender woman — meaning a woman who claims to be a man — from doing a hysterectomy. Biden wants to change that. He also wants to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. Not to be outdone, Biden wants to deny Catholic hospitals the right not to hire abortionists, doctors who perform abortions.
Biden has also invented a new right: the right of "socially infertile" single persons and homosexual couples to receive fertility treatments. His administration actually believes that these people cannot "reproduce via sexual intercourse due to social factors (my italic)." And what might these social factors be? A "lack of a partner or because of a person's sexual orientation."
In other words, it is not biology that stops single people and homosexual couples from having babies — it is society. This is the kind of insanity that happens when nature, and nature's God, are dismissed and disdained. Regrettably, not only is this nonsense accepted by left-wing organizations, it is embraced by the ruling class, including elites in the healthcare industry. None of them have the guts to call this out for what it is — madness. They are complicit in this contrived universe.
Similarly, denying a woman an abortion, or what Biden prefers to call "termination of pregnancy," is a matter of sex discrimination. He, and those who work for him, contend that men can also become pregnant. Yet none of them can provide a scintilla of evidence—taken from any country in the history of the world—to verify this baseless claim.
There are several pieces of legislation written by Democrats, such as the Equality Act, that are designed to crush Catholic institutions, but they have been stalled in committee due to their lack of public support. That is why OCR and HHS have elected to bypass Congress and seek court approval for their extremist policies.
The Leadership Conference, which is feeding the Biden team, is comprised of many familiar left-wing organizations. The ACLU, American Atheists, the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Rights Campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for American Progress are all on board. Their hostility to religious liberty in general, and Catholic rights in particular, are well known. What is not widely known is that AARP is a member of this organization. Catholics take note.
We are contacting every senator, in both parties, about our concerns. We ask that you contact your own senators. It is also important to let OCR know of your objections to its radical agenda.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of nine books and many articles.