From another excellent piece by George Weigel, “After ‘United For Religious Freedom'”, posted today on the National Review site:
As for next steps, the Lori committee on religious liberty will shortly issue a comprehensive statement on the nature of religious freedom and the many ways in which the first liberty is under assault; the Obama administration will not be the only target here — not for the sake of “balance,” but for the sake of the facts. That statement, it is hoped, will be widely circulated in American parishes and will provide substantive material for discussion of the religious-freedom issue in Catholic churches and schools throughout the country.
As for attempts to find a remedy to the threat posed by the HHS mandate, “United for Religious Freedom” pledged the bishops to engage in a serious dialogue with the administration on the unacceptability of both the mandate and the faux “accommodation.” But the bishops are not fools; they understand, as the administration made clear in HHS’s March 16 “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPRM), that the White House will try to drag this out as long as possible, convinced that its “war on women” mantra is an electoral winner; and the leadership of the bishops’ conference does not intend to play the role the administration has assigned it in this cynical game. “Staying in play” is no longer the prime imperative. So it should be no surprise if, after further attempts at “dialogue” with a White House that has already said that the bishops’ principal concerns are not on the table, the USCCB makes clear that it will no longer participate in a charade that served one side’s political purposes.
The USCCB will continue to support the Fortenberry bill in the House, passage of which would help nail down the point that the Senate vote against the Blunt amendment (which would have restored the religious freedoms embedded in Hillarycare) does not represent anything like a national consensus. But whatever Father Reese’s judgment of the bishops’ political smarts, they know quite well what the Fortenberry bill’s fate will be when it is sent across the Capitol to the black hole presided over by Harry Reid. So the quite realistic leaders of the bishops’ conference know that the winning strategy here involves the federal courts, where they can be expected to have the backing of world-class legal talent.
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