“Based upon the current government’s threatened infringement upon the Church’s religious exercise of its ministry, Bishop Jenky offered historical context and comparisons as a means to prevent a repetition of historical attacks upon the Catholic Church and other religions,” said Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Peoria Diocese.
“Bishop Jenky gave several examples of times in history in which religious groups were persecuted because of what they believed,” Gibson said. “We certainly have not reached the same level of persecution. However, history teaches us to be cautious once we start down the path of limiting religious liberty.”
First of all, nothing Obama has done — including his recent policy guaranteeing women’s access to contraception — violates the Catholic Church’s religious liberty under the United States Constitution. As conservative Justice Antonin Scalia (who happens to be Catholic) explained in a seminal Supreme Court decision more than two decades ago, “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a ‘valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).’” In other words, so long as a law applies universally to the faithful and the non-faithful alike, it does not offend the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.
There is absolutely no comparison whatsoever between requiring religious groups to follow the exact same laws as everyone else, which is what the United States Constitution calls for, and singling out particular groups for persecution or even genocide, which is what Adolf Hitler did. Jenky is simply wrong suggest that applying the law equally to everyone starts America “down the path” to persecuting the faithful.
Needless to say, Jenky’s initial suggestion that Obama in any way resembles two of the greatest mass murders in human history has not sat well with Jewish groups. Earlier this week, Chicago’s Anti-Defamation League demanded an apology from Jenky, noting that “there are few, if any, parallels in history to the religious intolerance and anti-Semitism fostered in society by Stalin, and especially Hitler, who under his regime perpetuated the open persecution and ultimate genocide of Jews, Catholics and many other minorities.”
The organization Faithful America launched a petition calling on Bishop Jenky to apologize for his initial comparison between Obama and Hitler. You can sign their petition here.
[HT: Nick Sementelli]