State must remain out of matters of the church


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ABSTRACTDennis Byrne: State must remain out of matters of the church - chicagotribune.com   Opinion Home Mobile Alerts Trib Nation TribU Weather Obits Horoscopes Ask Amy Columns Photos Video Advertise Subscribe Help News Breaking Chicagoland Suburbs Nation & World Elections Clout Street Obits Watchdog Maps & apps Schools Religion Lottery Business Breaking Problem Solver Your Money Technology Chicago top stocks Promotions Executives to know Business lunches Columnists Sports Breaking Bears Bulls Blackhawks Cubs White Sox College Preps Plus Soccer Golf Smack Scores Columnists A&E Breaking TV Movies Music Theater Food & Dining Books Celebrity Events Arts Comics Puzzles Chicago Live! Columnists Travel News & Tips Weather Chicago travel Midwest travel U.S. travel International travel Family travel Cruises Vacation Starter Deals Health Booster Shots Dental Diabetes Fitness Galleries Local news Nutrition Sex & Dating Green living Julie's Health Club Cancer Central Opinion Editorials Commentary Letters Endorsements Share Change of Subject Page's Page Minority of One Stantis Cartoons Columns Blogs Real Estate For Sale Apartments Buyers Sellers Communities Foreclosure Home & Garden Latest Sales Luxury News Advertise Cars Cars for Sale 2012 Chicago Auto Show Auto News Car Care Car Reviews Dealer Specials Recalls Traffic Advertise Jobs My CareerBuilder Find Jobs Job Recommendations Post Resumes Resources For Employers Advertise Trib Careers Shopping Weekly Sales Ads Local Dailies My Brands From Our Experts Shopping Events Ads from the Paper I'm Shopping For ... Advanced Search Advanced Search X include all of these words: include any of these words: include this exact phrase: exclude: Select a date range this week past 30 days past 3 months past year Create a custom date range From: To:    Breaking news AP: Romney wins Maryland GOP presidential primary Sign up for alerts >> Loading Home  >  News  >  Opinion State must remain out of matters of the church Comments 111 Dennis Byrne February 7, 2012 When James Madison, the "father of the Constitution" originally proposed that the Bill of Rights contain a clause to protect religious freedom, he saw it as more than simply a wall between church and state. His draft language included a strict ban on government infringement "in any manner, or on any pretence" on "the full and equal rights of conscience." The final language of the First Amendment and many ensuing court cases have somewhat fogged that original meaning, focusing instead on preventing organized religion from imposing its views on the body politic. As it should. But if you ask Americans if they have a free-conscience right to practice their religion in any way they please, most would say for sure, Constitution or no. Don't ask that in the White House though. The Obama administration has launched an unprecedented and stunning assault on freedom of conscience and religion. Dennis Byrne Bio | Blog | Recent columns Most spectacular is the Obama administration's view that religious organizations have no greater right to hire or fire their own ministers than secular organizations have over their leaders. The Supreme Court, usually closely divided, found the administration's argument so preposterous that it unanimously ruled it unconstitutional. More recently, on Jan. 20, the Obama administration finalized regulations that force employers, including Catholic and other religious institutions, to provide insurance that covers birth control , without deductibles or co-pays, to its employees in hospitals, charitable organizations, social-service agencies and universities. Because prescription contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients (chemicals that effectively kill a fertilized egg) violate their teachings and consciences, Catholic and other churches have loudly objected. Some declared they wouldn't comply, setting up a major constitutional fight. And they should object. America's first immigrants sought refuge from governments that violated the religious beliefs and practices of the faithful and their church. Government should be able to trample those beliefs for only the most serious reasons, when no other alternative is available. It is nearly impossible to argue that employees — even if poor or employed by a Catholic facility — have no other alternative for obtaining and paying for contraception. As if on cue, radical secularists showed up. Robyn Shepherd, an official with the American Civil Liberties Union , an organization that in this instance supports the gross violation of a civil liberty, called the Obama administration's decision a victory over "political strong-armin.......