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posted: 11/2/2012 5:00 AM

Don't let government control religion

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, ...

In 2002 Joe Scheidler, Founder of Pro Life Action League, was found guilty under the civil provisions of the RICO, a law designed to combat organized crime. The case was brought forward by the NOW organization to the Supreme Court. A case that could have radically altered the exercise of free speech in this country in a way that the Framers could never have anticipated. Mr. Scheidler was supported by strange bedfellows: PETA and Greenpeace.

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They knew if Mr. Scheidler was found guilty, their rights to peacefully protest and freedom of speech would be jeopardized. The NOW organization lost. A victory not only for Mr. Scheidler, but also for freedom of speech.

Ten years later, President Obama and the HHS want to force Catholic organizations to accept the administration doctrine on contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients, and force Catholic organizations to fund and facilitate access to them. As Cardinal George points out: How can the government declare which organizations the church runs to be authentically religious and which are not, an arrogance without precedent in the U.S., "although certainly precedents in other political models abound."

Will other religious and non-religious leaders stand up to this assault? Not because they believe in the Catholic Church, but they believe in the 1st Amendment.

Even if you are a non-Christian, this precedent will open the door to whoever is in power to make laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. The Catholic Church is not the only religion under fire, and it is time to send a message that it will not be tolerated.

Steve O'Connor

Lake Zurich

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