Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles is warning the American people that they are slowly beginning to lose one of their fundamental rights as citizens of the United States: freedom of religion.
In a recent article written for First Things, Gomez listed examples of how the federal government has been both interfering with and imposing its beliefs on private employers who conduct business according to religious doctrine, primarily within Catholicism.
"Just last week, the federal government declined a grant request from the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services agency," wrote Gomez. "We are not really sure why. No reason was given. Our agency has been working well with the government since 2006 to help thousands of women and children who are victims of human trafficking."
He added, "Recently, the government had been demanding that our agency provide abortions, contraception and sterilizations for the women we serve. We hope our application was not denied because we refused to provide these services that are unnecessary and violate our moral principles and religious mission."
The archbishop stated that the government is attempting to "force private employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraception." Additionally, he alleged that government agencies have tried to coerce Catholic hospitals into offering abortions and sterilizations by blocking hospital expansions, along with forcing many church adoption and foster care ministries to shut down after they refused to provide benefits for same-sex employees or place children with same-sex couples.
"We are also concerned about the signals the federal government is sending in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC," said Gomez. "Experts say that if the government's case prevails, it will have broad new powers to regulate the inner workings of Church institutions-even to possibly interfere in areas of Church practice and doctrine."
The archbishop's writings have sparked a lengthy debate amongst readers.
"It's not persecution not to get a government subsidy," commented one reader. "Nobody has a right to government subsidies. If the increasingly-secular majority decides secular agencies should handle migration and refugee services and health care that is hardly a threat to religious freedom. The Church is free to continue its charitable endeavors with the financial support provided by believers."
Another user responded to this opinion by stating, "When government keeps growing and growing, it eventually gets impossible to avoid government involvement in business. The government has its hand in everything. If you have business competitors, in whatever business, and they take advantage of government subsidies or tax breaks that you can't in good conscience (because of the strings attached) then your business may not be able to survive."
The reader added, "Increasingly, the choice will be between serving and obeying God, or making a living in your chosen profession. That's an terrible position to put people in. And it's so unnecessary. In most cases, it's unconstitutional as well."