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Obama essentially decrees that Catholics can't be Catholics
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I am not Catholic.

Nor do I agree 100 percent with the church's doctrine.

Even so, it was more than disturbing when President Obama recently signed off on a Health and Human Services ruling essentially gutting the First Amendment regarding the free exercise of religion.

Catholic institutions under Obamacare are now required to offer and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives as part of the insurance plans they offer employees. If not, they will be assessed millions of dollars in penalties by the government.

The dictate applies to all Catholic institutions outside the actual core church functions such as hospitals, schools, and charities.

The Catholic church doesn't have to subject itself to the new rules and not face fines. All they have to do is shut their doors.

The wording in the First Amendment is about as straightforward as you can get when it comes to religion: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . "

Perhaps the Obama Administration figured that the rule only applies to Congress which did not attempt to hamstring religion when they passed Obamacare.

But just like everything else, the biggest threat to American freedom when it comes to the government isn't from the actions of our duly elected representatives but from the standing army of bureaucrats that often act as de facto legislators.

You do not need to oppose contraceptives, sterilization, or abortion to bristle at the undermining of Congressional authority and basic rights.

The Obama Administration with an executive order essentially decreed Catholics can no longer practice the Catholic faith. In just a few strokes of a pen, Obama basically has dictated that basic tenets of the Catholic faith either must be abandoned by Catholics or the federal government will penalize the church millions upon millions of dollars.

The dictate in Washington to make a religion bow to the will of the executive branch is on scale with King Henry VIII of England starting his own church and decreeing himself the head of it because he had problems with articles of faith that didn't allow divorce.

The decree by the king was one of the contributing factors to the wording of the First Amendment regarding establishing a religion and barring its free exercise.

It is now a federal crime for the Catholic church to be the Catholic church.

This isn't a matter of making sure Catholic institutions pay prevailing minimum wages or pay employment taxes. Forcing the Catholic church to tow the line of Obamacare and provide insurance coverage for acts that go against Catholic faith is an attack on the First Amendment and should not be tolerated even by those who oppose the Catholic church's position on reproduction.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.