LOPEZ: Why do you spend so much time in the book on religion and religious freedom?
OBENSHAIN: Many of our forefathers came to the New World to escape religious persecution. They came seeking the freedom to worship as they saw fit, without intimidation, persecution, or interference from the government. This is part of the very essence of who we are as a people. It is not just “tolerance” or “freedom of worship” within four walls, as this administration tries to argue, shifting the lexicon. It is the freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith in private, and how we live our lives in public, and how we form our faith-based organizations.
Beyond that very core freedom of religion, all our freedoms are based on our religious tradition. Our founding fathers were willing to risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor not for power for themselves but for this revolutionary notion that our rights don’t come from government. They come from the Almighty. He entrusted freedom to us, to guard vigilantly from the intrusive, power-hungry hand of government. We are an audacious experiment in liberty. But that liberty is premised on our faith. We guard our religious tradition because we guard liberty. Any attack on our faith heritage is a threat to freedom itself.
We see examples the world over of nations whose citizens have lost their right to worship and believe as they see fit, where the persecuted church is hunted, where fanatics and terror prevail. And we see countries that have lost any sense of their religious heritage, of freedom as a gift from God, and any understanding of the importance of an acknowledgment of Him in a civil society. That cannot happen here in America, where we are, indeed, the last best hope of man on earth.
LOPEZ: What’s the conscience consensus President Obama has violated?
OBENSHAIN: President Obama has regularly violated our tradition of respecting rights of conscience. Although he claimed at one time to support “robust” conscience protections for those with religious or moral objections to participating in abortions, he rescinded an HHS order that strengthened existing federal conscience laws.
Obama says that “reproductive justice” is “one of the most fundamental rights we possess.” He and his allies consider “reproductive care,” including abortion, to be “preventive care” and thus “fundamental care.” Since they are “essential” and “fundamental” to health care, birth control and abortion on demand must be covered in all health plans free of charge. To abortion advocates, including the Obama administration, whenever First Amendment conscience rights collide with access to abortion or birth control, “reproductive rights” must triumph.
LOPEZ: What’s the “real war on women,” and how has the president “retreated”?
OBENSHAIN: The real war on women is being waged not here at home but around the world, particularly in the Middle East and China. But on that war, this administration has been silent. In fact, Obama has enabled the oppression of women around the globe who live under the tyranny of Islamist regimes. When Obama calls those regimes and the faith they espouse “tolerant,” without ever mentioning their excesses, abuses, and cruelties against women, he fails all women. He wants to provide them “reproductive freedom” — the right to abortion at any time during their pregnancy — but he will not stand up for their right to walk outside their front door without a male chaperone, to go to school, to work with men in a business, much less to own a business. He fails all women. The president says we can negotiate with the Taliban as Afghanistan schoolgirls have been poisoned or attacked with acid, and prominent female political leaders killed. Obama said nothing when [Afghan president Hamid] Karzai embraced a ruling from the top religious body that defined men as “fundamental” and women as “secondary.”
I cannot listen to leftists fear-monger and fabricate about Republican “assaults” on the rights of women here in American without becoming enraged that they ignore genuine assaults and persecutions, in an apparent effort to elevate Islam and protect it from genuine critiques.
The Washington Post reported that a senior U.S. official “involved in Afghanistan policy said . . . gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities. . . . There’s no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project.”
Nor will Obama stand up for the rights of women in China to bear their children without being subjected to forced, and sometimes late-term, abortions. In 2009, Hillary Clinton told Chinese officials that the Obama administration would not let human-rights issues “interfere” with other important matters between the countries, including climate change. On a visit to China, Vice President Joe Biden dismissed not once, but twice, China’s brutal policies. He said, “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.”