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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Tale of Two Catholic Universities: Georgetown and Franciscan

Article 1 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It used to be, the best thing about living in the United States was a kind of "you do your thing and I'll do mine" mentality. We were a country with a contract among citizens and between citizens and their government that as long as no harm came to the rights of others we were all free to pursue life how we perceived it. This no longer exists.

Franciscan University, located in Steubenville, OH, is a small Catholic University with an approximate undergraduate population of 2,500. It is considered a top academic university among schools of its size and is also considered among the top Catholic universities in the country.

Undergraduate students at Franciscan were required to purchase health insurance, which typically ran each student around $600 per year. According to university vice-president Mike Hernon those costs are expected to double next year under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (derisively known as 'Obamacare' among thinking people), and triple in 2014. The costs are an outrageous expense the Federal government is forcing on students who attend Franciscan (and presumably other universities and colleges around the country whose Board of Directors are willing to stand on their principles). There is also the troubling issue of conscience.

A statement on the university's website sums up their view point:
"The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover 'women’s health services' including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life."
The statement goes on to explain the changes the students will see in the Fall. Read the entire statement here.

Obamacare mandates that "children" be allowed to stay on their parents' health plans until the age of 26, which is a defense used by the Administration and supporters of Nationalized Healthcare when things like this unexpectedly pop up. I remember when 26 year-olds were adults, but that's grist for another mill. Obamacare has broken a plan that worked perfectly -- a typical result of government interference -- in order to cater to the needs of the ideologues in the Washington.

To sum up what has been done to the students at Franciscan University:
  • Obamacare has forced students to depend on their parents healthcare insurance
  • Obamacare has forced the Board at Franciscan to take a stand on their principles which is necessarily affecting their students
  • A small, private university in Ohio has been victimized by the Federal Government's clear violation of the First Amendment because it being forced to choose between taking care of its students and following its faith
No one in the national media or political arena has come to the aid of the students of Franciscan who are now going to spend more to go to school there because of the government's edict.

By contrast, the whole country got enmeshed in the fight when Sandra Fluke asked the government to force Georgetown University (a Jesuit instituion) to pay for birth control, and other "women' health" costs, across the board. Here is the official statement from Georgetown President John J. DeGioia:
"There is a legitimate question of public policy before our nation today. In the effort to address the problem of the nearly fifty million Americans who lack health insurance, our lawmakers enacted legislation that seeks to increase access to health care. In recent weeks, a question regarding the breadth of services that will be covered has focused significant public attention on the issue of contraceptive coverage. Many, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have offered important perspectives on this issue."
Read the full text here.

Georgetown University, with an approximate undergraduate population of 14,000, is a big player in Washington, D.C. It is entrenched in the government miasma creeping out of the Potomac swamps and strangling the entire country. Georgetown's religion is more governmental than spiritual.

The difference is stark. DeGioia makes no statement of principle other than to say that Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student who testified on behalf of Democrats about the devastating affect paying for birth control would have on college students, was the victim "of behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student." Of course he was speaking about private citizens making their opinions known in public forums. The fact that some of Fluke's detractors made complete asses of themselves (Rush Limbaugh) should not matter. Public discourse can sometimes be unpleasant, but you make the choice to be attacked when you take a stand. Ms. Fluke knew what she was getting into, and if she didn't, her Democrat handlers should have warned her.

But DeGioia makes no mention of principle other than to say that the people who attacked Ms. Fluke were wrong. They may have been coarse in their words, but I would submit to John DeGioia that even the coarsest amongst us has a right to speak their minds. Beyond that, it is my suspicion that Georgetown University and its President John DeGioia come from the branch of Catholicism that's less interested in principle than it is in scoring political brownie points.

It matters not what your faith is. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and whoever else I just offended by not mentioning, all have the same skin in the game that Franciscan University does:
A government that can tell any group of people how to practice their faith is a government that can force all of us to bend to its will. If your faith does not include blowing up airplanes or killing others in the name of protecting the unborn, and the like, the government has no business in your business.

Franciscan University has been forced to change the way it operates because of the dictates of a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. How long before that same bureaucrat changes something you hold dear?

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