In an article titled “Our Rule Respects Religion,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius writes in today’s USA Today that “we specifically carved out from the [healthcare] policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responds as follows:

Secretary Sebelius knows very well that Catholic agencies have a long and distinguished record of hiring and serving non-Catholics, so to say that they can only qualify for an exemption by turning away those who are not Catholic from Catholic schools, hospitals, hospices, orphanages, shelters for battered women, and the like, is a plea for discrimination and an insult to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Sebelius is wrong to say that the administration’s rule is identical to that of states like California. As Carol Hogan of the California Catholic Conference said last week, her state’s rule is not identical. Moreover, in states like Wisconsin, which are weighing various options on extending exemptions to religious entities, they are in a holding pattern until it is clear how Obamacare flushes out nationally.

Sebelius did not address the fact that Obamacare allows at least two religious groups an exemption—the Amish and Christian Scientists. So why does it discriminate against Catholics?

Last week, President Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast that “We can’t leave our values at the door.” Someone needs to tell him that this moral imperative includes Catholics.

P.S. I just got back from Florida where I received the “Defender of the Faith Award” from Legatus, the group of Catholic CEO’s founded by Tom Monaghan. Never before have I seen Catholics as riled up as they are about this unprecedented assault on Catholic civil liberties. Stay tuned for further developments.

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