An update on the furor surrounding ObamaCare and the Catholic Church. The Obama White House was surprised by the pushback but hopes it will blow over. Their thinking: The Catholics had their little eruption, letters were read from pulpits, the pundits came out, and then the pols. But life goes on, new issues arise, we'll hunker down, it'll go away. Meanwhile, play for time. Send David Axelod out to purr about possible new negotiations.
That would be a trap for the church. Any new talks would no doubt go past Election Day, at which time, if the president wins, he'll be able to give the church the back of his hand.
The short-term White House strategy is to confuse and obfuscate, to spread a thick web of untruths about the decision and let opponents exhaust themselves trying to fight from under the web.
The church must be resolute and press harder. Now is the time to keep pounding—from the pulpit, in all Catholic publications and media, in statements and meetings. For how long? As long as it takes. The president and the more radical part of his base clearly thought the church was a paper tiger, a hollow shell, an entity demoralized and finished by the scandals of the past 20 years.
Now is the time for the church to show it's alive. How?
* I found that the USCCB website did a good job in untangling some of the more popular misrepresentations of the issue.• Educate. Unconfuse the issues. Take a different aspect of the ruling and its deeper meanings every week, and pound away.*
• Reach out. This is bigger than the Catholic Church. Go to the mainline Protestant churches, evangelicals, synagogues and mosques. Plead for vocal, public and immediate support: "If the church is forced to go against its conscience, religious liberty in America is not safe. If religious liberty is not safe, you are not safe."
• Know your people. Mr. Obama carried secular Catholics overwhelmingly in 2008. But churchgoing Catholics were evenly split, 51% to 49% for John McCain. These are the voters the president could lose by huge margins over the ruling. And he will, if they fully understand it. Such a loss could determine the 2012 outcome. He knows it, you know it. Have faith in the people in the pews. Give it to them straight, week after week, and they'll back the church overwhelmingly. The White House is watching. Pound away.
• Call for Democratic support. Religious liberty should not be a partisan issue. Republicans have come to the fore, but it's better for the church if Democrats do too. They're starting to come over. Make clear from the pulpit that members of both parties are absolutely essential in this fight. "All hands on deck."
You can win. Keep the faith. Literally: Keep it.