Anti-Catholic bias by Obama administration debated at House hearing
December 01, 2011
Republican members of the US House of Representative charged the Obama administration with anti-Catholic bias, while Democrats dismissed the charge, during a contentious December 1 hearing before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The key issue in dispute during the hearing was the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to terminate a grant for a program run by the US bishops’ conference (USCCB) for victims of human trafficking. HHS officials conceded that on their own internal rating standards, the USCCB program scored higher than the programs that were eventually awarded the government contract.
George Sheldon, an assistant secretary of HHS, explained that the USCCB program was downgraded because it did not provide for conception and abortion referrals. He told the committee that “trafficking victims, many of whom are sex trafficking victims or have been sexually assaulted, can have a heightened interest in and need for such referrals.” Sheldon did not address the point previously made by the former director of the USCCB program, who argued that the provision and abortion and contraception can often help criminals engaged in sex-trafficking to continue exploiting women.
In the ensuing debate among legislators, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey charged: “The Obama administration’s bias against Catholics is an affront to religions freedom.” Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, a Catholic and former seminarian, said that the charge of anti-Catholic bias is a “libel” that was “pretty much put to rest” by the day’s testimony.
- Testimony of Assistant HHS Secretary George Sheldon (US House)
- Obama Administration Puts Politics Before Trafficking Victims? (Heritage Foundation)
- At grant hearing, Republicans accuse Obama administration of bias against Catholics (Washington Post)
- HHS decision on bishops' program will harm victims of human trafficking: former director (CWN, 11/29)
All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!
Posted by: mamato085337 -
Dec. 02, 2011 8:03 AM ET USA
Hey Virginians, could you please vote Connolly out next election?
Posted by: kmbold -
Dec. 01, 2011 8:13 PM ET USA
Whew! Thank God Connolly left the seminary. Much more suited to Democrat politics.
Posted by: stpetric -
Dec. 01, 2011 6:46 PM ET USA
"NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC has endorsed Rep. Gerry Connolly in Virginia's 11th congressional district. Rep. Connolly earned a perfect pro-choice voting record last year..." (http://www.blogforchoice.com/archives/2010/10/re-elect-pro-ch-2.html) That would be Gerry Connolly, the Catholic and former seminarian.