A Catholic bishop in Illinois has come under intense attack for his comparison of President Obama’s healthcare policies with actions taken by Hitler in Germany. Bishop Daniel Jenky told attendees during a mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria April 14 that the Obama administration is modeling historically repressive regimes that “tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches.”
The Associated Press quoted Bishop Jenky as saying that “Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.”
The comments sparked a firestorm of protest from liberal individuals and groups. Lonnie Nasatir of the Chicago branch of the Anti-Defamation League demanded that Jenky apologize, calling his remarks “outrageous, offensive and completely over the top.” Nasatir insisted that the bishop’s comments had trivialized the deaths of millions of Jews, adding that there were few if any historic parallels to “the religious intolerance and anti-Semitism fostered in society by Stalin, and especially Hitler.”
The Chicago Tribune reported that the atheist group Americans United for Separation of Church and State had filed a complaint against Jenky with the IRS, in an attempt to wreak havoc with the diocese’s tax-exempt status. According to the Tribune, the secular group’s president, Barry Lynn, had accused the bishop of effectively urging Catholics to vote against Obama in the upcoming election, thereby violating federal law by inserting the church into a political campaign.
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