“The recent commentary by Rabbi Mark H. Levin, targeting the Catholic Church and me personally to attack Kansas’ Value Them Both amendment, combined flagrant mischaracterization and anti-Catholic rhetoric,” Archbishop Naumann stated in a July 8 commentary published in The Wichita Eagle.
The Value Them Both (VTB) amendment is intended to return abortion law to where it was in the Kansas Constitution before an activist state court ruled to allow nearly unlimited abortion in Kansas in 2019. The VTB will return the right to regulate abortion to the people by allowing safeguards such as parental notification for minor girls seeking abortion, enforcing clinic safety and sanitation standards, and preventing state tax dollars from being used to fund abortions.
Pro life groups say the amendment is needed to prevent the state from becoming an abortion capital.
“Since the 2019 court ruling, Kansans have seen the largest increase in the number of abortions in over 25 years, with the majority performed on out-of-state residents,” the VTB website explains. “Kansans don’t want our state to become the abortion factory of the Midwest. We want limits and safety standards to protect women who live and visit here. A ‘YES’ vote would ensure Kansas does not remain a destination state for extreme abortions in unregulated facilities.”
However, in a commentary published in The Kansas City Star on June 29, Rabbi Levin accused those who support the amendment of trying to force their religious beliefs on others.
“Our neighbors have, sadly and tragically, declared a quiet and cold war against our religions, attempting to coerce the behavior of all other Kansans according to their personal religious faith, through minority rule,” Levin wrote.
He went on to attack the Church, and Archbishop Naumann personally, for supporting the amendment.
“Now, the Catholic Church seeks to enshrine Catholic doctrine regarding abortion in Kansas law, and it does so unabashedly and unapologetically. That this dogma is not only inconsistent with the American civil religion but also with Judaism and many other religions, does not deter the head of the northeastern Kansas Catholic Church from seeking to control the lives of every person in the state, depriving other Kansans of personal choice regarding their own destinies and those of their families.”
He accused the Church of being against individualism and attacked Archbishop Naumann for denying the Eucharist to President Joe Biden because of the president’s position on abortion. In other words…Archbishop Joseph Naumann sought to coerce the president for all Americans to conform to Catholic doctrine regardless of the various beliefs of American citizens, because the church believes it administers salvation, and Biden’s personal beliefs contradict church teaching. This is inconsistent with the American belief in individualism, basic to our civil religion and the First Amendment. But to the church, doctrine supersedes constitutional principles.”
Archbishop Naumann responded boldly in his commentary.
“Levin says that the church is imposing its religious beliefs on Kansans through its support of the Value Them Both amendment. The mere fact that a law coincides with religious beliefs does not mean it is an impermissible imposition of religion. Many laws coincide with religious beliefs,” he wrote
“From a Catholic perspective, abortion is not primarily a religious issue but a fundamental human rights issue. Our faith helps us understand the dignity of every human life created in the divine image as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, but reason alone is sufficient to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.”
He went on to explain how Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former prominent abortion rights advocate who was ethnically Jewish became pro-life not because of religious dogma, but because of science. The co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and director of the largest free-standing abortion facility in the world changed his mind because of advancing ultrasound technology. After his conversion, Nathanson acknowledged the that he had created a 'Catholic Strategy' to sway public opinion on abortion. The strategy involved appealing to anti-Catholicism by blaming the Pope, bishops and priests for abortion limits; it also called for encouraging the media to elevate pro-abortion Catholic politicians; and to support Catholic candidates and the 'Catholic Straddle' which includes those who are “personally opposed” to abortion but support a woman’s right to choose.
“Sadly, Rabbi Levin ’s commentary is a page out of the Catholic Strategy playbook. The rabbi accuses me of trying to deprive Kansans of personal choice regarding their destinies. Yet, this is exactly what the Kansas Supreme Court did by making the outlandish claim that a right to abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution, taking abortion policy out of the hands of the people and their duly elected representatives and putting it in the hands of the court,” Archbishop Naumann writes.
“Value Them Both is not a Catholic issue,” he concludes. “Preserving current laws and reclaiming the authority of the people of Kansas to determine public policy on such an important societal issue is something every Kansan should be eager to support.”
Kansans will vote on the amendment on August 2.
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