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Rick Santorum: Obamacare 'A Sin In The Catholic Church'

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Former Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum said that Catholics who support Obamacare are committing a sin.
Former Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum said that Catholics who support Obamacare are committing a sin.

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum seized the opportunity at an Ohio campaign event for Mitt Romney on Wednesday to warn Catholics that supporting Obamacare is a sin in the eyes of the Catholic church.

"We have a president who, for the first time in American history, is directly assaulting the First Amendment and freedom of religion," Santorum said, referring to the provision in Obamacare that requires most employers to offer insurance plans that cover contraception. "He is going to tell you what to do in the practice of your faith. He is forcing business people right now to do things that are against their conscience, that they will have to -- if you're a Catholic -- you’ll have to go to confession … to confess that you are complying with a government program that is a sin in the Catholic church."

The argument that President Barack Obama is forcing Catholics to violate their faith by paying for birth control, a common Republican talking point, is problematic. Data shows that 98 percent of Catholic women who have had sex and are of child-bearing age have used an artificial method of contraception that is against the teachings of the church. Many Christian universities, including Wheaton College, which is suing the Obama Administration over the law, already covered contraception before the law was announced.

Mitt Romney enforced a nearly identical contraception mandate in Massachusetts. He supported requiring Catholic hospitals to dispense emergency contraception -- which the church believes counts as abortion -- to rape victims.

Churches are exempt from Obama's contraception rule entirely and faith-based organizations that morally oppose it are offered an accommodation in which the third-party insurance company, not the organization itself, absorbs the cost of the contraceptive coverage.

By Santorum's logic, it seems that supporting vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget would also be a sin in the Catholic church. His budget slashes assistance programs for the poor in order to financially offset tax cuts for the wealthy. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops lambasted Ryan's budget earlier this year. This summer, a network of nuns organized a bus tour to protest the budget, saying that it "doesn't pass the moral test."

"Catholic teaching is based on solidarity," Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the bus tour, told the Daily Beast. "Ryan doesn’t understand that all decisions need to be made with the common good in mind."

CORRECTION: 8:25 p.m. -- This article has been updated to correct the reference to Wheaton College, a Christian school. An earlier version mistakenly referred to Wheaton as Catholic.

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