Is the Obama administration at war with Catholics?

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," February 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: So, last week, the administration realized that it had stirred up a hornets nest when it comes to religious liberty and the question of whether or not the religious organization would be carved out of Obamacare's mandate of providing free contraceptives, which includes to some like the morning after pill, which can go against your pro-life beliefs.

And so, this has been going on for a couple of weeks. The columnist E.J. Dionne, who's usually a big defender of President Obama, went against.

He lost him. Who else have he lost?

But, interestingly, Eric, I wonder if you could tell us a little about what you heard because I heard from several people who attended Catholic mass yesterday on Sunday who heard from the pulpit, the priest reading a letter from the archbishop saying that they're going to fight the administration on this strongly.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: If I may, first of all, Kathleen Sebelius wrote an op-ed in the USA Today, short piece. But she's kind of put a spin on it. And, honestly, the bishops, the Catholic bishops have a completely different take on the ruling. One of the letters read to one of the parishes, Friday, January 20th, 2012, "Will certainly stand as the moment of enormous peril for religious liberty. On that day, the Obama administration announced regulations that would require Catholic institutions offering insurance programs providing services."

And it goes on to say that very, very detrimental to the Catholic practice and they are very much against it, no matter what Sebelius said and --

PERINO: And the broader point is on, the fact that -- let's got to Greg, first -- the broader point that they're trying to make here is not that there's a debate about whether contraception could or should be used, because a lot of women use it. The question is one of religious liberty in the Constitution, right?

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: Right, exactly. I still can't get over why this is an argument, given the inexpensive nature of contraception and what Sebelius said is that contraception rules -- or this ruling respects religion. By using that logic, the church providing abortions would be even more respectful. Am I right?

PERINO: I'm not sure I follow you, but --

BECKEL: She said here in the -- what she really said was that --

GUTFELD: It doesn't make sense to me?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: And the rule he put forward was specifically carved out from the policy, religious organization that primarily employ people of their own faith. This exemption includes churches and other houses of worship.

It could also include other church affiliated organizations.

Now, I mean -- that's, in a number of states don't give that, about eight states don't even give that exemption. But what I'm finding hard to understand here is that since an overwhelming percentage of the Catholic women use birth control or have in the course of their lives, what is wrong with having it available? They don't have to use it, if they don't want --

PERINO: But here is what's wrong with it, is that it's the question is whether or not the church is required to provide it for free, and if that goes defense their religious beliefs, then who cares, and you'll also be fined if you don't do it.


PERINO: So it's actually a First Amendment, from a legal perspective.

GUILFOYLE: Yes, that's why people are saying it violates their freedom of religion and be able to, you know, exercise their religion, if they don't want to provide it and then they're going to be fined and penalized if, in fact, they don't. I mean, this why this could go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And thank you for Obama administration and Kathleen for unifying the Catholic Church, both the liberal and conservative factions. They're strong very on this, Bob, and it's going to hurt Obama.

BECKEL: Unifying the Catholic Church means unifying E.J. Dionne and the bishops.

PERINO: I think you're definitely misreading this, but there are 77 million Catholics in the country.

BECKEL: And you think that 77 million Catholics are upset about this.

PERINO: Well, I would say 98 percent, probably. I don't have a poll, Bob. I'm telling tell you, it's a feeling that I have.


PERINO: Civil unrest regarding this ruling, but it's not necessarily about the use of contraception. It's not the question. The question is:

does the federal government and the Obama administration have the right to violate the free speech laws?

And we're talking about the Catholics right now. You could put any other scenario in here. Say something about the Jewish religion or Muslims, and there would be a bigger outcry.

GUTFELD: If there was a Muslim hospital in America, and you ask that they serve pork.

PERINO: Right.


PERINO: For free, or be fined if they don't.

BECKEL: There's one big advantage, you don't eat pork, right? You have no other choice.

PERINO: But that's not about --

GUTFELD: You have to eat pork. It's a requirement.

BOLLING: Right. It's a requirement.

GUILFOYLE: Well, right, and you don't have to have sex either and you're not forced to take birth control.

BOLLING: Kathleen Sebelius' op-ed is entitled our rule respects religion. Well, according to the capital --

PERINO: But she didn't write the headline.

BOLLING: It doesn't.

PERINO: She didn't write that headline, but we're saying that we're balancing this -- how do you balance --

BOLLING: Well, you're going to tell me that the Obama administration didn't write the headline?


PERINO: When you're asked to write that op-ed --

BOLLING: USA Today isn't saying our rule.

BECKEL: Listen, and the Catholic Church has gotten some influence. They try to dig themselves out of the pretty big hole the last decade, with problems they have with their priests among other things.

GUTFELD: Oh, come on.

PERINO: Why are you bringing that? The whole reason, the whole way, the whole message that the House Democrats got Obamacare passed in first place is because they got former Congressman Bart Stupak to agree to the baloney executive order that was signed that said under this ruling, there would be no compelling contraceptive use.

Well, three years later, that's what changed and that's what I'm saying about this --

BECKEL: This is what I think, I really am. I'm not -- maybe I am being (INAUDIBLE), I don't really understand what is compelling. Nobody is compelled to use these things.

PERINO: It's not about you, it's about provision.

GUILFOYLE: They have to provide it.

PERINO: I could set a whole meal in front of you, you don't have to eat it.

BECKEL: Right.

PERINO: But if I'm compelled to have to give it to you, or under a penalty of having to pay a fine if I don't, doesn't that cross, that's where people cross the line.

BECKEL: Well, I called somebody from my train trip up here, which was a difficult conversation, but -- to hear. But I talked to somebody in Catholic University administration. They have an insurance policy that includes contraceptive use, if you want to use it. Now, that's Catholic University. Why is that different from the --

PERINO: Well, let me just --

BOLLING: Because they're going to be required to provide.

BECKEL: Well, they do, though.

GUILFOYLE: But that's their choice.

PERINO: But that's their choice, it's not required.

BOLLING: And in some schools and some hospitals --

GUILFOYLE: That's their choice, Bob. They're not being -- that's their choice, they can elect to do it, which is very different from being compelled to in fact carry it and provide it for free without a co-pay.

That's a difference.

BECKEL: Are there other examples of things and insurance policies where people are compelled to carry it?

PERINO: The conscious clause is different because it crosses the line of religious liberty. I don't know about other things in terms of mental health medicine or something like that. This is a question of religious liberty and that is why -- not only Catholics, but everybody, whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, should be concerned about this government overreach.

I also predict they will cave. I think the Obama administration will realize that they should back off and taken Joe Biden's advice in the beginning which was not to do this.

GUILFOYLE: Don't do this. And you know what? It's going to cost them at the, you know, at the polls.

PERINO: I think --

GUILFOYLE: There's votes there.

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