Showing posts with label coercion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coercion. Show all posts

Monday, June 5, 2023

It’s Iimi! A Final Exam

It’s the last day of finals, and Iimi is giving her Oral Logic Presentation on the topic of boycotts. But Ms. Baculum, having some plans of her own, decides to turn it into a discussion that catches Iimi unaware. 

 


Possible trigger warning: Two panels in this comic (pages 16 + 17) involve blood and injury and might trouble sensitive viewers.






















Post-Comic Notes:

Regarding the last panel, I myself have lost a leg, though under different circumstances (gangrene, not an accident). Ms. Baculum’s dealing with it will be informed by my own experiences. 


As for recusancy, To learn the basics, see this ARTICLE.

A paywall-free article on the report Iimi references can be found HERE.

The text of Queen Elizabeth I in enacting the law of recusancy can be found HERE.

 

The Washington Post article Iimi refers to on attitudes towards transgenderism is locked behind a paywall. But the information from the poll can be found HERE.

 

Let’s talk further about the legality of recordings in the story.

 

Until it became national news (the referenced story is here), I had no idea that the girls recording the teachers in class was illegal. RESEARCH confirmed that it’s a misdemeanor for non-students and a disciplinary act for students in California. Because Anne Baculum was created as a character with moral integrity, I’d probably have written the story differently rather than portray her as doing something unethical. Thus, it became so rarely enforced that older teachers forgot it, and newer ones didn’t know it.

 

Likewise, Iimi’s parents would have given her other advice than they did. So, the TL:DR of it is, they didn’t do wrong. I just messed up in portraying what was permissible.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

It’s Iimi! A Question of Power

What is true power? Iimi and friends must ask and answer that question when faced by anti-Christian sentiment from a faction of teachers. Iimi, points out that for power to be true, it must be just and inline with God’s commandments and will. But her friends are dubious.

Meanwhile, Thea has to deal with the skepticism of parents who want to emulate the tactics of activists in dealing with their own school board, by pointing out the need to act justly, focusing on the concerns at hand and not merely jumping on the bandwagon for causes that activists are championing.


























Sunday, March 14, 2021

It’s Iimi! Problematic Assumptions? (Part III)

What are we to think about the concept of “cancel culture” that there is so much debate over? Thea Iscra and Anne Baculum discuss the concept and the the real danger behind it. The problem is not in trying to prevent the literal extremists from causing harm. The problem is using the existence of extremists to target those who stand up for their unpopular but non-extremist beliefs about moral beliefs.


















Friday, April 1, 2016

Christianos ad leones! Once More, Here We Go Again

From the first century AD to the present, harassment and persecution of the Church by government or cultural elites have followed a pattern:

  1. Accuse the Church of obstinately clinging to an unpopular teaching out of hostility and bad will.
  2. Attack the Church, using a false accusation as justification for unjust treatment. 
  3. Offer to relent if the Church will cede a part of the obedience owed to God to the state.
  4. When the Church refuses, increase the attacks and use that refusal as “proof” of unreasonableness of the Church and justification for continued mistreatment.

Sometimes these attacks have been overt, cruel and barbaric. Sometimes they masquerade as enforcement of an ordinarily good law but is misapplied. But regardless of how it is done [*], the State using these tactics is abusing its authority and often betraying the principles it was established under. In most circumstances, the Church in a region has two choices: To endure the persecution while trying to convert the persecutor or to capitulate to the State and consent to doing evil or having evil done in her name. The goal of the state is to force the second option. The call of the Christian is to choose the first option.

In the 21st century, the political and cultural elites of America seems determined to continue this cycle. No, it’s not brutal like the overt attacks on the Church in past centuries. Instead of arenas and wild beasts, it is courts and lawyers and instead of executioners and gulags, it is fines and lawsuits. But the end result is the same: The state usurps the power to compel the Christian to give support for what his religion calls evil. In doing so, America betrays the values she was founded upon. The explicit forbidding of the government to pass laws which interfere with the free practice of religion without a compelling interest (meaning vital for the safety of the country and with the least interference when proven compelling interest exists) has been perverted to the point that the state claims the right to coerce religion into abandoning whatever moral teaching is unpopular with the political and cultural elites.

We see this most recently with the vetoing of (and refusing to enforce) laws that seek to protect the freedom of religion from harassment by the state. The term Religious Freedom is put in Scare Quotes and portrayed as discrimination. The goal is to portray Christians who invoke their constitutional rights of freedom from state coercion as if they were calling for the right to mistreat people they dislike—a charge which is entirely false and one that makes use of the antics of a tiny minority to stereotype their behavior as the behavior of the whole group. In any other case, that tactic would be considered gross bigotry (for example, stereotypes like: all Muslims are terrorists, all blacks are felons, all Hispanics are illegal aliens).

The fact is, the Christian must do what is right before God—which is vastly different from the antics of the Westboro Baptists or suicide bombers—and what is right before God also means seeking the true good of our fellow human beings [†] even if we are harassed or persecuted for doing so. That is why we reject the charges against us. Our teachings and moral obligations are not based on the hatred of the sinner. If that were the case, we would have to hate ourselves as we believe we are all sinners in need of a Savior. People ma call us bigots, but that is nothing more than slander aimed at vilifying us for speaking against the popular vices of a society. Our Church absolutely forbids us from interpreting God’s commands as justifying mistreatment of the sinner [§].

So society has a choice to make. It can choose to try understanding the what and why of Church teaching and thus discover that the reason for our teaching is sound. Or it can choose to ignore the obligation to search for the truth and speak falsely against us. But if America should choose the latter option, she should consider this. The harassment of the Church and denial of religious freedom is ignoring the principles of the Bill of Rights. If society should decide that they are justified in ignoring one part as not being important, then they will have nothing to say if another group should use the same reasoning to suppress a different part of the Bill of Rights on the grounds that they don’t think it important.

I’ll leave you here with a section of dialogue by Dr. Peter Kreeft to consider:

‘Isa: But the main argument, the simplest argument, is just this: if no moral values are absolute, neither is tolerance. The absolutist can take tolerance much more seriously than the relativist. It’s absolutism, not relativism, that fosters tolerance. In fact, it’s relativism that fosters intolerance.

Libby: That’s ridiculous.

‘Isa: No it isn’t. Because … why not be intolerant? Only because it feels better to you? What happens tomorrow when it feels different? Why be tolerant? Only because it’s our society’s consensus? What happens tomorrow, when the consensus changes? You see? The relativist can’t appeal to a moral law as a wall, a dam against intolerance. But we need a dam because societies are fickle, like individuals. What else can deter a Germany—a humane and humanistic Germany in the twenties—from turning to an inhumane and inhuman Nazi philosophy in the thirties? What else can stop a now-tolerant America from some future intolerance?—against any group it decides to oppress? It was Blacks in the Southeast over slavery last century; it may be Hispanics in the Southwest over immigration next century. We’re intolerant to unwanted unborn babies today; we’ll start killing born ones tomorrow. Maybe eventually teenagers. They’re sometimes “wanted” even less than babies!

Libby: You’re getting more and more ridiculous.

‘Isa: Then answer the question: Why not? That’s the question. We persecuted homosexuals yesterday; today we persecute homophobes; maybe tomorrow we’ll go back to persecuting homosexuals again. Why not, if morals are only relative?

 

 Peter Kreeft, A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), 98.

 

___________________

Christianos ad leones = latin for “The Christians to the Lions!"

[*] A common logical fallacy used here is the fallacy of relative privation, which claims that because your injustice is not as bad as another injustice, it is not injustice at all.

[†] The true good and the popular vices of a society being incompatible.

[§] At this point, someone will point out the punishments in past centuries as a “proof” against my claims. But that is to miss the point. In societies which had less developed forms of government, such practices were not distinct to one religion or culture. I don’t deny that some Churchmen in authority focussed too much on the civil punishments for sins that happened to be crimes as well, but you will never see the formal Church teaching state  that being merciless is good.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Church on the Authority of Civil Rulers

In 1881, in the midst of attacks of the nation-states on the Catholic Church, Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) issued the encyclical Diuturnum on the authority of civil governments. In it, he lays down the source and the scope of that authority. Far from being an anarchistic document or demanding the establishment of a theocracy, Pope Leo XIII indicated that a legitimate government with legitimate laws has the right to be obeyed. However, that government does not have absolute authority over every aspect of life. There are paths which a government might be tempted to take but, if they make that decision, their authority vanishes. His encyclical, Diuturnum, says:

15. The one only reason which men have for not obeying is when anything is demanded of them which is openly repugnant to the natural or the divine law, for it is equally unlawful to command to do anything in which the law of nature or the will of God is violated. If, therefore, it should happen to any one to be compelled to prefer one or the other, viz., to disregard either the commands of God or those of rulers, he must obey Jesus Christ, who commands us to “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” and must reply courageously after the example of the Apostles: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” And yet there is no reason why those who so behave themselves should be accused of refusing obedience; for, if the will of rulers is oppsed to the will and the laws of God, they themselves exceed the bounds of their own power and pervert justice; nor can their authority then be valid, which, when there is no justice, is null.

 

 Claudia Carlen, ed., The Papal Encyclicals: 1878–1903 (Ypsilanti, MI: Pierian Press, 1990), 54.

The point is, governments are ruled by persons, and people are sinners by their nature. So those who legislate or rule can make bad decisions which go against what God commands and how He designed the universe to function. When they cross that line, the faithful Catholic has the obligation to say “No” to the state, even if there are consequences. The obedience to God comes first. This is ultimately why the Church has been forced to speak against our government—against the contraception mandate, against the redefinition of marriage, against abortion and many other unjust actions.

Governments, being ruled by  and ruling over sinners, have a strong resistance to being corrected when they do go against Divine or natural law. The most common solution is to try to make the Church appear to be an enemy of good because she refuses to go along with the government’s attempt to redefine good and evil. She is accused of “imposing her views” on others. She is charged with being intolerant to some group of the population, and of course the legal practices of previous centuries are cited as if the Church invented and forced them on an unwilling world.

Take the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is being sued on account of their refusal to comply with the contraception mandate and refusal to use a proxy to comply with this mandate. Many people attack them for refusing to just go along and fill out the paperwork authorizing an insurance company to issue contraception coverage separately. But Catholics simply cannot choose to do evil and they cannot authorize someone to act on their behalf to do evil. So, in this case, a person or group which believes that this government mandate goes against the laws of God cannot take part in this without putting themselves in opposition to God.

The non-Catholic or the lax Catholic might not care, might not think God cares. But even if one rejects the Catholic moral teaching, the Constitution does not give the state the right to determine which religious beliefs are important and which religious beliefs can be ignored. The only limitations the state can pose on the practice of religion is the limitation based on protecting the public good (this is why the arguments citing hypothetical religions practicing human sacrifice or white supremacy are red herrings).

Given that the Little Sisters of the Poor have been in existence since 1839 and serve in 31 countries caring for the poor and dying elderly and this only became a problem for the government during the last seven years, one can argue that the religious practices of this religious order has not violated any public good. The only thing it violates is the ideological preferences of the government—and the Catholic teaching on these issues existed long before Europeans ever encountered the lands that now bear the name of America.

To try to compare the religious practice of Catholics in rejecting contraception as evil to the acceptance of slavery by some Christians in the United States is also a red herring. The Catholic moral teaching condemns the notion that one may treat another human being as less than human. Those Catholics who were guilty of racism were not following Church teaching. They were following the vicious custom of 16th to 20th century America (it’s similar to how Catholics today can practice the vicious customs supporting abortion as a “right” even though the Church condemns it as intrinsically evil).

So what we have is a standoff. On one side, we have a philosophy of government that believes it can dictate to practitioners of a religion which one of their beliefs they can follow and what constitutes a violation of that religion. On the other side, we have a Church that professes to be the Church established by Christ and given the authority to bind and to loose in His name. From the perspective of the informed Catholic, this is no contest. The Church has the authority and the responsibility to make known what behaviors are in keeping with or in opposition to God’s law—even if those who are in opposition are the rulers of the earth.

But the Church does not intervene in such cases because she wishes to veto anything that is new. She instead seeks to carry out her mission to evangelize the whole world and encourage them to turn back to Christ. As Leo XIII also said in Diuturnum:

26. The Church of Christ, indeed, cannot be an object of suspicion to rulers, nor of hatred to the people; for it urges rulers to follow justice, and in nothing to decline from their duty; while at the same time it strengthens and in many ways supports their authority. All things that are of a civil nature the Church acknowledges and declares to be under the power and authority of the ruler; and in things whereof for different reasons the decision belongs both to the sacred and to the civil power, the Church wishes that there should be harmony between the two so that injurious contests may be avoided. As to what regards the people, the Church has been established for the salvation of all men and has ever loved them as a mother. For it is the Church which by the exercise of her charity has given gentleness to the minds of men, kindness to their manners, and justice to their laws. Never opposed to honest liberty, the Church has always detested a tyrant’s rule. This custom which the Church has ever had of deserving well of mankind is notably expressed by St. Augustine when he says that “the Church teaches kings to study the welfare of their people, and people to submit to their kings, showing what is due to all: and that to all is due charity and to no one injustice.”

 

 Claudia Carlen, ed., The Papal Encyclicals: 1878–1903 (Ypsilanti, MI: Pierian Press, 1990), 56–57.

That means Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are among those to whom the Church is reaching out to to encourage them to turn to God and accept Him. They are not exempt from hearing the teaching of the Church and they are not beyond the pale of being reached out to. They may refuse to listen, and they may hate us for refusing to compromise. But that neither changes the teaching nor the mission of the Church.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thoughts On the Growing Injustice Against Christianity In America

We’re told that judges have no right to refuse to impose laws they feel to be unjust, civil servants have no right to refuse to participate in a state sanctioned activity they feel is unjust, pharmacists and doctors are denied conscience protection and businesses have no right to refuse to do something which goes against the moral convictions of the owners. But, they do not apply this to themselves. Thus, we’ve seen governors and attorney generals who refused to defend/enforce the laws defending the traditional concept of marriage.

Americans seem to be so blind to the fact that the these arguments are only applied in one direction, denying religious freedom to Christians with a moral conviction that a law is wrong, while giving license to any other group (ethnic, gender, religion, sexual preference). What we have is the replacing the rule of law with diktats aimed at favoring the allies of politically approved ideas and harming those opposed to these ideas. The sad thing is, in the past we have lionized people who stood up to the state and said, “I will not comply with an unjust law.” These heroes in American history recognized when a judicial ruling or a law was unjust because it forbade them doing what they felt morally obligated to do.

The common tactic to justify this injustice is to try to link their cause to the Civil Rights Movement. For example, proponents of “same sex marriage” try to point to segregation laws in the 19th and 20th centuries and claim that the belief that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman is the same thing as oppressing African Americans. But that is a false analogy. The two sides are not equivalent. One can affirm that a person has rights as a human being without indulging a moral behavior believed wrong. But the Civil Rights movement existed because the laws of the time denied the fact that African Americans had certain rights as human beings.

In fact, the banning of interracial marriage (so often equated with the defense of traditional marriage) was a legal invention that invented an artificial barrier between male and female on the basis of determining that one ethnicity was inferior to another. That intention to discriminate is not present in the defense of traditional marriage. The defense of marriage recognizes that male and female runs across all national, ethnic and religious lines and those categories do not change what marriage is

But “same sex marriage” does change what marriage is, by denying the complementarity of the genders as what marriage is intended to accomplish. The concept of “same sex marriage” reduces marriage to a legally recognized sexual relationship—something we do not accept as a valid definition of marriage, and something we will not cooperate with.

However, rather than actually try to discuss our concerns, the tactics today are very much similar to the attacks on Christianity in the times of Pagan Rome…making false accusations about what Christians believe in our opposition to what is morally wrong. Then, like now, Christians were charged with “hatred.” In that case, the charge was “hatred of the human race.” Here, it is “hatred” of the people who benefit from something we call morally wrong. The fact that we deny the charge is ignored—just as it was ignored in Roman times. If we will not do what those in authority want, we can expect to suffer whatever people can get away with inflicting on us (even when the Imperial government of Rome did not persecute Christians, many times governors and mob rule did).

Christians were accused of false crimes like cannibalism and incest in the times of Pagan Rome. We are accused of hating women and people with same sex attraction. Then and now, we deny these charges are a part of our belief. If anyone who professes Christianity committed such crimes, they would be acting against what the Church teaches. The fact is, while loving a person means treating them with all the dignity which belongs to being a person, this love does not require us to do for them what we believe is morally wrong.

Note this distinction. Contrary to accusations, we reject the claim that we support the mistreatment of people because of their actions and reject the claim that our refusing to support what we believe is morally wrong is rooted in hatred. We also reject the antics of extremists who invoke the name of Christian while actively doing things our religion forbids against those we believe do moral wrong.

America has a choice to make. Either our nation can act like the Roman Empire (except using lawsuits, fines and prison instead of lions) unjustly persecuting us because we refuse to do what we think is morally wrong, or it can act like what our Founding Fathers intended in limiting the government—forbidding it to interfere with our moral obligations to do good and avoid evil.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dark Times: Reflections on Anti-Religious Propaganda

12 The wicked plot against the righteous 

and gnash their teeth at them; 

13 But my Lord laughs at them, 

because he sees that their day is coming. 

14 The wicked unsheath their swords; 

they string their bows 

To fell the poor and oppressed, 

to slaughter those whose way is upright. 

15 Their swords will pierce their own hearts; 

their bows will be broken. [Psalm 37:12-15]

Reading the news, it seems that the foes of the Church have largely abandoned the pretense of trying to separate Pope Francis from the teaching of the Church. Because they believe that victory is imminent, they now write as if the Church is defeated and needs to change and get with the program if she would survive. However, we refuse to roll over and submit, and this angers those who hate us. The thing is, people who oppose the teaching of the Church are not satisfied with having usurped the legal power to implement what they desire. Rather, they want everyone to accept their desires as morally good. But as long as we’re here to remind them that God exists and their behavior separates them from Him, we are a stumbling block to their plans. So, they hope that they can drive us into irrelevancy by silencing us and persuading people to come over to their side. 

They do this through both overt attacks to drive us out of the public square and through persuading individuals that it is better to follow them than to follow the Church. But they can’t do this by giving their position and letting each person decide what is true. They have to misrepresent our beliefs to make them seem dangerous and malicious. They have to make it appear as if it is the Church who is trying to force changes, when the Church is simply insisting that the truth remains true, regardless of culture or era.

Dr. Peter Kreeft shows the problem in one of his Socratic Dialogue books:

Libby: It sounds like sour grapes to me. You’re complaining because we’re winning.

‘Isa: No, I’m complaining because you’re lying. For a whole generation now you small minority of relativistic elitists who somehow gained control of the media have been relentlessly imposing your elitist relativism on popular opinion by accusing popular opinion—I mean traditional morality—of elitism, and of imposing their morality! It’s like the Nazi propaganda saying Germany was victimized by Poland.

[Peter Kreeft, A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), 141.]

The political and cultural elites of our nation have portrayed the situation as if a group of antisocial misfits suddenly appeared in society with the intention to persecute people who think differently than they do. They portray it as if “enlightened” people are finally throwing off the shackles of these misfits and benefitting society in doing so. So they tell the world that Christians “condemn” because we hate—that we hate and fear anyone who will not submit to what we say. They dredge up the behavior of the worst history has to offer and portray it as if this was the norm for what we would do if they let us get away from it. Basically, the lie they use is to say that the world was as enlightened as the 21st century until religion—especially Judaeo-Christian religion—came into being, and sought to control human thought through fear and superstition.

This is, of course, false. But it is quite effective. Look at modern programs on TV. Look at how they portray religion. Practitioners of religion fall into two groups. Either they are cold, hostile people who are bigoted and hostile to anyone who thinks differently, or they are willing to compromise their beliefs to get along with the world. The former are villains and the latter are heroes.

They tried to fit Pope Francis into this mindset. They took his words out of context and tried to make it seem as if he was “heroically struggling” to bring the Church into an “enlightened” view. But he had too much to say in defense of the family and Catholic teaching to spin. Now they either ignore him or lump him in with those who they once contrasted him against. Now the media has to look to individual Catholics who rebel against the authority which Christ gave His Church and portray them as the enlightened ones. The ultimate result of this distortion of the Pope was not the changing of Church teaching, but deceiving many hitherto faithful Catholics into questioning or rejecting his authority as the successor to St. Peter, wrongly thinking that the Pope is in the camp of the compromisers.

At this time, the elites of our nation seem to think they have won. The Church is on the defensive while the courts seem willing to give them everything they ask for, ignoring the fact that these rulings violate the beliefs that our nation was founded on—that the government does not have the right to compel a person to do what their religious belief forbids them to do.

So, it is indeed a dark time. But we need to remember we cannot give up in despair or simply hunkering down in a bunker, deciding to survive while the whole world goes to hell. There have been dark times before, where the state wrongfully sought to usurp authority by making laws it had no authority to make. Yes, things can indeed get worse. We can indeed be personally targeted by unjust laws or even physical persecution. But we have to remember that this is not the first time such dark times have happened. In every other time, the Church continued to stand up and perform the mission Christ gave us.

People may hate us for telling them the truth, showing them that their chosen actions are not compatible with the love of God. But they are not our enemies, but our patients. God doesn’t want them damned, but wants them to turn back to Him. Our task is to cooperate with that great commission, regardless of whether the world wants to hear it or not.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bellwether of Persecution

I thought this was america

bellwether |ˈbelˌweT͟Hərnounthe leading sheep of a flock, with a bell on its neck.• an indicator or predictor of something: college campuses are often the bellwether of change

I remember my youth in school and what was taught to us about America. How we were a free country and that the government couldn’t do, or force us to do, bad things. We were told how people came to America to escape places that treated them unjustly. As I grew older, I realized that this was a “rose colored glasses” view of things. That our country could and did wrong over the past 200 years. But throughout my transition from growth to adulthood, it was still recognized that the Declaration of Independence was still meaningful when it said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We were told that the Bill of Rights were essential rights to all people and that our Founding Fathers were determined to protect the people from the abuses from a government, acknowledging that there were certain things that the government had no right to do.

Right now, America has a system where laws which were based on this understanding are subject to being reviewed by courts that are free to throw out those laws which the judges happen to disagree with. The term used is “finding the law unconstitutional,” but too often, this is a code word for an arbitrary decision that reflects the political views of the judges without concern with actual concern for justice or law. This is the case when a few judges have ruled that the understanding of marriage as being between one man and one woman is “unconstitutional.” Based on these rulings, people with religious beliefs that forbid them from participating in what they think is morally wrong can be forced to choose between their business and their beliefs—something the government had previously been seen as having no right to do.

Take a recent case of a Washington florist. The judge ruled that the florist’s religious beliefs, which forbade her from providing flowers to a same sex “wedding,” was illegal from the time that Washington legalized it. Think I’m using unreasonable rhetoric? Think again. Look at what the judge (Alexander C. Ekstrom) said:

"Stutzman is not a minister, nor is Arlene’s Flowers a religious organization when they sell flowers to the general public,” Ekstrom wrote. “Stutzman cannot comply with both the law and her faith if she continues to provide flowers for weddings as part of her duly licensed business.”

The judge has baldly stated what we have been warning of for years—that a person with religious convictions can be forced to choose between business and faith (Stultzman has decided to stop doing any weddings).  Basically, what we have is this: if a law is passed defending our religious freedoms, it is ruled as unconstitutional. When a law is passed which infringes on our religious liberties, it is seen as acceptable and those who invoke their first amendment freedoms are told that it doesn’t apply—the courts continually reducing who has religious freedom to the point that a church itself can (thus far) be protected from government interference, but the institutions that church runs or the individual practitioner is not.

Decisions like this make much more chilling a recent event where lawmakers urged Archbishop Cordileone to change his policy insisting that teachers in Catholic institutions actually act—Catholic. With legal precedence like this, we can expect the judges to be more likely to side with the laws infringing on our religious freedoms. 

While such things are more benign than in other countries and other times in how they try to coerce compliance with religious beliefs they oppose, these rulings are in the same spirit as the persecutions of the past. Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints describes for us the case of St. Sadoth:

The second year of the persecution, king Sapor coming to Seleucia, Sadoth was apprehended, with several of his clergy, some ecclesiastics of the neighborhood, and certain monks and nuns belonging to his church, to the amount of one hundred and twenty-eight persons. They were thrown into dungeons, where, during five months’ confinement, they suffered incredible misery and torments. They were thrice called out, and put to the rack or question; their legs were straight bound with cords, which were drawn with so much violence, that their bones breaking, were heard to crack like sticks in a fagot. Amidst these tortures the officers cried out to them: “Adore the sun, and obey the king, if you would save your lives.” Sadoth answered in the name of all, that the sun was but a creature, the work of God, made for the use of mankind; that they would pay supreme adoration to none but the Creator of heaven and earth, and never be unfaithful to him; that it was indeed in their power to take away their lives, but that this would be the greatest favor they could do them; wherefore he conjured them not to spare them, or delay their execution. The officers said: “Obey! or know that your death is certain, and immediate.” The martyrs all cried out with one voice: “We shall not die, but live and reign eternally with God and his Son Jesus Christ. Wherefore inflict death as soon as you please; for we repeat it to you that we will not adore the sun, nor obey the unjust edicts.”

Whether the governments would have us worship the sun, burn incense to the emperor or give our acceptance of “same sex marriage,” we must not obey what is unjust or forces us to go against what God commands. It may only cause us overt persecution or it may cause us hardship, perhaps legal action, but we need to be prepared for being called on to make the choice—for God, or against God. It might not happen to you or personally, but Our Lord did warn us that we must accept this:

The World’s Hatred. 18 If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,* because they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’ (John 15:18-25)

And so, we must prepare for darker times, which continue to come faster than I expect. We must prepare to continue to carry out our mission. As Cardinal George said, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” None of us want to die in prison, let alone the public square for the faith. But if it does happen by death or by lawsuit or by imprisonment, we must respond in love, blessing and praying for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44) and seeking to convert them. This is true, whether persecution comes from unjust judges interpreting unjust laws or whether it comes at the hands of fanatics like ISIS.

Friday, February 6, 2015

TFTD: How Dare Those Catholics Require Catholic Schools to Act Catholic?

Hypocrisy Much

The intolerant often have a way of appearing reasonable. They appeal to some sort of value that they think everyone should agree with, frame the debate in this way, and then treat everyone who disagrees with their premises as being the hate filled ones. That’s the case in the editorial "Catholic Church infringing on personal lives | Guest Columns | San Francisco | San Francisco Examiner.” The allegation is Archbishop Cordlileone of San Francisco is infringing on the rights of individuals by insisting that people who serve in Catholic run institutions actually support (or at least not publicly oppose) the Church teaching to avoid misleading students about what is right and wrong. That’s entirely reasonable. The Catholic Church has always rejected the idea of education being compartmentalized. She believes that education needs an overall approach which teaches moral values—it’s not a case of just saying “learn these values at home."

So, the Church insists that if a person wants to work for a Catholic school, they need to avoid giving the appearance of rejecting the values of the Church. If one can’t accept that, they should look for another place of business. That’s common sense. If a fundamentalist Protestant school insisted that I sign an agreement that said I acknowledged the Bible as the sole rule of faith, I would have to reject that condition. If I lied and then was caught out promoting a view contrary to the group’s views, I would have no right to object to being fired.

However, we tend to have groups of activists seeking to force change on the Church. Where we believe that a behavior is not compatible with God’s commandments, these groups wrongly assume that these teachings are nothing more than unsavory political positions which can and should be changed. They attempt the "grassroots level” attempts to change the thinking of the youth in the hopes of converting them to their way of thinking.

In other words, when it is their own values in question, these activists insist that everyone respect the values of others. But when it comes to values they dislike, they refuse to respect those values, and call them intolerance. That’s a self contradiction. If one demands that everyone respect the values of others, that includes the views they dislike. If it’s wrong for us to judge their way of thinking, it’s wrong of them to judge our way of thinking. So, if their proclaimed value system is based on “tolerance,” they should practice what they preach and stop trying to force change on the Church.

Now sometimes a counter-charge arises here. That’s to accuse us of being hypocritical. They allege that because we’re not being tolerant of behaviors, we are being hypocritical. The problem is, we don’t claim a moral relativism or tolerating all views as equally valid. We believe all people are required to seek the truth and follow it. If a person refuses to seek the truth, or refuses to follow the truth once found, that is not a good thing.

That’s a perfectly rational view. We reject, for example, the idea that one human being is superior to another as false. Because of that, we reject ideas that allow one class of people to have power over another group of people because of their claim to greater importance. We reject racism because we believe all races are equal in the eyes in God. We reject abortion, because we deny that the unborn person is less of a person than the born person. Without this kind of thinking, a person would have nothing to say to the totalitarian except, “I dislike your system.” Here’s a thought exercise… imagine some group like the Nazis use the same arguments as modern activists to claim people have no right judge them. If you say, “tolerate unpopular views,” you have to tolerate them. If you believe some views are wrong and don’t have to be accepted, then you can morally oppose such views, providing the reasons you believe it is wrong.

The Church does provide her reasons for saying that things are wrong. But the response to those reasons is insults and labels (ad hominem attacks). Indeed, many people do not even know these reasons—they just assume that the only possible reason for opposing them is hatred. That’s ironic because refusal to consider any other possibilities is intolerance.

In addition to these attacks, we see such accusers trying to make the Church teaching seem to be in opposition to Pope Francis. In a particularly repugnant example, the San Francisco Chronicle takes Papal soundbites out of context and tries to make it sound like there is opposition. But the Pope has affirmed that when it comes to the Church teaching, he “is a son of the Church.” Indeed, he continues to defend the Christian understanding of marriage. So again, the tactic is to define things in such a way that makes any opposition look hateful—but it is false.

Keep that in mind as you encounter charges of bigotry against Catholics.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

TFTD: The Difference Between the Honorable One and the Knave

I read in the news today that six judges in North Carolina chose to resign their position rather than violate their consciences over the judicial diktat on so-called same-sex “marriages.” They recognized that they had an obligation when it came to choosing between doing what they were obligated to do before God and saving their jobs and going along with the flow.

In contrast, during the push to legalize same-sex “marriage,” of the proponents of same-sex “marriages", whether county clerks who illegally signed marriage licenses for same-sex couples (or refused to sign normal marriage certificates), or judges who equated their political views with what was constitutional, or governors who refused their sworn duty to uphold the law and refused to defend laws defending marriage . . . not one of them chose to resign. When it came to a choice between doing what they disagreed with or resigning, these people chose to go beyond their authority instead.

That’s the difference between an honorable person and a knave. One seeks to do what is right, even at great personal cost. The other abuses their authority in order to promote a cause.

Unfortunately, the knaves do not face any consequences for their actions.

When government officials can get away with abuse of power to promote their personal agendas, that’s how corruption and loss of freedom happens.

There’s irony when the people who truly follow their consciences are considered bigots who force their views on others, while government officials can push their agendas into law and are considered defenders of freedom.

We can be pretty sure that if these judges did not resign, but stayed in office and refused to comply with the law, they would face consequences.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Tactics of Redefinition Leads to the Abuse of Law

A few months ago, people were arguing that a religious  freedom was for individuals, not for businesses. Now, definitions have changed again, and a couple who run a marriage chapel according to their religious beliefs are being told to perform same-sex “weddings” or face penalties of 180 days in jail and $1000 in fines for each day they refuse to perform these services. (For refusing to perform one service for one year, that’s 180 years and being fined $365,000 . . . murderers don’t face those penalties).

The argument is that this chapel is not a church but is "considered a place of [public?] accommodation” and therefore subject to the ordinance.

Now a place of accommodation is considered to include:

A public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation. Places of public accommodation include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from the ADA's title III requirements for public accommodations.

So, basically this is assuming that because a wedding chapel, which approaches marriage from a Christian perspective, serves the public, it cannot refuse performing same-sex ceremonies. This is essentially a use of redefining in order to change the meaning of the law to the benefit of one group and the detriment of another group.

That’s the common practice in America today. When it comes to religious freedom, the government practice is to define the law or court ruling in such a way that they can exclude as many as possible from the exercising of these rights if the exercise of religious freedom goes against the preference of the lawmaker or the judge.

Religious freedom belongs to the Bill of Rights as something the individual possesses independently of what the government bestows—the government simply has no right to infringe on them. The First Amendment essentially enables the freedom to do what one feels morally obligated to do. It’s not a laundry list of separate and unrelated rights. It’s a case of of forbidding the government from coercing people to do that which they believe is immoral to do. The amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So according to this, the State cannot:

  1. Restrict one’s right of peacefully living in accord with one’s religious beliefs.
  2. Restrict one’s right to peacefully speak or write to promote what one believes is good and oppose what is evil—openly.
  3. Restrict one’s right to peacefully assemble with people who share one’s beliefs.
  4. Restrict one’s right to peacefully change the government through legal means when we believe it is going in the wrong direction.

But the government and groups allied with it have been restricting these rights by trying to limit the influence of religion in the following ways:

  1. Denying the freedom of religion from applying to all aspects of the life of the person who adheres to it.
  2. Bullying people from speaking out on what is right.
  3. Limiting what kind of groups that assemble can practice religious freedom—for example, denying places of businesses can be run according to religious beliefs of the owners.
  4. Negating laws supported by a majority of citizens on the grounds that it has a “religious motivation.”

These tactics pervert the First Amendment by making the government the judge of which religious values are legitimate concerns, when the whole point of the First Amendment was to prevent the government from behaving in this way. The government being able to restrict whether a person or group may be free to hold to a belief others may dislike is a dangerous one. The Nazi and Communist regimes are obvious examples of a government forbidding anything deemed to be against their interests. But other restrictions by less extreme regimes differ only by degree because the government is still demanding authority over the religion one believes to be right.

Thus the government declares that a university or hospital affiliated with a Church may not refuse to supply coverage of contraception and abortifacient drugs even though the Church believes the use of these things is wrong. It decrees that a wedding chapel, run by Christians according to religious values, may not refuse to officiate over a relationship the owners believe cannot even be a marriage. It says laws passed by a majority of citizens affirming that marriage is a relationship that only can exist between one man and one woman, or laws acknowledging that the unborn child is a human being are not valid because the shared beliefs of the voters is deemed “religious.” (Genetic Fallacy).

The defense currently popular with the government and its allies is to equate these things with historical “discrimination.” For example, laws against contraception and abortion are considered “discriminating” against women. Laws defining marriage as existing only between one man and one woman are labelled as discriminating against people with same sex attraction. The assumption is supposed to be proven, but the fact is people assume it is proof. (Begging the Question Fallacy).

Ultimately, what the government does is to constantly redefine things in order to place something they dislike under the categories of “discrimination,” “establishment clause,” or “equal protection clause” in order to prevent them from being enforced.

What was once recognized as freedom under the First Amendment is now called “discrimination.” This is not because we have become more enlightened (begging the question again), but because it is a convenient way to negate a law the government dislikes without using the legal process to change a law.

Another tactic is the slippery slope fallacy. It is alleged that without the government and the courts overseeing religion, we’re opening the doors for the rise of sharia law or human sacrifice. But that’s asinine. The American concept of the freedom of religion has never recognized the right of a religion to actively harm another person. Nor have the advocates of religious freedom ever advocated such a thing. Catholic bishops condemn abortion—but they also condemn the murder of the abortionist.

Scare tactics like that make no sense. It’s wrong for Person A from Religion B to murder another person, so it’s wrong for person A to oppose contraception and abortion?

If anything, it’s government that is behaving in a coercive way. Imposing support for anti-Christian values against the will of the Christian citizen is merely a bloodless version of something like ISIS is doing in the Middle East. Go along or be targeted—by law or by bullying in our case. I don’t use this image insensitive of the suffering of the Middle East. Rather I am pointing out that, regardless of whether one uses law or terror to impose a position, one is actively forcing believers to do what they believe is wrong (which is quite different from forcing everybody to do what a religion wants). It is a violation of religious freedom

So ultimately, we have to beware the government because the government changes the meaning of words (fallacy of redefining). When it changes the definitions of words and legal terms, such as “religious freedom” and “marriage,” it does so to vilify the opponent or to promote its own agenda. The danger is, when we allow the government to do such things, it can easily change anything it wants. The only defense is to hold it to the true definition every time.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Church and State

Introduction

If one wants to be consistent in arguing the "Separation of Church and State," reason requires that we point out the fact that one cannot keep the Church out of the State without keeping the State out of the Church as well.  The problem is this is increasingly ignored by the Federal Government.

Christianity, in following Christ's command to “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” (Mark 12:17) recognizes that the State has certain areas of authority granted to it for the common good and the protection of the people and that the people are required to give obedience to the authority in these matters.  However, Christians are also required to give obedience to God in matters which concern Him and the State has no authority to oppose or interfere with these commands.

Thus the state can pass laws which provide for the protection and benefit of the population.  For example, it can collect taxes (though not excessively) to make it possible to carry out its duties.  It can set traffic laws for the protection of the people.  There is nothing sacred about driving on the right or the left side of the road, but the government mandates one to avoid the danger of head-on collisions.  The government can set laws concerning military service for the defense of the nation.  There is nothing unreasonable about this as a general principle, though one can certainly judge how the state carries this out (such as a fair conscription in times of national emergency vs. an arbitrary "press gang").

However, the state does not have the authority to mandate what is to be morally acceptable. nor to force religions to participate in things that they find morally repugnant.  The state cannot justly compel Jews and Muslims to eat Pork, nor to force them to provide it for others for example.

The State Cannot Pass Laws outside its Competence or Area of Authority

In Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons, we have an exchange between Thomas Cromwell and St. Thomas More concerning King Henry VII and his Act of Supremacy declaring him the head of the Church in England.  Thomas Cromwell attempts to reason that since More does not know the state of the souls who did sign and he does know he has a duty of obedience to the King, he should therefore sign his assent to the Act.  However, St. Thomas More points out:

Some men think the Earth is round and others think it is flat.  But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round?  And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?  No, I will not sign. (Page 133).

St. Thomas More's point is a good one.  There are some things the state does not have the authority to declare. Regardless of what the State declares, if it is contrary to what is reality, such a law is meaningless and is nothing more than the state trying to tell people what to think or to do… tyranny.

The State has No Authority to Compel Compliance with an Unjust Law

Let's take another angle.  In the (admittedly mediocre) movie CSA: Confederate States of America, one of the premises is that the victorious South, in attempting to bring the conquered North into its way of life, creates a quandary.  A reconstruction tax is to be imposed on the conquered Northerners.  However, this tax can be avoided by the purchase of a slave.  It leaves the northerners with three choices:

  1. To purchase a slave.
  2. To pay the ruinous taxes.
  3. To leave the country.

The movie shows that the intent of the law is for people to choose option #1 to remove a cultural barrier between the North and the South.  Most Northerners do choose option #1, with a minority choosing option #3.  The viewer is supposed to recognize that all three of the choices are unjust.  Slavery is wrong, and the person who recognizes it as being wrong should not be forced into ruinous taxes or exile.

Both Violations Exist in America in 2012

It is interesting that people can see the problem in the movie, but not see that a very real version is happening right now in America.  With the HHS mandate for example, employers with religious beliefs that tell them that contraception and abortifacients are morally wrong are put in the same quandary.  Failing to provide contraception/abortifacient coverage in their health care plans results in a fine which can equal $100 per employee per day.  It is estimated that the Evangelical owned "Hobby Lobby" could potentially have to pay up to $1.3 million dollars a day for refusing to comply with the HHS mandate.

In other words, the company has these options:

  1. To comply with what they believe to be immoral.
  2. To pay ruinous fines.
  3. To stop doing business in America.

Christians are not Imposing their Beliefs on Others when they Defend their own Rights

Now the examples of A Man for All Seasons and CSA bring out two important facts.  First, that a government which seeks to mandate what is morally acceptable has no authority to do so, and second, when it seeks to coerce acceptance of such a mandate, it is behaving tyrannically and exceeds its authority.

Remembering this is important where supporters of the government's policies are labeling Christians as being intolerant and imposing views on others.  The First Amendment points out:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So the employer with religious beliefs which tells him or her that providing insurance coverage for contraception or abortifacients is wrong has the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances in regards to the interference with the free exercise of religion.  The government does not have the right to restrict these freedoms.  Religious believers have the right to object to and challenge the HHS mandate and do not impose their views on others in doing so.

Nor do we impose our views on others when we seek to instruct voters as to why certain government policies are unjust and seek to encourage the passage of laws that overturn the injustices.  Our nation was founded on this principle, as stated in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The irony is, it is the religious believers seeking to defend their rights declared in the Declaration and the Constitution are unjustly accused of violating these rights, while those who do or favor the actual violations are treated as the victims.

Our objection to the unjust Laws, Mandates and Court Rulings is not out of opposition to the democratic process, but is out of opposition to the imposition of something the government has no right to impose in the first place and has no right to coerce our compliance with unjust sanctions.