Showing posts with label freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label freedom. Show all posts

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thoughts on Religious Freedom in America For the New Year

Religious freedom americaNot the country I grew up in...


I think we’re now at the point where there are enough people out there who believe that whatever harms their enemy is good that we can expect to see popular support for whatever violation of religious freedom is directed at the Catholic Church—especially if this violation can be cast as defending the “rights” of a group portrayed as a victim. Let’s face it. When a Church affiliated institution (like a school or hospital) can establish a policy making clear that all potential employees are called to live publicly and privately in accordance with Church teaching, and the employee willingly signs said agreement and then is fired for violating it, and successfully sues the institution involved, we are seeing the establishment of rule of law being replaced by arbitrary judgment. When a business is established by a Christian who wants to run his or her business in accordance with Christian moral principles can be sued or prosecuted when the business refuses to do something against those principles, we’re seeing the rule of law being replaced by arbitrary judgment.

It’s kind of alarming seeing the comments of people online who have no problem with self-contradiction. Champions of freedom say that they just want the freedom to do what they want without interference, but when we try to claim the same rights for doing what we ought, suddenly freedom is nowhere to be found. No, we can’t say same sex “marriage” is wrong without risk of legal action. No, we can’t refuse to distribute contraceptives against our conscience without risk of legal action. No, we can’t hold people accountable for breaking a signed agreement without risk of legal action—even if they’re directly working for the Church.

It Will Be a Different From The Totalitarian Version

Now America prides itself as being a land of freedom, so I doubt we’ll directly see it move to overt persecution of Christianity of the type seen in Communist nations unless we fall much further into the rule by decree mindset. What I expect that we’ll see is government misusing the rule of law to portray Christian moral teaching as a violation of the rule of law. Then, by changing the meaning of things, the Church is suddenly portrayed as violating the law by standing by her fidelity to Christ. Marriage is redefined, and suddenly we’re accused of violating the civil rights of people with same sex attraction. Abortion and contraception are redefined from a crime to a right and suddenly we’re accused of violating the rights of women.

The Accusations Used To Justify It Are Not Rational

The usual tactic is to make use of the question begging analogy fallacy and point to the real racism of American history, alleging that the opposition to certain things as being sinful is based on intolerance, just as whites were intolerant of blacks in the past (and tragically, some still hold today). This attack tries to link two things with an alleged (but not proven) motive, failing twice as the comparison is not true and the alleged motive used to link the two is not proven. So opponents point to the real evil of racism, allege our motives for Christian moral teaching as being equally intolerant and declare that the government must oppose this “intolerance” just as they opposed the ethnic racism of American history.

But the problem is, there is no material advantage to being a Catholic, as opposed to being an atheist or a Protestant. Nor is one’s membership in a religion the same unchangeable thing as being a member of an ethnic group. People are not (and never were, contrary to popular belief) forcibly converted to Catholicism. One is free to join the Church if they accept what we believe is true. If they reject that what we believe is true, then it makes very little sense to want to join, remain in or work for the Church that says, if you would follow Christ, you are called to avoid sin to live rightly.

Because of this reality, it is unjust to attempt to legally harass us for being true to what we believe is part of following Christ. We do not seek to violate the laws of this nation (but we may be forced to choose between our faith and the state when the state tries to put itself above God), though we use our constitutional rights to try to change laws we believe are unjust. We don’t use the tactics of those who hate us because they strike us as unjust (Matt 7:12). Yes, some individuals among us may do evil, but they do evil against the teachings of the Church, not because of the teachings of the Church.

There are basically two issues in the debate on religious freedom. The first is making laws which reflect what is right and just. The second is insisting on the freedoms which others try to deny us while demanding it for themselves. Because there are two issues, we need to keep track of which one applies where. When we call for laws to be passed which have the proper understanding on the nature of humanity and what is good for it, we are making reference to the first issue. When we oppose attempts to restrict our freedoms to practice what we believe is right, we are making reference to the second issue.

Freedoms Now Applied Only to Favored Views Despite Claims of “Tolerance"


AnimalFarm1  Version 2

The response to these two issues makes me wonder what happened to the country I grew up in. The prevalent attitude by those cultural and media elites is that these freedoms are only applicable to certain types of freedoms—the freedoms they approve of. The beliefs of people they disagree with are not considered protected and what they would consider unjust if it were applied to them is considered perfectly acceptable when applied to those they dislike. That’s why it is considered perfectly acceptable to have a person forced out of his job for supporting a position such as traditional marriage (such as Brendan Eich), but intolerance if a person was forced from his job for supporting same sex “marriage."

See, the first issue is an issue of what is true and how we should behave on account of what is true. Yes, there will be conflicts in these beliefs of what is true. But if one person says “X is morally wrong,” and the other person says “X is not morally wrong,” the proper response is the seeking of truth. On what basis do you make your claim? The response of accusing people of homophobia or a “war on women," is not an exchange of ideas. That’s an attempt to bully, vilifying the person who dares disagree. If a Christian believes that the good of society means one has to protect the building block of society (the traditional family), he can do so peacefully, operating within the law, with the right to peacefully try to convince people willing to listen that this is worthy of a law.

The second issue is the issue of allowing a person to live as they believe their conscience commands them to do—which is quite different from the person who says they “don’t see anything wrong with it.” The person who believes contraception is morally acceptable is not having their rights imposed on if she works for an employer who refuses to pay for it out of moral obligation, but the person who believes contraception is morally wrong is having their rights imposed on if the courts decree he or she must pay for these contraceptives. In other words, the person whose conscience is lax enough to see contraception as morally OK is not being forced to do something evil when the employer says, “Fine, but I’m not paying for it.” But forcing people to pay for what they think is evil is a violation of conscience.

Counter-Accusations Do Not Actually Fit Our Behavior, Except in Extremists That We Disavow

So, this is why religious believers must be more and more active in defending what they believe, while seeking to reach out to others in showing them why Christian beliefs are true. We are being told both that we have no right to seek laws which make the society live in a way that is just and true and that our beliefs are not covered under the freedoms all citizens claim. Objectively, we must say that some things are always wrong, while still treating our opponents with human dignity. On the other hand, we must say that even if our opponents disagree with our claims to truth, that doesn’t mean that they have the right to strip us of our human dignity.

This is the issue that is being ignored. The elites are actually behaving in a corrupt way, where consideration of rights and right don’t figure into things. Self-Contradiction is apparently acceptable so long as it helps them and harms us. But if we insist that they apply the same standards to themselves as they apply to ourself, it’s suddenly unfair.

Now, it some people do accuse us of holding a double standard. Either they point to the infamous Christian groups which are a good bogeyman to unjustly tar all Christians with to make the Christian teaching look bad (most Christians who oppose same sex acts don’t support the unjust treatment for those with that inclination), or they accuse us of being motivated by hatred when we say, “Hey, practice what you preach.” Yes, unfortunately, you will find Christians who don’t practice what they preach. But they are not the majority of Christians, and most of us recognize that those who act in this way are doing wrong even if they agree with us that X is wrong. So, it’s unjust to blame us for the actions of people we repudiate and it is wrong to accuse us of bad will because we disagree the popular views.


But people tend to accept the accusations of “guilt by association” and bald assertions of intolerance that we deny. That’s basically why religious freedom and the ability to do right is looking bleaker for 2015. Is there a remedy? Sure. It requires men and women of good will to stand up against the governments, the courts and even in places of business and point out that what is being alleged of us is unjust. It requires people to distinguish between what is alleged about Christian belief and the motive for it and the truth of Christian belief and why we hold it. In other words, religious freedom is in danger so long as people are willing to tolerate (or approve of) attacks on other people.

Friday, December 5, 2014

TFTD: So Now They Change their Demands and Target the Church Directly


So, first they told us that while the Church had to tolerate what she thought was wrong in institutions affiliated with her and in businesses run by individual Catholics, but she at least had the right to determine who had the right to work or the Church directly.  But the article, "Investigation expected after gay choir director fired from Catholic church files complaint | WGN-TV,” shows us that now the Church can be targeted for legal retribution when she takes action against a member of a Church liturgical ministry acts in public rejection of Church moral teaching.

In this case, the music minister announced publicly that he was going to be taking part in a so-called “same sex marriage.” This is to make a public rejection of the Church teaching on marriage, and if the Church gives the impression she is indifferent to such behavior, it causes scandal because people might wrongly think the Church believes it is morally acceptable.

So, in response to this decision, the parish terminated his employment. Now he has filed a “discrimination” complaint against the Church.

The Church makes a distinction between reaching out to the sinner (which she must do) and accepting sin as good (which she must not do). When a person sins in his or her private life, the response is usually to reach out quietly to the sinner with the aim of bringing them to salvation. I’m sure there are people who work directly for the Church who are guilty of even mortal sin. It is spiritually harmful for them to be in that state, and people who seek to work for the Church need to recognize that they are called to live a life of Christian witness and the living in sin mars that witness. But the Church tends to work with such people with the sacraments and spiritual direction, reminding them of the need to live the way God calls them to live.

But once the person openly and publicly flaunts their rejection of the Church teaching, that becomes a serious matter. The Church is forced into a situation that either requires them to take action or cause scandal by giving the appearance that it accepts evil acts as good. Because Mr. Collette publicly announced he would be taking part in a so-called “same sex marriage,” the Holy Family Parish and the Archdiocese of Chicago chose to act, rather than give the impression that the action was morally acceptable.

What this case boils down to is a case of the State determining what religious and moral beliefs can be valued. Whatever religious beliefs the state does not approve of it can use coercion to change. In this case, the coercion is the use of the EEOC laws and regulations, treating the Church as a secular business—believing that holding members of the Church who work directly for the Church cannot be terminated for openly violating the teachings of the Church.

But the whole concept of religious freedom is that the state can neither coerce support of a state religion, nor force a religious institution to do what it believes to be morally wrong. So, if the EEOC is allowed to take action forbidding the Church from insisting her employees comply with Church teaching, or at least not publicly flaunt defiance of it, the result will be that the state is allowed to decide which religious beliefs can be enforced.

We’re in for darker times here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thoughts on True and False Freedom on Independence Day, 2014

The Catholic view of Freedom holds that freedom allows us to do what we ought to do. The modern American concept of freedom is the idea that we can do whatever we want. These views of freedom are obviously contradictory because doing what we want and doing what we ought often run into conflict.

There's also the problem that the freedom to do what one wants tends to contradict itself. If I am free to do what I want, am I free to own slaves? Most people would be horrified at the thought. (if you're thinking That's a good idea! then do yourself a favor and keep quiet). The freedom to own a slave removes freedom from the person who is a slave.

The person who claims the freedom to do what one wants takes offense with the challenge that there are limits to what one can do. But the person who says there are limits points out that there are things it is never right to do. I'm not free to rape or murder or enslave, and most people would agree that no person should ever have such "freedom."

Yet, it's funny that the proponent of the "freedom to do as I want" school of thought tend to view any restrictions to do what they want as having someone "imposing their views." But the fact remains that the person who demands the freedom to do something immoral denies the freedom of the person who thinks it is immoral to act.

There's a really stupid slogan that has made the rounds on Facebook, the internet in general, and the bumper stickers. It reads, "If you're against abortion, don't have one." It's really stupid because the concept allows you to justify anything:

  • If you're against murder, don't murder anyone.
  • If you're against rape, don't rape anyone.
  • If you're against stealing, don't steal.
  • If you're against discrimination, don't discriminate.
  • If you're against slavery, don't own a slave.
  • If you're against torture, don't torture anyone.

These all sound ridiculous, and with good reason. In all these cases, it is recognized that the thing opposed is seen as something that no person should do. The person who actually believed one of these would be viewed with horror. But the person who would use such an argument is making the assertion that there is nothing wrong with the existence of a behavior. Opposition to the behavior is portrayed as a preference. If you don't like the behavior, and demand nobody be allowed to do it, the accusation is, "You're forcing your views on us!"

No. Opposing murder, rape, theft, discrimination and slavery all stem from the belief that all these actions are wrong, and nobody should do them. If we accept the idea of "If you're against abortion, don't have one," the others follow logically . . . the individual's preferences are supreme and the other person's rights can be sacrificed.

But once we recognize that a person is not free to murder, rape, steal from, discriminate against, or enslave another person, we recognize that there are limits to individual freedoms when it comes to actions that are always wrong. So we know that the freedom to do what you want is false. The problem is we tend to make exceptions for ourselves. If I want to do something, I should be able to do it without any repercussions . . . I should have the freedom from consequences of my actions.

But nature itself shows that is false. Yes I can probably be drunk 24 hours a day, but that freedom comes with a cost to my physical and mental health. Yes, I can probably have sex indiscriminately, but that freedom comes with the cost of the chance of pregnancy or the chance of venereal diseases. People want to avoid those consequences and demand that means be provided to avoid such consequences—at no cost to themselves. Of course that means at the expense of others. As the old saying goes, There's no such thing as a free lunch. If the person demands the means to avoid consequences without having to pay for it, that person is demanding that other people pay for it (such as, the taxpayers).



Keep out of my bedroom . . . but leave your wallet!

Of course, that is where people who claim the freedom to do as they ought rightly object. Because Catholics believe that some things are always wrong (the term is Intrinsic evil) and may never be done, they cannot cooperate with such acts, even when lawmakers unjustly approve of them. For example, if a government should be taking part in a genocide and passed a law that all citizens must turn in members of the targeted ethnic group, we would recognize our obligation to not take part. People in the government could try to force us, but they would have no right to do so.

OK, the genocide example is an extreme one—it's meant to be. It's meant to demonstrate the principle in a way that most people would recognize. But we have obligations to live as God commands, and we believe these obligations are reasonable and are actually beneficial. Going against these obligations is harmful spiritually to be sure, but going against them are also harmful physically and mentally as well . . . we're going against the way we're hardwired to be.

If you believe that your freedom to do as you want trumps the freedoms of others who believe it is wrong to act this way, that is the same mindset of the person who believed he had the right to own slaves. While you're decrying people "pushing their views on you," it's actually you who are pushing your views on those who think it is wrong.

That's the problem with America today. People want the freedom from consequences when they claim the freedom to do what they want. They insist others provide what they need to avoid consequences, even if those others believe it is wrong to enable their behavior.

The Supreme Court recently defended the right to do as we ought—with the result that people who want freedom from consequences are outraged that we don't have to do what we believe is evil. That outrage is alarming. It indicates they are actually contemptuous of true freedom and actually want their privileges to trump the true rights of others.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thoughts on the American Situation

Truth be told America is becoming precisely what our Founding Fathers wanted to prevent -- a government suppressing the inalienable rights this nation was founded on recognizing.

At this time, the right of religious freedom is under attack. The government and certain elites are seeking to restrict the rights by which we live according to how we ought.

At first, the attacks were based on trying to silence people with religious convictions seeking to enact just laws. Christians were told they were wrong to "force" their views on others while those who were trying to overturn laws based on Christian morality were hypocritically forcing their own views.

Then came attacks which sought to bully Christians into silence by slandering them as being motivated by hatred. Homophobe! War on Women! Being concerned for the well being of their immortal souls was misrepresented as irrational fear and hate. It's gotten to the point that a Christian who openly agrees with Christian morality risks repercussions if their place of education or employment should hear.

Now comes the legal attacks. It started in 2009 when Obama threw out the executive orders on conscience protection. Then people could be fired if they refused to do things they found morally objectionable. Then we had the contraception mandate which forced businesses and institutions to provide coverage for abortion and contraception even if it went against what they believed they were obliged to do before God.

Currently we have seen businesses face lawsuits and legal action for making a stand on what they felt obligated to do. Bakeries have been slapped with discrimination charges for refusing to participate in a so-called "gay marriage."  Catholic hospitals are threatened for their refusal to perform abortions.

Consider all of that.  Now consider the first amendment:

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.

This amendment is about the limitations of government in regards to what sort of laws they may impose. The government may neither impose a state religion nor restrict how religion can be practiced.

The government today behaves in a way that violates our Constitution with impunity.

This puts the religious believer in a bad position. Instead of having "certain unalienable Rights" according to the Declaration of Independence, we have a government which treats all rights as if they were favors granted and can be removed at their whim.

In other words, a government that contradicts what America was supposed to be.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Church and State


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.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fifth Anniversary Post: Lincoln was Right

In my first post, written September 22nd, 2007, I quoted Abraham Lincoln who had written:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy hypocrisy.

In that post I had written about my concerns that America was in danger of passing unjust laws in which "the just who are constrained and the unjust are free."

Fast forwarding five years to today, September 22nd, 2012, it is no longer a theoretical question about the danger of passing unjust laws.  They are now passed, and the fate of the First Amendment is much more dubious than it was when I first wrote.  The propaganda of the current presidency and his supporters are in fact blaming people who are trying to defend their religious freedom for "imposing their views on others."

I find that curious.

The Catholic who believes abortion is wrong and uses his or her rights as an American citizen (freedom of speech, the right to vote etc.)  regarding this moral conviction is told he or she is "imposing views on others."  The atheist who believes abortion is a right and uses his or her rights as an American citizen to expand the legality and reach of abortion is praised for "protecting freedom."

Both the Catholic and the atheist in this case are acting according to what they believe.  But one is vilified for doing so and the other is praised.  One is harassed when speaking while the other is protected.  This is an arbitrary application of law, of media reporting calculated to favor one group and denigrate another.

I believe Lincoln was right.  America is a nation where there is a pretense of loving liberty, but no longer an actual love of liberty.  It is the alloy of hypocrisy to praise freedom when the HHS mandate is telling religious institutions that their schools and hospitals must choose between going against what they believe God commands them to do and being fined/taxed out of existence.

People of good will should think about that.  On one hand we have the the First Amendment to the Constitution:

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.

On the other hand, we have a government prohibiting the free exercise of religion by telling religious hospitals and schools that they must pay for insurance coverage for abortifacients and contraception – even if these hospitals and schools think it wrong and refusing to consider the petitions for the redress of grievances.

When the Church (and other denominations) speak out on this, it draws the accusation of "violating the separation of Church and State" and potential legal sanctions.

So we see again Lincoln's point.  America claims to love liberty, but is willing to set it aside when seeking to suppress someone who takes a stand and says "What America is doing is wrong here."  That is "the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more laudable beliefs than is the case" as the Oxford English Dictionary defines hypocrisy.

The sad thing is, once the principle is accepted (which at this time seems to depend somewhat on the results of the November 2012 elections and the Supreme Court challenges), it becomes easy for any future government to use this to their own ends.  It doesn't have to even be the scenario of Obama who makes the United States into a dictatorship.  A future presidency could take the premise Obama established and use it to further his or her own ends, using the force of government to silence opponents.

So with this in mind, what are we to do?  The individual Christians seems weak.  The Church is attacked in a way that seeks to silence her.  The courts seem indifferent to these violations.  The government is actively involved in promoting this violation.  Are we doomed to suffer the violation of religious freedom?

At a time like this, I am reminded of the words of St. Augustine:

God therefore does not command impossibilities; but in His command He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do.

Augustine of Hippo. (1887). A Treatise on Nature and Grace (P. Holmes, Trans.). In P. Schaff (Ed.), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume V: Saint Augustin: Anti-Pelagian Writings (P. Schaff, Ed.) (138). New York: Christian Literature Company.

We need to both pray concerning what is outside of our control, and do what God wants us to do.  We can't hide in a bunker and complain loudly about bishops being at fault because we're still under fire.  All of us who profess to be Catholics have a role to play.  It might be something like informing people on a national scale, but it also might be a matter of informing a co-worker who speaks about the so-called "war on women" how things really are.

God does have a role for each one of us to play.  We do have the free will to cooperate with God or to ignore that role He calls us for.  However, we must remember that God doesn't always use spectacular miracles to make His will known.  Sometimes he calls on the little people – like how he called a collection of tax collectors, fishermen and the like to bring His message to the whole world.

How far would those twelve men had gotten if everyone else in the Church had, instead of taking part in the mission of the Church, instead sat around and complained about how terrible these Apostles were for not getting more done?

In 2007, I don't think anyone foresaw this coming.  Now that it is here, we have to remember that all of us: Catholics, Protestants, non-Christians, non-believers – all people seeking to do right – need to make a stand against a government which is choosing to do wrong.

If we don't, the words Cardinal George uttered in 2010 will be prophetic:

"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bleak Fourth of July


         “Why do you recite my commandments
         and profess my covenant with your mouth? 
         You hate discipline;
         you cast my words behind you!"
(Psalm 50:16b-17)

—From the Responsorial Psalm for July 4th, 2012

Independence Day is the day we celebrate the birth of our nation from being a colony of England.  The nation was founded on the recognition of the fact that man had, by his very nature, inalienable rights that do not come from the state so the state cannot take them away.  We have always been a free nation in principle, though tragically we have sometimes in our history failed to recognize that certain groups of people had the status of men, seeking to deny them the rights due to all human beings.

The Founding Fathers always recognized the concept of Natural Law .  They recognized that there is a way which all human beings should behave which fits into their nature of being human, not being an animal.

The point is, in our Declaration of Independence, our justification for breaking away from the British Empire was based on the premise that a government which is in opposition to the natural law must be altered or abolished.

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.

This is not "Hallmark Card" sentimentality.  This is a recognition that the government cannot do what it pleases – it must always respect the natural law and the rights inherent in being human.

Recognizing this, the Founding Fathers specifically listed in the Bill of Rights restrictions against legislation that was in opposition to those natural laws.  To go against these principles is to become a government destructive of these ends.

The First Amendment, as written, recognizes the freedom of conscience to do right before God and the need to speak out openly when the nation does wrong as one of these unalienable rights:

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 government cannot do the following:

  1. Interfere with religion by either promoting one denomination or preventing one from exercising their faith freely.
  2. Interfere with the ability to speak openly without fear of government reprisals
  3. Interfere with the ability to write openly without fear of government reprisals.
  4. Interfere with the ability to peaceably assemble concerning grievances against the government.

It's a wise Amendment to the Constitution.  It prevents the Government from forcing the people to do evil and prevents them from silencing condemnation when they do wrong.

Or so it was in theory.

It is a sad Independence Day this year, because some of us are fearful that the Government of the United States will interfere with the free exercise of religion by mandating that Catholic Schools and Hospitals, and Catholics who run their own businesses will be mandated to provide certain services which faithful Catholics believe go against the command of God.  The only way to avoid this, is to limit the services to Catholics alone (though I suspect a discrimination lawsuit would quickly follow).

So a Catholic Hospital must choose between disobeying God when it comes to caring for the (non-Catholic) sick or disobeying God by trivializing sex as if it were merely an "itch to scratch."

Preventing a member of a religion from doing what their faith tells them they must do – without fear of repercussions – is indeed prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Unfortunately, this is not merely a problem of a corrupt government.  We've had warning signs for years.  Pharmacists risking loss of their jobs for refusing to sell abortifacient drugs have been met with silence or a public attitude of "so go work elsewhere if you can't do your job."  Owners of a business who are religious and believe they cannot offer services supporting so-called "Gay Marriage" are sued for "discrimination."

Basically, we have a society which tolerates injustice in the name of an ideology they support.  So, "Throw the bums out" is only part of the issue.  If people will keep voting the bums back in, ignoring the abuses if they support the preferred ideology, we will continue to have these problems until one day we might be unable to vote the bums out any longer – because they won't let us.

What is happening is the Government has taken and altered the First Amendment in practice:

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.

If this action by the Obama administration is allowed to stand, it means that apart of the First Amendment can be ignored.  We will have permanently lost a part of the freedoms the Government has no right to take away from us.  Any future religious group can be coerced by the administration in power if its beliefs are inconvenient.

This is why I find the state of affairs so bleak this July 4th.  We are still free this year, though our freedom is challenged.  How many more Independence Days will we have before we are no longer free?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What Will You Do If They Come For You?

With the recent news of the government first forbidding the reading of the letter issued by Archbishop Timothy Broglio (who oversees the Catholic chaplains) condemning the HHS decision, and then after a protest, censoring the letter that was read, we must ask… how can anyone pretend that the Obama administration is not a menace to the rights and liberties of all Americans?

First we have the imposing of a directive which demands that religious institutions either comply with providing coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients or shut down.  Now the government is beginning to stifle the freedom to oppose such directives.

Now I recognize that not all Americans share the views of this blog or of the Catholic Church that this blog seeks to reflect.  However, even those who do not share these views need to consider something.

If the Obama administration succeeds in their tactics, then there is nothing to prevent them from using these tactics against any other body who displeases them.  Moreover, if the administration is removed from power and if these tactics are left in place, then whoever succeeds the Obama administration will also have these tools to stifle dissent.

Regardless of one's views of politics or morality, the Obama administration is taking a path which all people of good will must oppose.  Otherwise the American concept of freedom ends in failure and we become yet another nation with an authoritarian regime. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The State of Our Union


Personally, I wanted to let my blog fade away into obscurity… well into more obscurity… and retire.  But like it or not, our nation has a crisis on its hands.  The crisis is the Constitutional Right of religion is being negated by a government which is so determined to force a set of values on us that they do not care what they violate in doing so.

The issue is that the Obama administration is determined to force certain things (sanctioning of homosexual relationships and requiring employers to pay for contraception and abortions) even when such things force us to disobey God.  This is an action that no state has the right to demand.

Good and Evil

Ultimately the state is considered good or evil based on how it positions itself in relation to God's law.  The state is considered free or not free depending on whether or not it harasses or restricts people who do seek to follow God's law.  I think it can be argued that America has been an evil nation for quite some time with the government making legal and supported things which violate God's law.

I also think it can be argued that America has passed from being a free nation (tolerating Christians who seek to do God's will) to being a not free nation (harassing and restricting religious groups who seek to follow God's way rather than to disobey God and follow the state).

Forcing Beliefs on Others?

It is true that not all Americans are Christians, or even believers in any religion at all.  Some may take that fact in saying, "You're just forcing your beliefs on others!"  However this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues.  Jewish Americans approach American life from the perspective of their values.  Muslim Americans, Buddhist Americans, atheistic Americans all do the same.  However, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and atheistic institutions are not being forced to act in a way contrary to their beliefs, while Christian institutions are told they have one year to comply with directives which run counter to their beliefs.

Now, as to the issue of "imposing views on others."  This is a common accusation, which essentially works like this:

  1. Opposition to Abortion is a "personal value"
  2. These opponents want to make abortion illegal.
  3. Therefore opponents to abortion want to push their personal values on others.

The problem is, even if one accepted this argument (which I do not), it overlooks the fact that supporting abortion is also a personal value, and one can simply reverse the argument and say supporters of abortion want to push their views on others – and such a charge would be absolutely true!  If we who believe abortion is wrong can be charged with "pushing values on others," then those who want to promote abortion can be accused of exactly the same thing.  If it's wrong for us to do this, obviously it's wrong for them to do this as well.

Therefore, to oppose Christians on this ground is hypocrisy pure and simple.

Objective Truth Dictates What Must Be Done

To avoid such a charge of "pushing values," we have to recognize that certain things are absolute and are always wrong even when society does not recognize it is wrong.

Take the issue of slavery.  Our country once thought (and still struggles with in some aspects) that certain races were inferior and less than fully human.  Despite some arguments on the subject, the majority of the nation at one time accepted it as reasonable.  Even some abolitionists doubted that African-Americans had the ability to act like human beings and fit in as American citizens.

Today we recognize that this was a terrible belief that dehumanized others and refused to treat people as the human beings they were.

That is why we don't accept arguments that the opposition to slavery was nothing more than one group "pushing values" on another group.  When a society supports a view that contradicts objective truth, that society is doing wrong even if members of that society don't realize it.  However, our revulsion with such a society is that there is no valid reason for people to think in such a way.  Either they close their eyes and mind to the truth to avoid difficult questions or they deliberately choose what they know is wrong.

Such a view recognizes there is a knowable truth which people fail to reach through their own fault.  Such knowable truth is demonstrated by the praising or condemning of behavior based on this.

Essentially, the Obama administration and their supporters believe that their views are absolutely true – abortion and gay "marriage" are good in and of themselves and whoever disagrees is acting from intolerance.  Such a view – especially with the condemnation of Christians as "intolerant" – indicates that they believe their views are objectively true and can be known.

Twofold Problem With the Attack on Christianity

The problem is twofold.  First, they cannot show the objective truth for their claims but can only make use of logical fallacies to claim their situations are similar to objective truths we recognize.  Secondly, they assume four thousand years of Jewish moral beliefs and two thousand years of Christian moral teaching was dead wrong based on intolerance.

The logical fallacies are largely appeals to emotion and fear, while misrepresenting the motives of those who oppose them: "How can you want to prevent people who love each other from marrying?"  "How can you want to force a woman to be pregnant?"  These are not at all our motives.  However, these false statements gain acceptance simply by having people repeat them over and over.  It's like those people who believe Catholics worship Mary.  We don't, but the lie is so often repeated that people accept it as true.

The assumption that Christian moral teachings are nothing more than 2000 years of intolerance leads to the question, "On what basis do you say this?"  Usually what you get in response is a litany of supposed abuses (mostly repeated lies or else distortions of what is true) which are unrelated.  Some ignorant peasants burned suspected witches, therefore the opposition to homosexual "marriage" is the result of ignorant Christians.  The problem is, the hysteria over witches by uneducated peoples in the 15th and 16th centuries is not the same as the reasoned condemnation of homosexual acts even in times and cultures where it was tolerated in decadent societies. 

Basically it is an argument of chronological snobbery which assumes that an advance of 2000 years of scientific knowledge automatically means an advance of 2000 years of moral knowledge.  I think history will show that this assumption is not true.


So ultimately the state of our Union is troubled and ominous.  The present administration and those who agree with it assume they know what is good and can force those who disagree with them to comply, contrary to the Constitution of the United States.

Those people who support the Obama administration should beware.  Once it is accepted as true that the government can overrule the obligations of conscience, there are no limits to what they can do.  History is full of examples of government ideologies which were forced on the people.  The results were the gulag and the concentration camp in those cases. 

Now the gulag and the concentration camp may never show up in America, so let's not be distracted by arguing over whether they will. That misses the point of danger which is:  If you think the government has the right to force people to act against conscience, then when the wheel turns and those out of power come into power, you will have no justification to object when the government turns on you.

And that's why even people who don't recognize the truth of Christianity should be alarmed about Obama's decrees.  If you are silent when the government turns on us, who will speak up when it turns on you?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apologia: Religious Faith Free of Government Interference


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.

—The First Amendment (Emphasis added)

America was founded with religious freedom recognized as a primary right.  The state can neither compel people to belong to one faith, nor to persecute a faith because of what they believe.

Vatican II Document, Dignitatis Humanae, speaks of religious freedom in this way:

2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The two stances are remarkably similar – the State does not have the authority to force a person or a group to do what they believe is morally evil.

Unfortunately, the modern stance of the US Government and the political elites is one which seeks to compel the Catholic Church and the institutions affiliated with her to participate in behaviors she finds contrary to what she believes to be right.

CREDO: Right Belief and Right Practice

Doctrine is what is professed by the Church as believed, and denial of the doctrine is to deny what we believe to be true.  A person who denies the Trinity cannot be said to believe what the Catholic Church believes, even if he or she is a part of the Catholic Church.  Indeed, throughout the centuries, holy men and women have been martyred because they would not deny what the Church professes to be true and would not agree with what the Church teaches is false.

This point must be understood.  Even under the threat of punishment, we cannot go against what we believe.

In the Catholic view, we can know of God through Divine Revelation and through reason.  Through reason, we can grow in understanding about why the commands of the Lord are as they are and understand what reasonably follows from what we believe.

We believe God is all powerful, all knowing and perfectly good.  From this we recognize that His moral law is not based on an imperfect understanding of human nature and is not arbitrary (it isn't a case of "whatever God feels like is good").  God is perfectly good and His moral law reflects His goodness.  God's law also reflects what is good for persons.  He does not command us to do what is harmful for ourselves and does not forbid what is good for us.

Because our Lord has made it clear that to love Him is to keep His commandments, we who profess to love the Lord must obey Him.  It isn't a matter of merely following rules legalistically.  When you love a person, you act in a way which has the good of that person in mind.  The beloved can forgive actions done which are offensive.  However, a habitual contempt for the good of the beloved demonstrates a lack of love.

We believe that right practice (orthopraxy) depends on right belief (orthodoxy).  For example, a person who believes people are nothing more than cogs in a machine to serve a higher purpose will treat persons differently than those who believe people need to be treated with dignity and cannot have this dignity taken away for the sake of expedience.

From this we can see that Catholics – at least those with a proper understanding of the faith – believe that to love God is to behave in a way that is in keeping with what He commands, and that to act in opposition to His commands is not only to treat God wrongly but also are harmful to ourselves.

Non-Catholics may disagree with us and claim we have a wrong understanding about what God intends.  However, it cannot be denied that under the Constitution, Catholics and Catholic institutions are free to act according to what we think right.  We harm none by refusing to take part in abortion, homosexual "marriage" and other things we believe to be against what God commands.  We do not violate anyone's rights.  Rather, those who come to a Catholic group and insists we accommodate their demands against what we believe violate our rights – especially when they take us to court to force us to act against our faith.

Moreover, we do have the right as American citizens to seek to reform our nation and to reach out to others to teach them why our beliefs are true, just as every other American citizen does.

The US Government and Political Elites Are Behaving In A Way That Contradicts the Constitution and our Inalienable Rights

Now, our rights are being infringed upon.  A Catholic individual, a Catholic school, a Catholic hospital are no longer protected when it comes to living according to what our conscience demands.  Catholic institutions are told that they must take part in things we call evil or cease to function.  Moreover, members of the political elites are speaking out against us, claiming our beliefs are harmful and must be opposed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, when asked about the arguments against homosexual marriage, replied, "There is no answer from the opposition. There really isn’t.  Ultimately, it’s, ‘I want to discriminate.’ And that’s anti-New York. It’s anti-American."  He has also been on record as saying, "The laws would have to be paramount, and would have to be paramount to your religious beliefs."

That's chilling.  Either Cuomo misspoke or he is saying that law trumps religious belief.  I have found no evidence of the former (no clarifications or retractions).  If it is the latter, then it is Cuomo who is anti-American, because it is he who violates the First Amendment, not us.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D.-Fla.), chair of the DNC, describes beliefs that the informed Catholic holds protecting the personhood of the unborn as, "an extreme and radical step."  She says that it is, "divisive, dangerous, and destructive laws which would cripple a woman’s right to choose, limit access to birth control, and put the lives of women with difficult pregnancies at risk."

There is no respect for our rights here.  Instead the motives for our beliefs are characterized as being motivated by hatred and by wanting to deny women their "rights."  Essentially the constitutional guarantees of our religious freedoms in America are being undermined, and the political elites are misrepresenting our motives to permit their violations of our freedom.

In the name of "fairness" we are treated unfairly.  Apparently all people are free to live out their lives in accord to what they believe to be right – unless those beliefs are religious beliefs which say certain actions are immoral.

Absolutes and Relativism

I've gone over this theme before, but it is important: If there are no absolutes, then there is nothing wrong with Catholics living as we do without interference.  However, if there are absolutes, and we Catholics are in the wrong, then we are justified in demanding that proof be shown to us that we are in the wrong and how this truth is known.

But if our accusers want to do this, they must be honest.  We are not "homophobes" because we believe homosexual acts to be wrong.  We are not "misogynist" or "anti-women" because we oppose abortion and contraception.  We believe that both homosexual persons and unborn infants must be treated as human persons with the rights belonging to all persons.

We condemn the view which says a person with homosexual tendencies may be treated as less than a person, but this does not mean we must support and promote homosexual acts as being morally acceptable acts.

Extremism, By Nature, Is Not the Norm

Our accusers must be honest and recognize that the extremist does not represent the Catholic position.  The person who assaults persons with homosexual tendencies and the person who shoots abortionists does not act in accord with the Catholic faith, but AGAINST the Catholic faith.  So it is either ignorance or dishonesty to label such persons as being inspired by our beliefs – such a person clearly overlooks the prohibition against murder for example.

The extremist, by definition, is: "a person who holds extreme political or religious views" according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  To label the Catholic position as extremist, is to declare a knowledge of what the norm is.  The norm is the standard and the further one deviates from the norm, the more extreme it is.

So to call us "extremist" means the accuser claims to know the truth (eliminating the claim of relativism) and then is obligated to prove their claim of what is the truth that we deviate from.

Our Guilt is to be Proven, Not Assumed

The fact is the US Constitution lists freedom of religion as part of the Bill of Rights.  If one wishes to argue that the Catholic faith is an ideology which is harmful to others, then it falls to that person to prove the charge.  Our rights cannot be taken away until we are proven guilty of a crime for we are innocent until proven guilty.  Yet people like Cuomo assume our guilt is proven and the state can compel us to act in a way our religion forbids.

We are accused of hatred and bigotry as our motives for opposing homosexual "marriage."  However, nobody actually looks to see if these are our motives.  In fact we explicitly reject this accusation as slander.

Our detractors dismiss our reasons and our faith, ipse dixit, as being without merit – but they cannot be bothered to learn our reasons.  They merely assume that because our views reject theirs we must be motivated by hatred.

Is it reasonable or just to condemn us out of ignorance?  Is it just to lump us together with those who commit crimes without investigating  whether we share their beliefs and motivations?

Not only is it unjust, it is actually bigotry.  The same sort of bigotry which assumes all Hispanics are "Illegals," that assumes all Jews are "misers" and all Blacks are "dishonest."  An entire group is accused of possessing a trait on account of a few people who fit that trait.


The Constitution of the United States gives us freedom to live as we feel obligated to live in the Freedom of Religion.  Yet today, the government and political elites would deny us our rights and would compel us to do things we have believed to be immoral far longer than the United States was a nation.  Not only do they infringe our rights, but they refuse to listen to our defense, insisting we must be motivated by bigotry because we believe their views to be wrong.

Americans will need to ask serious questions about justice and who is really being deprived of it.  The charge of being "anti-American" and the charge that we are dangerous because we consider homosexual acts to be immoral and personhood to begin at conception are unjust charges.

However, since the freedom of religion is enshrined in our Constitution, the charge of "anti-American" and "dangerous" does not apply to us, but rather to those who would restrict our rights to practice our faith and operate institutions according to our faith.

Postscript: Can This Apologia Be Applied Against Us as Well?

Some may argue that we do not practice what we preach, that we demand rights for ourselves and deny them to others.  We would reject this as a false charge.  We do not argue that homosexual persons should be denied the rights due all human persons.  We do not demand they be denied the rights they possess in the Constitution.  Rather we say certain actions are not rights to be recognized (abortion, homosexual "marriage") but the demand of recognizing a self-gratification now in vogue by misusing titles.

Homosexual persons can of course marry a person of the opposite gender.  But if our beliefs (that marriage is between a man and a woman) are true, then the whole concept of Homosexual "Marriage" is an oxymoron.

On the other hand, religious freedom is not a self-gratification in vogue, but a right which the Constitution recognizes that all people are entitled to.  Denying us this right is not denying us a privilege but denying us what is our due.

In other words, we deny nobody their rights by saying homosexuality and abortion are wrongs and refusing to accommodate these wrongs by having our religious institutions take part in them.  But people who do force us to accommodate what we believe to be wrong or else close up our institutions are denying us our rights. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Partisan Secularism

I've been thinking about the concept of the "Separation of Church and State." In theory, it means the government gives neither favor nor hindrance to any religion.  Yet, in practice it means that the state silences religion when it comes to the matters of public affairs and shows favor to secularism which is antagonistic to religion.

So essentially, in America, we have a view which says institutions which believe in God should have no say in speaking on issues involving legislation while those which either deny the existence of God or else treat it as unimportant are allowed to interfere to the extent they choose without restriction.

So when one considers this, we can see that we have a legal system in America which stands the first amendment on its head.  Churches have to be careful about speaking out on abortion or gay marriage lest they suffer tax penalties for "lobbying."  Yet non-religious organizations can lobby without concern. 

I find it interesting that one common response I've seen in comboxes is the concept that since we're not treated like religion is being treated in China, we're not being treated wrongly.  Such a view is an either-or fallacy.

  1. Either Religion in America is [persecuted like it is in China] or it is [not treated unfairly]. (Either [A] or [B]).
  2. Religion in America is not [persecuted like it is in China] (Not [A])
  3. Therefore it is [not treated unfairly]. (Therefore [B])

The error of such a view is that one need not reach the levels of persecution in China to treat religion unfairly.

What is overlooked is that in modern times, religion is viewed as yet another institution when it comes to denying the existence and authority of God (it is not given any special heed) on one hand but treated as "pushing their views on others" when it comes to speaking out on the problems of society.

Essentially this means that a secular group is permitted to seek to influence others but a religious group is not.

When one view is permitted to act and speak freely but another is not allowed to do the same, we call this unjust and showing partiality.  We call it partisan.

Yet this partisanship and partiality exists in America today.  Religion is not free.  This doesn't mean we're overtly persecuted (as some atheists have mockingly used as a straw man).  However, it does mean the state has shown itself to show partiality to secularism – giving them a free range to speak and act while restricting how churches may speak out on issues concerning the nation.  When secular institutions which favor homosexual couples adopting children and restrict religious institutions which say this is wrong, this is in fact partisan behavior in favor of secular beliefs.

This is why I believe America is no longer a free nation in terms of religion.  Yes, I am free to write this blog, yes there is Catholic radio and TV out there which can broadcast without interference.  However, when the state shows partiality to one side it follows the other side is either hindered or not given the same rights.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Sooner We Realize America Is No Longer Free, The Sooner We Can Take Action

So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause

Revenge of the Sith


This is what Happens When You Try To Link This Article to Facebook

(This is what happens when you try to post the linked article to Facebook)

An article was written on a Catholic blog concerning a Catholic couple being sued for refusing to allow their business to host a reception for a Homosexual "marriage."  It's an excerpt from a longer article found here.

The couple stated:

“We have never refused rooms or dining or employment to gays or lesbians,” they wrote. “Many of our guests have been same-sex couples. We welcome and treat all people with respect and dignity. We do not however, feel that we can offer our personal services wholeheartedly to celebrate the marriage between same-sex couples because it goes against everything that we as Catholics believe in.”

So it's come to this.  A Catholic who tries to keep to his faith and stand against what he believes to be immoral can now be sued for standing up against the state.  I'm sorry but this sort of a thing is against everything I ever was proud about to be an American.  Nazis can march on Skokie, Illinois.  Klansmen can burn a cross on public land.  Artists can show desecrated religious icons and all is well.  But let a Christian seek to make a stand for what we believe and this is what happens.

We should pray for our nation, that the courts and the lawmakers see this and recognize that if this is allowed to go forward, we can no longer consider ourselves to be a free nation, but rather we can be said to be at best partially authoritarian.

It is also alarming that this sort of acceptance of losing our freedoms spreads further.  Facebook censors this article from being posted.  It is acceptable for people to post anti-Catholic material from pro-homosexual links, but this – which is simply a news article – is blocked because it is now determined we are not free to speak out on what is right or wrong.  Think of it.  This is not a Fred Phelps kind of article using slurs against homosexuals.  It merely reports that Catholics are being sued for standing up for their faith.  So it seems that speaking out against immoral acts is no longer permissible in society and perhaps it will soon be forbidden by law as well.

It is a sad thing.  Our Bill of Rights once gave us the freedoms to do what our consciences obligated us to do.  Now, we have favored classes which may never be questioned and certain beliefs that may never be questioned.

Yes, I know that Jesus did tell us:

22 Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.

23 Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. (Luke 6:22-23)

However, that does not mean those who do this to us do right to persecute us.

Very well.  I will follow the example of St. Thomas More and be faithful to my nation insofar as my nation does not ask me to disobey my God, for I must obey God instead of man if the laws of the nation are in conflict with Him, and I pray I will not falter if God calls on me to suffer for my faith and that He give me the grace to press on.  Perhaps I worry for nothing.  I am nobody important.  But then, neither was this couple.

Just know that the injustice is not being done by the Catholic couple with a Vermont inn.  It is being done by those who would deny us the right to follow our conscience and obey God.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If We Are Silent On This, We Do Not Deserve to be Considered a Free Nation

Sources: ADF: NH court orders home-schooled child into government-run school - Alliance Defense Fund - Defending Our First Liberty; 

Pundit Ann Coulter once remarked that when dealing with liberalism you can’t employ the reductio ad absurdum (reducing to absurdity) to point out the problems with a claim because no matter how one distorts it, somebody has already proposed it.

This seems to fit well with this story from New Hampshire (State slogan Live Free or Die — which state laws seem to be moving towards option two).  It is reported that a child who was homeschooled and described as  above average  academically and well liked socially was recommended that she be put into a public school.  Why?  Because she is a believing Christian and her father (the girl’s parents are divorced) does not like that.

The news report reads:

Marital Master Michael Garner reasoned that the girl’s “vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to [her] counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view” and then recommended that the girl be ordered to enroll in a government school instead of being home-schooled.

This isn’t just a “hysterical right wing” report.  It’s in the Judge’s ruling as well:

Despite Ms. Voydatch's insistence that Amanda's choice to share her mother's religious beliefs is a free choice, it would be remarkable if a ten year old child who spends her school time with her mother and the vast majority of all of her other time with her mother would seriously consider adopting any other religious point of view. Amanda's vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to the counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view.

In other words, if you are ten years old and raised as a devout Christian it means you have not been exposed to the views of others and need to be in order to ensure you fairly consider other views.  The problem with the issue is this; the father does not like the fact that his daughter is a devout Christian, and the Judge’s ruling states:

In her Further Report and testimony, the Guardian ad Litem echoed her previous concerns that Amanda's relationship with her father suffers to some degree by her belief that his refusal to adopt her religious beliefs and his choice instead to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does. Amanda expressed these feelings to the counselor.

There is a red flag here all right, and one which the guardian ad litem allows to sail right by.  These statements by the daughter indicate a Father who is contemptuous of the faith.  The comment of “his choice instead to spend eternity away from her” indicates a response to his daughter which the Father is not acting respectfully of his daughter’s beliefs.

The report goes on to say:

Mr. Kurowski testified that he and Amanda both enjoy his parenting time; Amanda particularly enjoys the contact with Mr. Kurowski's other daughter. They rarely discuss religion, although they have, several times in the past. He believes that exposure to other points of view will decrease Amanda's rigid adherence to her mother's religious beliefs, and increase her ability to get along with others and to function in a world which requires some element of independent thinking and tolerance for different points of view.

What we have here is the state making the decision between parents over how much religious belief is “normal” or “abnormal.”  This is a decision the state has no right to make.

This becomes especially concerning when the ruling goes on to say:

Ms. Voydatch acknowledges the strength of her own religious beliefs. She acknowledges that she shares those beliefs with Amanda, but denies that she pushes Amanda to believe the same things. In fact, she testified that Amanda told the counselor that she was upset with the parenting schedule because her father "bombards her constantly" about her faith and won't let her alone about it. She testified that Amanda's wide variety of adverse symptoms are caused by her increased contact with her father. In response to Mr, Kurowski's testimony that Amanda enjoys her parenting time with him, Ms. Voydatch offers her observation that Amanda only reveals her true feelings and behaviors when she is at home with her mother, who is the "trusted adult" in her life.

This testimony seems to follow what this counselor has said.  Yet the courts and the counselor has ignored this, and used a straw man fallacy to justify their decision.

Without considering Mr. Kurowski's testimony that Amanda enjoys her parenting time with him, the evidence gathered from the counselor and from the school teachers does not support the conclusion that Amanda is a deeply troubled child at risk for emotional and mental damage from exposure to her father. To the contrary, the evidence support a finding that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.

So the father essentially accuses the mother of making his daughter into a zealot.  The mother claims that the father seems to hold her faith as something harmful for her and challenges the daughter on it, and the court employs a Straw Man fallacy which says she’s not an “at-risk” child because of her exposure to her father.  That isn’t the issue here.  The issue is the father considers the girl’s religious faith to be a hindrance to their relationship and the state considers the girl’s faith to be subservient to the wishes of the father.

The willful ignorance of the state on the issues here is shown when it comes for the ruling on weekend custody.  On the issue of Sunday visits, the ruling states:

Mr. Kurowski seeks a routine schedule which would have Amanda with him on three out of every four weekends, but the Court concludes, in part based on the Guardian ad Litem's conclusions and recommendations, that Amanda should have generally equal exposure to each parent for her weekends, particularly if Ms. Voydatch will not be home schooling Amanda. Assigning the fifth weekend of those months with five weekends to Mr. Kurowski is an adequate response to assignment of the majority of residential responsibility for Amanda to Ms. Voydatch.

The court calls it “Weekends” yet a couple of paragraphs earlier, the dispute hinges on Sundays:

The parties present different specific proposals for Sunday night overnights for Mr. Kurowski's parenting time, the number of weekends per month for his time, and provisions for the school summer vacation schedule. The Court considers these proposals by reference to Amanda's best interests.

Mr. Kurowski wants three Sundays out of every four.  Sunday just happens to be the Christian day of worship.  Based on other testimony given in the report (linked in the sources above), it seems more evidence of a father hostile to his daughter’s religious faith.

It seems to me that the issue is Mr. Kurowski objects to his daughter’s religious convictions and wants to reduce them… and the state is agreeing with the father.

It is unfortunate of course when parents divorce and cannot agree on the religious upbringing of the children.  I do not personally have knowledge of Ms. Voydatch’s religious affiliation nor do I know what I would think of her theology.

However, the fact that the state considers the daughter’s religious conviction to be abnormal and believes the girl would be better served “exposed to other views” is an extreme overstepping of the bounds of the freedom of religion.

Now, it would be another issue if the family shared one faith and then after the divorce the mother radically changed faith and sought to turn the daughter against the father and the faith the family practiced together.  However, this isn’t the issue.  Rather we seem to have an irreligious father and a religious mother who has raised her daughter according to her faith… and the courts agree with the father.

God save us all if we allow the courts to decide how much faith is too much for our own good.

This is why I say that if we are silent on this, America does not deserve to be considered a free nation.  The State will have usurped the right to do good.  Freedom after all, is not the freedom to do what we wish, but the freedom to do what we ought to do.