That's only the latest in a gathering storm of incidents punishing people not because they intrude on anyone's rights, but because they will not bow in speech and conscience before the great god Sexual License.
Two items. Proposed HHS regulations slated to take effect next year will compel every employer to provide insurance coverage for elective sterilization and abortifacients, both abhorrent to the consciences of practicing Catholics among others.
There is a conscience exemption, but as Christopher Haley points out, it is drawn so narrowly that no actual religious charities qualify. Here's the definition:
a religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Code.You're only religious if your purpose is to teach your religion, employ only members of your religion, and serve only fellow believers. Well, that excludes just about every faith-based charity, the vast majority of which employ whoever's best suited for the job and serve all comers. Do we think Catholic hospitals, which provide 20% of the nation's hospital beds, take only Catholic patients? Or that you have to make the sign of the cross and swear you're not having sex out of wedlock before they'll treat you?
Since service to those in need is as much a mandate of conscience as defense of the dignity of life, this is not a conscience clause, it's a drive-religious-believers-under-the-rocks clause. As Haley says,
this mandate directly and unabashedly lays the groundwork for the creation of a Catholic ghetto. It would force Catholics to serve primarily other Catholics, thus removing the overwhelmingly positive influence of Catholic charities, social services, hospitals, and schools on the broader culture.This is a bad move for people who need medical care and other help:
The impact of Catholic institutions currently far exceeds the number of Catholics in America; Catholic hospitals, for instance, took well over 100 million visits and admissions in 2009, while there are just over 68 million Catholics in America. The doctors, nurses, and staff at Catholic hospitals are not primarily Catholic, and most importantly, the patients are not primarily Catholic. Catholic Charities USA, one of many Catholic charities, alone served almost 10 million people in 2009; the US Conference of Catholic Bishops oversees the federal program to serve victims of human trafficking and sex slavery; the list goes on—and none of these services “has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.”That's not the worst of it. The attack is directly on pro-life Christians, with Catholic institutions being the largest network, but of course the rules will affect every faith-based charity. The real problem is that it's a direct attack on the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise. The rules are crafted by people who think practicing faith means simply going to Church or Synagogue. It does not cross their minds that some people try to put what they hear at Church into practice in their own lives, or how much the societal impulse to help the poor and needy is energized and sustained by religious faith.
The actions of the administration would drastically reduce the number of people receiving aid from Catholic institutions, effectively forcing more people to go without aid, or to seek aid from state subsidy, thus increasing the tax burden on those who pay for such subsidies, and effectively reducing the role of faith in our communities, while denying many people basic services.
Kathleen Sebelius, in league with Planned Parenthood and NARAL, wants to solve the problem of pro-life stubbornness by crushing all before her. But what she's creating is a world in which religious believers are not permitted to serve their communities and no one is allowed to help people outside their own tribe. This is the end of the social contract and the headlong rush into a Hobbesian state of nature where only the state holds back the war of all against all.
Comment period on the rules ends September 30th. Protest here. And write your reps to support the bill which will overturn the rules legislatively, if need be.
The head of the bishops' conference sees what's coming, which brings me to the second item. Archbishop Timothy Dolan's just penned a polite but no-holds-barred letter to the President about the administration's attack on religious freedom.
I write with a growing sense of urgency about recent actions taken by your Administration that both escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage. This past spring the Justice Department announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, a decision strongly opposed by the Catholic Bishops of the United States and many others. Now the Justice Department has shifted from not defending DOMA—which is problem enough, given the duty of the executive branch to enforce even laws it disfavors—to actively attacking DOMA‟s constitutionality.
The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by you and your Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace. Attached you will find an analysis prepared by my staff detailing the various executive activities of late that warrant our increasing apprehension.
The letter was sent with an attached legal analysis which enumerates the ways in which the Administration is pushing same sex marriage on all fronts and concludes:
the comprehensive efforts of the federal government—using its formidable moral, economic, and coercive power—to enforce its new legal definition of “marriage” against a resistant Church would, if not reversed, precipitate a systemic national conflict between Church and State, harming both institutions, as well as our Nation as a whole.Perhaps you think this is mere rhetorical flourish. I respond that quietly the Archbishop of Washington has in a series of discussions been steeling his men against religious persecution and orthodox priests --sensible, reasonable men, not alarmists-- are speaking calmly but openly in dinners with their friends about expecting to end up in jail for their faith. That is chilling talk to hear: this is America! you want to protest. This is meant to be the one nation on earth where a man need never fear to speak his mind nor fear government retribution for it.
Judging by my facebook page, people don't see this danger. You publicize it, and there are two responses. Yawn, abortion and marriage are not my issues. Or, Yay, stick it to those Christian bigots. There are no pieties about, "First they came for the Catholics..." or "I hate what you say but will defend your right to say it." As I like to point out, the "N" in "Never Again" is silent.
Orwell's two-minute hate is upon us. Who will stand up?