Tag Archives: moral choices

TEC: When the day of evil comes

Way back in the day (2006 to 2008, to be exact), I had the blog innocent as doves. My purpose there was to cover “traditional Anglican worship in San Diego, Southern California, and around the world, as well as any other subjects that happen to catch my interest.” It was great fun to write and included numerous interviews I did for Anglican TV with various Anglican and Episcopal clergy.

But the end result of my taking my Christian faith seriously was that my family ended up leaving the Episcopal Church. I outlined our journey in six posts:

I mention this as part of a eulogy for The Episcopal Church in the United States. TEC, having now “slipped the surly bonds” of any recognizable biblical comprehension with the actions of its just completed 77th General Convention, is now adrift in cultural relativism and unmoored from biblical understanding. I can see no way in which it can remain part of the “one holy catholic and apostolic” Church after these actions.

Pseudo-theology and political entanglements result in there being no there there. So the number of church members will continue to decline, the empty churches will continue to soak up financial resources, the litigation against those trying to escape the skewed theology will continue to offer a picture of unchristian behavior by church leaders. Only a few dioceses (the Diocese of South Carolina, I hope, being one) will continue to preach and praise the traditional Christian faith, and those dioceses are only safe until they need to call a new bishop–when that happens, all bets are off.

(Yes, I did change the picture here from earlier–this image seems much more appropriate.)

For all of those staying in the Episcopal Church as a witness against the heresy and unbelief found there, St. Paul offers his wisdom on relying on the Lord:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17)

Bishop Burbidge of Raleigh on the N.C. marriage protection amendment

From Catholic Voice NC, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh on the North Carolina Marriage Protection amendment:

Vote FOR Marriage #4 from Diocese of Charlotte on Vimeo.

Also check out the earlier videos from Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte.

Test of Fire: Election 2012

From Catholics Called to Witness:

Protests against Obama mandate to take place in 129 cities


From LifeNews.com:

Thousands of pro-life advocates across the country will take part on Friday in “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies taking place in more than 129 cities.

The rallies are meant as a public demonstration against the Obama mandate that requires religious organizations, churches and other objecting employers to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

This makes this event one of the largest in American history with respect to simultaneous rallies occurring in cities across the nation and the main rally in the nation’s capital will be on the plaza of the HHS (Hubert Humphrey Building) on March 23, at 12:00 noon

“The HHS mandates and the issue of religious freedom have now ignited a political firestorm that will be a major issue in the 2012 Presidential Elections. In an odd way, President Obama’s forcing Christian institutions to violate their conscience and core beliefs has energized the faith community in a way that none of the republican candidates have yet been able to accomplish,” said [the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition and one of the organizers of the rally in Washington, DC].

Polling data shows Americans are strongly opposed to the Obama mandate. A February Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds 38 percent of likely voters think health insurance companies should be required by law to cover the morning after pill without co-payments or other charges to the patient. But 50 percent of Americans disagree and oppose this requirement while 13 percent are undecided….

Read it all, and check here for rally locations.

40 Days for Life update


Today is Day 28 of the 40 Days for Life 2012 spring campaign (February 22 – April 1), and so far 363 babies have been saved.

Some more info on what 40 Days for Life has accomplished since its beginnings in 2007:

There have now been nine coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2007, mobilizing people of faith and conscience in 422 cities across the United States and Canada, plus communities in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belize, Denmark, England, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico and Spain.

During these unified efforts, participants witnessed countless blessings from God:

  • 1,633 individual campaigns have taken place in 422 cities
  • More than 500,000 have joined together in an historic display of unity to pray and fast for an end to abortion
  • More than 14,000 church congregations have participated in the 40 Days for Life campaigns
  • Reports document 5,045 lives that have been spared from abortion — and those are just the ones we know about
  • 61 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry
  • 21 abortion facilities completely shut down following local 40 Days for Life campaigns
  • Hundreds of women and men have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets
  • More than 1,800 news stories have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio shows and TV programs from coast to coast … and overseas
  • Many people with past abortion experiences have stepped forward to begin post-abortion healing and recovery

Obama risks $100 billion if Catholic hospitals close

From Ed Morrissey writing for the Fiscal Times:

Perhaps Barack Obama assumed that religious leaders would simply offer a token protest to his new mandate for religious organizations to provide free birth control, even when contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization violate the core doctrines of their faith. The president might have had reason to expect that Catholic bishops wouldn’t put up much of a fight, considering their support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as ObamaCare, from which Health and Human Services derives the authority to dictate their coverage requirements to employers….

The strongest statement of opposition came this week from President Obama’s home town of Chicago. Francis Cardinal George sent a message to parishioners in the archdiocese that the Catholic Church would shut down its various institutions in the community before violating the core doctrine of Humanae Vitae by providing contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients to its employees, free or otherwise. In a lengthy missive, George remarked that Catholic bishops are fighting for a separation of church and state, and that the mandate represents an unprecedented arrogance in Obama’s attempt to have government define the boundaries between faith and works….

If the Obama administration insisted on enforcing its mandate on Catholic organizations, George concluded, then “two Lents from now” their listing of Catholic hospitals and health-care institutions would be empty.

What would that mean to the U.S., and to Obama’s health care reform mandate? Put simply, it would create a disaster for the delivery of health care in the country, and rapidly escalate the public costs of health care….

The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion. Whom do these hospitals serve? Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.

Compared to their competition, Catholic hospitals take a leading role in providing less-profitable services to patients. They lead the sector in breast cancer screenings, nutrition programs, trauma, geriatric services, and social work. In most of these areas, other non-profits come close, but hospitals run by state and local governments fall significantly off the pace. Where patients have trouble paying for care, Catholic hospitals cover more of the costs….

Read it all.

Paganism in the 21st century, the sequel: Academia doubles down

It’s not enough that the Journal of Medical Ethics published a paper on the ethical underpinnings of infanticide–the editors involved are now justifying the decision to publish and are outraged (outraged, I tell you) and “disturbed” that they are receiving passionate, sometimes rude, responses to that publication. (Infanticide is apparently something to be considered “rationally” but abusive language calls for immediate condemnation–go figure).

Two responses have appeared; one by Julian Savulescu, editor, Journal of Medical Ethics, and in the comments, one by Kenneth M. Boyd, Rev Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics and the editor responsible for deciding that the paper should be published.

First, Julian Savulescu:

The Journal of Medical Ethics prepublished electronically an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

This article has elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety. The Journal has received a string abusive emails for its decision to publish this article. This abuse is typically anonymous.

I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here. But fortunately there is plenty on the web to choose from. Here are some responses:

“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”

“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”

“I don‘t believe I’ve ever heard anything as vile as what these “people” are advocating. Truly, truly scary.”

“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”

(Comments from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments)

What a thin skin to consider those comments “disturbing” in any way.

As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.

The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.

Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.

And this is a very good point, and one that advocates for “choice” had better take a hard look at, because he’s absolutely correct. The logical decision to allow termination of a baby in utero for any reason at any time (which is legal in the U.S.) leads to questioning the arbitrary line of location: inside or outside the womb.

Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.

What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

On the Blaze which reported it (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments):

“Liberals are disgusting. They have criminal minds. To think that a person must be considered “worthy” to live is criminal.”

“It seems to me if good people are not going to stand up to do away with people who believe in doing away with live babies, then it means no one is good, and it’s just easier for God to drop a couple asteroids on earth.”

“i can’t even comment on this atrocity. I know these people are murderers in their hearts. And God will treat them as such. They are completely spiritually dead.”

“I have to say that I would personally kill anyone doing a after-birth abortion if I had the chance. Is that clear enough?”

The comments include openly racist remarks:

Racism: bad, bad, bad; infanticide: not so much

“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.

“Journal of Medical Ethics” — hahaha! You libs and your quack science. Ya think that’s impressive, Albutt & Franpoop? No ****! I can beat you in my sleep. Here goes:

I take a ‘subject of a moral right to life’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to my own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to me.

Here’s the “projected moral status” you comunisti italiani pigs would get: Bang, bang. Drop in toxic waste dump reserved for left-wing contaminants.”

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Infanticide is now a liberal value? Who knew.

And now, Kenneth M. Boyd:

Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”she asked,  “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them.

Nothing to see here, folks, it was all just an academic exercise. Don’t worry that bioethics professors actually work on hospital committees that debate on what care, how much care, and whether any care should be provided for patients.

Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s  arguments, we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports.

So it appears that this paper passed muster with a number of academics. And none thought to disagree with the authors’ personal (not scientific, not medical) opinion of what a “person” is?

From the paper: We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

Well, that might be their definition, but it’s not my definition or the definition of most people, academics or not. According to this definition, someone unconscious (no matter how short or long) or even someone sleeping does not fit their definition of “person,” much less a baby or an elderly person with dementia, all non-persons according to these academic heavyweights.

Satisfied by the reviewers’ reports and my further editorial review that the paper was of sufficient academic quality to be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and being charged with making the decision as an Editor with no conflict of interest [ed. comment: of course not, you’re already born and weren’t terminated as a baby] in the matter, since unlike my fellow-editors in the relatively small world of international academic medical ethics I have never met the authors, and indeed personally do not agree with the conclusions of their paper, I decided that it was appropriate to publish it in the interest of academic freedom of debate.

It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting a robust academic reply to the paper which, again subject to peer-review, the Journal of Medical Ethics will be very willing to consider for publication.

According to this paper, everyone might have had their lives “ended by ‘after-birth abortion'” since the authors hold that killing infants is justified for any reason. So I guess we’re all offended.

Freedom of religion abolished in Scotland

From CNA, shades of what’s coming to the United States under Obamacare?

Two Catholic midwives from Scotland have lost their legal battle to avoid taking part in abortion procedures on grounds of “conscientious objection.”

“I view this judgment with deep concern,” said Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow. “I wish to put on record my admiration for the courage of the midwives who have, at very great cost to themselves, fought to uphold the right to follow one’s conscience.”

Mary Doogan and Connie Wood were previously told by the state-run National Health Service in Glasgow that they had to supervise and support fellow midwives who perform abortions. As senior staff, they were also expected to be on standby to help in abortion procedures in certain medical situations.

On Feb. 29 Scotland’s highest civil court ruled that the women’s religious liberties were not being infringed because “the nature of their duties does not in fact require them to provide treatment to terminate pregnancies directly.”

No, they don’t have to terminate them directly, just be party to an act they consider inherently evil.

Doogan said they were “very disappointed” by the verdict and that it would have “very grave consequences for anyone of conscience who wishes to choose midwifery as a career.”

The midwives had maintained that their right to opt-out of providing abortions for reasons of conscience was upheld by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Section 4(1) of the U.K.’s 1967 Abortion Act.

The two midwives previously told the Court of Session that “they hold a religious belief that all human life is sacred from the moment of conception and that termination of pregnancy is a grave offense against human life.”

But the National Health Service in Glasgow rejected their appeals, claiming that their rights are being respected because the midwives are not compelled to administer abortion-inducing drugs. The Court of Session today agreed with that argument.

The court ruled today that the 1967 Abortion Act allowed only qualified conscientious objection, and that the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to freedom of conscience and religion were not absolute….

“Qualified conscientious objection” means no allowance for any conscientious objection.

Both Doogan and Wood have worked for over 20 years at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and have always made clear their conscientious objection to abortion.

In 2007, however, the National Health Service in Glasgow decided to send more women undergoing late-term abortions to labor wards, instead of admitting them to gynecological departments. This change in policy led to the current dispute between the health service and the midwives….

Wow, so the National Health Service (NHS) sends women “undergoing late-term abortions” to labor wards?? So their babies can be “terminated” right next to a baby being born? How truly, truly bizarre. . .

Read it all. H/t to MCJ

Every single Catholic bishop has condemned the Obama/HHS mandate (181)

From Thomas Peters at the American Papist:

From Portland, Maine to San Diego, California–

From Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington–

Every single Roman Catholic bishop in the United States has condemned in public the Obamacare HHS mandateall 181 bishops who lead dioceses in the U.S. have spoken.

This is a simply incredible, unified, universal Catholic witness on this critical issue of religious freedom.

(To those wondering about my methodology, it is now negative instead of positive — I am no longer able to find a single Roman Catholic bishop who has NOT spoken out against the mandate publicly….

Check it out.

The father of lies

I’ve heard the Stephanopoulos “contraception question” debate on several fronts over the past few days. Here’s Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s take on it at Standing on My Head:

Whenever language is being manipulated, suspect the Father of Lies. I heard an interesting slant on the HHS Mandate debate on the radio this morning. The commentator noted that left wing journalist and former Clinton White House aide, George Stephanapoulos, in one of the primary debates raised the question of whether states had the right to ban contraception. Romney took the question and was flabbergasted. “No one is suggesting that anyone bans contraception! What’s the point of this question?”

The point of the question is this: The Left realize they’ve lost the debate on abortion. Therefore they are moving the goalposts and deliberately making the debate about contraception. No one could possibly be against contraception right? I mean, everybody uses contraception. However, more and more people are finding abortion to be unpleasant, and are turning away from it in disgust. Although they pretend to ignore it, they see that the March for Life and the pro life cause is young, is growing and becoming impossible to ignore.

So, hey presto, we don’t talk about “abortion” any more, but we talk about “preventative health services”–which mark my words–will not only include drugs that cause abortions, but eventually surgical abortions as well. These “preventative women’s health services” will all be lumped together and billed as “contraceptives” and nobody can possibly be against contraceptives–right?

So the woman’s choice will be for “contraceptives”. Of course, one of the contraceptive measures will be the availability of “procedures” or “medication” that “terminates pregnancy” or “removes the products of conception” or why not use other terms like “uterus evacuation” or just “D and C” or other convenient abbreviations like “FMRP” (Fetal Material Removal Procedure)

The irony is that the Catholic Church has always linked contraceptives and abortion. Now the enemies of life are doing the same thing. For them the narrative is no longer, “Contraceptives make fewer abortions necessary.” (The shared assumption being that abortions are wrong) Instead the narrative is “Abortion is a form of contraceptive, and it’s not really wrong at all.” So in one sense we’ve won the debate. They agree with us. Abortion and contraception are linked. The chilling thing is that, just as they don’t think contraception is wrong, so they also now admit that they don’t think abortion is wrong either….

This is exactly the way the Father of Lies always works. He introduces a lesser evil–something that no one in their right mind would have a problem with, then he gradually erodes the defenses until we’re accepting something that we never thought we would allow. All along the way he changes the language, shifts the debate, avoids the light of truth, and squirms with ever ingenious squirmings to deceive….

Read it all.

Telemachus for a new age

Branco (ConservativeDailyNews.com)A little history is in order here to completely understand this political cartoon. Gladiatorial games had been held in Rome for hundreds of years, and then, overnight, they stopped.

And they stopped because of one man: Telemachus, a Christian monk, newly arrived to Rome from Egypt.

On that particular day (commonly held to be January 1, 404), the Romans were celebrating a victory over the Goths by forcing captured Germanic warriors to kill one another when Telemachus, shocked at what he saw of slaughter and blood, leapt into the Coliseum arena and begged for the games to stop:

In the midst of the bloodshed a voice was heard bidding it to cease in the name of Christ, and between the swords there was seen standing a monk in his dark brown dress, holding up his hand and keeping back the blows.

The outraged spectators stoned him to death, but his plea (and his death) convinced the Emperor Honorius three days later to decree an end to the games.

And so end they did.

Is the Roman Catholic Church, clergy and lay alike, prepared to wade into the midst of bloodshed and cry cease? Are other Christians prepared to take up the cause of Telemachus and confront the leviathan of state mandates?

Over the next few months, we shall see.

Who’s for and who’s against: Pick a side, any side

One way to figure out which side of an issue you should be on is to see who else is on that side. I learned this when living in California, the land of the ever-expanding propositional ballot. Those measures were often written to purposely confuse and confound the voter, so I would always check to see who wrote the proposition and who was for and against it.

So, let’s take a look at Pres. Obama’s so-called “compromise” on the HHS mandated “free” contraception coverage. Does this regulatory language presented to us on February 10 actually do what the White House said it would: remove the obligation from churches and religious institutions to provide and pay for birth control coverage, including contraception and abortifacients?

On the “for” side (Obama has given us something we can live with/something we like/we’re happy, very, very happy), we have:

  • NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, at least until 2003, when they chose to stop spelling out the acronym–gee, I wonder why? Just what you want, an organization that tries to hide what it is)
  • Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States
  • RCRC (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a group that uses religion as a fig leaf to cover up their abortion agenda and even presents as one of their ethical justifications the idea that abortion can be considered a self-defense measure)
  • CHA (Catholic Health Association, the useful idiots of the abortion coalition)
  • Liberal columnists like E.J. Dionne and Jon Meachem (and as a mark as to how low Time Magazine has fallen, the last time I checked, Meachem’s article had only seven comments)

On the “against” side (Obama continues to violate the First Amendment/this “compromise” was no compromise/this is insulting), we have:

Okay, time to pick your side; I know mine.

Elizabeth Scalia: Obama’s HHS: Bring on the Penal Laws!

From Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress:

Sure and it begins to feel like Grandad’s auld sod, what with the elites getting comfortable with the notion of telling us what we can and cannot do, what business we may or may not conduct, what materials we can or cannot own…because we’re Catholics.

Well, t’was ever thus, wasn’t it? They’ll be going after the home-schoolers, the crisis pregnancy centers next. And it will go on from there. This is what elites dowhen they wish to maintain power over folks who have the actual arguments against their doing so:

**Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices
**Ban on intermarriage with Protestants; repealed 1778
**Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the
**Ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years; repealed 1778.
**Ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of 500 pounds that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin.
**Ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land
**Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (in order to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority’s hands)
**’No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm’ upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offence.

Of course, in the traditional way of the bigot, Catholics who fall in line (“the good ones,” as Archie Bunker might say) will still be allowed to associate with the elites. All you have to do to be “one of the good ones” is unite with the administration, over your church.

Read it all.

HHS Mandate 101 and why you should care

From National Review, Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a professor of constitutional law at the Catholic University of America:

MARK RIENZI: The mandate forces individuals and organizations to violate their religious principles by providing their employees with drugs that cause abortion, as well as with contraception and sterilization. Whatever one thinks about the debate between “choice” and “life,” we should all be able to agree that only willing people should have to participate in abortions.

This country was founded by people of all different faiths and backgrounds. We have a great tradition of finding ways to work with people so as not to force them to violate their religious beliefs. The Obama administration’s refusal to do that here violates the Constitution and federal law.

LOPEZ: Is there a smart shorthand that captures that?

RIENZI: Sure: Tyranny….

LOPEZ: Is this about birth control or religious freedom?

RIENZI: The only issue here is whether the government will force unwilling religious objectors to give up their religious beliefs. There is no problem of access to birth control in this country. As the administration never stops saying, the stuff is popular and provided by most private employers. And when private employers don’t provide it, the federal government already gives it out to people who want it through Title X funding.

Let me give you an example. At the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, we represent the monks at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. They are Catholic, and they have religious objections to providing these drugs. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the federal government already provides contraception to more than 100,000 people in North Carolina, from more than 100 federally funded Title X clinics. There is simply no reason that the government can’t provide contraception to any employee of Belmont Abbey who happens to want it. So the question is not whether people will be able to get birth control — they can, and they will. People get plenty of contraception today without making Catholic monks give it out. The question is whether the government will use the issue to force a small religious minority to conform to the government’s view that birth control is a great idea. And that’s something the Constitution and federal law clearly forbid….

RIENZI: James Madison famously said that conscience is “the most sacred of all property.” Conscience — particularly in the religious sense — is the right all of us have not to be forced by the government to violate our religion. It is the idea that in a free country, the coercive power of the government should not be used to deny people the right to freely and peacefully practice their faith…. It is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, our history, and our basic liberty….

LOPEZ: I’m an atheist. I’m on the pill. Why should I care about this?

RIENZI: You should care because you are an American, and this is a fundamental liberty issue. Religious liberty is just one aspect of liberty. The same First Amendment that protects your right to be an atheist — which is a wonderful and noble thing that our First Amendment does — protects the rights of other people to have other views. Just as you wouldn’t want the government to force you to follow Catholic views about the pill, we also don’t want the government to force Catholics to follow your views. It’s a free country. If you want the pill, you can buy it, you can work for one of the millions of employers who happily pay for it, or you can get it for free from the federal government. But everyone should oppose this forced conscription of unwilling people to participate.

LOPEZ: Is this a Catholic issue?

RIENZI: No, it is a liberty issue. That’s why you’ve seen such a huge outpouring of criticism of the Obama administration from people of all religious faiths….

Read it all. Twice.

HHS mandates: Render unto Caesar

What of the Catholic and other religious laity? Who speaks for them?

When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through the years urged that the government install universal health care, they may have been working from what they perceived as Christian motives (corporal acts of mercy) but what they were really encouraging was government intervention in all aspects of an individual’s life.

Once the bishops finally realized that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) included language that allowed for government-funded abortions, they tried to stop the legislation’s passage but it was too late. Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, eagerly supported the legislation, along with other Catholic people religious, and for too many years, much of the laity had heard from the bishops how health care coverage was something the government should provide.

Obamacare passed, and now the bishops are upset that Catholic institutions will be required to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. They are right: requiring this coverage is an assault on the First Amendment (prohibiting the free exercise of religion) and a massive interference in how churches and institutions are run, but it doesn’t end there.

What of a Catholic or other religious layperson who owns a business who will now be required to offer this coverage to his employees? The owner will have to provide, and pay for, what he considers morally evil. The bishops do a disservice to all concerned laypeople when they regard the matter as settled if religious institutions end up exempt. Why are the bulk of church members left to fend off the government intrusion for themselves?

USCCB has forgotten the church’s own principle of subsidiarity, that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority–something the federal government definitely is not.  In pushing for universal health care controlled by the government with exemptions for religious churches and institutions only, the bishops have left everyone else to fend for themselves in trying to oppose government mandates.

They may get their exemption, but we will not.

Charen: “Unwed and imperturbed”

Worth a read. From Mona Charen at National Review Online:

…The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They generally wait until they’re married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security, and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy, and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. As Kay Hymowitz noted in Marriage and Caste in America, “Virtually all — 92 percent — of children whose families make over $75,000 per year are living with both parents. On the other end of the income scale, the situation is reversed: only about 20 percent of kids in families earning under $15,000 live with both parents.”

The failure to marry on the part of the lower middle and lower classes — not the tax code, or Wall Street, or competition from China, — is what is aggravating inequality in America.

The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure — school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more — children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality, and diminishing happiness on a grand scale….

Read it all.

Stand Firm: Three ways Christians rationalize voting for pro-abortion candidates

Interesting post by Matt Kennedy+ and comment discussion going on at Stand Firm on whether Christians can/should/ought to vote for any candidate who supports abortion, no matter their position on other issues:

I’ve been engaged in a number of conversations lately with Christians—some of them well known orthodox Anglican thinkers and leaders—trying to justify their support for pro-abortion politicians and candidates. In almost every exchange I’ve run into slightly different forms of the same three arguments.

The first goes something like this: “I agree that abortion is wrong but we cannot legislate moral choices. Instead, why don’t we simply focus on preaching the gospel. Only changed hearts will bring about a changed culture.”

The logic behind this rationalization is stunningly bad—so bad it’s hard to answer without a tinge of incredulity and exasperation. But here’s a paraphrased summary of my most common response: Right you are about changed hearts. But why the false dichotomy? One might as well say: “I agree that killing toddlers is wrong, but we cannot legislate moral choices.” Sure we can and we must. Not only do we proclaim the gospel and pray that God’s grace will change hearts and change the culture but we also put laws on the books that prevent people from killing their children.

Both/and not either/or.

The second rationalization employs logic every bit as bad if not worse than the first but a little more subtle. It goes something like this:…

Check it out.