In response to the HHS mandate that Christian schools, hospitals, universities and other institutions must provide abortions, sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees through their insurance programs, Catholic bishops in the U.S. have declared a Fortnight of Freedom yesterday through the Fourth of July.
They describe the two-week period as “a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty,” and ”a great hymn of prayer for our country.”
But I’m not Catholic. So what do I care?
If I think women ought to have access to contraception–and maybe like the government providing it–I should be rooting for the government anyway. The Catholic Church is just trying to cram its beliefs down everyone else’s throats. Right?
This isn’t about whether women should have access to contraceptives. It’s not even about whether the government should provide them. The issue here is whether religious organizations should be forced to violate fundamental teachings of their faith at the pleasure of the government.
This isn’t the Catholic Church trying to impose its values on others. This is the State trying to impose its values on the Church.
Remember the First Amendment?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .
Are Catholic institutions in this country free to practice their religion, or aren’t they?
Catholic ethicist Dr. Benjamin Wiker gets to the heart of the issue:
The HHS mandate . . . is the imperial state demanding that the Catholic Church pick up the dagger and turn it against itself, act against its own moral law, just as the ancient pagan emperors demanded that, in order to save their lives, Christians must curse Christ, throw the Scriptures in the fire, and offer ritual sacrifice to the divinized emperor and the Roman gods.
With the HHS mandate, the secular state is moving from, “Christians, do what you like among yourselves, but don’t impose your moral views on us,” to, “Christians, you must now do what we like—or else.”
So: Are Catholic institutions in this country free to practice their religion, or aren’t they?
Keep in mind that if they’re not, nobody is.
If the Catholic Church is to be made subservient to the government, then Americans, of whatever faith, will be able to “exercise” their religion only at the pleasure of the state–and that’s not a free exercise.
I stand with the Catholic Church–and with the First Amendment–in proclaiming that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
The Administration is trying to whittle the Constitution’s freedom of religion down to a mere freedom of worship in the privacy of your own home or religious gathering. But the First Amendment gives the freedom, not merely to worship as you choose one day a week, but to live in the pubic square Monday through Friday without violating your conscience or the tenets of your faith.
I stand with the Catholic Church.
First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me