Things to Come 11 - Religious Oppression

Our First Amendment religious protections are now a dead letter.

Any serious student of history has read about various horrors of the past and wondered, "Why didn't the people of those days see it coming?"  Why didn't every Jew in Germany bail in 1933 as soon as Hitler came to power, when it was still possible to leave Germany and the rest of the countries of the world had not yet slammed their doors?  Whatever possessed the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia's Czar Alexander to go to war over a trifling dispute in a two-bit country nobody cared about, when they both had clear and present dangers at home which ultimatedly led to their centuries-old dynasties disappearing?  Why are there still a handful of white farmers grimly hanging on in Zimbabwe when most of their neighbors have been brutally slaughtered by thugs in accordance with the racist ranting of an evil tyrant?

One simple reason: it's home, and home looks pretty much the same as it did yesterday and the day before.  It usually takes a brutal shock to make people realize that their safe and secure home has become a hostile and dangerous place, and by that time it's often too late.

People have been warning of the fall of America, of the loss of our liberties and wealth, for almost as long as there's been an America.  They've seemed mostly wrong so far and we're all used to ridiculing the nut on the street corner holding his cardboard "The End is Nigh" sign.

If you are of a religious persuasion, you might want to seriously consider whether, just possibly, that nut has a point.  Because our current administration has crossed red lines in the realm of religious liberty that have never previously been crossed in American history, and which have the most disturbing analogues in world history.

Who Decides What's Religious?

A core fundamental principle of American liberty has been that Americans have the right to determine their own religious beliefs, or to have none at all.  Legally, America doesn't care if you attend the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and proudly claim the name of Pastafarian - that's your business and nobody else's.

As we've discussed previously, there are limits to religious tolerance.  America does not care if your strongly-held religious beliefs require cannibalism, you will go to prison for life if you snack on a fellow devotee.  Just because voodoo rites require live animals to be slaughtered does not mean you can legally slaughter animals within city limits.

However, the Supreme Court has laid down the principle that any infringements of religious liberty must be the minimum possible to achieve public safety and order.  Illegal drugs may legally be used in religious ceremonies, as with the Peyote Church, because they don't harm anyone else.  Animal sacrifice can't be carried out in an apartment building because they'll lead to a public health hazard, but you can go out of town where they won't hurt anyone and do them there.  Cannibalism - well, you can eat yourself if you insist.

The requirements of Obamacare are a direct assault on this principle.  Obamacare requires all employers to pay for health insurance that covers abortions, period, with no religious exceptions allowed other than for actual churches.

But if you truly believe in a religion, aren't you expected to follow its rules all the time, not just when you're in church?  Most religious people aren't ministers, they have normal careers in the secular world.

Now, nobody is suggesting that even deeply religious employers have the right to prevent their employees from getting abortions if the employee wants them.  Surely, though, it's a violation of religious liberty to force the employer to pay for them?

Locking Religion Into Church

Several secular businesses owned by Christians, most famously Hobby Lobby, are suing the government to have this abortion requirement overturned; it will probably ultimately be settled by the Supreme Court.  What's most frightening are the arguments being made by the government, as National Review reports:

Once someone starts a “secular” business, he categorically loses any right to run that business in accordance with his conscience. The business owner simply leaves her First Amendment rights at home when she goes to work at the business she built.

Mr. Obama argues that he's not doing anything to infringe your freedom to go to church (or not), or restricting what you can do there.  That's freedom of worship and it's protected.

His argument is completely bogus because the Bill of Rights does not merely guarantee freedom of worship.  It guarantees far more than that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. [emphasis added]

If you're not permitted to live according to your religious beliefs, then you are not permitted to freely exercise your religion.  If the government has the right to force you to spend your own money on things you believe to be evil, what can't they do?

What our current government believes about religion is truly frightening: It belongs in church, and nowhere else.  You can sing and pray and do whatever behind closed sanctuary doors, so long as when you come out into the real world, you adhere to the principles of secular leftist society just like everyone else.

That's not what religious people do.  That's not who religious people are.  A religious belief which has no effect on someone's daily life is no belief at all.  A society that doesn't allow such things has no religious liberty worthy of the name.

A religious true believer will not, cannot - for the sake of his immortal soul - confine his religious practices to the church house.  It doesn't matter whether you believe his views are nutty; restricting the ability to express them in daily life is tyranny apart from the strongest possible justification of protection of the innocent.

Where will this unAmerican position of the Obama administration lead?  Catholic Cardinal George of Chicago gives this warning:

I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.

He follows up with a final note, of either optimism or pessimism as you prefer:

His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.

Is that what we want for America?  Apparently, for 51%, it is.  Why they feel this way - well, that's what we'll explore in the next article in this series.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Two points, really. First,It has always been the Catholic Church's position that its schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc. etc. are as integral to its mission as its church buildings. I strongly suspect that all other denominations feel exactly the same way. Thus, the planned HHS mandates are a clear violation of religious liberty, and all denominations are in this together. As Benjamin Franklin put it, "If we do not all hang together, we will all hang separately". Second, Cardinal George is right on in regard to his 4th point. The Liberal/Progressive super-state is bound to collapse of its own ineficient weight and the internal contradictions of its rival factions. Christians of all denominations and Jews, too, have to be ready to "pick up the pieces" when that occurs. I ridicule the idea that super-state as I call it can really endure the rigors of stress and time. Consequently, believers must even now start preparing a genuine "counter-culture" that will replace a failed aggressive secularism. We may actually be witnessing the Holy Spirit in action, moving us to a genuine ecumenical movement. Maranatha!

January 10, 2013 9:32 PM

Abortion: America's greatest sin.

January 10, 2013 10:59 PM

With respect, I'm going to have to disagree with Bassboat on this one. For 40 years this month, abortion has been legal, thanks to an evil and outright dishonest and corrupt supreme court decision, and that decision was a traitorous one, not because it allowed a barbaric practice, but because it took the decision out of the hands of the people. Our moral and intellectual superiors arrogated to themselves these questions, and without being able to settle it for ourselves, it's been one of those idiotic 'third-rails' for decades.

But the sin belongs to those who have undergone or performed such procedures - not America, and not those of us who have not.

Most people on the right would like to see it outlawed again, at the federal level. This is no less an assault on the constitution than Roe v Wade was in the first place. That decision should be properly overturned, but if you want it outlawed, it needs to be done on a state-to-state basis.

Even so, I think you will encounter a great deal of resistance, and not just from those shrieking, dried-up old harpies caterwauling about a woman's right to "choose," as if to kill and eat one's young were simply a menu selection at Wendy's.

I, like you, would like to see the number of abortions reduced to as near to zero as possible, but legal action is no longer a possible solution. The culture has moved on. Culturally, it seems to me that a greater number of voters are now of a libertarian bent - just as we didn't want to hear Jocelyn Elders prattling on about masturbation in 1993, so too do I not care to hear Santorum lecturing about the flip side of that coin. All such matters are personal and no politician has any business lecturing free citizens; and while I understand that an abortion - especially one after the first couple of weeks - terminates a living person, the culture at large isn't so sure, and that's what you need to work to change without government help.

What you must do instead is work to change the culture, and you can't do that with government, either. The best you can hope for at this point is the creation of conditions that allow citizens and families to thrive -- just like in economics. The government cannot create it; it can only allow it. And currently, the government does not allow it.

Since we've had a government that has worked very hard to separate citizens from their money, their God, and from one another for 50 years, and to force women out of the home in order to maintain a standard of living, that's where we need to start. I believe that the Republican party needs to pursue a course of absolute personal and economic libertarianism (not libertine-ism), leaving all such hotly debated questions as abortion and gay this-and-that alone for the time being, in order to let the culture begin to heal itself.

January 11, 2013 8:53 AM

Bassboat:what about the Rape?The cause of most of the abortions.Do you know what %age of Amerian girls have that taste much before their marraiges?

January 19, 2013 4:08 AM

Surely you don't believe that most abortions are caused by rape. That is simply wrong. My point about abortion being America's greatest sin was that we as Americans elected the people that passed the law or after it was passed by the SCOTUS, that we did nothing to overturn that law. That is an issue of compliance by us as the electorate.

As for American girls experiencing sex before marriage That is no surprise to me or no one else that is even halfway awake. My opinion is that abortion is murder. To make it even worse is that the victim, the baby, has no say so in the matter. While I do agree that a girl raped and impregnated is a despicable act, murder is worse. If we as a society want to get involved in that discussion, I would be for doing all we could as a society to take care of the girl and the baby. Murder is never an option.

January 19, 2013 12:29 PM
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