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.
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?
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.