Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Liberty, Tyranny and The First Amendment

In the years after America won its freedom from Great Britain the colonies drafted and eventually approved a Constitution. To secure ratification of the new founding document concessions had to be granted, including the addition of a Bill of Rights. These first ten amendments were intended to secure our basic liberties. Including the right of a person to observe their faith as they see fit.

The Obama administration has put that basic First Amendment right under attack. The Health and Human Services department, issued a mandate declaring that because Catholic social service programs don't serve only Catholics they aren't worthy of a conscience exemption regarding provision of contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs. So in essence the church is being punished for living out the words of Her founder....Matthew 25:34-36, tells us what Christ expects of us, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick. He didn't instruct us to only do those things for people who believe the same as we do.

In fact one of His most illuminating parables is the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who did all of those things for someone who was essentially his enemy.

The HHS mandate was for all intents and purposes crafted by the ACLU. The ACLU wrote a mandate that is in effect in only three states (California, New York and Oregon.). Even within that mandate there were ways that Catholic social service agencies could find relief. However the new mandate from HHS closes all of those avenues.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the head of the HHS is herself a Catholic, which makes the forcefulness of this legislation all the more disturbing. However it is heartening that Sebelius has been denied Communion both in Kansas and Washington, D.C.

All of this leads me to the thought that we once fought a war to ensure our freedom of worship, now it is under attack by our very own government.

So our government is now telling us how to practice our religion, how to live our faith. That doesn't sound very much like "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out in force, with 169 of roughly 183 bishops issuing statements condemning the new mandate. The assorted Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals all urge the faithful to action.

Indeed action is sorely needed. As most of the letters no doubt urge us as faithful Catholics to do we should fast, pray and contact Congress and the President as well as Secretary Sebelius. Urge them to reconsider and rewrite this mandate.

Support Marco Rubio who recently introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 to Congress.

These are the times that try men's souls...Words as true now as they were in late December of 1776. Thomas Paine was referring to the then months old War for Independence.

He might just as easily be describing another tyrannical act by a far more worrisome menace. Duly elected officials trampling on the rights won by the blood of the very people who Paine wrote to some 236 years ago.

Surely the great martyrs of the past, men and women who were fed to lions; or boiled in oil; or crucified; or burned at the stake, must be looking at this persecution and urging us to fight and defend the faith they died for; the Truth that cost them their lives.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

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