Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chilling Reasoning from Washington

Chilling Reasoning 
from Washington
          The Christian-owned company Hobby Lobby has been in a protracted battle with the government over the HHS mandate.  Specifically, Hobby Lobby does not want to provide abortion-inducing drugs through its health insurance.  The federal government, of course, is trying to force everyone to do just that.  The matter continues to be dealt with in court.
          Hobby Lobby suffered a major setback last week when Supreme court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to grant an injunction that would have allowed Hobby Lobby to delay implementing the mandate while the matter was being decided in court.  The courageous owners of the craft store have promised to defy the government order, risking crippling fines of $1.3 million a day.
A look at the two reasons the Obama Administration gave in defending the mandate (as I understand them) is bone-chilling.  Before I get into that, though, I want to say that I know it is important to assume the best motives for others, but it is not a virtue to be naïve about our public officials.  So I will say that I am sure Mr. Obama believes in what he is doing, and truly thinks his agenda is more important than religious liberty.  When trying to see what else will be coming, though, it should be noted that Mr. Obama is clearly not stupid enough to really believe that access to birth control is difficult or financially burdensome on people.  (If he is, we have a whole other set of problems.)
          With those assumptions truly accepted, let’s look at the administration’s arguments.
          The first argument states that since the Christian owners and founders of Hobby Lobby are acting through their corporation by giving health benefits, they forfeit their First Amendment freedoms.  A corporation, the argument goes, does not have the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, and is not protected by it.
          This sleight of hand is diabolically ingenious.  It was noted years ago that the Obama Administration refrained from using the term “Freedom of Religion,” and replaced it with “Freedom of Worship.”  Many worried that this signaled a policy whereby Americans would be allowed to act according to their faith when they are worshiping, in places of worship, but would be required to leave their faith at the church door, able to visit it on Sundays.  This argument confirms that.
          When we are acting in business, or commerce, or in any public activity, it seems, we are being told by the federal government that we must not allow our religious faith to guide our actions.  It is the people who run Hobby Lobby, of course, that have to make all the decisions and do all the things we casually say that “the company does.”  According to Mr. Obama, these people can be compelled, by a hostile government, to violate their consciences.
          For years we as Catholics have lamented the fact that so many people compartmentalize their faith, that Christians give so little of themselves to Christ.  And now we are being told by our government that that is the only type of religious faith allowed in the United States.
          Believe it or not, the second argument is even scarier.  With this argument, the government claims that the HHS mandate is not religious persecution because it applies equally to everyone, and does not specifically target Christians. 
          By this logic, any law can be considered acceptable under the First Amendment as long as it applies to everyone.  No aspect of the Calles Law in Mexico would have been a violation.  Imagine if the government passed a law making it illegal to attend Sunday Mass.  By the administration’s reasoning, this law would be perfectly legitimate because it does not apply only to Catholics; no one is allowed to attend Mass.  Nevermind that Buddhists, Muslims and atheists would have no desire to do so, while for Catholics the Mass is the fundamental action of our Faith.  The prohibition applies equally to all, so it is not religious persecution.  One can only wonder what’s in store once this precedent is set.
          We can not tolerate this.  Period.  But we will not win this battle in elections, and we give up our identity as Christians if we respond with violence or threats. 
What, then, should we do?  I suggest we follow the example of Hobby Lobby.  They are pursuing the matter in court, where occasionally justice still prevails.  And they are simply refusing to comply.  They are telling Mr. Obama where he can stick his sickening mandate.  And I am sure they are being supported by much prayer.
But let us be ready for the persecution that is coming our way.  We must be willing to take a stand.  If every Christian in this country refused to be pushed around, the government would have to cave.  We have the numbers to cripple the agenda of this administration by simply refusing to comply with it.  Mr. Obama is willing to let Hobby Lobby go under, with the thousands of people it employs, but I doubt he would be willing to bring about another Depression by watching every Christian business go under.  I doubt he would ignore rallies and protests without end.  And I doubt he would sit back as we enter Christian health share plans and weaken Obamacare.
Now it may be true that getting practicing Christians out of positions of influence in business and society may be the grand plan here, but it can only be successful because so few Christians are truly practicing.
I’m not interested in the numbers of people who attend church on Sunday or identify themselves with a certain denomination.  What we need are people of the Beatitudes.  Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; blessed are the pure of heart; blessed are those persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.  And in taking our stand we must not forget that those who are meek, and peacemakers, and merciful, and who mourn are also blessed.  Charity maintains supreme importance.  Only if we become a people of the Beatitudes will we turn back the tide of evil that is sweeping over our nation, and win back our culture.