Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bleak Fourth of July


         “Why do you recite my commandments
         and profess my covenant with your mouth? 
         You hate discipline;
         you cast my words behind you!"
(Psalm 50:16b-17)

—From the Responsorial Psalm for July 4th, 2012

Independence Day is the day we celebrate the birth of our nation from being a colony of England.  The nation was founded on the recognition of the fact that man had, by his very nature, inalienable rights that do not come from the state so the state cannot take them away.  We have always been a free nation in principle, though tragically we have sometimes in our history failed to recognize that certain groups of people had the status of men, seeking to deny them the rights due to all human beings.

The Founding Fathers always recognized the concept of Natural Law .  They recognized that there is a way which all human beings should behave which fits into their nature of being human, not being an animal.

The point is, in our Declaration of Independence, our justification for breaking away from the British Empire was based on the premise that a government which is in opposition to the natural law must be altered or abolished.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This is not "Hallmark Card" sentimentality.  This is a recognition that the government cannot do what it pleases – it must always respect the natural law and the rights inherent in being human.

Recognizing this, the Founding Fathers specifically listed in the Bill of Rights restrictions against legislation that was in opposition to those natural laws.  To go against these principles is to become a government destructive of these ends.

The First Amendment, as written, recognizes the freedom of conscience to do right before God and the need to speak out openly when the nation does wrong as one of these unalienable rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So, the government cannot do the following:

  1. Interfere with religion by either promoting one denomination or preventing one from exercising their faith freely.
  2. Interfere with the ability to speak openly without fear of government reprisals
  3. Interfere with the ability to write openly without fear of government reprisals.
  4. Interfere with the ability to peaceably assemble concerning grievances against the government.

It's a wise Amendment to the Constitution.  It prevents the Government from forcing the people to do evil and prevents them from silencing condemnation when they do wrong.

Or so it was in theory.

It is a sad Independence Day this year, because some of us are fearful that the Government of the United States will interfere with the free exercise of religion by mandating that Catholic Schools and Hospitals, and Catholics who run their own businesses will be mandated to provide certain services which faithful Catholics believe go against the command of God.  The only way to avoid this, is to limit the services to Catholics alone (though I suspect a discrimination lawsuit would quickly follow).

So a Catholic Hospital must choose between disobeying God when it comes to caring for the (non-Catholic) sick or disobeying God by trivializing sex as if it were merely an "itch to scratch."

Preventing a member of a religion from doing what their faith tells them they must do – without fear of repercussions – is indeed prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Unfortunately, this is not merely a problem of a corrupt government.  We've had warning signs for years.  Pharmacists risking loss of their jobs for refusing to sell abortifacient drugs have been met with silence or a public attitude of "so go work elsewhere if you can't do your job."  Owners of a business who are religious and believe they cannot offer services supporting so-called "Gay Marriage" are sued for "discrimination."

Basically, we have a society which tolerates injustice in the name of an ideology they support.  So, "Throw the bums out" is only part of the issue.  If people will keep voting the bums back in, ignoring the abuses if they support the preferred ideology, we will continue to have these problems until one day we might be unable to vote the bums out any longer – because they won't let us.

What is happening is the Government has taken and altered the First Amendment in practice:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If this action by the Obama administration is allowed to stand, it means that apart of the First Amendment can be ignored.  We will have permanently lost a part of the freedoms the Government has no right to take away from us.  Any future religious group can be coerced by the administration in power if its beliefs are inconvenient.

This is why I find the state of affairs so bleak this July 4th.  We are still free this year, though our freedom is challenged.  How many more Independence Days will we have before we are no longer free?

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