Thursday, February 09, 2012
Here in the United States, the Obama administration with the Health and Human Services (H.S.S.) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have mandated that all employers must provide the entire "health-care package" for all employees, which includes access to contraception. That includes religious institutions such as hospitals and universities. Churches and other places of worship are exempted, but that means direct worship facilities only, as if other operations of a church, its schools, charities and hospitals, are entirely separate from the church's religious life. But, in fact these things are an expression of that Faith, and they belong to the church that has created them, that maintains them and manages them. The Roman Catholic Church takes the irrevocable stand that having to provide coverage for contraception is against Catholic beliefs.
I am not writing this about the issue of contraception, but I am writing to support the position of the Roman Catholic Church, that religious liberty has been violated and trampled already if only by the arrogance of government. Unless this mandate is prevented from taking effect, a church will be forced into Civil Disobedience, with the potential of leaders (including bishops and even administrators of various operations) going to jail for their religious convictions.
The simple fact is, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States forbids the federal government to interfere with the free exercise of religion. The mandate, therefore, is illegal because the Constitution is the law. But, it seems that this administration has decided that the Constitution is subject to the whims of the H.S.S. The Administration's argument, that they have a duty to force employers to provide contraception as some sort of right, is completely absurd. That right, under law, exists anyway. No one can take it away. But, ordering the Roman Catholic Church to pay for it interferes with an established right protected by the Constitution, the free exercise of religion.
Either the United States Government is subject to the rule of law, or it becomes tyrannical. The ultimate sign of a tyrant is the attempt to subject the conscience to the state. This is not a partisan problem either. For anyone who can see beyond the end of his own partisan nose, it is not a matter of Republican or Democratic policy, or of conservative or liberal persuasion. After all, if a Democratic administration may throw off the shackles of the Constitution, so may a Republican administration. And for anyone who cannot see beyond the end of his own ideological nose, if not about this, then either party may trample on liberty about something else.
The rights that must be protected are not those invented for specific groups of people, but the rights guaranteed in the Constitution itself. George F. Will once wrote a line about a topic in which he said, "the proliferation of rights threatens freedom." The issue of contraception is something concerning which the Roman Catholic Church has a clearly stated doctrine, and is therefore entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment. If their right is taken away, then all rights protected by the Constitution become subject to the whims of "rulers."