Posted by Christopher Johnson | Saturday, February 18th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 31 Comments
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of New York’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, and Director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University points out that Barack Obama’s recent decision to force the Catholic Church to see that any of its employees who wanted it would be provided with “free” birth control didn’t just order the Catholic church to change its doctrine. It also gives the government the right to decide what is or isn’t religious practice:
What I wish to focus on this morning is the exemption to the new insurance policy requirements that the administration did carve out from the outset: to wit, exempting from the new insurance policy obligations religious organizations that do not employ or serve members of other faiths. From this exemption carved out by the administration, at least two important corollaries follow. First: by carving out an exemption, however narrow, the administration implicitly acknowledges that forcing employers to purchase these insurance policies may involve a violation of religious freedom. Second, the administration implicitly assumes that those who employ or help others of a different religion are no longer acting in a religious capacity, and as such are not entitled to the protection of the First Amendment.
This betrays a complete misunderstanding of the nature of religion. For Orthodox Jews, religion and tradition govern not only praying in a synagogue, or studying Torah in a beit midrash, or wrapping oneself in the blatant trappings of religious observance such as phylacteries. Religion and tradition also inform our conduct in the less obvious manifestations of religious belief, from feeding the hungry, to assessing medical ethics, to a million and one things in between. Maimonides, one of Judaism’s greatest talmudic scholars and philosophers, and also a physician of considerable repute, stresses in his Code of Jewish Law that the commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” is achieved not through cerebral contemplation only but also requires study of the sciences, and engagement in the natural world, as this inspires true appreciation of the wisdom of the Almighty. In refusing to extend religious liberty beyond the parameters of what the administration chooses to deem religious conduct, the administration denies people of faith the ability to define their religious activity. Therefore, not only does the new regulation threaten religious liberty in the narrow sense, in requiring Catholic communities to violate their religious tenets, but also the administration impedes religious liberty by unilaterally redefining what it means to be religious.
The force of this and other arguments against Obama’s assault on American religious freedom is implicitly acknowledged by Obama disciples like shrieking Episcopalian hysteric Susan Russell who desperately and ineptly tries to change the subject.
Watching the CNN evening news, the “crawl” along the bottom of the screen read: “Catholic bishops denounce contraception compromise.” My comment on twitter was:”Seriously???? That qualifies as NEWS??? Enough with theocratic war on democracy.” Because here’s the deal: It’s time to call foul on the much ballyhooed “war on religion” and call it what it is … and it IS a theocratic war on democracy.
It is not only possible — it is essential if we’re going to win the theocratic war being waged on our democracy. So let’s all “Just Say No” to the myth of war on religion — whether it comes from a bishop or a Baptist — and get busy making liberty and justice for all not just a pledge but a reality.
“War on democracy,” Susie? Really? Someone who cheered the recent court decision overturning California’s Proposition 8 really shouldn’t use those words since people start calling you a raging hypcrite when you do.
But let’s see. Inventing a “right,” imposing a practice on a religious institution that considers that practice to be a grave evil and then fashioning a “compromise” that leaves that “right” in place by means on an accounting trick of questionable legality constitutes “a theocratic war on democracy.” Whatever you say, cupcake.
Why did Barack Obama pick this needless fight with the Roman Catholic Church? After all, a majority of Catholic voters supported him and many of his declared social justice goals perfectly accord with Catholic teaching.
So what was the problem? Ignorance? A miscalculation? Or is there, as Paul Rahe asserts, something far more sinister going on?
We know a bit more now. We know that the President did not act on impulse, that he took his time in making this decision, and that he sought advice from a range of individuals within the Democratic Party. Vice-President Joe Biden and William Daley, who was then Obama’s Chief of Staff, both profess to be Catholic, and they strongly advised against doing anything that would antagonize the Catholic bishops and the laity. Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House and current Democratic minority leader, were also consulted. They, too, profess to be Catholic, and they fiercely advocated imposing this burden on all employers providing health insurance for their employees.
Birth control pills aren’t anywhere near expensive enough to risk the Presidency over.
On the face of it, President Obama would appear to be shooting himself in the foot. Why would he risk losing the Catholic vote? One could, of course, argue that his aim was to excite the feminists and give them a reason to turn out in November. As a rationale, however, even this seems a bit lame. The benefit that the President proposes to provide is insubstantial. The administration’s claim to the contrary notwithstanding, the pill and other birth control devices are not free. But the expense involved is not great. Among those who are employed and have healthcare insurance, no one is hard put to come up with the paltry sum required.
To Rahe, the President’s actions have only one meaning. Barack Obama has finally dropped the mask.
This suggests that there can be only one reason why Sebelius, Pelosi, and Obama decided to proceed. They wanted to show the bishops and the Catholic laity who is boss. They wanted to make those who think contraception wrong and abortion a species of murder complicit in both. They wanted to rub the noses of their opponents in it. They wanted to marginalize them. Humiliation was, in fact, their only aim, and malice, their motive.
Obama’s “compromise” was actually a gesture of contempt.
Last week, when, in response to the fierce resistance he had deliberately stirred up, the President offered the bishops what he called “an accommodation,” what he proffered was nothing more than a fig leaf. His maneuver was, in fact, a gesture of contempt, and I believe that it was Barack Obama’s final offer. From his perspective and from that of Sebelius and Pelosi, the genuine Catholics still within the Democratic coalition are no more than what Vladimir Lenin called “useful idiots,” and, now that the progressive project is near completion, they are expendable – for there is no longer any need to curry their favor.
Bottom line? Let’s not kid ourselves any longer about who Barack Obama really is.
In 2008, when he first ran for the Presidency, Barack Obama posed as a moderate most of the time. This time, he is openly running as a radical. His aim is to win a mandate for the fundamental transformation of the United States that he promised in passing on the eve of his election four years ago and that he promised again when he called his administration The New Foundation. In the process, he intends to reshape the Democratic coalition – to bring the old hypocrisy to an end, to eliminate those who stand in the way of the final consolidation of the administrative entitlements state, to drive out the faithful Catholics once and for all, to jettison the white working class, and to build a new American regime on a coalition of highly educated upper-middle class whites, feminists, African-Americans, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, and those belonging to the public-sector unions. To Americans outside this coalition, he intends to show no mercy.
Of course, none of this should surprise any Christian.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you(Matthew 5:11-12).
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you(Matthew 10:16-20).
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it(Matthew 10:34-39).
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, “They hated Me without a cause(John 15:18-25).”
These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you(John 16:1-4).
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world(John 17:14-16).
You get the idea. And I don’t think it’s too much of a leap from a government legally deciding what church practices ought to be to a government legally deciding, in order to protect someone’s alleged “rights,” what churches ought to be permitted to preach.
Because if being legally forced to facilitate the commission of a grave sin is not an infringement of your religious freedom, then neither is being legally forbidden from declaring that what Miss Russell likes to do in her off-hours is sinful. After all, nobody’s forcing you to stop believing that Christ died on the Cross for your sins, now are they?
And this is only the beginning. The simple fact of the matter is that defeating our idiot president in November will only delay this trend, it will not stop it. The white-hot rage toward actual Christianity displayed by pseudo-religious frauds like Susan Russell guarantees that any future areligious despot who happens to win the White House will have plenty of “spiritual” cover for further assaults on the Church.
But like I said, none of this should surprise anyone.