The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

The thoughts expressed here are my personal thoughts and sometimes reflect my political views. As a private citizen I have every right to express these views.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

God or Nothing

Every Sunday morning you and your family make your way to your church where you join together with others to worship God freely. You don't worry that the police officer who directs traffic at the church entrance might have a colleague who's busily taking photos of every license plate in the parking lot. You don't expect to see a state or federal official standing in the back of the church and recording everything that is said. And on Monday morning you certainly wouldn't expect your boss to question you about your religious beliefs. 

Such things just don't happen here in the United States, where religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution...at least, not yet. For those of you who might have forgotten, that First Amendment in the Bill of Rights reads:

"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."


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. - See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.y9Ibq8pC.dpuf
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. - See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment1.html#sthash.y9Ibq8pC.dpuf
Notice that the very first right of the Bill of Rights is freedom of religion. It comes before freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the freedoms of assembly and petition, and all the other rights enumerated in the remaining nine amendments. The Founders obviously considered the freedom of religion more important than any other.

Notice, too, that many people -- including, sadly, many of our courts -- speak only of the so-called "establishment clause" assuming that any mention of things religious by the government is a violation. The Founders, of course, were concerned only with ensuring there would be no established state church like England's Anglican Church. They did not intend to remove religious thought and speech from the public square. The new nation was, after all, already a nation of many faiths and the Founders wanted to ensure all Americans could exercise their faith freely, without government interference. This is evident by the wording that follows: "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Even the United Nations still pays lip-service to its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of this document, supposedly agreed to by the UN member nations, states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
This clearly stated right is, of course, violated daily by dozens of the UN's member states. All communist governments -- and probably a third or more of the world's population still lives under some form of Marxist rule -- reject  Article 18 in its entirety. And most Muslim-majority nations, especially those that accept sharia law, reject it as well. But we're also encountering growing threats to religious liberty among many of our so-called Western democracies.

It would seem that in Western Europe and increasingly in the United States, political correctness trumps just about everything, even the rights clearly enumerated in the Constitution. Same-sex marriage, for example, has become a cause célèbre in our country, particularly among those on the political left, and if a small business refuses to cater to a homosexual marriage for religious reasons, it is prosecuted. Religious freedom -- the free exercise of religion -- is in the Constitution. Can the same be said for same-sex marriage?

It's no different when it comes to abortion or contraception. The ACLU, a supposed protector of civil liberties and an organization well-loved by the Obama administration, has been suing Catholic hospitals, trying to force them to provide abortions and other forms of "reproductive care" that violate Catholic moral beliefs. So far they have been unsuccessful in court, but that could easily change depending on who replaces the late Justice Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. You can read the ACLU's take on the issue in which abortion supersedes religious freedom. Here's the link to their website: ACLU.

Ever since the court's infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, abortion has become the most important issue of those committed to a culture of death. Sadly, the Democrat Party has completely embraced the issue, and any pro-life Democrat, regardless of his or her stance on other issues important to the party, will experience the party's wrath.

Here are just a few other areas where freedom of religion has been cast aside as meaningless in the face of political correctness:

  • Adoption and Foster Services. Catholic Charities can no longer offer adoption or foster care services in many states (e.g., Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington D.C....) because they will not place children with same-sex or unmarried couples.

  • Human Trafficking. The federal government no longer allows the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to provide services for victims of human trafficking because the USCCB will not give referrals for contraceptive services and abortions.


  • University Discrimination. The University of California Hastings College of Law denied student organization status to the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. This is the only group that has ever been denied such status.
Little Sisters of the Poor

  • Little Sisters of the Poor. Of course, unless you're a hermit, you've heard about the Little Sisters of the Poor and their legal battle with the Obama administration over the HHS mandate to include sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in the health care provided to the Sisters' employees. 
There are many, many more examples at the federal, state and local levels. Certainly they don't even approach the kind of vile and murderous religious persecution Christians are encountering overseas, but as God is eclipsed by the kind of demonic nihilism on the rise in our country, and as man's flawed law increasingly pushes God's Law into the dustbin, don't be surprised when those who engage in the "free exercise" of their faith are told to shut up or else.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Congregation for Divine Worship
The majority of our electorate seems to think that the upcoming election is about jobs and the economy. Don't believe it! It's about the very soul of our nation. Will we remain "one nation under God" or will we choose to serve another. As Cardinal Robert Sarah recently said while discussing the increasingly sad state of religious freedom in the United States, "In the end, it is God or nothing."

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