Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Forcing Violations of Conscience: Harrison Bergeron, Catholics and Respecting Life (part 1)

"Obama’s Baffling Catholic Decision: Birth Control Trumps Religious Freedom
The administration claims its decision to force Catholic institutions to pay for insurance covering contraceptives is ‘balanced'—so why, when religious liberty was weighed against access to birth control, did freedom lose?"
war on Christians by Ayaan
Hirsi Ali
So begins an editorial in The Daily Beast today addressing the issue recently shoved into the mainstream by the current U.S. administration: Shall the government interfere with the free exercise of religion?
I always thought this was an interesting topic since one's religion may ask for child sacrifice or multiple wives...
However, for a government to
 specifically require
a person or group to positively commit an act
which the group has long considered immoral seems to go against the modern grain. I know workplaces that now allow for prayer facing towards Mecca 5 times a day. Kosher food is provided for those whose religion proscribes it (newt's smarmy lies regarding a Romney vote notwithstanding). Exemptions from many proscriptions are allowed for the Amish and the native American.
History, tradition, and common sense have played a role in exceptions.
 My silly friend's "Church of the WALNUT" has a Don't Pay Taxes Rule that he will never get enforced...
But history, tradition and common sense are lately Out the Window, if you have not noticed, in a variety of areas.
Here is one fear: 
Eradicating large swaths of culture, religious expression, and tradition can leave us barren as a society.
 Granted, we must continue to improve, groom, evolve, strive. The immoral, such a slavery, ownership of wives, abuse of children, hateful behavior toward groups, etc etc must be replaced by the moral. We move from violence towards nonviolence, from brute force to compassion, from Grudge to Forgiveness.
 But to try to forcefully eliminate ancient cultures' belief systems in the name of modernism is a bullying mistake at best, and a crazy grandiose power-grab which at worst is displayed throughout history in ugly violence we look back on now and examine with shaking heads.

I am reminded
of a Kurt Vonnegut short story about equality, where if memory serves, the beautiful must wear bags over their heads and
the fleet wear weights around their ankles, in order to eliminate individual differences... (Harrison Bergeron--1961
 "THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General..."

But there is a bigger
issue/fear/sadness/factor here:
 the value of life as a
                  sacred, ineffable thing --
espoused by Buddhism, Christianity, and other traditions and religions-- is being lost in a dirty, watery, germy soup of politics, greed, powerlust, materialism and deception. I will express more about this tomorrow in PART II will link HERE

is life sacred? What if they told
you you had to club baby seals?

The Daily Beast column referenced above goes on to make a few points being widely discussed in media, in excerpts here:
"...It’s hard to escape the feeling that the Obama administration is trying to run America’s Catholic charities and institutions out of business. How else to explain the mean-spirited decision mandating that Catholic institutions be required to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization, contraceptives, and the “morning-after pill,” which violates their fundamental religious beliefs?
do you fight for your beliefs?
write letters? boycott? Vote?
... The administration
 took religious liberty, a principle on which our country was founded, weighed it against access to contraception, and somehow in its bizarro math, religious freedom lost.
“The government knows that [most] employer-based insurance plans already cover these services,” Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, tells me. “So it’s not about expanding contraceptive access. It’s about forcing religious-based organizations to provide this against their beliefs.”
The writer, Kirsten Powers, goes on to say, "I’m not Catholic. I support contraception. But this is madness. The administration wants to remind us of their benevolence: they are giving institutions with religious objections a whole year to implement a government rule that violates the core tenets of their faith. Gee, thanks!
“In effect, the president is saying
 we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told The Washington Post....
The administration has to know this, so why would it force the hand of Catholic institutions that have traditionally filled in the gaps in social services that the government failed to provide? The people who will suffer if they close their doors are the poor, refugees, the homeless, orphans, and the elderly.

Smith points out that the administration has provided exemptions for the Amish and Native American tribes, so why not an exemption for Catholic institutions?
Regardless of how the courts rule, the administration has planted its flag on the wrong side of history on this issue. The government’s disregard for the fundamental right of freedom of religion is chilling and should cause all Americans concern...

The Mayflower

Gribble's mayflower and pilgrims


  1. In terms of the birth control/religion thing, I don't understand why religious groups can't be exempt from that requirement...? Just a thought.

  2. Even if they can be exempted, does this mean that suddenly certain powers to decide or mandate or exempt is a given power? What is a right?