Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Relativism: The Enemy of Freedom

Those who oppose the teachings of the Church tend to do so because the teaching of the Church interfere with the notion that, "I can do whatever the hell I want . . . so long as I don't hurt anybody . . . anybody important I mean . . . and by important, I mean by my own standards, not yours . . . just @#$& off and quit imposing your views on me!"

Of course, the problem is "important by my own standards" is a vague, subjective term that, if accepted, means that someone else can decide that you are not important by their standards, and suddenly you're crammed in a boxcar or a gulag if they gain power over you.

But that's the problem with relativism. if values are relative to the person who applies the standard, and nobody has the right to judge another person's values, then to condemn another person for doing something we dislike is "judgmental," because he or she isn't hurting anybody important . . . by their own standards.

When it comes down to it, relativism isn't very freeing at all. it's used to justify MY freedom from YOU, but not YOUR freedom from ME. . .

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That's basically a case of "might makes right." If you have the power (physical, financial, political) to impose your will, you can do what you want. If you don't, you're out of luck until the wheel spins and you're on top.

History is full of examples of people in power rejecting objective values which conflict with their own standards. The results tend to show up in history books described in terms of disgust and horror.

So, what's the alternative? The alternative is the acknowledgement that objective good and evil acts exist, where one is to do the former and avoid the latter. If we think Nazism or Racism or other things are wrong, we need to look at what makes them wrong in comparison to similar actions, and then make sure that we avoid the thing that makes them wrong. Otherwise, you get ridiculous situations like, "I'm not acting like a Nazi? Do you see me mistreating JEWS? I'm only mistreating DISSIDENTS!"

In other words, objective morality tells us that it is not the fact that the Nazis mistreated Jews that made it wrong (but that it would be OK to treat others that way) but the fact that the action mistreated the Jews that made it wrong. If the Nazis' treatment of the Jews was wrong, it stands to reason that treating others in the same way must also be condemned.

That's an objective value--don't mistreat people. Of course then we have to make distinctions. Is incarcerating a felon "mistreating" him? If not, how do we distinguish the proper treatment from the mistreatment? When is the use of force just and when is it unjust? But the fact that there are many considerations does not change the fact that there are right ways and wrong ways to handle a case.

If we depend on relativism, only the person who decides can choose what is just and unjust. In such a case, we can only coax and persuade the person to change to how we would like them to behave--or use force. But if we recognize the existence of objective truth, we can appeal to justice and right and show the individual that what they are doing is wrong, even if it seems right to them.

That's basically why objective truth and objective morality defend freedom, while relativism actually endangers it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Scares Me About America Today

We have in America a set of factions with the mindset that says one must tolerate views in opposition to our own—except when the view is that of the Christian view of morality. Then we are told that people have no right to impose their views on others.

This view can be summed up as, "What's mine is mine, what's yours is up for grabs." Basically, the mindset is not an appeal to mutual tolerance, but a demand for Christians to surrender their beliefs whenever a person takes offense.

Indeed, when the courts actually defend the rights of the Christian faith, the result is outrage . . . how dare that court not side with the popular movements.

Think about this for a second. What we have here is a mindset that behaves in a partisan manner, unwilling to tolerate, unwilling to let equal justice under the law be done. If a politician or a judge rules or votes against them, it is proof of their intolerance and justifies anything being done with them. If a private citizen takes a stand, that justifies anything being done against them.

This isn't cheap rhetoric here. High ranking members of the Senate are trying to overturn the RFRA and obligate religious business owners to pay for things they find immoral. Brendan Eich was "encouraged" to leave Mozilla because he made a campaign donation for the defense of marriage. We are seeing groups castigate the "Five male Catholic" members of the Supreme Court "forcing their views on others," saying they have too much power and that needs to change . . . Never mind the fact that the Constitution says in Article VI that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

So the results are a foregone conclusion. More people get intimidated by these tactics and decide it is easier to stay quiet. Fewer individuals stand up for what they believe is just under the law and just go along with the flow. Then there is less resistance to the next round of demands. We've already reached a point I never expected to see in America in my lifetime. How much worse will it get?

Obviously the Catholic Church will not accept changes to what she believes Jesus Christ commands, even if some members of the Church should fall away. So then the partisans will have to make a decision. What will they do with those of us who refuse to put the state above God?

This is a dilemma that all Americans, religious or not, will have to face:

  1. If people choose to respect the rights and freedoms this nation at its founding recognized as belonging to all peoples, they have to respect that the Freedom of Religion in the First Amendment expressly forbids the infringement of the Free Exercise of religion. Thus they must accept that they cannot compel us to do that which we believe is evil.
  2. If people choose to go along with the factions insisting that their ideology trumps the rights and freedoms of those who disagree with them, then it means they tolerate a decision where these factions only respect the law when it serves them and set it aside when it doesn't.

Now remember that choosing the first option will earn you the enmity of these factions, which will YOU choose?

Most people tend to go along with option #2 . . .

. . . and that's what scares me about America today.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Considering the Authority of the Church Before One Finds Oneself in Conflict

Introduction

It always saddens me when I encounter a fallen away Catholic online—the kind who obviously feels betrayed by the Church. Obviously they are in a lot of pain, and their pain is real. It's not going to go away just because you explain to them why the Church cannot change her teaching for them. For such people, all you can do is pray, comfort and explain at the level they're willing to hear.

So why am I writing?

The problem is, online, many people read the bitter hurt and anger and are led to believe that the Church is a cruel, bureaucratic institution that couldn't care less about the "little people" who are crushed by these rules. These people believe that the Catholic Church is in opposition to the love of Jesus Christ. Few explore the actual teaching of the Church and why she feels obligated to teach as she does.

Yes, it is true that the Bible says "God is love" (1 John 4:8). But the Bible says so much more than that . . . it also speaks of moral obligations and commandments. Reading the Bible isn't a matter of keeping score—there's no contrasting Paul or the Old Testament with Christ here. Because God inspired the authors of Scripture to write what He intended and no more, we can't say that one part of the Bible contradicts another. Rather, we see a growing awareness of understanding God brought to the final fulfillment that Jesus Christ gave us.

This brings us to the heart of the matter: When there is a dispute, what living authority which can determine what is and what is not in keeping with the will of Christ? It does no good to argue that the Bible is that authority . . . it is the meaning of the Bible which is being disputed.

So this is why I write—so that people who have not yet found themselves running afoul of the Catholic Church might recognize her authority and obligation in teaching, and perhaps avoid finding themselves in opposition to the Church to begin with.

The Catholic Church and Authority

Ultimately, the dispute between the Catholic Church and those in opposition to her is the issue of what authority she has to make decisions binding on the faithful. If what the Church claims about her nature is true, then when she teaches, it is binding on the faithful and rebellion against the Church teaching is rebellion against God. But, if what she claims is not true, then she has no "teachings" at all. The Church would then be nothing more than yet another NGO with an agenda . . . one to support if you agree with it and oppose if you don't.

What the Catholic Church believes about herself is that she is the Church that Jesus said He would establish (Matt 16:18-19). The Pope and the bishops the successors of St. Peter and the Apostles. If what she believes about herself is true, then she does have the authority of Christ. What Christ has said about giving His authority to carry out His work is important here:

18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt 16:18-19)

17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. 18  Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt 18:17-18)

18  Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

16 Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

21 [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (John 20:21-23)

New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011)

These words are important. Jesus makes some important promises about His Church.

Laying all this out, we can see that whatever this Church may be, it was not a mere incidental point in Jesus' mission. He intends His mission to continue, even after His Death and Resurrection. So, considering all these points that the Bible makes, if the Catholic Church is not the Church established by Christ, where is it?

  • It can't be Invisible . . . otherwise, how could we go to it?
  • It can't have ever died out . . . or have come into existence centuries or millennia later.
  • It has to have the authority of Christ.
  • It has to have the authority to bind and loose . . . which means it has to be protected from teaching error. Otherwise Jesus would have to bind sin and loose His commandments in Heaven.
  • It has the authority to forgive sins.
  • It is centered under the headship of Peter.
  • It has to be carrying out the mission of Christ to the whole world . . . not merely serving one community or one ethnicity or one nation.

As Catholics, we believe that this Church is the Catholic Church, given the authority and the responsibility along with the protections needed to avoid teaching error.

What This Means

That leads us to the moment of truth. There are two (and only two) options:

  1. If the Catholic Church is this Church established by Christ, then her teachings are not arbitrary, but have the authority of Christ behind them.
  2. If the Catholic Church is not this Church established by Christ, then her teachings have no authority behind them except perhaps the power of persuasion.

Once one realizes this, the Catholic has a decision to make before there is ever a risk of winding up in conflict with the Church. If one recognizes this authority as being from Christ, then one should be aware that the Church teachings need to be followed and that decisions that might put one in conflict to the Church must be avoided.

Once this is grasped, one can look at the different issues on Church teaching. For example, Abortion, Contraception, Divorce and Remarriage, "Gay" Marriage, Women's Ordination and others. There's no sense in getting angry at the Church. She does this because she thinks she must teach this way to be faithful to Christ. If one agrees that Christ gave her that authority, then the Church teaching has Christ's authority and fighting the Church teaching is fighting God.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Thoughts on the Portrayal of Catholicism in Fiction

Introduction

I have to admit something. I don't care for the BBC series Brother Cadfael and don't think highly of the books either. It's a dislike rooted in how the series portrays the Middle Ages and its approach to religion. One gets the impression that if Cadfael wasn't under the authority of ignorant men, he'd be able to accomplish so much more. At other times you see religion portrayed in a way that the Church specifically spoke against doing—trials by ordeal, allowing a man to abandon his wife to enter a monastery, etc. Behavior where the viewer asks "How could The Church ever allow that?" Actually, they didn't. No doubt there were some places where abuses took place, but the abuse is not the same thing as being sanctioned by the official teaching of the Church.

In both cases, the Church in medieval times is portrayed in a way which startles viewers and makes them think that Catholicism behaves badly by its very nature—that people are right to oppose it.

Trying to Draw ALL out of SOME

Mind you, it's not a flaw exclusive to this series. Just consider, when is the last time you saw/read about...

  • a (non-rebel) priest assisting the heroes instead of the villains?
  • a (non-rebel) Crusader who wasn't portrayed as ignorant and brutal in comparison to the Muslims?
  • a (non-rebel) priest, monk or nun who wasn't portrayed as viewing technology and science as evil... or at least suspicious?
  • a (non-rebel) priest who wasn't either cold and intolerant or naive and inexperienced when it comes to dealing with those in need?

Odds are you haven't seen it very often—if at all. In general, the portrayal of the Church—especially with fiction set in the past (or a Church-like institution if the genre is fantasy)—is one of oppression and opposition to reason, mercy or justice. Those that don't have these vices are rebels who scoff at the rules of the Church, getting it right when their legalistic fellow clergy are shown up to be buffoons, knaves or hypocrites.

It's not always a malicious thing—I suspect most authors or producers don't wake up one morning and think, "Hey! Let's make the Church look bad!" The ludicrous anti-Catholic theories portrayed by Jack Chick or Dan Brown are extremes. But extremes are often distractions from the less flagrant misrepresentations. Some might want the Church to look bad. But probably more often we have a case where people merely portray the Church according to the stories they have been led to believe are true.

But the fact is the Catholic Church does not teach the faithful to act like this. So the general image shows create: that Catholics (especially priests and nuns) do behave this way—because of their Catholicism—is a problem.

I find that often, when it comes to portrayal of the Catholic Church in books, movies or TV, the portrayal of the behavior in a religious community is shown as aberrant—but gives the viewer or reader no sense of context so they can understand that the behavior actually is appalling to the practicing Catholic as well.

Of course, when a Catholic objects, the response is "It's just a work of fiction!  Don't take it so seriously!" But that response is to miss the point. The portrayal of the Church in fiction is implied to be based on the real Church of history. People see the "historical portrayal" and assume that the author must have done some research or he/she wouldn't make the assertion. (This actually happened in response to the "historical" assertions made in The Da Vinci Code).

The problem is, regardless of the motivation, the media tends to portray the Church (or, in fantasy, a fictional church with the trappings of the Catholic Church) as being one or more of the following: corrupt, jealous of power, judgmental, avaricious, suspicious of science, arrogant, hypocritical, arbitrary... I could go on. The idea being presented is that being a part by choice of this Church makes one hostile to compassion and progress. Those within the Church who don't have these vices are generally giving the impression of being naive or being seen as a misfit by others in the Church.

Now, yes, it is true that there are people within the Church who possess these traits. Some of these may also have authority within the Church. But, you can not start with a SOME and conclude that the SOME is a proof of the whole. The fact that Some X is Y does not allow us to make a judgment about the whole of X.

So, no doubt some churchmen are avaricious or hypocritical. But that does not mean all are. Think about the racial stereotypes--it's the same error. I can find some members of an ethnic group that match a stereotype—but trying to claim these members of the group accurately represent the whole group is unjustified.

There's another error here, the post hoc fallacy. It assumes that because a person belongs to group A and has objectionable view B, it means membership in A causes behavior B.

We can show this is bad reasoning:

  • Pelosi is Catholic
  • Pelosi is Pro-abortion
  • Therefore Catholics are Pro-abortion.

This shows that the behavior of an individual Catholic or small group is not necessarily caused by the Church. The Church teaching, after all, is that abortion is never permissible.

It's also the Church position that being corrupt, jealous of power, judgmental, avaricious, arrogant, hypocritical or arbitrary (etc.) are not permissible behaviors.  So, just as Pelosi holds her position in opposition to Church teaching, the Catholic who holds these vices do so in opposition to the Church.

So that's why I get annoyed when the Church gets portrayed in this way in fiction. The bad behavior of some is used as the basis for portraying Catholics as a whole in a bad light, when it is not reasonable to do so.

See, we wouldn't mind a portrayal of Catholics behaving badly if it was made clear that their behavior went against what the Church requires. But mostly it isn't made clear.  The viewer or reader is given the impression that the portrayal is typical of the Church at this period. A non-Catholic viewer/reader is left with the impression that the Church is that way by nature.

The Problem of False and Distorted History

Aside from the issues of bad reasoning and presuming that the whole is guilty of the part, there is another problem. That problem is the falsification and exaggeration of history. There are things that the Church was accused of doing, but did not. There are things that the Church was accused of not doing, but did. There are also places where action or inaction by the Church was grossly exaggerated.

Basically, the form of the accusation is:

  • The Church did or said X
  • X is evil
  • Therefore the Church is evil.

The problem is, the major premise is either false or distorted about the X that the Church was alleged to have done or said, (I've already addressed above the problem of claiming the whole Church took part in an error on the grounds that some did, because you can't allege the whole is guilty of the sins of the part).

In the minor premise, the problem is the X done by the Catholic Church is not always the intrinsic evil act (evil by its very nature) it's accused of being. Think the old "Catholics worship statues" accusation: Since Catholics don't worship statues, the fact that "Worshipping statues is evil" doesn't apply. If it is not intrinsically evil, then conditions may exist when the act is not evil. Also, while the Church may have done an act, it doesn't mean that the act done by the Church is the action condemned as evil.

When the premises are false, then the argument is not proven. You can't use the argument to prove your point. So if the Church didn't say or do X or the X that the Church did wasn't the same act people associate with evil, then the conclusion "Therefore the Church is evil" is unproven.

Again, the ludicrous examples of this argument come from the allegations of people like Dan Brown and Jack Chick. But the problem is, when people set the bar at the level of Jack Chick and Dan Brown, less extreme examples come across as seeming true.

Internet-Quotes

The Internet can tell you many things . . . and some of them might even be true.

But, when people actually goes to research some claims (and by research, I mean seek reliable sources, not whatever the hell people put on the internet) made against the Church, one finds the alleged actions fall into one of three categories:

  1. The alleged event did not actually happen as described
  2. The action was not something done by the entire Church, but actually came from local customs and were only carried out in that area.
  3. People of a nation take up something actually condemned by the Church.

The first case is an exoneration. The second case shows the accusation is confusing SOME and ALL. The third case shows the accusation is blaming the wrong party.

Examples of the First Case could be things like "Jesuits were  trained assassins" (nope), or "There was a female Pope" (we can account for every Pope in the timeline when she was alleged to have reigned) or Leo XIII said in 1900 that it was good to burn heretics (a fabrication made up by an ex-priest) etc. These things are alleged to have been done or said by the Church, but in fact these are false. They never happened.

An example of the Second Case includes the medieval Trials By Ordeal, Witch Trials (both holdovers from the Germanic Barbarian invasions—customs that preceded the Church missionary activity in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages), or in more modern times, the sensational news stories made about Ireland about the care for children—that turn out to be less than totally accurate in terms of scope and severity.

Examples of the Third Case are the abuses the Spanish carried out in the New World. The Church condemned the revived Slave Trade. For example, Sicut Dudum was issued by Pope Eugene IV (lived 1383-1447) as soon as news of the enslavement of the natives of the Canary Islands.  If you read it, you'll see pretty much everything the Spanish did was condemned in 1435—57 years before the Europeans first encountered the New World. So why did it remain a problem? Well, it's kind of like the abortion problem today. The Church keeps condemning it, and Catholic politicians keep ignoring the condemnations. If the politicians aren't afraid of Hell, the Church doesn't have very many options.

The point of these three cases is, the Church is often condemned as a whole for something totally fabricated, something practiced as a custom by only a portion of people who professes the Catholic faith, or something actually condemned by the Church.

The Past Was Brutal—But the Brutality Was Not Exclusive to Christendom

There's another problem to remember too. When we look at the past, we will find things which seem startling to our 21st century sensibilities. We look at how government functioned and justice was carried out and feel appalled. Of course, I imagine we'd also be appalled by medicine and hygiene back then too. The difference is, we're not morally appalled by the problems with hygiene and medicine.

The problem is, we recognize that the advances in hygiene and medicine came about as people learned more, but we don't realize that the same advances in government and law came about the same way . . . nope, people assume that we had sadists in charge and they were sadists because the Church said it was OK. That's the approach I'm often seeing fiction take with Catholicism.

Conclusion: What Is To Be Done?

The effect of these beliefs in the medium of fiction, whether in books or in TV or in Movies is that many people substitute relying on an author or director  in place of actually seeing if these allegations of action or attitude are true and taught by the Church.

Now these authors, whether through malice or ignorance or something in between, are portraying a false image of the Church by allowing it to appear that the Church was responsible for these behaviors and attitudes that seem repellant to us. If the author or director is attempting to give the impression that his portrayal is historically accurate and was the common Catholic practice, he has responsibility to do basic research and report what a thing actually was. The failure to do so makes him responsible for slander or libel depending on whether the falsehood is spoken or printed—either by deliberate action or by negligence.

But the fact that we have writers, directors and the like, who do make these kind of assertions requires the viewer or reader to practice responsibility. One ought not to just assume that what is alleged is true. Any fool can allege any kind of secret conspiracy by the Church in a work of fiction. Any writer of fantasy can portray his monks as drunken, debauched hypocrites. Any TV show or movie can portray the Church as cruel, greedy and intolerant.

But the question remains… Is it true?

The viewer or reader has the responsibility to assess the claims made by searching for credible sources which accurately report history and the teachings of the Church. There are many anti-Catholic sites which make all sorts of bizarre claims—usually all relying on a very limited number of biased sources. So search wisely, and don't assume that the portrayal in a work of fiction is accurate.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thoughts on True and False Freedom on Independence Day, 2014

The Catholic view of Freedom holds that freedom allows us to do what we ought to do. The modern American concept of freedom is the idea that we can do whatever we want. These views of freedom are obviously contradictory because doing what we want and doing what we ought often run into conflict.

There's also the problem that the freedom to do what one wants tends to contradict itself. If I am free to do what I want, am I free to own slaves? Most people would be horrified at the thought. (if you're thinking That's a good idea! then do yourself a favor and keep quiet). The freedom to own a slave removes freedom from the person who is a slave.

The person who claims the freedom to do what one wants takes offense with the challenge that there are limits to what one can do. But the person who says there are limits points out that there are things it is never right to do. I'm not free to rape or murder or enslave, and most people would agree that no person should ever have such "freedom."

Yet, it's funny that the proponent of the "freedom to do as I want" school of thought tend to view any restrictions to do what they want as having someone "imposing their views." But the fact remains that the person who demands the freedom to do something immoral denies the freedom of the person who thinks it is immoral to act.

There's a really stupid slogan that has made the rounds on Facebook, the internet in general, and the bumper stickers. It reads, "If you're against abortion, don't have one." It's really stupid because the concept allows you to justify anything:

  • If you're against murder, don't murder anyone.
  • If you're against rape, don't rape anyone.
  • If you're against stealing, don't steal.
  • If you're against discrimination, don't discriminate.
  • If you're against slavery, don't own a slave.
  • If you're against torture, don't torture anyone.

These all sound ridiculous, and with good reason. In all these cases, it is recognized that the thing opposed is seen as something that no person should do. The person who actually believed one of these would be viewed with horror. But the person who would use such an argument is making the assertion that there is nothing wrong with the existence of a behavior. Opposition to the behavior is portrayed as a preference. If you don't like the behavior, and demand nobody be allowed to do it, the accusation is, "You're forcing your views on us!"

No. Opposing murder, rape, theft, discrimination and slavery all stem from the belief that all these actions are wrong, and nobody should do them. If we accept the idea of "If you're against abortion, don't have one," the others follow logically . . . the individual's preferences are supreme and the other person's rights can be sacrificed.

But once we recognize that a person is not free to murder, rape, steal from, discriminate against, or enslave another person, we recognize that there are limits to individual freedoms when it comes to actions that are always wrong. So we know that the freedom to do what you want is false. The problem is we tend to make exceptions for ourselves. If I want to do something, I should be able to do it without any repercussions . . . I should have the freedom from consequences of my actions.

But nature itself shows that is false. Yes I can probably be drunk 24 hours a day, but that freedom comes with a cost to my physical and mental health. Yes, I can probably have sex indiscriminately, but that freedom comes with the cost of the chance of pregnancy or the chance of venereal diseases. People want to avoid those consequences and demand that means be provided to avoid such consequences—at no cost to themselves. Of course that means at the expense of others. As the old saying goes, There's no such thing as a free lunch. If the person demands the means to avoid consequences without having to pay for it, that person is demanding that other people pay for it (such as, the taxpayers).

 

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Keep out of my bedroom . . . but leave your wallet!

Of course, that is where people who claim the freedom to do as they ought rightly object. Because Catholics believe that some things are always wrong (the term is Intrinsic evil) and may never be done, they cannot cooperate with such acts, even when lawmakers unjustly approve of them. For example, if a government should be taking part in a genocide and passed a law that all citizens must turn in members of the targeted ethnic group, we would recognize our obligation to not take part. People in the government could try to force us, but they would have no right to do so.

OK, the genocide example is an extreme one—it's meant to be. It's meant to demonstrate the principle in a way that most people would recognize. But we have obligations to live as God commands, and we believe these obligations are reasonable and are actually beneficial. Going against these obligations is harmful spiritually to be sure, but going against them are also harmful physically and mentally as well . . . we're going against the way we're hardwired to be.

If you believe that your freedom to do as you want trumps the freedoms of others who believe it is wrong to act this way, that is the same mindset of the person who believed he had the right to own slaves. While you're decrying people "pushing their views on you," it's actually you who are pushing your views on those who think it is wrong.

That's the problem with America today. People want the freedom from consequences when they claim the freedom to do what they want. They insist others provide what they need to avoid consequences, even if those others believe it is wrong to enable their behavior.

The Supreme Court recently defended the right to do as we ought—with the result that people who want freedom from consequences are outraged that we don't have to do what we believe is evil. That outrage is alarming. It indicates they are actually contemptuous of true freedom and actually want their privileges to trump the true rights of others.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Constitutional Freedom and Its Enemies

It's very troubling that a sales clerk ... who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer's health care plan because her employer doesn't think she should be using contraception.” (Hillary Clinton)

"The thought of your boss telling you what kind of birth control you can and can't get is offensive and it certainly is motivating to women to vote…" (Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.)

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Hillary Clinton (Left) and Cecile Richards (Right) believe that the religious employer, or the private employer with religious beliefs, who thinks they are not allowed to support something that is morally wrong must set aside their religious beliefs in favor of political ideologies.

Here's the problem. The ruling doesn't let the boss say what kind of contraceptives you can use. The ruling let's the boss say, "You may choose to use contraceptives, but don't expect me to violate my conscience by giving them to you. "

That's the problem with the outrage against the ruling. The propaganda is trying to make it sound like EvilCorp is trying to control women. But the EvilCorps of the nation really don't care and probably have no problems with providing it--especially if the long term results means lower costs because of no pregnancy costs and children to cover.

The truth is, the corporations who support this ruling are basically religious organizations and corporations run by families—who are incorporated because the tax rules require them to do so. They were established by people who held to a certain idea of what Christian morality requires them to do.

Unfortunately the law is unjust. Restrictions are made on any religious based group that does not limit itself to members of the same religion. But that's ludicrous when a Catholic institution helps all people who come to a hospital, university or charity regardless of their beliefs . . . and has done so since long before the United States of America was even established.

The outrage over the decision basically declares that if someone or some religious group needs to organize into a corporation for tax and liability purposes, they forfeit their religious rights. But since the corporation is made up of persons, the laws made concerning a corporation will affect people who run them. People like Richards and Hillary Clinton try to obscure this fact.

The actions of Clinton and Richards remind us that the danger to our freedoms is very real. They appear to believe that the Freedom of Religion is trumped by a "right" which is not in the Constitution. It actually works quite the opposite. Our Freedom of Religion protects us from "rights" invented by politicians . . . they protect us from politicians who decide they want all people to provide support for their views even if some people find that these laws force them to go against what their religious faith obliges.

Remember this . . . and remember that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court Ruling: End of an Error?

Back in January, 2012 I first wrote on the announced HHS mandate. It was an appalling realization that our government actually preferred to place its ideology over the freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution and was willing to force their decision.

In the 2 1/2 years since I wrote about this violation of the Constitution, we've witnessed the Church vilified because she stood up against the kulturkampf by the state and the cultural elites.

This morning, we heard from the Supreme Court. I admit that I was surprised. After the Court's position on the defense of marriage, I wasn't expecting a just ruling.

But we got one. So, now we can relax,  right?

Not quite yet. The ruling answered some of our concerns, but the role of Church run universities, hospitals, charities, and self-insured Catholic businesses is still in question. Catholic religious orders, institutions and businesses still have concerns to be addressed.

Also the ruling was based on the RFRA, not the Constitution. So if a future Supreme Court strikes it down, what we have we can lose. Remember DOMA was struck down, and judges across the country are using that bad decision to overturn laws protecting traditional marriage

As the old saying goes, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

That means continuing to pray and continuing to work—in the short term for just decisions. In the long term for conversion of America.

There's no time to be slacking off. This is where our work begins, not ends.