Here is a wonderful article about a troubling problem

April 30, 2012

We need to know what is legal that is popularly thought to be illegal.  (False “Separation” of Church and State.)  Here is a wonderful – if troubling – article by the Alliance Defense Fund.

El Paso City Leaders Declare War on Civil Liberties of Christians


It leads with:

The penalty for opposing the policies of El Paso mayor John Cook are getting stiffer – maybe as stiff as “sign a petition, go to jail.”

and later states:

“El Paso citizens should not live in fear of being arrested and jailed for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,”

I made a reply to a comment by a person stating the (false) opinion that “Church’s (sic) can’t be political”

NC Amendment 1

April 3, 2012

The Baptists are leading the way on the defense of traditional marriage.  They held a conference last week on the importance of marriage to our society.  It included necessarily a religious viewpoint but also secular and practical reasons to defend marriage.

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of North Carolina Values Coalition, said that “when marriage is redefined as genderless, there are legal consequences for anyone who disagree with it.”

“Everything from inheritance laws to property rights must then change,” she said. “If you disagree with this, you’re treated as a racist and as a bigot.”

Also the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh has weighed in – clearly and I think effectively – in favor of the amendment.

Bishop Burbidge Discusses Religious Liberty and Marriage Amendment

On May 8, 2012, voters in North Carolina will have the opportunity to make the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman part of the North Carolina Constitution.  On this week’s Catholic Perspective and Catholic Weekly, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge explains Catholic teaching on marriage and encourages the faithful to vote for the marriage amendment.  Bishop Burbidge also discusses the ongoing efforts to overturn the recent Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

Watch Catholic Perspective online (Windows Media)


NC Amendment 1 to protect traditional marriage

April 3, 2012

The Baptist Press posts an interesting analysis of the polls of North Carolina voters concerning Amendment 1.  The amendment states:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

Several polls last week showed that the amendment is likely to fail.  The Baptists however state:

Two new polls that use the exact language citizens will see on the ballot show a proposed North Carolina marriage amendment with a substantial lead.

A survey of 1,191 likely voters by Public Policy Polling has the amendment ahead, 58-38 percent, while a poll of 1,001 by SurveyUSA has the amendment up, 58-36 percent.

I live in perhaps one of the most liberal places in the United States.  Jesse Helms once said – when he balked at spending money on a state zoo – to instead “put a fence around Chapel Hill.”

That said, the received wisdom that I hear from everyone on this issue is that Same-Sex Marriage is a “right.” If we oppose it – with this amendment or otherwise – we will be seen as the hateful south – a real boogie-man to many down here.

However it seems that most of North Carolina agrees with me.

Whether this amendment is good business or good politics or good jurisprudence remains to be seen.  Arguably it may be a necessary step to prevent the courts from overturning validly enacted laws defining marriage.  Where supporters have succeeded in making this a “rights” issue in the press (sometimes by using deliberately distorting the phrasing of poll questions), supporters of traditional marriage are painted as backwards at best and hateful knuckle-draggers and likely KKK members at worst.  I’m not; at least I don’t think I am.  It appears that most of voting-age North Carolina agrees with me – except in this little island of self-righteous liberalism.

Baptist Press article is at:

Easter IS legal

April 3, 2012

I cannot help but think that we have become afraid to believe anything.   Kudos to the ADF for publishing this.

Constitutional Rights of Students, Teachers, and Public Schools to Seasonal Religious Expression  Easter 2012

Also listen to this radio interview of Matt Sharp of the ADF.

Matt Sharp on the Bob Dutko Show: Can children in public schools talk about the meaning of Easter?

Why Fight Same-Sex Marriage? Here’s why

March 26, 2012

This is a religious argument in summary but it’s substantial and convincing.
The author says:

Why fight same-sex marriage? Even in America, where the outcome is not yet decided, there appear to be good reasons not to.


Can it really be worth fighting then?

The answer is yes, for reasons that become clear…

Read the whole article at:

Obama-Care Mandates Employers Cover Sterilization, Contraception and Abortion as “Healthcare”

October 14, 2011
An included religious exemption clause is so narrow as to not allow most organizations that reasonable people would call “religious” to follow their conscience.

Catholic Bishops in the US call Obamacare regulation an “Unprecedented Attack on Religious Liberty”

In an “urgent” call to action distributed as a bulletin insert at Catholic churches across the country on Sunday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that a new federal regulation proposed under President Barack Obama’s health-care law “poses an unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”

The proposed regulation would require all private health-care plans to cover sterilizations and “all FDA-approved contraceptives”–which include “emergency” contraceptives such as ulipristal (or “Ella”) that can cause an abortion both before and after an embryo implants in the mother’s womb.

The bulletin insert asked Catholics to visit a page on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.C.C.B.) from which they could send an email message to the Department of Health and Human Services protesting the proposed regulation.

Organizations like Catholic Universities and individual private business owners will not be permitted to opt out of paying for insurance that covers these morally objectionably procedures.

Indeed this article notes that a “layperson” as defined by the regulation doesn’t qualify for the Exemption.  Jesus was an non-ordained itinerant preacher; he would not have qualified for the religious exemption.

Conscience Rights Violated by Sweeping HHS Contraceptive Mandate

From this article of August 30, 2009, the President argued that the Administration’s Healthcare plan does not fund Abortion.  Cardinal Justin Regali said it would. President Obama is ‘Fabricating’—Not Cardinal Rigali and the Catholic Bishops—About Abortion Funding in Health Care Plan.  Turns out the Cardinal was right.

We’ve mentioned this previously here, here, here, here and here.

It’s too late to formally respond to the proposed HHS regulations.  I may write directly to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (herself a lapsed-Catholic.)  I have written congress via the Catholic Bishops’ site which is in turn a link to the NCHLA the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment.

Abortion as Healthcare?!

July 20, 2011

When does the majority (or in this case a very vocal minority) get to oppress and infringe on the rights of conscience of others?  Listen to the good sister (“s’ter!”) and she will define the problem.

The entire article is at the Washington Post’s Guest Voices page.

Posted at 03:21 PM ET, 07/20/2011

Where’s the religious freedom in birth control mandate?

By Sr. Mary Ann Walsh

In this undated handout photo provided by Warner Chilcott, Femcon Fe, the first chewable birth-control method, is shown. (Anonymous - ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The hallucinogenic drug peyote is not for me, though I respect the right of Native Americans to use it in their religious rituals. Blood transfusions are not verboten to me, but I respect Christian Scientists’ right to refuse them. Health insurance programs fit into my lifestyle, yet I respect the rights of the Amish to work out non-insurance medical care programs with the hospitals they use.

Abortion, however, is horrifying to me and I shudder to think that money I pay for health insurance should fund abortion in any way at all. I shudder even more to think that the U.S. government would force me to subsidize abortion and other services in order to get health insurance from a private company. This is Big Brother at his worst and I cringe at the thought that anyone, including a church organization, might be told by government to fund a procedure through private insurance plans for their own employees. Having government decide such questions is a clear violation of conscience.

Some contraceptives, such as the morning-after pills, can cause abortions. The church objects to them because they involve taking an innocent life, however tiny it is. Some ridicule the church’s stance on contraception but the spiritual truth is that contraception deliberately deprives human sexual intimacy of an essential part of its depth and meaning. A man and woman through their sexual union express total commitment and openness to each other, including openness to conceive and nurture a new human person.

The church’s position can be supported even from a secular point of view. It is hard to deny that broad promotion of contraceptives and sterilization has made sexuality more “casual” and less meaningful for millions, or that hormonal contraceptives have had serious and sometimes life-threatening effects on some women. Others don’t have to understand or agree with this perspective; but until now, the federal government has generally been careful to allow individuals and religious organizations to purchase and provide health care without being forced to violate it.

Respect for freedom of conscience and religious liberty has a long history. Thomas Jefferson, who was not especially religious himself, said it best in 1809, when he declared that “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority.”

That position is under threat as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) prepares to list “preventive services for women” that must be included in most private health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as the Healthcare Reform Act. HHS called on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to list such services that should be mandated in private health plans (PPACA). IOM said July 20 that everybody’s health plan should cover contraception, sterilization and patient education and counseling promoting these for all women with reproductive capacity. IOM offers no talk of religious exemption for those with moral or religious objections to some of these practices, including those that effectively abort tiny children.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines itself on its Web site as an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. As it claims independence, one can ask “independent of what? Constitutional history? American government? Basic human rights?”

Fortunately, two members of Congress, Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Boren (D-OK), saw it coming, and introduced the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act 2011. They and the bill co-sponsors recognize that it is wrong for government to force institutions and persons to provide procedures and drugs that violate their conscience. That includes drugs that can take innocent lives under the guise of “treating” what IOM apparently sees as a disease, i.e. pregnancy. The Fortenberry and Boren bill would prevent new mandates under PPACA from being used to discriminate against persons and institutions for acting according to their conscience on these matters – as it already respects the consciences of the Amish, Christian Scientists and adherents of Native American beliefs.

Rights are important, and citizens need to be wary of threats against them. The freedom to follow one’s conscience and to practice one’s religion is under assault today and concerned people need to push back. St. Thomas More, who was heralded in the play “A Man for All Seasons,” faced a conscience problem when England’s Henry VIII demanded an oath of allegiance to him as a self-declared head of the church. Thomas More, the king’s lord chancellor and a brilliant lawyer, refused to sign. He squared off against his government, albeit reluctantly. Before his execution at the chopping block for such treachery the husband and father voiced his allegiance to his king, but with one caveat: “The King’s good servant,” More declared himself, “but God’s first.”

It was more than 400 years ago when More said the government had gone beyond what his conscience could bear. The right to follow one’s conscience trumps other obligations, even rights claimed by the government. The message still stands today.

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh is spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.