Monday, May 28, 2012

Kathryn Jean Lopez on what's at stake in the battle for religious liberty

My column today at focuses on the plight of Father Brian Jordan and the dangerous absurdity that is atheism. It would be easy to dismiss the incessant rants of angry atheists for the frivolous complaints they are if it were not for the fact that the current occupant of the White House and his acolytes in the Department of Health and Human Services are every bit as hostile toward public expressions of religion. National Review columnist Kathryn Jean Lopez, who also has an excellent religion blog, reminds us of what is at stake in a battle we can ill afford to lose.
Confronted with a “train wreck,” the new archbishop of Baltimore implores us to “pray diligently as communities, as families, and as individuals.”

Coming from clergy, this wouldn’t necessarily be breaking news, except the train hurtling toward us is driven by the current president of the United States and his secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. Under Obamacare, the secretary has unprecedented power to make health-care decisions affecting every American. The recent HHS mandate — requiring all employers, regardless of moral objections, to offer health-care coverage that includes contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs — is the poisonous fruit of that power.

And so Archbishop William Lori’s prayer is for religious liberty.

It’s an ecumenical prayer that requires ecumenical labor. This talk of religious liberty “is not about the Catholic Church wanting to force anybody to do anything,” Archbishop Lori emphasized during a speech at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s conference on religious freedom. “It is instead about the federal government forcing the Church — consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions — to act against Church teachings.”

We are confronted today with a question of integrity, and it’s not only Catholics who are asking it, or who have a stake in the answer. The right to liberty is at the core of our national identity, and every freedom-loving American should ask: Do we value liberty as much as we say we do? People thirsting for freedom the world over have long seen America as a beacon. Are we the shining light they think we are?

It is only through complete inattention to this question of integrity that Georgetown University could have invited Secretary Sibelius to speak at a campus commencement ceremony. For this dereliction of moral duty, Georgetown surely wins this year’s audacity-at-commencement competition. At a moment that should be a radicalizing milestone for any American who values freedom, Georgetown chose to send a message of complacency. We have long been the place where people come to flee tyranny. But are we now comfortable with tyranny at home? This fight over the HHS mandate is much more than another Left–Right debate. It strikes at the core of who we are as Americans.

Read the whole column here.