Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post Archives

Subscribe to Blog via Email (Version 1: Wordpress)

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog via Wordpress and receive notifications of new posts by email. You will receive emails every time—and as soon as—a new post is made.

Subscribe to Blog via Email (Version 2: Feedburner)

Use this link to subscribe to this blog via Feedburner and receive notifications of new posts by email:

You will receive just one email at the end of the day (around 11:00 PM Eastern Time) summarizing all the posts made during the day.

You may also use the “By Email” link in the upper right hand corner of the page.

Coach & horses through the First Amendment

“I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about,” a lady told me recently. “This contraception thing doesn’t affect Roman Catholic Churches. It only affects workers at their institutions, like schools, hospitals, colleges and universities. And the employees aren’t obliged to accept free contraceptives if they object to them.

“Actually,” she went on, “I think it’s a good idea. Contraception has been around for a very long time. It’s a fact of life. It’s about time the Pope moved out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st Century.”

“It might surprise you,” I replied, “But the truth is that contraception isn’t really the issue. Sure, the Obamacare order overthrows two thousand years of Catholic doctrine, but the problem is that it drives a coach and horses through the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.

“This order doesn’t just deprive Roman Catholics of their right to practice their faith without interference from the state, it affects all Christian churches. Indeed, it doesn’t only affect Christians, but every other faith as well. Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists—you name ‘em—this order tramples on the rights of all of us.

“The issue,” I continued, “isn’t: contraception and abortion, for or against. The fact of the matter is that the order declares, in effect, that the government has the authority to determine what is a religious activity and what is not.

“It means the Federal Government has, at a stroke, ruled that Church institutions, many of which have served the wider American community for generations, are not protected by the First Amendment.

“In other words, Washington is claiming that a vast majority of traditional faith–based charities and missions are not really religious activities at all, and thus they are subject to untrammeled federal regulation without regard for fundamental tenets of the faith of their sponsors.

“Put another way the government is declaring that legitimate religious activity is confined solely to the sanctuary and the parish hall. And doubtless sanctuaries and parish halls will be subject to government regulation if they host activities sponsored by non–church organizations that the feds deem insufficiently religious—community meetings, blood drives, 12–step programs and the like.

“If the courts fail to overturn this arbitrary and unconstitutional edict, faith–based activities such as missionary work, soup kitchens, services to the homeless, and adoption agencies will be liable for all manner of intrusive government supervision.

“You might disagree with the Roman Church’s position on contraception and abortion—services their church institutions are obliged to provide under the Obamacare order—but how do you think Jews and Moslems might feel if, for example, circumcision was outlawed on health and child abuse grounds?

“Don’t imagine it couldn’t happen. A German court, of all places, recently ruled circumcision to be illegal on grounds that it constituted child abuse. If the order is allowed to stand, it is entirely within the realms of possibility that it could happen here. Child abuse is taken just as seriously here as in Germany.

“Then there is the question of religion in the home. It has been banned from schools and is increasingly being restricted in public places. Military chaplains are increasingly inhibited from fully expressing their faith—not just in ugly and intolerant places in the Islamic world, but here in America.

“These restrictions and increased government intrusion and regulation are justified by claims that many people are offended by the various religions. But that is precisely why our Founding Fathers thought the First Amendment to be necessary—to protect practitioners of unpopular expressions of faith from public bigotry and government interference.

“Washington’s contempt for religion is increasingly on public display and, worrisomely, to a growing extent, American Christians find themselves being forced to choose between their political loyalties and their faith.

“Indeed, the antipathy towards Christians and Christianity on display in the nation’s capital is loudly echoed at the local level—even to the extent that Christians have been thrown in jail for holding Bible studies in their homes.

“Hostility on the part of local politicians and neighborhood activists to all things Christian was apparent even 20 years ago when we were in the midst of building our church. Back then it was cloaked in the rhetoric of environmental requirements and sound town planning. Federal regulations from which churches are specifically exempted were also invoked.

“Today, however, the antipathy is much more out in the open. For example, not so long ago the board of Mays Chapel North Condominium denied us permission to put up a banner announcing our British Garden Party and Fete on their “pagoda” on Padonia Road.

“The sign was quite tasteful and certainly not particularly large. It would, moreover, only have been on display for a couple of days.

“Twenty—nay, even 10—years ago, the request would have been a no–brainer for the condos’ management . Permission to advertise an event would have been unhesitatingly given to any local church. Instead, we were told: “Your church isn’t part of our community.” This, needless to say, was not the attitude of Mays Chapel condo managers 10 years ago when they sought to use our parish hall for residents’ meetings.

“Nor is the antipathy merely a local phenomenon. Baltimore County government imposes draconian restrictions on church catering. Bake sales, for example, have been forbidden and even tiny church kitchens have been made subject to much the same draconian regulations as commercial kitchens in restaurants, banqueting halls, and hospitals.

“The regulations are interpreted in such an inflexible manner that we have even been forbidden to serve hot dogs unless we cook them in a commercial hot dog cooker. This is simply an ordinary saucepan except it is rectangular rather than round and cost $100 plus.

“Christians who complain of facing discrimination because of their faith are routinely accused of over–sensitivity or even paranoia. The Obamacare edict, however, demonstrates that the complaints are not without foundation. But even if we are a tad oversensitive, an old Israeli proverb aptly applies to our circumstances: “Just because you’re paranoiac, it doesn’t follow that somebody’s NOT trying to kill you.”” GPH✠

Comments are closed.