Over this past week, the United States was drawn back into the thick of the “culture wars” that deeply divide our nation. Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to rescind — for legal reasons, not political — and then reinstate funding for Planned Parenthood hardened the lines of pro-life and pro-choice forces, once again revealing just how deep passions over the fundamental question of life run in our country. However, this latest flare up in the traditional pro-life/pro-choice quarrel has almost masked the latest battle in a much more important conflict: A war over whether invented rights trump natural, God-given rights; a contest over whether your government or the Almighty is the judge of your very soul.
As much as I wish I were exaggerating, the new mandate by the Obama Administration that religious employers not be exempted from providing health insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization is only the latest of a long series of salvos against religious liberty; and it will almost certainly not be the last.
Christians of all denominations, whether they are liberal or conservative in theological or political orientation, have almost universally condemned this mandate for what it is — a decree that religious people violate their conscience or pay coercive fines. Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor who delivered the invocation at the president’s inauguration, summed up the choice President Obama is forcing churches to make when he tweeted, “I’d go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29.” Timothy Dolan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York and Cardinal-to-be, properly mocked the “compromise” that churches be given an extra year to comply, stating, “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.” In addition, over 60 Eastern Orthodox bishops, setting aside a millennia of theological schism, have joined hands with their Western brothers and sisters to condemn this policy.
Furthermore, the legal precedent that the president sets in doing this completely and unquestionably places invented rights over those God-given, inalienable rights set forth in the Constitution. Understood as it was originally meant to be interpreted, freedom of religion in the First Amendment prohibits the national government from meddling in the affairs of the official religions of the states (which many of the colonies had) and the practices of the respective churches. In contrast, there is no natural law which dictates or even tangentially supports the notion that women have the right to free and unlimited contraception to stop pregnancy or the right to destroy the human fetus which depends on them during gestation. Not even Roe v. Wade (which I will reserve discussion for another time) makes such an outlandish claim.
Unless this administration is stopped, its disregard for the natural liberty of conscience will continue. As a person of faith who believes God values every human life and who strongly values the right of every man to freely, without coercion, practice his faith, I urge all people of faith to resist these attacks on religious liberty. Furthermore, I encourage those who do not practice any particular religion to consider what these violations of religious liberty mean for your secular freedoms. Nobody, religious or secular, is safe from a government powerful enough to deprive citizens of the natural rights guaranteed to us in our constitution.
Because if they come first for the Catholics, what makes you think you won’t be next?
— Daily Nexus conservative columnist Jeffrey Robin