Friday, February 10, 2012

Why the attack on the Catholic Church matters so much

Some of you have probably been paying attention to the Obama Administrations ordering Religious groups to go against their deeply held beliefs and bow to the government. At issue right now is the demand of the Government to pay for Abortions and Contraceptives through their insurance. While abortion is murder, contraceptives is something most Christians view as an open handed issue, and the Catholic church has come down against it. The Obama Administration has ordered them to bow. This is a big deal. Chuck Colson lays out why.
What's Really at Stake
Chuck Colson
Make no mistake. The raging controversy over the Obama administration’s refusal to exempt religious organizations from onerous health care mandates is a big deal. A very big deal.
But why? What’s really at issue here?
Despite what the media and the Obama administration are telling you, it’s not just a battle between the so-called “archaic beliefs” of the Catholic church on the one hand and advocates of women’s health on the other. It’s not just about access to abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization, bad as that is.
And it’s even more than a battle over religious freedom. I have to say, the Obama administration’s move boggles the mind. What part of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...” does the administration not understand?
There is no way this outrage would survive if it has to get to the courts. And I’m grateful to see lawmakers in Congress on both sides working together to reverse the decision. Let’s hope they can succeed.
I’m even more gratified to see people of faith rallying against this violation of religious liberty. I’ve heard from ministers, rabbis, even Muslims, outraged at this threat.
That’s a point that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University, and I make together in today’s Wall Street Journal. As we say in our opinion piece, a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Jew can all agree that “under no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law.” Come to, and we’ll link you to our Wall Street Journal article.
So why in the world would the administration brush off the Bill of Rights and antagonize people of faith — maybe 80 percent of the U.S. population?
Because what’s really at stake here is whether or not there is any limit to government power.
That’s the point made by Daniel Henninger in his excellent piece yesterday, also in the Wall Street Journal.  “The American Catholic Church,” he writes, “is now being handed a lesson in the hierarchy of raw political authority.”
But the question for all of us, Henninger writes, “is whether anyone can remain free of a U.S. government determined to do what it wants to do, at whatever cost.”
Friends, the answer to that question depends on whether we the people, and especially we Christians and people of all faiths will rise up and say, “Enough! You may not intrude on our religious beliefs, you may not prohibit us from living out our faith.”
I have said before, now is the time to speak out — and to remain vigilant in the face of the government’s enormous appetite for power over the lives and liberties of its citizens. What’s really at stake is whether we will continue to be a free country.

Colson has a great Open Letter to Evangelical Christians that every member of First Baptist should check out. 

Here are some of the highlights. 

The issue,
As you probably know by now, Obama Administration has refused to grant religious organizations an exemption from purchasing health insurance that covers abortion-inducing drugs, surgical sterilization, and contraception. The Catholic bishops in America have responded quickly, decrying the Administration's decision for what it is—an egregious, dangerous violation of religious liberty—and mobilizing a vast grassroots movement to persuade the Administration to reverse its decision. We evangelicals must stand unequivocally with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Because when the government violates the religious liberty of one group, it threatens the religious liberty of all.
Many bishops have already declared that they will not obey this unjust law. The penalty for such a move would be severe. Catholic hospitals, universities, and other organizations would be forced to pay punitive fines ($2,000 per employee) for refusing to purchase insurance that violates the teaching of their church.
For some institutions, it would spell the end of their existence—and their far-reaching service to the public and the needy.
The implications for this run well beyond the Catholic church,
Catholic institutions aren't the only ones affected by this mandate. Prison Fellowship, for example, which employs 180 people, could not purchase insurance for its employees that covers abortifacients. Nor could the world's largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families afford the fines we would incur..
 The stakes,
We would urge you, therefore, to raise your voice against this unjust mandate that violates our first freedom as Americans. . . . We do not exaggerate when we say that this is the greatest threat to religious freedom in our lifetime. We cannot help but think of the words attributed to German pastor Martin Niemoeller, reflecting on the Nazi terror:
First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.

Denny Burke has some great insights in his post, It's not just a Catholic thing.

Penny Nancy Young has a good article on this issue as well entitled, We are all Catholics now.

Donald Wuerl, Colson, and Meir Y. Solovechik have a powerful article in the Wall Street Journal as well, entitled, United we stand for Religious Freedom..

Here's the question. When our turn comes, will we bow the knee to Caesar? I hope we will be able to echo these words of Warren and Colsen, who write, respectively, 
Rick Warren:
I’m not a Catholic but I stand in 100% solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure [...]
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.
Chuck Colson:
We have come to the point—I say this very soberly—when if there isn’t a dramatic change is circumstances, we as Christians may well be called upon to stand in civil disobedience against the actions of our own government. That would break my heart as a former Marine Captain loving my country, but I love my God more. . . . I’ve made up my mind—sober as that decision would have to be—that I will stand for the Lord regardless of what my state tells me.

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