|My previous post looked at how the Left had been so easily manipulated into fears of the Right’s ‘War on women’s health’, in this post I'm more concerned with pointing out how the Right has been so easily manipulated away from what is a truly critical issue, and into charging instead at the diversionary red flag of ‘religious liberty’, exposing us all to a far greater danger as a result of it.|
To the question "Isn't 'Religious Liberty' important?!", the answer is of course it is important, but in rushing to protect just that, you leave exposed a far greater concern, and one which 'Religious Liberty' cannot survive without.
There’s a quote attributed to Ben Franklin, which (appropriately) is only partly true of what he said, the supposed quote is that “The best lies are half true”, which is true enough, since the part which is True, carries the falsehood as a Trojan Horse through the mind's gates and into the heart, where the lie then does its destructive work… but that is a much weaker, more pedestrian form of what Franklin actually said.
“The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned,
The unadulterated quote is subtly different, far more powerful, and much closer to what we are dealing with today, a far more insidious type of lie,
Telling only half the truth changes its context and alters its meaning, degrading your ability to identify what the Truth was originally true about, as well as your ability to distinguish what complemented or contradicted it and what might be of greater priority - half of the truth can turn your understanding of it into a falsehood. Imagine if telling someone that they must protect their hands from gunfire, caused them to think that they’d be safe to step into the line of fire if only they kept their hands safely behind their back, no matter that it meant exposing their heart and head to direct fire… you get the picture? What we are facing today, with this issue of “Religious Liberty”, is using circumstances to pit one truth against another truth, in order to destroy them both.
- Half a truth is often a great lie
So with that in mind, I’ll repeat my main point from the last post:
Of course it's not as if the Right, and especially the Catholic Church, didn't have good reason for taking the bait as they have, when this all blew up into the headlines earlier this month, it was because the Church saw the latest regulations and Obama’s exemption to them, as a direct attack upon their rights of religious conscience:
- "Religious freedom has not been attacked, liberty itself has been attacked, and it’s being attacked under the cover of the distraction of ‘religious freedom being under attack’."
“Catholic leaders complained that the rule would force them to subsidize medical procedures to which they morally object.Their alarm was all the more real, because this wasn’t the first time that one of this administration’s administrative agencies had attempted to administer unto Catholic beliefs with their own regulatory revelations - just three years ago it was the EEOC that was trying a very similar line of attack against religious institutions, such as the Catholic Church:
“Unless this rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences or drop health care coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so),” according to a letter from Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
He and other church prelates asked that the message be read from pulpits over the weekend.
“We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law,” Naumann’s letter stated. "
“In taking its current stance, the EEOC is attempting to override not just the conscience-clause laws of nearly half the states but also federal court precedents. Even if a religious institution isn't involved, it's still an open question as far as the federal courts are concerned whether an employer's refusal to pay for contraceptives for its employees--which, in the case of birth-control pills, can add an extra $350 or so per year to the cost of hiring every female employee of reproductive age who is on the pill--really constitutes employment discrimination, either under the original 1964 act or under its 1978 amendment, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The latter bars discrimination "on the basis of sex" because of "pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions." Contraception, of course, isn't pregnancy but a means of securing its opposite. And while birth control pills can confer health benefits, such as regulating menstruation or treating hormonal skin conditions, the reasons most women take them have more to do with lifestyle than health.”Since that overstep was walked back, the religious institutions apparently thought that they were safe, maybe because between then and now, the Church, or at least many of the organizations organized under it, Sisters, Bishops and laity, had given their enthusiastic support to the Obama administration’s efforts to pass ObamaoCare – recall Rep. Stupak – it is not a stretch at all to say that it wouldn’t have passed without their support, the ‘socially conscious’ religious organizations gave them their aide and gave them their efforts in order to get their flock on his side, and I think they supposed that in doing so they had earned a place of favor and were ‘safe’ from being further molested.
Not so. For one thing, let’s be serious, Obama didn’t have to fight all that hard for their support; as a result of religious leaders longstanding efforts to promote programs of 'social consciousness', the religious organizations had already bought into the ‘principle’ that govt should do unto people as their betters ‘knew’ was best for them – taking what is rightfully theirs to do it to them with. This view is uncontroversial amongst the “Educated”, and it is the popular Point of View amongst those who consider themselves to be ‘enlightened’ and 'progressive' modern people, on both left and the right, and despite the Right's charges of "Marxism!" it did not begin with Marx, but with Rousseau, and his
“This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free”The issue has been mainstreamed into us by proregressives since the 60's... not the 1960's, but he 1860's; Teddy Roosevelt, who began what Obama is attempting to finish, didn't spring upon us out of nowhere, he had, thanks to govt intrusion in the schools, a following among the educated. The result is that no matter whether your “Socially Conscious” efforts are directed to the purposes of helping the poor, or to restraining 'Big Business', or towards keeping all of the foolish people from drinking or smoking cigarettes or consuming trans-fats, those fundamentally anti-American ideals (yeah, I mean that, more in the next post) are well established in a sizable number of Americans, and with that accomplished the task of moving from there, to Obamacare, is and was the smallest of steps. Obama needed only to give the American people the slightest tissue of assurances that he meant well, such as with as his signing statement to Rep. Stupak, to enable them to convince themselves that all would be well, and the leaders of the Churches thought that they were in the clear as well.
Not so, it turns out, and what may have shocked the church the most this month, I suspect, is that it turns out that what the administration’s latest moves amounted to instead, was a firmly administered wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and they were surprised (!), and angered, with this latest regulatory revelation of theirs. I’m tempted to make further rude and crude remarks about their surprise, but there’s no need for me to descend to that, Kathleen Sebelius out did me by a long shot when she said this:
"So is the full range of preventive health services recommended for women by the highly respected Institute of Medicine, including contraception.This was the original attempt to show consideration to ‘churches and other houses of worship’. Does any of this even pass the laugh test?
Today, virtually all American women use contraception at some point in their lives. And we have a large body of medical evidence showing it has significant benefits for their health, as well as the health of their children. But birth control can also be quite expensive, costing an average of $600 a year, which puts it out of reach for many women whose health plans don't cover it.
The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control.
That's why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith. This exemption includes churches and other houses of worship, and could also include other church-affiliated organizations."
The easiest laugh bubbles up from the issue of $600 a year for 'contraceptive healthcare' – up quite a bit from the $350 a year that the EEOC had projected, Inflation I suppose( Hey! It’s the economy stupid!)… but either way, that’s a whole lot of contracepting going on! But then, I suppose if ‘women’s rights’ are for the purpose of sparing men the burden of supplying their own materials, to say nothing of sparing them from exerting the character to restrain themselves… then I suppose the cost is worth it, right ladies? 'Ladies men' the world over send you their thanks, from the bottoms of their wallets and sated libidos.
But the biggest laugh has got to be reserved for what was supposedly an exemption for a ‘religious organization’. Unless you are talking about a monastery, it fits no organization that I know of; the ‘primarily employ people of their own faith’ is either a statement of crass duplicitousness, ignorance or just plain stupidity (though to be sure, we shouldn’t rule out the unique ability of government to make an arresting blend of all three). I worked for a time at a Catholic hospital, as does my wife now. Neither of us are Catholic, nor were most of the people which either of us worked with. A Catholic organization owns and operated the hospital, but they did not limit their employees, or their patients, to only those who are rosary carrying Catholics – so is it the intent of this administration to punish them for their diversity?!
Those organizations are also free to offer their services to people who are not of their faith, aren't they? They are even free to employ people who are not of their faith, they are FREE to do that, are they not? The Catholic Church's views on Contraception are well known, people who work for them know their views, and if they don't like those views, they are free to leave, and should leave, if it is a problem for them... to say otherwise would be to say that the govt should be able to force their compliance with ideas they do not believe in, it is to say that the govt can force the ideas of that, or any other organization, or any other group of people, or any single individual, to conform to the views which the govt finds to be acceptable to those in power (at the moment).
Now we're getting a bit closer to the real issue involved here.
First They Came For The…
When you hear the famous line "First they came for the ___" who is it you find yourself mentally filling in that blank in with? Hold that thought a moment.
Of course after the ‘surprising’ and very public outrage of the Church, and many others as well, the Obamao administration decided that the solution was to instruct insurance agencies to provide the objectionable materials free of charge. What does that mean? It means, for one thing, that the govt can force a business to provide something for free, which the govt has decided it doesn't want another to have to pay for... as a favor.
It also means that those who have deeply personal reasons for not wanting to involve themselves in something, have no Right whatsoever to stand by their beliefs, it means that they will have to, by govt decree, stand by as their ideals are violated, stand by as a business they contracted with will be forced to supply what neither of them wish to have supplied, one because of an unfair burden of cost, the other at the cost of providing to their employees, materials that are offensive to them, in this case contraceptive materials and drugs, but it could just as easily be forcing the CPUSA to provide copies of the Federalist Papers to its members (yeah, fat chance, but still...), the idea that anyone should be satisfied with, or mollified by, knowing that others will be forced to foot the bill for objectionable materials being provided to members of your organization... should be infuriating to anyone that claims any love for liberty.
It is an egregious violation the church's religious liberties, that is true, but more fundamental than that, it is a violation of each persons fundamental Right to make their own decisions, their own choices, it violates everyone's Right to live their own lives as they see fit, without having to justify their choices to a governmental authority. That is what is being violated with this action that is being labeled as an issue of 'Religious Liberty', and all those who dislike or frown upon the teachings of the churches, are lining up behind the govt's actions; and all those who side with the church are lining up on their side saying they do have a right to refrain from such activities. And the forgotten man, is every single American whose Right to Choose as they see fit, is being trampled in the rush for, or against this measure.
Yes, my tears for the Church(es) have more than a few crocodile tears mixed in with them.
The Church(es), were blissfully silent when putting their Rights above everyone else’s, they were happy to assume their ability to exempt themselves from being forced to comply with what everyone else was being forced to comply with through ObamaoCare, and now they want to raise a great to-do over THEIR rights being abused - even though if Obama's exemption had been a bit more broad, they would have been fine with it, would have been fine with everyone but them, being forced to do what they may not have wanted to do - that is sacrificing Liberty for privilege.
The problem is that when you allow a Right to be converted into a privilege, you’ve entirely lost the Right to that, and you now depend instead upon the favor of those who have the power to dispense it to you… or not.
For them, in place of their Rosaries or the ecumenical equivalents in other churches, I’d like to have them all silently repeat the full quotation/poem, which begins with “First they came for the…”, but it’s important to recite the entire passage, because what they came first for was NOT the Jews (is that what you had in mind too?). It is incorrectly given in that way as shorthand, perhaps deliberately so, but take a look at the full passage, which was written by a Protestant pastor, Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a church leader who began as a supporter of the Nazi's, and ended up in their concentration camps - take a look and see if you can see why saying only 'first they came for the Jews', is a problem:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --As Niemöller makes clear, they did not come for the Jews first, not even second, but third, after all the other unpopular peoples which popular opinion understood needed to be dealt with for ‘the greater good’, had been handled; THEN they came for the Jews, and then they will come for you.
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.
It may be surprising to some, but it changes the meaning of this passage not a single bit if you replace “Socialists” with “Free Marketers”, or “Trade Unionist” with “Businessmen”, or finally “Jews” with “Christians”; the meaning remains exactly the same… so much for “We will never forget”, eh? Loses its meaning I suppose, if what you remember is only half-true.
As I pointed out in the last point, this administration was not surprised by people’s fear for their ‘religious rights’ but instead deliberately orchestrated their outrage. An article in Forbes, “The Audacity of Power”, points this matter out well:
“…In other words, this entire political fire storm is a set-up by the Administration.I’m sorry, but I do not feel sorry for them, instead I am more than a little bit angry at them, angry at them for helping to prepare the way for ObamaoCare, angry for how their earlier aid helped the Left to provide a diversionary target, directing fire away from where the actual attack has been taking place – while the Right has mobilized to defend the secondary issue of ‘Religious Rights’, especially as exemplified by Catholic organizations, the left is deepening its assault upon everyone’s right to make their own choices, upon your right to your own property, your right to live your own life – iow, the principle of individual liberty is what is, and has been under direct assault here, and people’s desires for the power to do unto others as they feel would be best for them, has led us all to forget where that path of good intentions inevitably wends its way towards.
The original HHS ruling put the Catholic Church into the position of choosing one of these two options:
Option A: The Church complies with the law and violates its own teachings and principles of faith. Such a choice would strip the Church of its legitimacy and make it a de facto vassal of the state. In this case, the ability of the Church to challenge the government’s political power is vastly reduced, if not completely destroyed. Faith, charity and civil society are marginalized. Government wins.
Option B: The Church as a matter of conscience refuses to obey the law, and stops offering health insurance to its employees. In this case, the Church gets crushed by hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. As a consequence, its ability to fulfill its religious mission by funding hospitals, schools and charities is sharply reduced if not destroyed. As the Church is forced to withdraw from its active role in civil society, those who believe in government will rush to fill the void. Faith, charity and civil society are marginalized. Government wins.
The risk to President Obama was the Church would create “Option C” and engage in a broad political battle to force the full repeal of the ruling or, if that fails, the defeat of President Obama in the November election followed by the repeal of ObamaCare. Under Option C, government’s power is reduced. Faith, charity and civil society win.
President Obama’s political skill is demonstrated by his anticipation and preparation for just this outcome. First, he has used the issue to energize his political base by positioning his Administration as the defender of “women’s health” and attacking his opponents for taking him up on his implicit dare to make it an issue in the Presidential campaign.
Second, last Friday’s decision to “retreat,” as proclaimed by the weekend Wall Street Journal’s page 1 headline and find a way to “accommodate” religious freedom, was pure subterfuge. The notion of retreat or compromise is pure spin. The President’s operative statement reflected zero tolerance for those that would disagree with his policies….”
If anyone should have known and understood that, the Catholic Church should have, having been present in France through the French Revolution, and Europe throughout the 20th century, having seen the development of leftist ideas and their fruits, they should have had an intimate understanding of this.
But for some reason those who hold principles, often think that they need not abide by principles outside of their own particular area of interest. This shows a couple things to be true, 1), they don’t understand what their own principles are principles of (Truth), and 2), they don’t understand principles at all. My pity for their pain is thin. In lieu of tissues for their tears, I’ll offer them this, from Gagdad Bob, who quipped “You know what they say: sleep with Dems, wake up fleeced.”. Exactly so.
The Right, by following along with the program which the Left has scripted for them, is protecting a vital limb of the body of liberty, by exposing its heart and head to the direct line of fire.
Bringing this home, was what happened when Catholics responded to President Obama’s exemption, with the message of their bishops… it was forbidden to be passed on to members of their church in the Military; the Chaplin’s being ordered not to pass on a religious message from their church, during church, neatly cutting into issues of freedom of religion and freedom of speech as well.
I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that - forget the Contraceptive issue, it’s a diversion, it’s a fig leaf. Worse, it’s as if a fiend somehow convinced someone to protect their limbs from gunfire with their foreheads.
And we’re supposed to accept this as being not only ok, but that it was all being done to promote ‘contraceptive health’ – but worse than that – we are supposed to dismiss the assault on the individual liberty of all Americans, dismiss the assault upon businesses forced to provide products for free to some, we are supposed to dismiss the govt’s setting up the principle of being able to selectively abridge the liberty of one ‘group’ of Americans – while utterly discarding the principle of liberty for all Americans… we’re supposed to disregard all of this, and pay attention only to the fact that some religious people are having their sensibilities offended by having products they disapprove of distributed to their employees.
It is NOT appropriate to refer to this as an issue of religious freedom, any more than it would be appropriate to first charge a robber for firing an unregistered gun within city limits, rather than charging them for murder during the commission of a robbery. As the Forbes article makes clear, this issue of ‘Religious Freedom’ was selected because the administration understood that the Right would see that red meat, look no further and swallow it hook line and sinker - which they nearly universally have - and in doing so they step into the same trap that the Catholic Church did.
In taking up the ‘religious freedom’ issue, conservatives leave unprotected the issue of “Liberty for all” , and in objecting to the Obama Exemption as the issue, they tacitly approve of govt's ability to mandate behaviors upon everyone, and in that way Franklin is proved Right once again, in that Half a truth is often a great lie.