Tag Archives: religious liberty

American Catholic Bishops Inconsistent On Liberty and Marriage

By Bai Macfarlane

The US Bishops on April 12 issued a call to action to defend religious liberty and urge the laity to work to protect the First Freedom of the Bill of Rights – religious freedom.

In the USCCB’s press release, the first concern listed that prompted their call is the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing all employers, including religious organizations, to provide and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them.

The Bishops don’t want the Church to be forced to pay for services or provide services to their employees that the Church knows are immoral. But sadly, the U.S. Bishops have been silent when tens of thousands of Catholic parents have been forced to pay for services and provide ‘care’ for their own children when the parents knew the services were immoral.

Every time a Catholic parent is the defendant in a no-fault divorce, and the civil court orders that parent to forcibly stop having daily access to his or her children, that parent is being forced to give ‘care’ to their own children that the parent knows is immoral. Every time the government forces that parent to pay financial support for a second separate household in which that parent is not even allowed to live, the government is ordering the parent to follow unjust laws.

By natural law, canon law (and one could even argue that by constitutional law), anyone with a Catholic marriage has the rights and obligations that both spouses agreed to accept when they married. When anyone marries in the Rite of Catholic marriage, they agree to follow the laws of Christ and His Church. Both spouses have the right and obligation to maintain a common household with their spouse and children unless there is a fault-based reason for separation of spouses (canon 1151-1155).

Neither can file for a divorce without the permission of their bishop and they cannot seek divorce orders contrary to divine law (canon 1692). But unjust laws inflict immoral separations on Catholic families every day whenever one of the spouses, for any reasons whatsoever, feels like reneging on their marital promises and files for no-fault divorce. The government’s divorce courts will coerce and force separation and divorce decrees, contrary to divine law, on the innocent spouse and children.

If the USCCB is going to be consistent with their call to action to defend our religious liberty, they will raise a unified voice against no-fault divorce practices, which are blatantly unjust. After all, the Bishops said, “It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed.”

This article was originally published in Spero New’s Religion Forum, April 12, 2012. Bai Macfarlane is founder of Mary’s Advocates.

Pro-Life Leaders Slam White House ‘Compromise’ On Birth Control Mandate

The White House announced today that, instead of forcing religious employers to pay for birth control, it will force insurance companies to offer the drugs free of charge to all women, no matter where they work. The plan, touted as a concession to freedom of religion and conscience, was immediately denounced by pro-life Rep. Chris Smith. “The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else,” said Smith. “The White House Fact Sheet is riddled with doublespeak and contradiction,” Smith continued. “It states, for example, that religious employers ‘will not’ have to pay for abortion pills, sterilization and contraception, but their ‘insurance companies’ will. Who pays for the insurance policy? The religious employer.”

Source: Life Site News, Feb. 10, 2012.

Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration

By Gary Palmer

On November 20, 2009 a group of nationally known and respected Christian leaders set forth an historic declaration.

The Manhattan Declaration is a long overdue message from men and women of faith to all those in political power from state and local governments to the federal government and its myriad bureaucracies. The Declaration focuses on three foundational principles of justice and the common good on which the signers will not compromise: the sanctity of human life in all stages and conditions; the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

The Declaration states, “Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense.”

Obviously, this is a direct challenge to the power of the government at every level but especially the federal government under the current dominant liberal regime. In an interview with Katherine Lopez of the National Review, Dr. Robert George, one of the principal authors of the Manhattan Declaration, said that important decisions are now being made, or soon will be made, by state and federal government on the issues addressed in the Declaration.

Dr. George said that as a result of the 2006 and 2008 elections there is unprecedented strength in both houses of Congress and in many state legislatures to push laws that advance the abortion agenda, that seek to legalize same-sex marriage, and that threaten religious liberty. In fact, some Christian groups have already come under assault.

In May 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston ended its 103 year ministry of providing adoption services to place foster children rather than comply with the Massachusetts state law that required them to place children with homosexuals. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is threatening to take action against Belmont Abbey College, a private Catholic college in North Carolina, because the college refuses to include insurance coverage for abortion and contraception in the college’s health insurance plan.

While both of these involve Catholic institutions, they could just as easily be Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or any other denomination.

Lopez later asked Dr. George how the White House should take the Declaration. He responded, “I hope that President Obama will understand that the signatories to the Manhattan Declaration are determined to defend the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage, and respect for religious freedom. On these issues, they cannot compromise, and they will not remain silent.”

The Declaration’s signatories understand that the principles of the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and religious freedom are under threat from powerful political and cultural forces in our nation. They want it understood that, as Christians, those who sign the Declaration regard these principles as non-negotiable, and will therefore be unceasing in their defense of them. A critical line of the declaration states, “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”

In explaining why he signed the Manhattan Declaration, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky wrote that he signed it “…because I want to put my name on its final pledge — that we will not bend the knee to Caesar. We will not participate in any subversion of life. We will not be forced to accept any other relationship as equal in status or rights to heterosexual marriage. We will not refrain from proclaiming the truth — and we will order our churches and institutions and ministries by Christian conviction.”

Dr. Mohler was referring to the last lines of the Declaration that should be regarded as a solemn oath by all who sign it, “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.” Mohler then added, “I was encouraged that we could stand together to make clear that to come for one of us on these issues is to come for all.”

The opportunity to stand with other believers of such courage and moral clarity is why I signed the Declaration.

You can read the Manhattan Declaration at www.manhattandeclaration.org.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.