Picking the Wrong Opponent
In addition to the many, many, many mistakes that our president has made in the past three and a half years, taking on the Catholic Church over contraception mandates in his health care bill has to be one of the biggest "oops" moments in the District of Columbia. And winning a contest that pits ordinary political idiocies against each other (or even coming in a close second in such a contest) really makes it an accomplishment when you consider all the incredible stupidities that politicians of all political persuasions have committed over the years.
Over the past two thousand years, any time the Church has been persecuted, it has grown stronger. Its adherents become more devout, more devoted, more protective. The "smartest guy in the room" really ought to know that.
And if he actually had learned anything during his sojourn in the series of fancy educational institutions that he attended, he would only need to look at Poland and the strength of the Catholic Church when the Poles were being oppressed by the Communists. Polish Catholics, aided by the moral stature of a Polish pope, caused the downfall of a government. That, by the way, was a hint, Mr. President.
And this is not to single out the Catholic Church for special praise.
Every religion has reacted the same way to persecution. Look at what the Puritans were willing to do to practice their religion in their own way. They abandoned their homes, moved by a rather risky means of transport to an unknown land, and wrested a meager living from the land they settled on.
In 1846, about 70,000 Mormons trekked across the plains in covered wagons to find a place where they could worship in their own way without interference from the government. Imagine: traveling for weeks or months in hot, dry, dusty conditions simply because you weren't willing to be "reasonable," "flexible," or "willing to compromise" on the matter of your faith. To put what the Mormons went through in their travels in perspective, today you can hear people complain when all they have to endure is a one-hour layover in Chicago.
Yeah, today's "rugged" pioneers would have been a lot fun on a wagon train, I'm sure.
Consider the Jews, who have been persecuted for millennia. Think of Masada. Think of the resolve of current-day Israel against any attempt to destroy it.
Regardless of the sect, is taking on organized religion really a good idea, Mr. Obama?
Then there are all those non-Catholics who wonder why the Catholic Church can't be more "reasonable," "flexible," or "willing to compromise" with regard to the Obama/Sebelius requirement that the church provide contraceptive services to all their employees. Could this have something to do with the fact that certain non-Catholic denominations preach that contraception is just fine? Well, no one is going to tell them that it's wrong, right? Oh, no! It's politically correct, so just go with the flow.
How about this question, though? Suppose Obama and company decide to mandate that any and all churches provide weddings for same-sex couples. Would that be OK, too? You just have to be "reasonable," "flexible," or "willing to compromise," right? After all, marriage is now a civil right. OK, all you priests, ministers and rabbis, you'd better start rehearsing how you're going to say "I now pronounce you...husband and husband." Wife and wife? Partner and partner? Perhaps the administration will provide you all with a politically acceptable script to use. Won't that be nice?
What if the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that all pregnant women have their fetuses tested by amniocentesis before the end of the first trimester? Suppose further that HHS decreed that if any genetic abnormality be found as a result of these genetic tests, the mother must terminate the pregnancy immediately. In other words, abortion in that case would be required; it would be mandated. Is that OK? I mean, it would reduce medical costs in the future, right? The collective would benefit. You just have to be "reasonable," "flexible," "willing to compromise."
Since every church I know, or have ever attended or even heard of, has a collection during services, what is to prevent Obama from demanding 10% of that tithe? It's only fair. It would mean that God would be paying his fair share, right? I'm pretty sure Obama would quote that part of the Bible about "render unto Caesar" to justify it, too.
Every bishop, rabbi, pastor. and minister should think about what is being done between now and November 6 and ask him- or herself what else this administration can come up with that violates the First Amendment. Then ask yourselves: just what will you do about it? Unless, of course, you are a Muslim. Then, under Obamacare, you get a pass on this particular problem, since your religious liberty is endangered by forcing you to acquire insurance.
Two hundred and thirty-six years ago, Americans fought and died for their right to practice their religion freely, or not to practice any religion at all, for that matter. What are you willing to do to keep that same freedom today?
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran, and an independent voter. Jim blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.