“My country, right or wrong,” is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.” — G.K. Chesterton
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
As Christians aware of our history (and I’m not at all sure that most of us are), we have frequently had cause to love the countries we live in while fighting their current stupidities or evils. If we are aware of the histories of official government persecution or blind eyes to persecution (for Catholics, this would include Elizabeth I’s police state, the invasion of Maryland while it was still a colony, and repeated instances of the destruction of Catholic institutions and murder of Catholics in the U.S.); we certainly have grounds to expect the future might hold problems in a similar vein, prompting a pre-emptive promise to love our country, in spite of its failings.
And so, we come to the current “desperate case”:
In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.
— Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City
I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance.
– Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria
In spite of a “compromise” that still meant everyone would be paying for contraceptives and abortions (we’d just hide the accounting, and, no, really, this time we’ll put it into law, unlike that last promise we made to the pro-life Democrats who voted for the health care bill in the first place. Really!), the HHS mandate is still a violation of religious liberty.
The Amish, who have religious objections to insurance, get an exemption from the plan. They also, we learned while on vacation in the area around Lancaster, PA, get an exemption from Social Security taxes, since they don’t take the payouts, relying instead on their children and their own savings when they retire, which they don’t do very early. (Gee, I’m not expecting to get a payout from Social Security, can I opt out of that tax and invest my own money, too?)
Catholics, however, do not get an exemption from the new health care law. The only religious organizations exempt from paying for contraceptives they believe to be sinful are actual churches. The definition specifies that the religious exemption is only for those organizations who employ and serve almost exclusively their co-religionists. The school the church runs will have to pay for contraceptives. The diocese that runs soup kitchens and counseling services will have to pay for contraceptives. Heck, if your parish is considered a mission parish and is evangelizing a less-Catholic area and has a lot of non-Catholic participants at mass, you might not really be “religious” enough under the definition the Obama administration has chosen to use. (Remember the howling about all the “the secretary shall define”, “the secretary shall decide”, etc. vagueness in the massive health care bill? If it’s that huge, and still contains all this leeway, what are they hiding? Well, here’s where it comes to bite us. Just like the pro-lifers were saying all along.)
The lawsuits against the federal government are piling up. Several major Protestant leaders have stepped up to support the Catholic Church (and I should note that Catholics aren’t the only church that has objections to contraception, although all the major Protestant denominations abandonned their bans on contraception by the mid-1900’s, starting with the Anglicans in 1930 at their regular Lambeth Conference). There are multiple websites up to collect signatures against the government mandate, including StopHHS.
I seriously hope the U.S. government gets trounced in court… except that my tax dollars are being spent to attack my church and to defend this idiotic law.
And right now, while I love my country and am very proud of our troops, especially this Memorial Day weekend, I still feel about like some poor daughter having to haul her drunk mother home from the bar, yet again, to the jeers of the neighbors. This is when you say, “My country, right or wrong,” and it makes your eyes sting with tears to think of how horribly, desperately astray my dear country has gone.
You grit your teeth, say it anyways, and pray that your mother and your country sober up and straighten out again, knowing that you’ll probably have to say it again under similar circumstances, even as you pray you don’t.