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Archive for the ‘More politics’ Category

(I’m cleaning out the drafts tonight.  The beginnings of this were written a year ago.  Funny how things continue to repeat… and those shrugged off as “doom and gloom” types continue to be right.  “Oh, government healthcare will never mandate abortion coverage and gay people don’t want to force anyone to agree with them, they just want to get married!”)

On other sites, I was busy *discussing* why the use of the term “jesuit” as a slur to accuse a new Congressman of being in league with the New World Order, apparently because he voted against the poster’s wishes and had graduated from one of the several dozen Jesuit universities in the U.S., was a) offensive, b) laughably inaccurate, and c), yes, in spite of the poster’s protestations to the contrary, anti-Catholic.  (If you use vocabulary specific to my religion as a slur, it’s pretty obvious you neither like nor even grudgingly respect my religion.)

I wound up discussing something else entirely: how do you get from freedom to tyrrany?  What does it look like along the way?  Subtitle: How Henry VIII led to the New World Order (I’ll pull it together, honest.)

Part 1: Henry goes astray

King Henry VIII was considered intelligent and handsome as a young king.  The king wrote a document that thoroughly picked apart Martin Luther’s theological innovations and defended the long-held Catholic teachings on the Sacraments.  For this, the pope granted Henry VIII the title “Defender of the Faith,” a title the British monarchs still claim.  (The honor would not go to another Englishman until G.K. Chesterton in the early 1900’s.)

And then things started to go wrong.  The queen failed to produce a male heir.  Henry wanted a divorce (and had #2 lined up already).  The pope said no.

By the time the first act was over, Henry had had one of his closest friends and advisors executed for refusing to grant to Ceasar the things that were God’s: St. Thomas More, former Chancellor of England, went to the executioner’s block for treason because he would not publicly declare the king the head of the church in England, saying, “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”  More would not be the last Catholic executed in Britain for the sin of being a faithful Catholic.

(More, as a lawyer, knew that he could not legally be convicted for not saying something, namely approval of the king’s divorce, remarriage, and seizure of leadership of the church in England.  As a realist, More probably knew that he would be convicted anyways.  Ironically, the Department of Justice recently put out a memo insisting that, “Silence will be interpreted as disapproval,” during  LGBT pride month, and, thus, the silent would be subject to disciplinary action.  Here we go again…)

Part 2: Henry creates excuses to abuse his opponents

As Henry VIII continued on his sex-driven romp over Church and conscience rights, his next step was to line up more support.  How?  Simple!   Declare anyone who opposes you to be a horrible, evil traitor and seize their property.  Monasteries were sacked and given away as prizes to whatever schemer wanted to be a lord and would say anything Henry wanted to get there.  Monks and nuns were turned out, leaving the poor, the sick, and the undereducated that they had served with nothing.  Generations of donations meant to beautify churches for God’s glory, free art galleries for anyone, were destroyed to make Henry’s point.

The point?  “I am EVERYTHING, and I will brook no opponents, not even God.”

I dare say that St. Thomas, who was, “The king’s good servant, but God’s first,” was a good deal better for England than any of the opportunists Henry raised to the nobility.

Our country hasn’t started wholesale seizure of church property yet, but it’s happened before, and not just in England.  However, the churches that insist on maintaining moral standards as they teach, serve, and heal are being forced out of providing adoption services, hospital care, and education.

Fire a teacher for breaking the moral behavior part of her contract?  Get sued, lose tens of thousands of dollars fighting it in court.

You’re a Catholic agency and won’t place a child for adoption with a gay couple?  You can quit, or we’ll take your license away.

Do you hold the belief that abortion is murder, not healthcare?  Tough luck; you’re going to be paying for it anyways, as of August 1.

The marginalization didn’t begin here, but it is accelerating.

Part 3: Elizabeth follows her father’s footsteps

We think of history as a fairly neutral telling of events.  Unfortunately, this is hardly ever what happens.  Queen Elizabeth I’s masterful rewriting of history is one such example of, to put it gently, less-than-neutral history reporting.

“Good Queen Bess”, as we are told in school her subjects called her, was running a police state.  (And a lot of her subjects didn’t think she was very good at all.)  Neighbors were encouraged to turn in neighbors on any suspicion of Catholic sympathies.  Catholics caught at mass were arrested, left in prison in horrible conditions, and allowed to die.  Those caught hiding a priest were killed, many in gruesome and cruel ways.  Families that could, escaped to the continent.  Just as with the Pilgrims later, however, the English crown wasn’t content with fleeing, the crown demanded compliance, religious objections be damned.  Travel abroad for any reason became difficult as the police state sought to retain its victims.

During this period, history was rewritten.  Catholics were vilified, the Church was cast in the worst light possible, and Catholic countries were elevated from mere competitors to evil incarnate.  Any tales of misdeeds out of Catholic countries or their colonies were elaborated and widely publicized.  Captured priests weren’t men trying to serve the hunted flock of faithful, they were evil, skulking spies, working for England’s arch-enemy, Spain, and seeking to corrupt good, honest (and above all, Protestant) Englishmen (never mind that most English were still Catholic until some time later; most were biding their time until “all this blows over”… within a generation, those people were generally Anglican).  Much of what is taught in this country about everything from Henry VIII forward has been processed and sanitized to make Protestant England look good.  It’s called the Black Legend, and, although much of it has been disproven, it’s still taught.

Then, as now, anti-Catholicism is approved and encouraged.

Part 4: The chickens come home to roost

Eventually, we get to Dickens.  (Yes, I’m skipping some stuff.)  Poor houses, debtors’ prisons, child labor, evil factories, miserly money lenders preying on the poor, etc.

Dickens was part of a movement to reform how the country dealt with the poor and the sick.  Why?  Because about two hundred years earlier, Henry VIII had dismantled the institutions that had been doing that work.  As England became increasingly urban, the disjointed efforts of some of the churches wasn’t enough to deal with the overwhelming flood of people displaced from the countryside.

Further down the line, the government became more and more involved in providing services that used to be the job of the Church.  The government stepped in and recreated programs to care for the poor and to provide education.  Of course, that never comes free; the government provides the teachers and doctors, but first makes sure they’ll toe the government line.

And so, here we are: Henry VIII’s dream realized.  The government is EVERYTHING.  The government provides the abortion if your mom wants it, delivery on the taxpayer dime if she doesn’t.  Welfare to take the place of the totally unnecessary father, government schooling to tell you it was your right to get that money, because rich people who worked hard and stayed married are just mean homophobes.  They’ll tell you which news to watch. The government will try to tell you which churches are “good”, and which insist on following their own consciences (not approved!  we said abortion and gay marriage are good, now get in line!  how dare you say God outranks us!  WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND WE OWN YOU.  I think you need to be audited by the IRS… and maybe the FBI, while we’re at it.).  They’ll get your sports teams and the cartoons to push the administration’s agenda, because we don’t want will not tolerate dissent.

But, hey, none of that is going to happen, right?  I’m just a crazy conspiracy theorist.  One of those “confusing” blogs, as President Obama said in his first term, taking a page from Elizabeth’s smear campaign (step 1: if you can’t refute the argument, disparage the person making the argument).

Yes, history repeats itself.  Tyrants are much the same in every age.  Sooner or later, they demand that they be the object of worship.

Daniel went to the lion’s den for praying to God, not the king.

The early Christians were fed to lions in the Colliseum for refusing to worship Caesar.

Cardinal George of Chicago said that his successor better be prepared to die in prison if he intends to defend the Church’s right to preach the Gospel and act on it, because history tells us how this usually turns out, once we start down this path.

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I am sitting here, listening to yet another pounding rain, watching election returns.

I have been praying for weeks that God would please not give us what we deserve, which would be another four years of Obama, the continued acceleration of the destruction of the unborn, disastrous overseas policy, lies, cozying up to Comrade Putin (who seems increasingly oblivious to the end of the Cold War), the ruin of the economy, the spreading persecution and villification of anyone who dares say homosexual behavior is wrong, the vast expansion of the GIMME GIMME GIMME welfare/entitlement state, etc., etc.

On Facebook, where my husband maintains a very limited personal account, a number of acquaintances have come up with such gems as, “The Republicans’ support is all stupid, white men; doesn’t that explain a lot?”  Wow… let me sit and ponder that one.  With all those degrees, that’s really all the logic she could muster?  My opinion of advanced degrees and certain “prestigious” universities continues to plummet as I meet women with lots of framed paper on their walls and not one ounce of sense, but an overarching fear of being called our for it, masked by an obnoxiously loud and strident proclamation of how smart they are for not being like one of those stupid pro-lifers and/or conservatives.  A complaint about the Republican platform would be fine, but this is just middle school name calling.

Of course, Facebook has also hosted its share of general rants about how Romney should ask women what they think about contraception.  Well, I’m a woman, last I checked (I know, I know: “She’s not a woman!  She’s a Republican!” as the line went about Palin), and I think contraception is about the stupidest thing we’ve done with technology.  We managed to strangle our future generations while wrecking havoc in the stability of our own (divorce rates follow the availability of contraception, and it doesn’t go down, like contraceptives’ proponents say), all in one fell swoop.  How’s that for scientific efficiency?  And then, even though Hugh Hefner embraced contraceptives as the greatest gift to lust-ridden, irresponsible misogynist pigs everywhere… somehow, women still were convinced that they had to have contraceptives for their own good.

America, the Jesuit magazine for “thinking” (which is code for “dissenting”) Catholics, and the Huffington Post (almost equally useless in their ability to identify or promulgate sound Catholic doctrine) apparently both ran articles explaining to Catholics why Obama (since all Democrats are better for the economy, and abortion is really just about financial inability to raise a child) is really the more pro-life choice than Romney (who hates women and wouldn’t really have anything to do with the legality of abortion, you know).  Scarily, some people actually reposted these articles as a “something to make you think” kind of thing.  Yes, it makes me think we’re pretty stupid to accept that “financial hardship” is the real reason for the abortion, and not actually a symptom of the disappearing father, embarassed or coercive parents, unfeeling school administrators, etc. who all made it painfully clear to the pregnant mother that they would abandon her, penniless and homeless, unless she got the abortion and stopped making demands on them.  And yeah, it makes me think… that catechesis in the Catholic Church in this country has absolutely and almost universally stunk, quite literally, to high heaven for decades, so that we’ve turned out a bunch of religiously illiterate adults who can’t perceive the moral difference between government handouts being somewhat decreased and government-funded murder.

And then we promoted some of those adults to the head of CCD programs and parishes, where they spout about the unfairness of working conditions in Nike factories in Asia and the evil, hard-hearted, poor-hating jerks who argued against Obamacare… but NEVER utter one word about the millions dying every year around the globe and around the corner because of the evil of abortion.

Of course, these people were shocked- absolutely flabergasted!- to find out that those crazy, extremist pro-lifers were right about Obamacare being doomed to bring with it mandatory abortions and contraception for everyone, religious objections be damned.  (I’m not holding my breath for an apology.  Apparently, being liberal means never having to admit you were wrong about the actual long-term consequences of your ill-considered idealistic actions.  At least the bishops finally realized the danger they were in and sued the government over the HHS mandate.)

This morning, I spent two and a half hours in line to vote down here in southeastern Virginia.  Our polling place made the local news, and, sadly, we weren’t the worst of it.  (Four years ago, the line was outside for the first hour, and the wait took more like 3.5 hours.)  Two extra computers for checking voter registration finally showed up after we’d been in line for two hours and had only finally made it to the far end of the school cafeteria from the voting booths.  (Yes, I had all four of my kids with me.  They were remarkably good, something I was very thankful for.)

The polls tell us that many people only made up their minds about who they’d vote for in the last few weeks.

It would seem more people have solid opinions about who they root for on “Jersey Shore” or in the “Twilight” series than in politics.

It sure looks like a huge chunk of the U.S. population thinks the government owes them and/or others, not that they have the responsibility to work to provide for themselves, their families, and the poor in their own communities.  (Yes, Vice President Biden, I’m talking to you.  Crap, I give away more money in a month than you did in a year as a senator, and I know my household makes a heck of a lot less than yours.  No, Catholic social teaching does NOT support the idea that voting to give away other people’s tax money to programs for the poor is the same as tithing, the CCHD notwithstanding.)

It would also seem that most women, especially “educated” women, are dumb enough to believe that they have to vote Democratic, or else they’ll be seen as stupid.  Or not worthy of their “lady parts”.  Or that they’ll be chained to the kitchen sink, barefoot, and forced to have babies until they die, while being deprived of proper reading material, like the HuffPo.

I’d like to think we were smarter than this, that a clear explanation of things would open eyes, that we would not fall to what John Adams said could ruin our country: lack of morals and the realization that we could vote ourselves money out of the public treasury.  The election should be obvious and not close at all, if we still remembered those things that made our nation great (faith, the rule of law equally for all, civic involvement, personal as well as group responsibility and charity, etc.).  No matter who wins tonight, this election is too close to be excusable.  Everything in our history says we should be smarter than this.

Thank God, I am solidly aware that my true citizenship is not here, that my deepest loyalties are not to the United States of America, and that all man-made kingdoms will fall and fade, otherwise, I would despair.  (Besides, I learned more than what my pitiful CCD program bothered to teach me, so I also know that despair is expressly forbidden; it is a sin against God’s goodness.  I have thanked God and blessed the Archdiocese for the Military Services repeatedly over the years for those marvelous, holy chaplains assigned to the Naval Academy.)

But I am losing heart in the power of words, logic, and even personal example to change most peoples’ minds.

Kinda a problem for someone trying to keep up a blog.

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(This was set aside in the “draft” folder for almost two years, presented tonight because I still haven’t gotten around to writing up my notes on the homeschooling conference.  And I’m a bit obsessive about keeping things neat, and that full folder of unpublished drafts bugs me.  And I don’t want to talk about the train wreck that our favorite homeschooler park playdate group just suddenly turned into.  Power grabs, Catholic bashing, demands for fees, etc.  Very ugly.  Anybody know any nice, unapologetically Catholic homeschooler groups in SE Virginia?)

The Catholic Church in this country is seriously astray on social justice issues.

Yes, we still run soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, etc.  We have for centuries.  The Catholic Church runs hospitals, schools, orphanages, family counseling centers, and financial assistance offices all over the world.  It is part of our mission.  We don’t demand that people convert, or even require them to sit still for a sermon before we help.  If you need help, we’re just about everywhere, ready to help.

However, we also have seen a heavy push in America to encourage the government to take over functions that were so often historically the province of churches and charitable organizations.  The recent flap over the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) funding pro-gay, pro-abortion organizations is only the tip of the iceberg.  The much larger problem it that the entire goal of the CCHD is not to fund charitable work but to fund lobbying work to encourage the government to spend more on entitlement programs… and that’s not really what they tell the parishoners who are exhorted to donate.

Why is government takeover a good thing?  Why is this passing as Catholic teaching?

What happened to exhorting people to be charitable?  That’s been as lacking from our pulpit as discussions of abortion.  Maybe your parish is better about this than mine, but I’m betting not.  This is why the Catholics in public office have such abysmal charity records: they think they did their charity by getting the government to spend my money and yours on welfare and other programs aimed at helping the poor.

I forget where I read it, but a commenter on a related blog post somewhere pointed out that if the USCCB and all the diocesan social justice committees would spend half their energy on more favorable tax breaks for families with children, instead of on socializing welfare after the Church has been repeatedly burned by being forced to provide adoption services for gays or contraceptives in the nuns’ healthcare plan (shouldn’t we know best of anyone what happens when the government takes over?)… well, we could’ve done a lot more good.

The phrase “social justice” was taken from the (mostly) condemned liberation theology movement in Central and South America.  (Liberation Theology had originated elsewhere, but it’s worst manifestation in the Catholic Church was in those areas.)  Liberation theology seeks to combine Christianity with Marxist economic thought, encouraging class warfare and villifying “the rich” while extolling the virtue of the poor.  (I am not denying that voluntarily embracing poverty is a strong witness.  But I do not assume that all poor people are virtuous because of their poverty.)

Contrary to those who want to complain that Pope John Paul II “saw communists everywhere” because of his experiences in Soviet-dominated Poland, the truth is that he sought to take what was good and useful from liberation theology (care for the poor, focus not just on poverty but the unjust systems that cause it, etc.).  Perhaps some people missed that he also condemned the class warfare, poor-can-do-no-wrong, all-rich-are-damned parts of liberation theology.  Unfortunately, some of us ordinary Catholics in the pews have too often had cause to complain that the Marxism is creeping back in, sometimes none too subtly.

It would seriously do us all a lot of good to re-read Rerum Novarum (“Of New Things”), Centesimus Annus (“A Hundred Years”), and Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”).

(PHW: I just found this post in the bottom of the “draft” folder, never published.  I wrote it almost two years ago.  Funny how all those pro-lifers saying, “If you accept this universal health care takeover by the government it will bite you in the butt!  No matter what they said, it will wind up mandating all legal medical procedures, and you aren’t going to like it, but there will be no way left to fight!”  Really, I do NOT enjoy saying, “We told you so…”  Maybe, after the current fracas is resolved, the issues of class warfare and the overreach of big government (especially in social justice programs) will be discussed in the Church.)

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Threats against life and against the consciences of those who say “yes” to life must be met with timely and unwavering action, in our families and institutions, and, yes, in the public square.

– Cardinal DiNardo, vigil of the March for Life, 2012

On Friday, at noon, there will be coordinated, nation-wide rallies in support of religious freedom.  The list of cities participating is available at Stand Up For Religious Freedom.

This is not a “Catholic thing”.  If one group’s rights are trampled, nobody’s rights are safe.  Our founders argued for religious toleration for all faiths, even though many of them were certainly strongly anti-Catholic.  They were wise enough to know that if one group can be singled out for repression, then the list may be expanded to include others.  It had happened in England; first, the Catholics were arrested, fined, and harrassed into emigrating or giving up their faith.  Next, it was the other dissenters: the Quakers, Puritans, and others who disagreed with a state-run church.  You may notice that a lot of these people fled to the U.S. to find religious freedom.

The media has painted this as “those crazy papists, again!”  Yes, anti-Catholicism is alive and well in this country, and many will be persuaded by the coverage to believe this is just a “stupid Catholics being unreasonable” thing that can be safely ignored.  It isn’t “just a Catholic thing”, but don’t take my word for it.  Dr. James Dobson has written a strong statement against compliance with the HHS mandate.  Chuck Colson, may he rest in peace, adamantly opposed the HHS mandate.  Many other religious leaders, Christian and otherwise, have joined in saying that all Americans must stand up and oppose this, no matter what you believe about contraception.

“Freedom of religion” does not simply mean that I can worship however I please, as long as I don’t let anyone know about it in public by my words or actions.  My freedom of religion does not end as soon as I say or believe something that the government deems inappropriate.  My freedom of religion is not contingent on my ability to afford a fine when my beliefs run afoul of what the government has declared legal.

But if my freedom of religion can be circumscribed this way, so can yours.

It’s an hour.  Get out there.  This Friday, at noon.

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I have an irrate commenter who is very good at verbosely rattling off President Obama’s talking points.  In short:

  • nobody is forcing religious employers to pay for contraceptives; the insurance companies will pay for them
  • it isn’t true that anybody is forcing anyone to buy contraceptives at all: you could just pay the fine/assessment/tax/whatever Obama is calling it this week
  • you people need to stop believing everything the bishops tell you

Hmmm.  I could make snarky comments about him, but I’ll just make a lazy post by copying my reply.

Ok, so here’s the HHS statement on its final ruling.  Yeah, that’s what I said it said, thanks.

You may note that it clearly states that all health insurance plans that do not qualify for an exemption must provide contraceptive services.  Even those who qualify for an examption and don’t provide contraceptives will probably be required, the statement says, to inform their employees about where to get contraceptives for free.

So, every Catholic school, hospital and charity will be required to provide contraception (because they don’t fit under the new, narrow definition of a “religious” entity).  Even parishes and convents that fit under the definition should be aware that HHS is already contemplating how to force them to promote contraception to their employees.  The so-called compromise only means that these institutions will be forced to buy insurance that, for “free”, provides contraceptives.  NEWS FLASH: when the hotel says the wi-fi and breakfast are “free”, they aren’t; you’re paying for it, they just add it to the room price.  When the insurance company says, “Sure, we provide contraceptives for free,” um, no, YOU’RE PAYING FOR THAT.

(And you’re happy that dioceses will be forced to buy insurance from someone else?  Why?  Adding the bureaucracy of an insurance company won’t make health insurance cheaper for the employees.  Is it because the government can bully the insurance companies more easily?  Or are you just anti-Catholic and want Catholics to please keep their unauthorized opinions to themselves, unless they’re standing in a church?)

And, holy crap!  how generous!, HHS has allowed that those institutions that do not fit under the definition but have objections can have an extra year to, as Cardinal Dolan put it, “Figure out how to violate our consciences,” as long as they prove that they even qualify for the extension.

The last time I checked, in this country, we do not generally give out rights only to those who can PAY THE FINES FOR THEM.  If you have to pay a fine for it, it ISN’T RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.  I am not interested in being a dhimmi in my own country, thank you very much.

Yes, I’m yelling.  Here’s my short version:

The federal government has a definition of what constituted a religious institution; this administration chose to use a definition that excludes most religious institutions.  Why?  Are they trying to drive religious institutions out of the public square?

If I pay for insurance that provides contraceptives, I am directly complicit in something I hold to be sinful, no matter how the accounting is done (this has nothing to do with paying taxes; that is a much more remote connection between my money and behavior I may hold to be immoral).  So, no, the latest “compromise” isn’t worth anything.

If I have to pay a fine to exercise my religious freedom, then my “right” has been reduced to a calculation of how much money the government can get out of me, money that the government will directly use to fund something I object strongly to.  And once I’m out of money, my right to religious freedom is gone.  Somehow, I seem to remember from high school government class that that is not how our Bill of Rights is supposed to work.  (But Obama was a Constitutional law prof; I’m sure he’ll tell us that, since he sees the Constitution as a living document, “bill” must be reinterpreted in the modern way, so it now means, “You get rights, and the government will send you a bill.”)

And if you think, “Well, I don’t care about contraception; I want it covered,” then please consider what else is legal that you or your church might object to funding: abortion, sex-change operations, and euthanasia.  If they force the Catholics to bow (and we are the largest single denomination in this country and our hospitals care for 1/6 of American patients), do you think they are going to stop here?

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“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.

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At long last, Chen Guangcheng and his immediate family are safe in America.

The Chinese government, of course, has now sentenced his nephew to death for defending his family during a nighttime raid by police.  (He is accused of murder.)  Other family members and friends of Chen have been arrested, detained, and harrassed.  Without outside pressure, this is likely to continue, in an effort to discredit Chen and his message.

The U.S., ever eager in this administration to bow to all the wrong people, didn’t jump to Chen’s aid when he escaped his years-long house arrest and arrived at the U.S. embassy several weeks ago.  Instead, the embassy officials told Chen to go ahead and leave to get medical attention.  (And, right now, anyone who ever received any training on standing inport deck watch in the Navy is groaning; once someone has taken refuge on board, you do NOT LET THEM LEAVE.  Even if the threat seems to have passed and they’re saying, “Oh, it’s ok now, that’s my brother come to take me home,” once you have given them haven on U.S. territory (a Navy ship or an embassy), you can’t make them leave nor let them leave until you are sure they are safe and have authorization from higher authority.  And you certainly don’t encourage them to voluntarily walk off.)

But what did we expect from a State Department that gave the Russians a mis-translated gag gift that said “overcharge” instead of “reset”?  (A gag gift?  In international politics?!?)

Chen devoted his life and sacrificed his safety to document abuses of China’s One Child Policy.  At first, he may have thought he was only bringing to light abuses of the policy (although the policy itself is abusive).  Eventually, it became obvious that the abuses were part and parcel of any coercive, government-mandated birth control program.  And, no, Beijing was not interested in what a self-taught lawyer was telling them about how the policy was being implemented.  Instead of going after officials grossly overstepping the bounds of the law, the government went after Chen, trying him on trumped-up charges and placing him and his family under house arrest.

The U.S. has long made it a policy that we take seriously our responsibilities to support and encourage freedom and democracy and those who fight for them around the world.

Do we love our money so much that we’d rather compromise our principles than offend our lenders?

Fortunately, Chen has supporters in the U.S., too.  This is not the end of his fight to end the One Child Policy, it is a new beginning.

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