Month Archives: August 2012

The Casualties of the Healthcare Law

by Jeanne Monahan

August 30, 2012

As we close out this historic month of August, 2012, I cant help but comment on a very sad day that marked the start of a new moment in American history. The infamous contraceptive mandate began its implementation stage on August 1, 2012, and on this day the landscape of the separation of Church and State as we have known it in the United States was drastically altered. On that day groups were forced to violate religious dictates and consciences on such matters as insurance coverage of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Those who have been following this debate will well remember that one year ago, the department of Health and Human Services used its regulatory power to mandate that the full range of Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptives be included in all health insurance plans, minus a very small group of religious employers, namely places of worship.

A massive public outcry ensued this decision, resulting in the Obama Administration announcing a purported accommodation last February (one that is yet to be worked through in any level of detail) as well as a one year safe haven for certain religious employers while they worked through the logistics of violating their consciences.

Organizations that do not fulfill the safe haven criteria include businesses, and groups that must not have provided any kind of contraception coverage before the February 10th regulation was issued. A number of lawsuits have been filed in response, including many asking for immediate injunctions against the mandate set to begin on Wednesday.

So who are the first casualties of the healthcare law? One such group is Weingartz Supply based out of Ann Arbor,Michigan. The organization provides supplies for lawn-mowing and snow removal. Until now the business, owned by a Catholic has not included contraception coverage, but now will be required to do so. Representing Weingartz and a Catholic business organization, Legatus, the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan filed a suit asking for an injunction from the mandate, but a hearing has not yet been set despite a May filing.

Similarly, a family-owned heating and cooling business in Colorado, Hercules, sought and received a temporary injunction the Friday before the mandate was to be implemented. But the injunction is specific to their family business, other groups are not covered.

Other casualties of the healthcare law include insurers and participants in the individual market who must to comply with the HHS Mandate as well as schools that have already removed health insurance coverage because of the HHS Mandate. To date this includes Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio as well as Ave Maria University in Florida. Note the irony, given that the goal of the healthcare law was to have more people covered, not less.

By far the vast majority of religious groups impacted by this mandate will feel the pinch once the safe harbor period (and the election) is over.

As we reflect upon this defining moment in history where HHS has in essence used regulatory power to redefine Church and State relations, I can still find comfort in the balance of power existing in our U.S. democratic system. The constitutionality of this regulation will ultimately be decided by the courts, where approximately 50 suits related to the HHS mandate currently wait to be heard.

Cohabitation: Everyones doing it?!

by Jessica Prol

August 30, 2012

But, mom, everybodys doing it?!

It might have been your favorite childhood expression as you lobbied for that new toy or extra handful of cotton candy.

But for todays millennials its an underlyingif unstatedreason why so many decide to pack up their belongings and move in with their significant other.

According to the CDCs March 22, 2012 National Health Statistics Report, cohabitation (before first marriage) has risen significantly over the past 25 years and contributed to a delay in first marriage for both women and men.

Bloomberg.com reviewed at the data through a personal finance lens in their article, Living Together Trumps Matrimony for Recession-Wary Americans. Quoting theUniversity ofVirginias Brad Wilcox, the article noted that In todays economic climate, many young adults are reluctant to pull the trigger…. They may be unemployed or underemployed or not know what the future looks like. Theyre hedging their bets.

But the cohabitation-trend isnt limited to the younger generation. According to a new study, more and more Americans over age 50 are choosing to live with their partner instead of getting married.

If everyone is doing it, why discuss the trend; or to put it bluntly, who exactly cares?

Since the creation of marriage itself, the Christian tradition has clearly taught that sexual intimacy outside of marriage (and cohabitation, by definition), is a step away from the holiness and commitment that God intends for his people.

Modern Christian leaders, therefore, wrestle through their role in how to council church members or other believers who are cohabiting, but desire to marry. Last September, Christianity Today invited various Evangelical leaders to weigh in on the question: Should Pastors Perform Marriages for Cohabitating Couples?

But the questions surrounding cohabitation continue, even in the public space outside of our churches. In an April NY Times Opinion piece, clinical psychologist Meg Jay warned that far from safeguarding against divorce and unhappiness, moving in with someone can increase your chances of making a mistake or of spending too much time on a mistake.

Earlier this month, Huffington Posts Women Blog highlighted offered the following: Cohabitation? 5 Questions To Ask Before Moving In Together. The author offered no moral qualms about cohabitation but, throughout her piece. noted the inherent obstacles to a successful move, considering how many couples do not survive that first year of living with one another.

Does cohabitation matter? On Thursday, August 30 marriage expert Mike McManus revealed the myths and risks of cohabitation and offered solutions for your church and your community.

Everybodys doing it, never saved you from the childhood bellyache. It may also fall short when it comes to more adult decisions.

Click here to view the video recording.

The Social Conservative Review: August 30, 2012

by Krystle Gabele

August 30, 2012

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

We hear much these days about “tolerance” and “acceptance.” Too often, when used by the Left, these terms really mean, “Agree with me - or else.”

Consider: In 2011, a young woman in suburban Seattle had to go to federal court to be allowed say something during her high school valedictory address. That “something” was a simple prayer, offered in Jesus’ Name. Does the mention of the Savior so threaten religious sensibilities that it must be adjudicated from the bench? Really?

Last week, FRC President Tony Perkins partnered with Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackleford to launch our new joint study, “Religious Hostility in America.” A catalog of 600 cases of anti-religious - and predominantly anti-Christian - bigotry, the report demonstrates how expressions of traditional faith increasingly are under assault in many realms of public life. You can download the report, and learn more about FRC’s efforts on behalf of religious liberty, here.

It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor,” wrote the then-new President George Washington in 1789. Those words were true at the nation’s founding. We would do well to heed them, carefully and completely, today.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice-President

Family Research Council

P.S. Join Tony Perkins and other Christian leaders as they share in a nationwide simulcast called, “iPledge Sunday 2012.” Learn how you and your church can participate in the upcoming election faithfully and effectively by clicking here.


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Common Ground or Not, Lets Do Whats Right

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 29, 2012

The brilliant commentator, George Weigel, has written a probing, almost wistful column on the difficulty of putting together a broad coalition on religious liberty. Using as context the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he argues that at one time, an encompassing religious freedom consortium was possible. He says that it is no longer.

He quotes religious leaders as suggesting that homosexual “rights” and sexual promiscuity have vitiated the broad, liberal-centrist-conservative consensus. Why? Because homosexuality - jammed into cultural prominence by a dedicated minority of activists, aided by friends in the media, the entertainment world, and politics - has become, as one rabbi said, “an irresistible force against an immovable object.”

In other words, there is no middle ground around which a diverse coalition coalesces. While there can be compromise on a host of issues grounded in principle, honorable compromise, and prudence, there can be no compromise on whether two same-sex partners should receive legal recognition of their “marriage.” In public judgment and also at the polls, one side wins and the other loses.

This battle must never engender hate or a desire to win that surmounts Christian ethics. Rather, supporters of traditional marriage should enter the contest with compassionate tenacity and kind-hearted truth-telling. But with that said, to deny the strife over homosexual “marriage” is a battle is to ignore social and political reality.

Weigel also notes the comments of a Catholic Bishop that “the protection of believers rights and consciences … is in direct conflict with the ideology of the sexual revolution. Thats why the flashpoints in the current religious freedom battles have been abortion, contraception, sterilization and marriage.” Put another way, when liberal religious leaders support President Obama’s decision to require Christian hospitals and colleges, as well as businesses operated by persons of Christian conviction, to provide abortion services and abortion-inducing drugs in insurance plans they offer, they are making a profound moral statement: That one’s sexual conduct, however irresponsible or dangerous or contrary to biblical teaching, merits higher legal consideration than the exercise of the conscience and of one’s deeply-held convictions.

Again, there is no common ground between one side and the other. In the absence of such ground, constructing a framework for common agreement and mutual effort becomes impossible.

Finally, Weigel says there is a third reason why a broad coalition for religious liberty cannot be formed: the willingness of religious intellectuals, including the Catholic Theological Society of America, to sacrifice a robust understanding of religious freedom on the altar of what they believe to be other social goods, including the expansion of the welfare state. In other words, so what if you have an Administration that wants Uncle Sam to subsidize abortion? Thats part of the price you have to pay to more widely redistribute income.

He ends his piece with some haunting questions:

America began with the assertion of deep truths written into the human condition by Nature, and Natures God (as the Declaration of Independence put it). In an election season likely to be dominated by very practical (and important) questions about the economy, it will be well to keep a deeper, more searching set of questions in mind: Are we still a nation dedicated to certain moral truths? If so, how do we recover an ability to talk about those truths together? And if not, what have we become?

Some well-meaning souls are calling for Christians to stand-down in the battle for our culture and simply be nice to everybody. In practical terms, this means abandoning the unborn, their mothers, marriage and the family, and religious liberty to those who would harm them.

Weigel asks the right questions. At least part of the answer to them is that Christians must assert that understandable and definitive truth exists and should be applied in public policy, truth that is accessible to Christian believers and non-believers alike. We must serve humbly, persuade graciously, and contend ethically.

Yet not to work for both good legislative and political ends and also not to turn the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens from one worldview to another would be unloving. If truth is what it is, it merits application to public policy. To make that application requires effort, and that means contention and potentially persecution.

Is this to say that no common ground exists between Right and Left, to use Whittaker Chambers clear dichotomy? No; but it is to say that the size of that ground is shrinking by the day.

We can make inroads through quiet, unassuming, authentic displays of Christian love, dispelling stereotypes and surprising those who believe conservatives are rigid, harsh, and simplistic. We can appeal to the law written on the heart (Romans 2:15), touching the conscience within each person to sway opinions and encourage sound action.

Yet we must always bear in mind that Paul, Peter, and many of the early Christians were thoughtful, articulate, gracious - and martyred. Are we ready to follow in their stead?

 

The Gray Lady Passes into the Night

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 28, 2012

As the Republican National Convention gets underway in Tampa, one of the leading sources of news about it will be the once-venerable New York Times. The Times is legendary for the extraordinary reach of its reportage, its sheer size as a paper, and the enormity of its audience, at home and abroad.

In recent decades, however, the Times has become equally well-known for the strident, invasive bias of much of its reporting. The former Ombudsman of the Times, Daniel Okrent, famously wrote in 2004:

Is the New York Times a liberal paper? Of course it is … if you are among the groups the Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans)… then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world … readers with a different worldview will find The Times an alien beast.

Now, Okrent’s successor, Arthur S. Brisbane, has affirmed the same thing. In his valedictory column, published this past Sunday, he writes:

When the Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the papers many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism for lack of a better term that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of the Times. As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in the Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.

That the Times permits publication of these spasms of editorial candor is honorable, even courageous. And the Times now features the op-eds of the brilliant young conservative Ross Douthat along with the center-right musings of David Brooks.

Yet the pervasive bias of the Times - self-consciously urbane, post-moral, socially liberal to the point of astonished clucking that any reasonable person could disagree - runs through the paper like blood through the body.

Why is this important? Because in its coverage of such issues as homosexual “marriage,” abortion, religious liberty at home and abroad, the federal judiciary, the social policies of the Obama Administration, and even the federal budget, the Times both influences the national debate and offers a perspective very distant from that of most Americans. Were the Times just another large regional paper, it could be dismissed as but one more liberal rag. Instead, policymakers still read the Times as a trusted source of information. At least they used to.

Readers of the Times have always looked to the paper for extensive coverage of the monumental and the mundane, the historic and the idiosyncratic. The caliber of the writing in much of the Times is superb. That’s why the “Gray Lady’s” decline into a shrinking but bellowing parody of reactionary liberalism is as sad as it is obvious.

Homosexual Activist: Hate Group Charge Doesnt Require Hate

by Peter Sprigg

August 28, 2012

On August 15, a gunman, apparently hostile to our positions on the issue of homosexuality, shot one of my colleagues in the lobby of the Family Research Council headquarters. In the wake of this attack, even liberal journalists, such as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post and James Kirchick (named Journalist of the Year in 2007 by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association), have called on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other homosexual activists to back off on their inflammatory labeling of FRC as an anti-gay hate group.

The SPLC refused. Since SPLC has doubled down on the hate group charge, FRC recently posted a brief response to some of the key charges made by SPLC in support of this defamatory label. At the end, the piece addressed what would seem to be the key issue with the following question and answer:

Does FRC “hate” homosexuals?

As a Christian organization, we have an obligation to love our neighbor—including our neighbors who experience same-sex attractions. However, we believe sexual acts between persons of the same sex are objectively harmful to those who choose to engage in them and to society at large, in addition to being forbidden by Scripture. Since the essence of love is to desire the best for a person and act to bring that about, we believe the most loving thing we can do is discourage such self-destructive conduct, rather than affirm it. We are happy to debate those who disagree with us regarding the harms of homosexual conduct, but there is no justification for anyone to impugn our motives with false labels such as “hate.”

One homosexual blogger (and regular critic of FRC) did a detailed critique of the FRC Issue Brief. To this final point, he emphasized that the SPLC hate group label is not because of our political positions, but because we support those positions by saying things which (they claim) are untrue.

After reiterating this SPLC definition of an anti-gay hate group, the writer then says the following:

Now whether or not FRC hates gays is irrelevant.

Say what?

[W]hether or not FRC hates gays is irrelevant (emphasis added) to the question of whether we are an anti-gay hate group?

I certainly appreciate the (implicit) concession that FRC may not, in fact, actually hate homosexuals at all.

If you are going to call someone a hate group, however, shouldnt it be a minimum necessary condition that they actually hate someone?

I think this statementwhether or not FRC hates gays is irrelevant—is what lawyers call an admission against interest. It shows, quite clearly (albeit perhaps accidentally), that the hate group label is not meant to be a description of reality.

That label is, instead, a weapon—merely a tool to be used against certain pro-family groups to cut us out of the public debate on crucial issues. (For example, in a webcast shortly after the SPLCs designation of FRC as a hate group in 2010, SPLC President J. Richard Cohen said, We dont believe these people should be put on TV.) The hate group label is a rhetorical weapon, in the minds of those who coined it—but a weapon nevertheless.

If FRC says things that other people find offensive, such people should say, That offends me (but those same people should also then listen to the explanation). If FRC says things other people think are untrue, such people should say, I dont believe that (but those same people should then examine the evidence). That is all part of political and social debate.

But when homosexuals and other pro-homosexual activists have been told over and over, first by the SPLC and then by others who parrot their line, that Family Research Council is an anti-gay hate group, someone may actually begin to believe that FRC hates homosexuals. And that person may hate us back. But the weapon he uses may not be words.

The debate over homosexuality and the redefinition of marriage must continue, and not be stifled.

The false hate group label must go.

Salute Neil Armstrong: Wink at the Moon

by Robert Morrison

August 28, 2012

Astronaut Neil Armstrong always modestly viewed himself, and preferred to be viewed by others, as the anchor man in a relay race. That race began in 1957. The Soviets had their own reasons for going to the Moon. Nikita Khrushchev, the Communist Party boss, had pursued a policy of de-Stalinization. Just as the Soviet Unions dictator Josef Stalin had airbrushed all the other leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution except Lenin and himself from photographs in Soviet histories, now Khrushchev was trying to blot out the memory of the man who had ruled Russia and her captive nations with an iron fist for nearly three decades.

Khrushchev was desperate to find another way to legitimize the dictatorship of Communism in the USSR and in its Eastern European satellites. He found it in space.

In 1957, Khrushchev stunned the world with the first earth satellite. It was known as Sputnik. And Soviet prestige was enhanced by the fact that their leadership in space seemed to be assured for another decade. Meanwhile, the U.S. space program proceeded in fits and starts, with some embarrassing explosions on the launch pad broadcast to a watching world. Kaputnik! one tabloid jibed at one of our failed attempts.

When, in 1961, Khrushchev could boast another first in space, he crowed over the orbital flight of Maj. Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin was the first human in space. Gagarin came back to earth and gave a press conference viewed around the world. What did you see up there, one western reporter asked. Net boga [No God], the cocky young Soviet cosmonaut responded.

More seriously, Marxist historian Zheya Sveltivlova provided the Communist rationale for space exploration: When man conquers the universe, he will learn to believe in himself. It will simply be ridiculous to rely on any force other than himself. People who now believe in God will reject him. Such belief wont be logical or natural. Man will be stronger than God.

Young John F. Kennedy was not willing to let the Soviets win the race in space. He peppered his scientific advisors from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with questions. He had promised to get America moving again in his race for president. His wafer-thin victory in the 1960 election made him acutely aware that his re-election would hinge on his performance in office.

With the Soviets besting us again and again in space, Kennedy sensed that he could lose the 1964 election if his much-touted quality of vigor (which he invariably pronounced vigah) could be lampooned as failing like one of those collapsing U.S. rockets.

Kennedys advisers read him the grim news: The Soviets will be first to put a man in space. They will be first to have a man walk in space. They will set records for length of time in orbit. In those days, scientists told politicians the truth. They didnt sugarcoat it.

Frustrated, Kennedy demanded to know where could the U.S. beat the USSR. Well, word came back. We could get to the Moon first.

Barely four months into his term, President Kennedy went before Congress and committed this nation to going to the Moon. We have the full text of this address from the John F. Kennedy Library. The entire speech is well worth watching. But it is at the 3:11 mark that the president offers the stunning news that America will go to the Moon with the full speed of freedom.

In a single, brilliant stroke, President Kennedy changed the space race from a 100-meter dash to a marathon. And he had little doubt who would win that marathon.

Soon, Kennedy was assassinated and Khrushchev was ousted in a Kremlin coup. But the space race went on.

President Lyndon B. Johnson had been one of the biggest boosters of space within the Kennedy administration, but Johnson never once gave the country the kind of reasons for going to the Moon, the poetic inspiration, that young Jack Kennedy did. In one of his last speeches, Kennedy had said, America has thrown its hat over the wall of space and we had no choice but to go after it.

Lacking any of Kennedys rhetorical elan, Johnson doggedly pursued space. It meant hundreds of thousands of jobsmost of them in Johnsons home state of Texas. And it meant Johnson could rack up another accomplishment alongside his list of legislative victories.

Few saw in the race to the Moon a spiritual quest. The decade of the 1960s that had begun with such promise saw a deepening skepticism about American purpose and achievements. And, as our involvement in Vietnam deepened, a corrosive cynicism gripped the land. Riots in our major cities caused many Americans to question the stability of our institutions.

Some even questioned religion itself. Village atheists had always been with us, but now the atheizers of a global village had ready access to a national media that was less hesitant about casting shadows of its own doubts. The press evangelized for unbelief.

The liberal news weekly TIME asked the loaded question: Is God Dead? The decade began with President Kennedy saying here on earth, Gods work must truly be our own. By mid-decade, in the wake of Kennedys horrific assassination, things began to come apart at the seams. In 1967, the summer of love, the media celebrated drugs, casual sex, and an increasingly hedonistic counterculture.

All through these years, however, the crewcut young men of the Apollo Space Program labored away on the goal that President Kennedy had set out for them: They trained for the ride of their lives. They were headed for the Moon.

Leftist writer Norman Mailer thought the race for the Moon was a typical example of American hubris. The WASP [white Anglo-Saxon Protestant] mind can go infinite distances, he sneered, because it is so narrow.

Norman Rockwell America, however, never lost its love for John F. Kennedys bold adventure. As the U.S. began to pull ahead of the USSR in space, there was a feeling that at least this much was going well in America.

Then, shockingly, three astronauts of Apollo I died on the launch pad in Florida. On January 27, 1967, veteran test pilots Gus Grissom, Roger Chafee, and Ed White were burned to death, unable to exit their oxygen-enriched spacecraft as a spark from an exposed electrical wire ignited an inferno.

President Johnson did not immediately come on the air to soothe a worried nationas Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush would memorably do following fatal shuttle disasters.

Still, the Apollo program went on. John F. Kennedys goal of putting a man on the Moon by the end of this decade seemed an impossible dream. It was as if America were a miler who had fallen at the 34-mile mark and broken a leg.

Despite this tragedy, American ingenuity and determination rallied. NASA completely re-engineered the Apollo spacecraft and prepared to meet Kennedys deadline.

Just two and one half years later, Astronaut Neil Armstrong thrilled the world as he announced the Eagle has landed. Only afterward would Americans learn that Armstrong, the highly skilled pilot, had had to guide the lunar lander in its final descent to the Moon, overruling a computer landing program that could have put the spidery spacecraft on uneven ground. That could have risked takeoff for a return to Earth.

We seem today not to know what to do with the great victory achieved by these amazing young astronauts of fifty years ago. President Obama told NASA chief Chuck Bolden his new mission was to make Muslims feel good about their achievements in science and technology. As for our return to the Moon, Mr. Obama would have us hitch a ride with the Russians.

America this week mourns the loss of that brave pioneer from Ohio, Neil Armstrong.

He had announced to a breathless humanity thats one small step for Man, a giant leap for Mankind. Neil Armstrong, honored for his courage and devotion to duty, died over the weekend at age 82.

While Neil Armstrong was taking that small step, his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin was busy, too. Aldrin was celebrating communion with his Houston Episcopal parish. He poured out wine and consumed the wafer as he read from the Book of John: I am the vine and you are the branches…You can do nothing without me.

Perhaps this would be a good time to pause and thank God for the service of these astronauts and for the flag of freedom they left on the Moon. Neil Armstrongs family suggests we might honor him by winking at the Moon. That is a fitting tribute to the man who first walked there, and who beckons us still along the path he blazed to the future.

More Evangelical Colleges Rise to Oppose Obama Anti-Conscience Mandate

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 24, 2012

Our alma mater, Biola University, has now joined the growing number of Evangelical and Catholic colleges and universities suing the federal government over the Obama health care law’s requirement that all health care providers provide medical insurance plans that include access to abortion and abortion-causing drugs.

Biola President Barry Corey explained why our school is fighting the Obama anti-conscience mandate in these eloquent words:

It is simply a natural outgrowth of our calling to be stewards of the mission Biolas founders have trusted to us, to hold fast to biblical convictions even in the midst of shifting cultural sands. It is unjust that the federal government has mandated that institutions of faith like Biola, which has held biblically centered convictions for over a century, violate their consciences in this manner. It is an infringement on our freedom to be the university God has called us to be.”

Biola’s suit, undertaken jointly with Indiana’s Grace College and Seminary, is being filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). As East Coast Biolans, we are proud of and grateful for the stand of our school. To learn more about the Obama anti-conscience mandate and what FRC is doing to oppose it, click here.

We represent two different generations of Biolans (Rob, ‘79 and Julia,‘09), but Biola represents something timeless: The eternal truth of the Word of God. For standing up for that truth, we’re thankful for President Corey’s leadership and the continued strong stance of our school.

Anybody Who is against the Muslim Brotherhood is Not Safe in Egypt.

by Chris Gacek

August 24, 2012

John Batchelor had an important, news-making interview last night (8/23/12) on his radio program. He broadcasts live after 9 p.m. on WABC radio (WMAL in Washington). In the 10 p.m. hour (second hour), Batchelor and Malcolm Hoenlein interviewed Dr. Asharaf Ramelah, founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization that defends Coptic Christians. (On the recording, start at 9 min 30 sec / 39:56.)

The conversation focused on dangerous changes in Egypt that are taking place after the Muslim Brotherhood gained power with the inauguration of Mohammed Morsi as president. The interviews conclusion was alarming. Batchelor: Right now, the Copts in Cairo, are they safe tonight? Ramelah: Nobody is safe in Cairo. No Copts, other Muslims are also not safe. Anybody who is against the Muslim Brotherhood is not safe in Egypt.

So much for the Arab Spring.

[From Voice of the Copts/Who Are the Copts: Copts are by far the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Ninety-five percent of Copts in Egypt are Orthodox and the remaining population is divided between Catholic and Protestant denominations. Copts living in Egypt represent between 15-20% of the total population of Egypt today.]

State Orthodoxy and the Conscience

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 22, 2012

Law professor John Inazu writes in USA Today that when it comes to the Obama contraception mandate, “The legal challenges implicate an interest that all of us Catholics and evangelicals, religious and non-religious should value and safeguard: the right of private groups to dissent from the prevailing state orthodoxy.”

His wonderfully descriptive phrase - “prevailing state orthodoxy” - is saddening. In a republic where personal virtue is the foundation of our political order, and which rests, in Michael Novak’s wonderful phrase, “on two wings” - biblical revelation and natural law, law that is self-evident and accessible to everyone - the idea of there being a “state orthodoxy” is jarring. Yet such orthodoxy exists, which is why the Obama Administration is insisting that Evangelicals and Catholics cast away their consciences (we won’t, by the way).

When the federal government steps in to mandate that persons with reasonable, historic, and deeply held moral convictions must violate them in order to comply with a state dictate, Christians must echo the words of Peter in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.”

Prof. Inazu concludes, “the right to differ protects moral choices that lack government approval.” Amen. But, as he would agree, that right is not just one that exists within the mind. For it to be a fully realized right, it must be allowed to affect the choices we make in civic and political life. In other words, adherence to a belief while complying with a legal limitation on the capacity to act on it is the moral equivalent of junk food: It brings us temporary respite from hunger, but no enduring benefit.

It is not enough that, in its great wisdom and compassion, the federal state does not interfere with the function of our minds as long as this function remains limited to the space between our ears. True conviction - what one believes is of value in time and eternity - means concrete and visible action in the public square. It’s government’s job to protect this right, not diminish or squelch it. As Prof. Inazu notes, “Evangelicals and Catholics need not shudder at the prospect of being politically marginalized. After all, Jesus did not. But political marginalization does not require political passivity. And one means of resistance is asking courts to protect the ability of private groups to dissent from state orthodoxy.”

So, we will ask, fight, and stand. But, by God’s grace, we will not give in.

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