Archives for June 2012

Obama’s war on religion (update #8)

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Speculation has been rampant for months on the government’s authority to force people to purchase services under the commerce clause.

To the surprise of almost everyone, the Supreme Court saw ObamaCare as a massive new TAX. As a TAX, it passes constitutional muster based on the government’s unlimited authority to TAX.

This piece continues my series on the very real war on religion. My last summary was 1 month ago. This is the latest update. To see the whole series, click here.

What the Supreme Court did not decide

It is imperative that we understand the narrow scope of the Supreme Court’s decision. Specifically:

  • This case did not consider, in any way, the constitutionality of the HHS Mandate to force almost everyone, including the Catholic Church and its members, to purchase abortion inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptive insurance coverage.
  • The Supreme Court did NOT rule that ObamaCare was in any way a “good idea,” merely that as a TAX it was not unconstitutional.

Where do we stand?

Nothing has changed. The numerous lawsuits brought by various Catholic dioceses and institutions remain full-steam-ahead. They are now more urgent than ever. We eagerly look forward to our day in court on this issue. ObamaCare enables the HHS mandate, which represents a major assault on freedom of religion. This is a completely different issue than what the Supreme Court decided yesterday.

Of course, we are disappointed. Had ObamaCare not been seen as a TAX (which admittedly, it actually is), it likely would have been overturned. That would have made the HHS mandate moot and our struggle to retain the religious freedom we have enjoyed for over 200 years intact.

Success in court is not the only way religious liberty can be restored. The other way is through legislative action. President Obama has been intransigent on this and with the Senate controlled by his party, legislative relief is impossible. Today’s decision therefore means that…

November 6th is now a REFERENDUM on ObamaCare

The decision to accept this controversial freedom crushing, pro-abortion healthcare law now goes to the voters. YOU decide. Cast your vote for president Obama and his party if you support this deeply flawed law. If you oppose the law and recognize that improving healthcare access does not have to be at the cost of religious liberty and innocent life, vote against President Obama and his enabling party. It really is that simple.

Fortnight for Freedom continues

Religious liberty has been a part of the American experience since before the United States even became an independent country. However, approaches to religious liberty have developed over time, as Catholics and people of other faiths have faced discrimination in various forms. Fortunately, there have been many heroes of religious liberty that span centuries.

Importantly, the First Amendment has protected the free exercise of religion since the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789. While the HHS mandate forcing coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs represents a significant threat to religious liberty, Catholics and others have endured religious crises throughout our country’s history.

Our bishops call to action continues through July 4th. Read the articles below to find out more about our country’s historic challenges, and view their educational resources page to find out more about current threats to religious liberty both at home and abroad.

What is at stake

The administration and their friends in the media try to spin this issue as either (1) the Church taking away everyone’s contraception or (2) a “war on women.” They know this to be false. In jeopardy is something much, much greater – with the unprecedented loss of religious freedom we would also irrevocably lose the very character of the country. This radical change sacrifices the birthright of future Americans.

Evangelical Eric Metaxas is the author of the new book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer how is remembered for his effort to overthrow Hitler. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is an economist and founder for the Ruth Institute which promotes families through the sanctity of marriage.

Protecting Religious Freedom

The Becket Fund released this new video on the good work they do:

Further Reading

Here is a sampling of some new articles written on this topic in the last few weeks:

  1. Activists gather to plot defense of “religious liberty”
  2. Archbishop Chaput speaks about religious liberty at Catholic Media Conference address
  3. Archbishop Gomez rejects ‘capitulation’ to HHS mandate
  4. Archbishop: Lawsuits Continue Against Health Care Law
  5. Archbishop Lori Opens Fortnight for Freedom at Baltimore Basilic
  6. Archbishop Lori kicks-off Fortnight for Freedom with call to action
  7. As Fortnight of Freedom begins, media responds
  8. At the Door of the Temple: Religious Freedom and the New Orthodoxy
  9. Becket Fund Submits Comments to HHS
  10. Bishops respond to Supreme Court ruling; renew plea to repair Affordable Care Act
  11. Bishops urge Congress to fix health law flaws after high court decision
  12. Catholic lawmaker seeks colleagues’ support for HHS mandate suits
  13. Churches Stand Together
  14. Colleen Carroll Campbell: How religion fosters freedom
  15. DC religious freedom event stresses role of liberty in America
  16. Early Religious Freedom in America
  17. Eric Rassbach Talks Religious Freedom at the Council of Europe
  18. Essential reading for the Fortnight for Freedom kick-off
  19. Faith leaders decry mandate’s creation of religious classes
  20. Faithful Catholic Colleges Urge HHS to Rescind “Direct Violation” of Religious Liberty
  21. ‘Fortnight’ about religious freedom, not politics, archbishop says
  22. Fortnight for Freedom: U.S. Catholics and Religious Liberty
  23. Fortnight for Freedom: Why Now?
  24. Fortnight for Freedom in a Country Parish
  25. Fortnight for Freedom in (your) photos
  26. Fox’s Chris Wallace Asks Cardinal About MRC’s Finding of a Near-Blackout of Evening News on Catholic Lawsuits
  27. Groups Vow to Continue Fighting for Religious Liberty as Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
  28. Groups opposed to contraception mandate will push forward with lawsuits
  29. Gut Check for Freedom
  30. Health care decision: Religious reaction swift; Catholic groups: lawsuits will continue
  31. Hooked on Sex
  32. How Will the Supreme Court’s Decision Impact the HHS Mandate?
  33. If Only We Weren’t Catholic…
  34. In the Teeth of an Election Year
  35. Individual Mandate Survives – Religious Liberty Challenges Move Forward
  36. It’s Time to Remember What Men Have Forgotten
  37. Key Quotes from Today’s Decision that Signal the Court’s Willingness to Strike Down the HHS Mandate
  38. Launching the Fortnight for Freedom
  39. Leaked e-mail shows media campaign against US bishops
  40. Liberty for the Church
  41. Morr-Fitz v. Blagojevich (2005-Current)
  42. Mother Church and the Nanny State
  43. Obama is paying for betraying progressive Catholics
  44. Obamacare Is Not Permanent Yet. Not Nearly.
  45. Obamacare’s Legal Battles Continue in HHS Mandate Cases
  46. Obama’s grand miscalculation with Catholics
  47. Purpose and Liberty
  48. Rallies Call for Standing Up for Religious Freedom
  49. Refusing to Render Unto Caesar That Which is God’s
  50. Religious Freedom Under Siege: The Bishops Respond
  51. Religious Freedom: Use It or Lose It
  52. Religious Groups Still Oppose Health Law
  53. Religious Liberty: Our Birthright
  54. Religious freedom issues at heart of HHS lawsuits, legal scholars say
  55. Religious liberty group launches massive HHS mandate site
  56. Religious liberty threatened in America, Archbishop Gomez warns
  57. Social Justice Priorities: Life and Religious Liberty
  58. Southern Baptists “Stand With the Bishops” Against the White House
  59. Supreme Knight says HHS mandate has re-shaped country’s political landscape
  60. Supreme Knight urges Catholics to put faith first while voting
  61. The Catholic Church and the Global Crisis of Religious Liberty
  62. The Church Pushes Back
  63. The “Episcopal Partisanship” Red Herring
  64. The Fortnight, The Pill, and the False Dichotomy
  65. The HHS Mandate: A Question of Religious Freedom or the Life Issues?
  66. The HHS Mandate: This is About Contraception
  67. The Sons of Caesar, Still Pulling Peter Down
  68. US health care reform efforts through history
  69. Washington rally brings 2,000 together in support of religious freedom
  70. What SCOTUS’s Decision Means for the Pro-life Cause
  71. What’s Behind the HHS Mandate?

Elsewhere: unequally yoked

Leah Libresco is a popular atheist blogger at Unequally Yoked. When she began blogging, her tagline was “a geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend.” Unfortunately with their opposite religious views, they did not see their relationship going anywhere and eventually split-up. Leah is no amateur debater, she is a 2011 Yale graduate, smart, modern woman. She is in many ways, a prototypical spokesperson for classic atheism (not the dumb, combative “new atheism“).

Or at least, she was. Last week Leah announced her decision to begin RCIA to enter the Catholic Church! This is just the start of her journey and only time will tell the ultimate result. She is ready and excited.

This turn of events is confusing to atheists and to the secular anti-Catholic media (which I suppose is redundant). Consequently, Leah’s announcement was noticed not only by Catholic bloggers but also by the likes of CNN and MSNBC (the prime examples of the aforementioned secular media).

Elizabeth Scalia has the best coverage of this story on her blog:

Why so much coverage on Leah? Perhaps the answer is this: Leah’s conversion goes against all of the prevailing narratives that dominate secularist thinking. Religion – or at least religion that goes beyond affirming oneself and actually costs something of one – is the “opiate of the masses” suited only to “bitter clingers” and intellectually-dim peasants (except it isn’t and never was); Leah is a brainy, sophisticated Yalie who is neither bitter, clingy nor dim. Catholicism “hates women” (except it doesn’t and never did) and Leah is a strongly self-possessed, forward-thinking woman. Catholicism “hates homosexual persons” (except it doesn’t and never has although a new apostolic letter might help make that clear) and Leah identifies as bi-sexual.

Wait a second…   hold on, I think I’ve got it! Really smart…female…bi-sexual-identifying. Holy smokes! Leah Libresco has pulled off a narrative-busting Trifecta! She’s a secularist thoroughbred who has nevertheless won the Triple Crown of Cultural Incongruity!

No wonder the press is so interested in Leah Libresco. What a thoroughly odd puzzle she must be, to them. And if she had to become a Christian, why not at least an Episcopalian, which is and always has been, the acceptable church of the elite? Why must she mess with narratives and perceptions like some kind of Plato-mystic canoodler?

On a serious note, though: Someone asked me a few days ago whether it bothered me that Leah is determined to ask questions of the church and its teachings, and I said, “no; she’s not the first to ask, and she won’t be the last.” We have a long history of brilliant people – atheists and non – who have trained their big brains on Catholicism, intending to either disprove it or simply to splash about in its currents, only to find themselves drawn further in. Catholic teaching has been thoroughly reasoned and laboriously fleshed-out; there is actual thinking, full of nuance and complexity, at its core – where Faith and Reason share a kinship, within which the natural and supernatural wave back and forth, like wind-stirred wheat in a field; it’s a dance of organic wholeness.

There is that famous, and lately perhaps overused, quote by Fulton Sheen: “There are not 100 people who hate the Catholic Church; But there are millions who hate what they believe the Catholic Church to be.” There is a great deal of truth in that, which is perhaps why the quote is overused. I’ve never known anyone to pursue an exploration of the church with an open mind, and continue to hate her, and Leah’s mind appears to be wide-open and hate-free, to begin with.

I’m not bothered that she may bring questions with her, because I take my cue from the Holy Father, who has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to entertain any-and-all topics. Benedict believes – and I have discovered it in my own faith journey – that submitting any question to reason, and tackling it with patient but rigorous intellectual honesty leads one (sometimes with great reluctance and gritted teeth) to the side of Catholic orthodoxy.

That “bi-sexual identifying” part will need some work, which Leah acknowledges.

Read the whole piece at The Anchoress: Leah Libresco, Media’s Favorite Puzzle.

Jennifer Fulwiler, another smart atheist-to-Catholic convert, gives her take for the National Catholic Register: Conversion: The Scariest Happy Ending in the World.

In answer to the question: “What message do you have for other atheists who may be struggling and questioning their nonbelief?” Leah says that she would refer them to the Litany of Gendlin:

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away.
And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

While not exactly a joy-filled expression of Christian truth, it is good advice for atheists where they are at.


Fortnight for Freedom

Fortnight for Freedom

Yesterday began a 14 day period of prayer, reflection, study, catechesis and action to preserve our God-given (and constitutional) right to live freely as Catholics. Catholics and non-Catholics around the country are uniting in defense against the Obama administration’s unprecedented attack on a basic liberty guaranteed by the very first ammendment.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are the sponsors for this effort which runs through July 4th, Independence Day. Their website is the primary source for related information, which can be reached directly at Fortnight4Freedom.org.

Obama's war on religion

I have also been covering events as they unfold. If you would like background, please see my continuing series entitled Obama’s war on religion. There you will find commentary, videos and extensive links.

Be sure to check you parish bulletin for local events.

Elsewhere: gay and Mormon

Last December I referenced the story of Steve Gershom, a gay and faithful Catholic. Steve (a pseudonym) chose the celibate life as his path and is “doing fine!”

Recently another compelling story was published by a gay, Mormon man. Joshua Weed’s path is different from Steve’s – he is happily married to a woman. Marriage (true marriage, to a person of the opposite sex) may not be the calling for most people burdened by same sex attraction, but it may be for some.

While there are serious theological differences between Catholicism and Mormonism, many of our moral values are very close. In Joshua’s story, I can see that he and his wife Lolly truly understand marriage and are very happy in theirs.

4. If you’re married to a woman, how can you really be gay?

This is a really good question and I can see how people can be confused about it. Some might assume that because I’m married to a woman, I must be bisexual. This would be true if sexual orientation was defined by sexual experience. Heck, if sexual orientation were defined by sexual experience, I would be as straight as the day is long even though I’ve never been turned on by a Victoria’s Secret commercial in my entire life. Sexual orientation is defined by attraction, not by experience. In my case, I am attracted sexually to men. Period. Yet my marriage is wonderful, and Lolly and I have an extremely healthy and robust sex life. How can this be?

The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is “how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?” I didn’t fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school even though I had been happily married for almost five years at that point. I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

[…]

6. Why would your wife choose to marry someone who is gay?

[this part written by Joshua’s wife Lolly]

[…]

In a moment of honest reflection, I realized that Josh was everything that I wanted in a husband. (All except for the huge fact that he was gay.) He was dedicated to God above all else and he loved his Savior deeply. He was kind, funny, sincere, honest and so much fun. I connected with him in ways that I did not connect with anyone else. But he was gay. And I did not know if I could handle that in a marriage.

I ended up confessing my feelings to him on a random day on a whim. He admitted that he felt the same feelings for me. That I was everything he wanted in a wife. I had never been more excited or confused. We decided to try it out and to start dating. It was truly an amazing experience for both of us, falling in love with our best friend.

Before he left on his mission, I was still not sure if I could actually marry him. The intimacy factor was so important to me. During the course of dating, we held hands and kissed. It was promising, but I didn’t know if our chemistry would be enough.

One day, we were having a conversation about our relationship. He simply said, “Am I worth it to you?” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that question. We then talked about how no one is perfect and how everyone deals with his or her own set of imperfections. When you get married, you are accepting a person as a package deal – the good, the bad, the hard, the amazing and the imperfect. He wanted to know if I loved the rest of him enough that I could deal with the realities that his homosexuality would bring to our marriage. I honestly could not answer him then.

Months passed and I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine. I said to her, “I can find someone else like Josh, right? Someone else to love like I love him?” She said, “You could find someone else to love, sure. But you will never have what you and Josh have with someone else. Because no one else is Josh.” When she said that, and I thought of loving someone else, I knew the answer to his question “Am I worth it?”

I knew that I loved Josh. I loved All of him. I wanted to marry him. I wanted to marry Josh Weed because I loved the man that he was. I loved everything that made him him. I didn’t want anyone else. I knew that we had the kind of relationship that could work through hard trials and circumstances. I had faith in him and I had faith in our love. I did not choose to marry someone who is gay. I chose to marry Josh Weed, the man that I love, and to accept all of him. I have never regretted it.

The full story is very good, except perhaps for Joshua’s recommendations on how to relate to friends and family suffering with same sex attraction (his point #8, item 1). Whereas Joshua basically recommends unilateral acceptance, a more charitable approach would be to love fully but offer solid faith based guidance.

The story is fairly long. It was originally published on his humor blog for reasons that he explains in the piece. Read it there or at LifeSiteNews: I am a gay, devout Mormon, happily married to a woman, with three children.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #67)

This week: Planned Parenthood “condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias” – except (wink, wink) that is completely false. For the first time, the US State Department no longer tracks religious freedom as a human rights issue. Two examples of the gay agenda’s use of the courts. Finding-out what is in ObamaCare (it’s worse than you think). The European Union – is that our future too? It’s official, the private sector is *doing fine*! Kids + technology = a solution for unmade beds.

— 1 —

Planned Parenthood “condemns sex selection motivated by gender bias”. Except, wink, wink, it is not true. Live Action has caught them happily assisting in gendercide time (Texas), after time (NYC), after time (Arizona), after time (Maui), after time (Honolulu). In truth, they are all too happy to assist. Colleen Carroll Campbell covers the story well in her piece A Bad Week for Planned Parenthood.

— 2 —

The U.S. State Department, by law, must produce an annual report on the state of human rights around the world. Scoring another first, President Obama’s administration has removed the section covering freedom of religion. It is simply not a priority for him. CNS has the story.

— 3 —

Are you one of those bigots who want to discriminate against 2 people, in a loving, committed, life-long relationship simply because they are of the same sex?

I covered this topic recently in but how does “gay marriage” hurt you?. Short answer: there are very real, very serious consequences.

Last week the Danish government gave us exhibit #1: churches *MUST* “marry” homosexuals in the same manner that they marry heterosexuals. Forget about religious freedom, the government has spoken. In Obama’s post-religious freedom era, this is a glimpse to our own future. In Denmark, for now, their law applies only to Lutheran churches (their official state religion). LifeSiteNews has more on the story.

Exhibit #2 comes to you from New Mexico. Their “Human Rights Commission”, backed up by a district judge, came down hard on Christian photographer Elaine Huguenin for not accepting a request to photograph a lesbian “commitment” ceremony. Through an incredible stretch, in a state where “gay marriages” are illegal and same-sex “civil unions” are not recognized – “discrimination” based on sexual orientation was found.

— 4 —

ObamaCare, a gift to the abortion industry that keeps on giving:

Spotted by Matt Cassens

— 5 —

Paying off one credit card with another is not a plan to get out of debt. This is the shell game played last week to save Spain (Greece is already written-off). Looking from the outside, one wonders if anyone in the European Union realizes how dire the situation is for them. Apparently at least one Member of the European Parliament does:

Let us pray that we do something soon to reign-in our own big government, crushing debt ways before it is too late (if it isn’t already). According to the Washington Post, the personal wealth of individual Americans has DROPPED 40% in the last few years.

— 6 —

Break open the champagne! Send out the invitations! The private sector is “doing fine,” President Obama declared last week. What a relief for all of us that his focus can rest, undistracted, on continued growth in the public sector.

This happens when he goes off-script – he reveals his honest thoughts. Whoops, it’s time for damage control. Clarifying he said the *economy* (private + public sectors together) is not doing fine. He still could not bring himself to acknowledge the private sector is far from “fine.”

— 7 —

You have told your kids to make their beds a thousand times without lasting success. Finally, technology will solve your problem (and bring you a brighter tomorrow):


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

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