Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Call It Religious Freedom Others Call It 'Silly Prejudice'

Once again I am referring to an article written by Chuck Colsen. I have been following some of his writings as of late and found this one to have presented a valid question. It certainly does give one pause for thought on this issue. What say you?



It seems one man’s religious freedom is another man’s “ridiculous prejudice.”

One government official fumed that Catholic doctors were refusing to perform abortions—abortions that were perfectly legal. He wrote in a memo: “After all, these scruples are in most cases nothing but ridiculous prejudices . . . One is tempted to ask: where does state authority come in these cases, or else, is the state, perhaps, not anxious to assert its authority in this particular instance?”

Well, Nazi Germany was seldom hesitant to assert its authority, even over religion and individual conscience. As described in the June/July issue of First Things, the government official I just quoted was a Nazi bureaucrat who was none-too-happy that doctors in Italy’s Lake District—a heavily Catholic region—wouldn’t perform abortions. The Nazis, you see, had legalized abortions “in countries occupied by the Germany army.” Refusal to participate in government-sanctioned procedures drew his ire.

Fast forward to today, where there is heavy debate over whether medical professionals can be exempted from performing services that violate their religious beliefs.

The comparison is fair. And disturbing. But the problem isn’t restricted to medical practice.

Just last week, the New Hampshire legislature voted down a gay “marriage” bill because the governor had the audacity to insert language that would protect clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in gay “marriage” ceremonies or from providing marriage-related services.

As reported in the Concord Monitor, one New Hampshire legislator opposed what he called the “totally unnecessary and harmful amendment” because it “entrenches homophobia in statute.”

So, one man’s religious freedom, it seems, is another man’s homophobia—or silly prejudice, as the Nazi official called it.

Another legislator was quoted as saying, "It is puzzling to me, why we would allow some to discriminate and others not."

Maybe he is wondering, as the Nazi official did, “where state authority comes in this case.”

As I write in the upcoming June issue of Christianity Today—which I urge you to read—totalitarianism thrives when the state succeeds in what Hannah Arendt called the “atomization of society.” Arendt, a political theorist who fled Nazi Germany, described how totalitarian states seek to create a mass of individuals isolated from the very structures that have held civilized societies together for eons. Once individuals are alienated from families or from their faith communities or civic groups, they stand alone before the power of the state.

Is the United States teetering on the edge of totalitarianism? No. (Here I would have to take issue and say that we are at the brink given the agenda of the current administration and the appointment of the recent SCOTUS judge who is basically an unknown. Ms. Sotomayor's leanings would certainly determine just how close we are to toppling over the edge.)

But, should we Christians be concerned when the government seeks to strip health care workers of their right of conscience? Should we sniff out danger when a state fails to protect the religious rights of clergy, or wedding planners, or photographers who choose not to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies? Or when a new administration considers whether or not to force faith-based groups to cease what it considers “discriminatory” hiring practices?

Should we be concerned? Yes, we should.

7 comments:

Leslie said...

OH! I am so glad to see you back, Ticker!!! Whew!

I will be back to read and comment on your post. Just wanted to let you know I was so glad to see it!

~Leslie

Ticker said...

TY young lady. I am glad to be back. Actually I am just glad to be alive after the most recent ordeal with the perfect example of Government run medicine.

Anonymous said...

Ticker,

Sadly I think we know enough about Sotomayor to wish there were enough solid votes to filibuster.

Guarino: Obama nominates judicial activist

Stay well

Fred Gregory

Mustang said...

At some point along the way, we have become confused about such things as freedom of religion. The right to worship as we choose does not extend to one doctrine suppressing another. This trend has existed for a while now; making allowances for Islam, while demanding that Judeo-Christian beliefs be hidden from public view is a glaring example.

If we truly believe that each person has a right to choose his or her own form of worship, then we cannot make any exceptions to this; doing so defeats the supposition. And yet, I do hear disturbing discussions across the political spectrum, as you’ve outlined here. For example, France is evaluating Scientology, wondering if it is not a cult, rather than a religion. One individual responded, “Yes, and so too is Islam a cult.” My warning is that this is a very slippery slope. If “we” decide that Scientology is a cult, and Islam, then what must follow are Buddhists, Hindus, Native American animists, and then Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Now people on the left, who I generally regard as godless (even if I know that is not completely true) may use the term “silly prejudice” in making their uniformed arguments … but that is simply one opinion of many, at least half of which might disagree. But just as government has no business determining long-standing religious beliefs and organizations as “cults,” neither does the government have the right to force any person to violate their religious principles; not even if they originate from erupting volcanoes.

The supposition contained in this statement, ” … there is heavy debate over whether medical professionals can be exempted from performing services that violate their religious beliefs,” pursues a wrong-headed approach to the issue at hand. God Almighty automatically exempts us from performing unprincipled services. The question is whether the government believes it has the authority to overturn long-held religious values. If the government believes that it has this authority, then we are talking about a totalitarian regime disparate from the ideas expressed by our founding fathers.

The Hippocratic Oath simply warns, “First, do no harm.” Harming a fetus would seem to violate even that secular proscription, but no one is talking about that. Licensing physicians should have nothing whatever to do with “obeying the government” when, in doing so, a doctor must violate his principles. Yes, we should be concerned; more than this, we must resist any such government imposition.

Ticker said...

"If the government believes that it has this authority, then we are talking about a totalitarian regime disparate from the ideas expressed by our founding fathers.

The Hippocratic Oath simply warns, “First, do no harm.” Harming a fetus would seem to violate even that secular proscription, but no one is talking about that."

Well said Mustang.

Leslie said...

Well, Mustang hogged all the points I wanted to make :D

Excellent blog post Ticker, great tie in to history and present day.

*Mustang, your comment was right on!

People need to study history and realize the road of which we are now on.

Ticker said...

TY young lady but I must give the credit to Chuck Colson as I did in the first intro paragraph. I am still struggling with being able to concentrate and sit long enough to actually write a complete post but seem to be improving each day. I thank you for your thoughts and prayers. They certainly mean a lot to me.