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.
One of the things implied in the wording of the First Amendment is that the State can not intrude into the religiously held beliefs of the people. Thus, anything the State does must make room for a "conscience clause." But as Francis Porretto points out at Eternity Road in a piece entitled Freedom of Religion, that wall has already been breached by the Supreme Court:
The expansion of federal power past the explicit bonds of the Constitution was the cleavage point. A federal court case of great importance for this proposition was U.S. v. Valentine Y. Byler.Go read the whole piece, and the links in the piece as well. Apparently, when taxes are involved, our Constitutionally protected rights go out the window.
Michelle Malkin, writing in yesterday's Townhall.com, in an article entitled First They Came for the Catholics sounds a call to arms for all Christians to come to the aide of our Catholic brothers and sisters in their fight with the regime. The title itself alludes to a German pastor, Martin Neimoller, who survived Nazi Germany. He is said to have formulated the famous saying "First they came for the Jews, and I said nothing, because I wasn't a Jew..." It is a fact that either we all hang together, or we will surely be torn apart. Now is not the time for divisions.
As you may know, it is Catholic doctrine that contraception violates God's command to be fruitful and multiply, and that abortion is the equivalent of murdering your own child. I am not a Catholic, but I agree with both doctrines. To quote Ms. Malkin:
President Obama and his radical feminist enforcers have had it in for Catholic medical providers from the get-go. It's about time all people of faith fought back against this unprecedented encroachment on religious liberty. First, they came for the Catholics. Who's next?
Of course, with the constant focus on Fast and Furious, the lawless gun running scheme run by the ATF, and the Presidential nomination, this seemingly came out of the blue, but as Malkin makes clear, it has been in the works for some time.
Fay Voshell, always a thoughtful writer, also has a piece in yesterday's American Thinker entitled The State Ruling the Church which notes that if the regime gets away with this intrusion into the consciences of Catholics, they will take even more bold steps. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but as noted above, the government has already breached that wall; this is the next bolder step. But Voshell is right to fear the State none the less. The picture in Voshell's article is that of priests and bishops giving the Fascist salute in Nazi Germany. It will get uglier as the State presses to ensure that every individual bows at the alter of its power. In Fascism, the State is the religion, the Leader is its god, and the State must eventually crush any competition for loyalty under its heal. If you recognize a higher power, you will be crushed as well.
Francis Porretto again:
Now that a "compelling government interest" can be asserted to override any claim of rights, it becomes quite clear that freedom -- of any variety, not just religious freedom -- no longer exists in these United States. We have no rights as such are properly understood; we only have permissions, or perhaps the temporary forbearance of a Leviathan that hasn't gotten around to shackling us yet.
We still have our rights, of course. They exist independently of the government, having been granted to us by a power higher than government. Our rights are neither granted by the government, nor can they be taken away by the simple expedient of claiming a "compelling government interest." There are no "compelling government interests" which can override our fundamental rights, especially our right to freedom of religion. Our problem at the moment is getting our government to acknowledge and respect our rights.
Francis asks "what can we do?" I would advise the first thing is to pray, ask for guidance. We all must be on the side that God is on, mustn't we? Then, follow your own conscience as to how much, and in what ways you can resist, but resist. We are in the midst of a cultural cold war, in which at the moment the other side holds all the cards. But we can still resist. We can make it so expensive to enforce their so-called "laws" merely deemed to have passed by a body that did not pay any attention to us, that they are forced to give them up, or at least to make concessions with us. But the moment they do, they have lost.
Update: Hugh Hewitt, interviewing Rick Santorum, seems to have come to the same conclusions: this is a cultural cold war, and we must resist using civil disobedience. See his article at Townhall.com today entitled Memo to the Catholic Bishops.