Health care has now morphed into a religious liberty issue provoked entirely – and needlessly — by the current White House. Despite a few small concessions under pressure, the administration refuses to withdraw or reasonably modify a Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate that violates the moral and religious convictions of many individuals, private employers and religiously affiliated and inspired organizations.
Coupled with the White House’s refusal to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and its astonishing disregard for the unique nature of religious freedom displayed by its arguments in a 9-0 defeat in the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court decision, the HHS mandate can only be understood as a form of coercion. Access to inexpensive contraception is a problem nowhere in the United States. The mandate is thus an ideological statement; the imposition of a preferential option for infertility.
The fraud at the heart of our nation’s “reproductive rights” vocabulary runs very deep and very high. In his April 26 remarks to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the president never once used the word “abortion,” despite the ongoing Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia and despite Planned Parenthood’s massive role in the abortion industry.
Likewise, as Anthony Esolen recently noted so well, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s public statement on the conviction of abortionist Gosnell was a masterpiece of corrupt and misleading language. Kermit Gosnell was not sentenced to life imprisonment for sloppiness, for insensitivity, for bad keepsakes, for a backed up drain, for fleas, or even for making women suffer. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering three babies who were born alive after a failed abortion.
None of this is surprising. Christians concerned for the rights of unborn children, as well as for their mothers, have dealt with bias in the media and dishonesty from the nation’s abortion syndicate for 40 years. But there’s a special lesson in our current situation. Anyone who thinks that our country’s neuralgic sexuality issues can somehow be worked out respectfully in the public square in the years ahead, without a parallel and vigorous defense of religious freedom, had better think again.
The current IRS scandal – involving IRS targeting of “conservative” organizations – also has a religious dimension. Selective IRS pressure on religious individuals and organizations has drawn very little media attention. Nor should we expect any.
But the latest IRS ugliness is a hint of the treatment disfavored religious groups may face in the future, if we sleep through the national discussion of religious liberty now.
Most of the news has focused on the surprising/appalling news that groups were singled out for scrutiny if their group hoped to be educating the public on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But there too is a religion angle. In addition to Tea Party groups, the IRS has also been after numerous conservative groups, including religious and pro-life groups, such as the Biblical Recorder, the Billy Graham Assoc., the Catholic League, Catholics United Education Fund, Christian Voices for Life, the coalition for Life of Iowa, Family Talk Action, and a conservative Jewish organization – Z Street.
There have also been revelations that the IRS made as a condition of a favorable ruling for tax-exempt status for a pro-life group – that it not actively protest at Planned Parenthood facilities. Another pro-life group—a Christian organization—was closely scrutinized for involvement in the annual “Life Chain” and prayer vigils and was probed about the viewpoint content of its educational materials.
Christians are not second class citizens. If we stand by and allow the left to destroy our religious freedoms, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.