Not just freedom to worship

This quote is from a Catholic man speaking to other Catholic men, but his message is for all of us, regardless of gender or faith or state in life. Remember what kind of freedom we as Americans have been able to enjoy; don’t leave the future to others; know when and how to talk back when conscience rights are threatened.

In the early days of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, some American bishops visited Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict knew about the mandate already. In his formal remarks to the bishops, he said that lay women and men – everyday people – have to step up. That’s not just about Catholics. Did you know the owners of Hobby Lobby identify themselves as evangelical Christians, and the owners of Conestoga Wood Products are Mennonites? They’re the ones who prevailed at the Supreme Court. They knew what Benedict was talking about, even if they never heard him speak.

Pope Benedict to American bishops, January 19, 2012 (emphasis added):

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience. Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. 

“Women Speak for Themselves” on the Mandate

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“Those currently invoking ‘women’s health’ in an attempt to shout down anyone who disagrees with forcing religious institutions or individuals to violate deeply held beliefs are more than a little mistaken, and more than a little dishonest. Even setting aside their simplistic equation of ‘costless’ birth control with ‘equality,’ note that they have never responded to the large body of scholarly research indicating that many forms of contraception have serious side effects, or that some forms act at some times to destroy embryos, or that government contraceptive programs inevitably change the sex, dating and marriage markets in ways that lead to more empty sex, more non-marital births and more abortions. It is women who suffer disproportionately when these things happen.” (by Helen Alvare and Kim Daniels of Women Speak for Themselves)

Add this to the toolkit for rolling back the Obamacare/HHS contraceptive mandate: Women Speak for Themselves. The project was started by law professor Helen Alvare, as a method of constructive resistance to claims that the mandate is a good thing for women – and resistance to the corollary, that anyone opposed to the mandate is waging “war on women.”

Check out the WSFT blog and Facebook page. The WSFT web site also offers an opportunity to sign an open letter to President Obama. (from which I took the quotation at the head of this blog post). Over 40,000 people have signed so far. Look at the fact sheets on the WSFT site as well, which make an excellent primer for anyone new to the debate over the mandate.

Here’s an excerpt from a WSFT fact sheet, to give you an idea why I love their style and message. This goes beyond a web site and a Facebook page, by the way; WSFT filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga case.

“By forcing religious employers – groups of people employed to carry out a religious mission of service to persons in need – to ‘get with the government’s program/message’ (the message that birth control and abortifacients are no different from health care, which cures diseases … or that women’s freedom and women’s fertility are ‘natural enemies’) the government destroys the unique WITNESS that these religious institutions offer not only to their employees and clients, but to the world. Again, religious employers are among the last few witnesses in the world today to the truth of the ‘weight’ of sex, to its link with the very existence of human life, and the circumstances into which that new life will be born and nurtured. Women’s health, happiness and freedom are also genuinely compromised when sex is reduced to just another pastime.”

Good message there: being opposed to the mandate is not a matter of disliking the President or his policies, but rather being FOR religious liberty, FOR authentic health care, FOR the value of life. Worth reading and sharing, don’t you think?

A movie for your #Fortnight4Freedom

Norfolk: Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

(by Robert Bolt, from his screenplay A Man for All Seasons)

Today is the feast day of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, put to death in 1535 for being unwilling to mold their consciences to fit around Henry VIII’s political preferences. Have you ever seen A Man for All Seasons, either as a play or a film? Find that wonderful tale of Thomas More. Revel in the sumptuous costumes and scenery, but most of all listen to the dialogue written by Robert Bolt. If I had the means (and the rights), I’d set up a Fortnight for Freedom film festival and make A Man for All Seasons the centerpiece.

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Are there other books or films you find inspirational or relevant to F4F?