OBAMA ORDER IS STATE OF EMERGENCY
The order by the Obama Administration to Catholic organizations requiring them to violate church teaching constitutes a state of emergency for all Christians.
No doubt some who are reading this know that such seemingly hyperbolic language is uncharacteristic for me. It is. I have assiduously avoided what I think is Chicken Little language. In most cases, hyperbole only diminishes the point being made.
Not this time.
I’m not Catholic, (it’s my twin brother who’s the priest), but I do know when the government has overstepped its boundaries–and that threatens all religious believers. The American Founders were crystal clear on this point when they drafted the careful wording of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” there is nothing ambiguous about this. Under our Constitution, Congress makes laws; the President enforces them. There is no way any law passed by Congress could be construed as imposing a violation of conscience on a religious body because Congress is prohibited from doing so.
As soon as the President’s advisors came to him and said he could order religious bodies to change what they believe or act against what they believe, he should have said to them, “That’s impossible. The Constitution won’t allow it.” The fact that he didn’t is reason to be greatly alarmed.
In my current work on the life and thought of the great German Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the phrases I’ve been struck with is, “status confessions,” a Latin phrase meaning “a state of speaking.” In other words, a time to be heard and not to be silent.
This is such a moment. It is not about a debate over contraception or birth control, it’s about church and state; the realm of God and conscience and the realm of the secular authority.
America was founded in part because the consciences of believers were being encroached upon by the secular powers in Britain and in Europe. The very first amendment to the Constitution was made because of tectonic pressures applied by the heirs of that painful struggle to secure the first of all freedoms.
Perhaps President Obama and the members of his administration are ignorant of that period in American history. If so, they need to go back to the books.
My hero Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood up and spoke out in his time, eventually paying for it with his life. Thankfully, for Americans, the consequences of speaking out now are not so dire. If we remain silent too long, though, it will grow more difficult and more dangerous.
This is a “status confessions,” a time for speaking. The voice of the church must be heard.
Speak now, or be forced to forever hold your peace.