Religious Liberty in Jeopardy

Two threats to religious freedom have appeared in a legislature on the East Coast and a court on the West Coast. These attacks are, I think, a microcosm of the systemic attack on religious freedom and conscience in the nation as a whole.

As noted on this blog, President Obama’s administration is seeking to remove conscience rights from healthcare professionals. In Connecticut, state legislators are seeking to define the administrative structure of the Catholic Church (HT: catholicmanhood). In California, the UC Hastings law school is attempting to bar the Christian Legal Society from accepting members who are Christian and profess certain beliefs consistent with Christianity (oral argument here).

Freedom of religion is essential to the flourishing of a democratic society. Indeed, the Founders came to America seeking a land free from religious tyranny where one could worship God according to the “dictates of his own conscience.” These attempts by governmental entities to take from us our religious liberty is repugnant to both the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation.

Religious believers in the United States could be a strong force in the future of conservativism, if only we stand and are willing to suffer the persecution that others are currently suffering. By so doing, we may recover the intent of the founders and return the U.S. to its religious roots.

4 thoughts on “Religious Liberty in Jeopardy

  1. John-are you talking about the Catholic/Christian dichotomy? I agree that there are different ways the Catholic Church qua Catholic and qua institution should approach the issue that varies from, say, Evangelicals. I’d like to explore this more.

  2. Certainly since Fr. Neuhaus’s passing, we have lost a great voice in the push to put religious discourse back into the mainstream. Yet, publications like First Things continue, and others can rise up and take over what Neuhaus (and Weigel, Novak, etc.) have begun.One common theme among the authors I note is what you noted–the Church’s social teaching. I think that is a key to bringing religion once again into the public square. I’ve actually discussed the point with a (very secular) professor of mine. I wanted to write a paper discussing how principles of subsidiarity affect a particular issue in the law. She thought it was fascinating, fresh, and original. I thought it was perfectly natural to see the world and the law in those terms.If we begin with Catholic social teaching, that is a way to bring in a comprehensive and coherent theory about social structures that is both (a) grounded in the dignity of the person, and (b) rather apolitical because it appeals to a broad spectrum of constituents. Neither liberals or conservatives have all of Catholic Social Teaching on their side, which is why I’ve had to be content to live in the middle most of my life. I think we have a lot to say to the world, and our country in particular. Even though we’re past the days of religious speak being commonplace in society, we still have a voice and the Church still has a role to play in the discussion.

  3. Aaron, I am wholly in agreement that religious believers can be a strong force in the future of conservatism in America. But I think we need to think about how we should address the issues; that is, we cannot address them with the same language that we would alongside our Christian brethren. I don’t have time now, but I should like to mine this topic. Peace JAW

  4. No not necessarily Catholic/Christian dichotomy, although that may be how it manifests itself currently. I think, rather, it’s just a general observation that we need to think hard about how we are going present natural and divine law in the public square, because it’s only recently (historically speaking) that we have faced such secular hostility to religious-speak in the public square. And that is not going to change; there is no going back to the day where it will be an accepted language of discourse (do you agree?). So we have to find a new one. To be sure, the Catholic Church’s social documents lead the way on this because of their traditional trust in human reason, and so we can learn a thing or two from them. But these documents don’t address our concrete daily situations, and so we need to learn the language, or come up with our own. intellexistine?

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