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Above All, Protect Conscience


Were our Supreme Court Jesters smoking something or was their little tantrum of outrageous maneuvers against our American way of life a smokescreen for something more pernicious? If the government had worked the country into a more precarious financial position, news didn’t hit the press. The debt clocks still ticked away at slightly more than $18 trillion, with even Alan Greenspan admitting this was nothing compared to government’s unfunded liabilities. Defaults on student and subprime loans were still accumulating to the tune of thirteen digits, rumors circulated about this or that country facing insolvency, and other nations just expressed increased skittishness about trading in US dollars. As investment guru Michael Lombardi put it, “With one hand the government doles out money. With its second hand, it issues T-bills so it can borrow the money it spends. With its third hand, it prints money to buy those T-bills.”

So why were the Supreme Court Jesters treating the nation like some kind of Miley Cyrus show? First, they legislated even more artificial legitimacy into Obamacare. Cato scholar Michael Cannon said of the decision in King v. Burwell, “The Court today validated President Obama’s massive power grab, allowing him to tax, borrow, and spend $700 billion that no Congress ever authorized. . . . In doing so, the Court has sent a dangerous message to future administrations: If you are going to violate the law, make sure you go big.” Cannon will not rest until he defeats the government’s takeover of 20 percent of the US economy; more than one economist has said once citizens trust government with their healthcare, it’s game over for liberty. In his dissenting opinion, the Honorable Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “Normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

But just as America had no time to mourn the death of the beautiful Farrah Faucett before all attention turned to the loss of pop star Michael Jackson – no sooner did patriots begin to mourn the loss of healthcare choice than all eyes turned to concerns about losing religious liberties. The shockwaves followed the Court’s legalization of gay marriage nationwide. It is impossible to say enough times that what members of the LGBTQ community do is between themselves and their Creator. No disciple of Christ should want his nose rubbed in what goes on behind closed doors, nor would he rebel against the children’s tune, “Jesus said love everyone, Treat them kindly, too.” What is feared is government equal-protection legislation that would trample the free exercise of conscience.

The alarm is not unfounded. For example, Catholic Charities had to stop offering adoption services in states where insisting children be placed in a home with a male father and a female mother was deemed discriminatory. Although the right of clergymen to refrain from marrying couples against their conscience remains intact, government officials performing civil ceremonies must now resign or recuse themselves from officiating in all weddings if they feel marriage is the sacred union of a man and a woman. We’ve already heard the stories of the pizza parlor that refused to cater a gay wedding, bakeries that reject orders for same-sex wedding cakes, and photographers who opt out of same-sex union gigs. Refusing to participate one way or another in gay marriages has caused individuals to be fired and faith-based organizations to lose their tax-exempt status. Imagine paying tithes and offerings to satisfy taxes assessed by the very government that subverts your God-given right to worship as you please!

The assault on traditional families was long ago foreseen. In the old days, it only made sense that a man and a woman would come together to have a family. A mother’s love for her children, fortunately, remains largely uncontested. Fathers used to have a respected familial role as protectors and providers, but society found government did just as well helping moms with food and shelter. One can cite reams of statistics correlating single parenthood and juvenile delinquency as evidence for the value of loving fathers, but there will always be exceptional anecdotes. Today, 40 percent of children are born out of wedlock. Then again, over 3000 babies are aborted each day in the United States.

Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, two girls or two guys can now get together and have a test tube baby. The girls can even be surgically altered into guys or half-guys, and vice versa. They don’t even need the surgery; they need only say they identify as another gender. Traditionalists will view the gender-bending as a denial of physical reality, and LGBTQ’s (plus twenty-odd more letters) will resent insensitive preaching against their personal choices. When all is said and done, the religious arguments sound a little unanchored. That is why the tenets are taken on faith. Statements of belief on either side of the issue are but preaching to the choir, and that is as it should be in a country that protects free exercise of conscience. Unobtrusive traditional views get just as much tolerance as the iconoclastic renegade ones.

But if religion is worship of God and not fiction, practitioners must be free to follow. And so, Michigan’s Catholic leadership rightly announced, “While every person is called to love and deserves to be loved, today’s momentous decision will not change the truth of the Church’s teaching on marriage.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, meanwhile maintained, “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”

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