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Obama Contra Ecclesia by John Barnes

Obama Contra Ecclesia

by John Barnes
February 23, 2012

As the federal government draws ever nearer to the precipice of insolvency, the ability of the powers-that-be to purchase political support in an election year becomes increasingly difficult. Instead, our rulers look to the “freebies” — policy moves that, while far-reaching, cost the public treasury little (at least directly or immediately). This is just as true at the state level as it is the federal. In my home state of Washington, past overspending and a sour economy have left ruling Democrats a state budget situation no one envies. Too many pigs and not enough teats, as Lincoln would say. Instead of energizing their base by expanding entitlement spending or pouring more money into the failing K-12 system, Democrats made redefining marriage their primary legislative goal for 2012.

Likewise, President Obama decided that access to contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization is the most pressing problem facing the country right now. His administration announced earlier this year that all employers will be forced to provide insurance coverage for the aforementioned “health” services, free of charge. The exemption for religious groups is so narrow that most institutions who find such things morally objectionable will still have to comply.These moves also serve as a distraction. Note that contraception, not Obama’s abysmal budget proposal (which is chock full of accounting gimmicks and would bring the country even closer to financial collapse), dominates the national political debate currently. Back here in Washington, the headlines and fanfare surrounding state benediction of homosexual coupling kept folks’ attention away from the reality that the Democrats have no real answers to structural spending problems, underfunded public employee pensions, crumbling transportation infrastructure, a lagging economy, etc.

Given the Catholic Church’s steadfast opposition to the services it will be forced to pay for, the bishops are at the forefront of outcry against Obama’s mandate. Every single bishop has, in some way, voiced opposition. Certainly it’s refreshing to see such outcry, though as they say in marketing, it all depends on your target audience. If the bishops are aiming their statements at their flocks, the more revealing tally would be the number of Catholics who don’t much care what the bishops have to say about anything of moral gravity, particularly below the waist.

If, on the other hand, the bishops’ statements are aimed at putting political pressure on Obama, the outlook isn’t much more promising. Obama is many things, but uncalculating isn’t one of them. He’s gambling the mandate won’t cost him significant political support, and with good reason. The polling cross-tabs are on his side for now, as Gallup found recently. Pace Pat Buchanan, but his fantasy of the bishops declaring to Obama that every pastor will read a denunciation from the pulpit two weeks before the election is wishful thinking at best (however, those for whom climate change is the most pressing issue can take heart — the bishops have asked for collective action on that). A friend raised a valid point:

I have to admit that it strikes me as very odd that a rule mandating Catholic institutions, through their health insurers, offer free contraceptives to their employees is what would spark a row between the U.S. bishops and the Obama Administration. The reason I find it odd is because the coverage that the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to require is already provided by many of the affected Catholic institutions. … This brings up the uncomfortable question about why, when we are remonstrating so vigorously against the mandate, are so many Catholic institutions given a free pass by the bishops?

Early on in this brouhaha, I took flack for suggesting that Obama’s mandate most likely won’t result in a massive exodus of Catholics from Pharaoh’s city. More than a few good folks reminded me that “it’s about conscience, not contraception.” Yes and no.

True, the fundamental issues at hand are conscience protection and the free exercise of religion. But I’m not convinced that’s how most U.S. Catholics will view this in the long run. Humans have a penchant for focusing on symptoms rather than the disease, and contemporary culture is disastrously myopic in all directions. Our only interest in the future is looting it to bribe the present, while our grasp of history and heritage lessens with every high school commencement. We don’t even look at today with sufficient depth to grasp the seriousness of the issues before us. Insofar as the average Catholic considers Obama’s mandate, I suspect it will be from the standpoint of what he’s forcing rather than his right to force it. Since large numbers of Catholics use contraception and sterilization, it’s difficult to imagine this becoming a watershed issue.

Moreover, Catholics, like a lot of Americans, have grown frighteningly comfortable with a very powerful state. The last few years provide examples of unprecedented government overreach — Obama’s mandate that every citizen purchase health insurance, his law allowing the government to indefinitely detain citizens without trial, or the Transportation Security Administration’s free hand (no pun intended) to fondle and x-ray us in airports. Will a population largely accustomed to an intrusive state find yet another coercive intrusion problematic in and of itself?

Admittedly, my conclusions are colored by my experience as a Catholic immersed in politics and public policy in the Pacific Northwest. Not without reason do we call this the pagan Northwest. The culture is uniquely secular, a fact I wasn’t able to appreciate until I lived elsewhere in the country. Washington and Oregon are, after all, the only two states where your Hippocratic-bound physician can legally help you commit suicide. But the secularism doesn’t stop at the vestibule. The mandate hoopla has been going on for a while now and I’ve heard disturbingly little from my parish. My pastor discussed it briefly and vaguely at one point, referring us to an insert in the bulletin. We have a saying in media relations: Friday is where press releases go to die. Likewise in the Catholic Church, bulletins are where announcements go to die. Credit is due to the new archbishop, who has utilized Catholic radio and the archdiocesan newspaper to inform and fire-up the flock with a fervor seldom seen from Washington’s episcopate, but in reality these mediums don’t reach many ears or eyes. And coming back to my original point, my archbishop’s message is falling upon a people not likely to be moved en masse on this issue. This was also a problem when the bishops here tried to motivate Catholics to fight redefining marriage. The measure sailed through the state legislature, and all the while I didn’t hear a peep from my parish.

As is the case elsewhere, the Washington State Catholic Conference appears more concerned with lobbying to maintain and expand social assistance programs than fend off assaults on the Church and the culture. So while many Church leaders are tip-toeing around “sensitive” issues for fear of offending the more squeamish of the flock, the Church’s lobbyists and social service functionaries are climbing farther in bed with a government that wants to silence and neuter it.

What’s more, few of my pewmates are talking about the marriage issue or Obama’s mandate. Most local Catholics I know, and most Catholics I’ve met who supported Obama in 2008, are more concerned with the struggles of everyday life than they are about issues of conscience protection or the legal definition of marriage, which can seem removed or academic. Much more tangible to them are basic questions of survival — how am I going to feed my family if the shop closes, how will I keep my home, pay the doctor bills, what am I going to do when unemployment benefits run out next month, or what am I going to do since the invisible hand wiped out my 401(k)?

Is my homeland a microcosm of the rest of the nation? For your sakes, and for more than a few reasons, I pray not. Solzhenitsyn reminded us that the line between good and evil runs not between polities but right down the middle of every human heart. The secularism, apathy and poor formation rampant here are problems elsewhere, but scenes such as a Wisconsin congregation giving its bishop a standing ovation upon news of his vociferous opposition to Obama’s mandate are encouraging. Still, I suspect that is the exception rather than the rule.

Another important question worth pondering: What role Will Obama’s ultimate opponent play in peeling away his Catholic supporters soured by the mandate? Mitt Romney’s feet-in-mouth comments that indicate an apparent aloofness to the plight of the poor don’t exactly endear him to left-leaning Catholics for whom social justice (read: wealth redistribution) is a priority. Likewise, Rick Santorum’s enthusiasm for overseas military adventures and “enhanced interrogation” techniques are just a couple features of a candidacy self-described “progressive” Catholics find downright frightening. As for Gingrich, well, let’s just say I don’t imbibe enough to consider him viable. Whichever Ringling Brother emerges from the GOP nominating circus, it’s difficult to see any of them being a major draw for Catholics who feel spurned by the president.

While I believe it was dangerously naive to think Obama’s mandate (or something like it) wasn’t coming down the pike, this isn’t about finger-pointing or “I told you so.” This isn’t even a prediction — attempting to predict the future in politics is more futile than trying to contain the Kennedy’s pelvic proclivities. Besides, in graduate school a professor warned us that historians are the worst prophets. This is about making sure we confront a terrible reality: The culture of death is playing to win. Even Catholic Obamaphile Michael Sean Winters, a darling of the “religious left,” is starting to realize this:

I confess I no longer understand Obama. He did not go to the mat to end the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich. He did not go to the mat for comprehensive immigration reform. He did not go to the mat to close Guantanamo Bay. He did not go to the mat for Card Check. He did not go to the mat for a public option in the health care reform. But, he went to the mat over the principle that a Catholic college or charity or hospital is not really religious.

We’ve grown too comfortable with the quiet atrocities decimating western Christendom. Francis Cardinal George, a prominent member of the U.S. episcopate, remarked recently, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” From our comfortable, convenient lives, it’s easy to forget that if you peel back the thin veneer of civilization, a seething cauldron of ugliness and anger stirs underneath. I experienced this firsthand as a Dominican brother with several thousand folks in the West Coast Walk for Like a few years back. Never before had I heard such vitriol thrown at me as when the pro-abortion demonstrators caught sight of my habit. Obama’s mandate is but a dressed-up, sanitized, bureaucratically sanctioned extension of that brutal reality.

Can Catholics — and all Americans committed to religious liberty and rights of conscience — unite and win this fight? Let us pray so. Blessed Pope John XXIII reminded us that, in spite of the gathering darkness, Christ has not abandoned the world he redeemed. But we fool ourselves if we think this a purely political battle and therefore place our hope in salvation by political action. If Catholics put a fraction of the time and resources into building a genuine culture of life that many have put into politics and lobbying, I suspect we wouldn’t be in such a pickle today. Politics, law, and government are the products of culture, yet too many “conservative” folks have it the other way around, and think we can transform and renew our civilization by passing laws and electing the right leaders. They — and, at times, all of us — forget one of history’s chief lessons: The kingdom will not change until the people do.

Clearly, there’s much work to be done.

We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty

We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty


The president of the USCCB also had strong words for Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi

Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Speaking on the theme of “Let Religious Freedom Ring”, Cardinal Dolan noted that “freedom of religion has been the driving force of almost every enlightened, un-shackling, noble cause in American history. Thus, the defense of religious freedom is not some evangelical Christian polemic, or wiley strategy of discredited Catholic bishops, but the quintessential American cause, the first line in the defense of and protection of human rights,” he said.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Zenit.org) – On Monday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of NewYork and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) delivered the Fall Lecture for the The John Carroll Society, an organization within the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., that “promotes the enhancement of spiritual, intellectual and social fellowship among its members.”

Speaking on the theme of “Let Religious Freedom Ring”, Cardinal Dolan noted that “freedom of religion has been the driving force of almost every enlightened, un-shackling, noble cause in American history.”

“Thus, the defense of religious freedom is not some evangelical Christian polemic, or wiley strategy of discredited Catholic bishops, but the quintessential American cause, the first line in the defense of and protection of human rights,” he said.

The archbishop of New York went on to discuss various events of American history that underlined the value of religious freedom. He cited each event as “exhibits” in his case to prove that “religious freedom in American history has hardly been the cause of chilling, repressive, retrograde movements, but of the most liberating, ennobling ones.”

Drawing upon examples of heroism on the part of religious leaders during the American Revolution, as well as, several notable abolitionists whose stance against slavery came from a conscience formed by faith, Cardinal Dolan went onto explain how the religious convictions of notable persons within history supported, and directly caused progressive changes within the United States.

Citing historical scholar Dan McKanan, the cardinal explained that as a result of women’s role during the abolitionist movement, “the slow-but-steady advancement of women’s equality, was also a religiously animated reform movement.”

“This is good reminder, since, today, those who criticize the churches’ mobilization in defense of religious freedom often slyly muddy it with ‘war on women’ slogans,” he said.

Other historical events the cardinal said were influenced by religious freedom were the Reform Movement of the 19th century, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Peace Movement of the ’60s.

Cardinal Dolan went on to speak of the HHS mandate as a direct threat to religious freedom. The Health and Human Services (HHS) federal mandate in question would require employers of religious institutions to pay for insurance that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization procedures to employees.

“Thus, to say it again, the wide ecumenical and inter-religious outrage over the HHS mandate is not about its coverage of chemical contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs — in spite of the well-oiled mantra from our opponents — but upon the raw presumption of a bureau of the federal government to define a church’s minister, ministry, message, and meaning,” he said.

The president of the USCCB also had strong words for Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. The former speaker of the House, who is also Catholic, stated last year that the Catholic Church needed “to get over their conscience thing” regarding abortion and contraception.

“No, we don’t; no, we can’t; as believers, as Americans,” he exclaimed.

Cardinal Dolan concluded his lecture, reiterating that the only freedom that the Church desires is “the freedom to carry the convictions of a faith-formed conscience into our public lives.”


Why Blame Obama? by Randall Hoven

 September 4, 2012

Why Blame Obama?

By Randall Hoven

Let me count the ways.

Before inauguration.  Senator Obama voted for the budgets he would later blame on Bush, and for the TARP bailout.  After just two months of TARP, the Bush administration said it was done — crisis averted.  In fact, President Bush was done after using about $270 billion of the $350 B that was authorized by Congress.  But as a courtesy to the incoming president, Bush would request the second $350B from Congress if President-Elect Obama asked for it.

President-Elect Obama asked for it, and he got it.  Tim Geithner, who could not do his own taxes and who, as a regulator, did nothing about the Libor scandal, would have all $700B to play with.

We usually call TARP a “bank bailout,” but the banks are paying back every cent lent to them.  In fact, the part of TARP that went to banks is expected to return $3B to taxpayers.  And most of that was paid back quickly.  The “cost” of the “bank bailout” was less than zero!

The real bailouts.  When the dust clears, the CBO expects TARP to cost taxpayers $32B.  Who got that money if banks didn’t?  General Motors, Chrysler, and “mortgage programs.”  But GM and Chrysler went bankrupt anyway.

The U.S. auto industry was not “saved.”  Going bankrupt does not have to mean going out of business.  See, for example, Delta Airlines.  It went bankrupt in the usual, lawful way and is operating today.  On the other hand, GM could be heading into bankruptcy again, post-bailout.  Oh, and since the bailout, “GM has increased its manufacturing capacity in China by 55 percent.”

The government auto takeovers did not prevent bankruptcies.  What they prevented was the usual rule of bankruptcy law.  Instead of paying back creditors in a predictable and lawful way, the federal government simply robbed bondholders and non-UAW workers and retirees (especially at Delphi) and delivered sweet, sweet payback to the union bosses of the UAW.

The effect goes beyond the direct costs to taxpayers and specific investors and employees.  Who would make investments or long-term decisions with this kind of rule-of-man uncertainty and ascendant cronyism?

The Stimulus.  Obama sold the stimulus this way: it would keep the unemployment rate from going above 8%, the jobs were shovel-ready, and it would cost $787B.

Since the Stimulus was passed three and half years ago, the unemployment rate has not gone below 8%.  President Obama himself said, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”  And the Congressional Budget Office “estimates that the legislation will increase budget deficits by about $831 billion over the 2009-2019 period.”  The stimulus stimulated nothing but our debt problem.

Spending overall.  Obama requested $350B of TARP before his inauguration.  Within weeks of inauguration, his $831-B “Stimulus” was passed.  And within days of that, he signed a $410-B Omnibus spending bill.

The Omnibus bill and much of the Stimulus and TARP spending occurred in FY 2009, a year that Democrats always try to pin on Bush.  Every dime spent in both FY 2008 and FY 2009 was due to budgets written by a Democrat-led Congress.  And President Obama reigned for the majority of FY 2009.  Democrats own FY 2009.

The result was that federal government spending shot up like a rocket in 2009, to levels unprecedented in peacetime, and stayed there.  In every year of Obama’s four years in office, federal spending was above 24% of GDP.  Prior to Obama, it had not reached that level in even one year since World War II.

Compare federal spending in Obama’s first four years to the four years that just preceded them: Obama’s 24.4% of GDP compared to Bush’s 20.1% of GDP.  In today’s dollars, that is almost $700B — every year.

Mitt Romney gets grief from Democrats for having the goal of limiting federal spending to 20% of GDP.  That simply means going back to the pre-Obama years, not the pre-FDR years.  Bill Clinton spent less than 20% of GDP.  George W. Bush spent less than 20% of GDP.  (Eight-year averages.)  Why is it considered some kind of impossible dream?

Obama did not let the financial crisis go to waste.  He permanently grew the federal government under the guise of addressing a short-term problem.

Taxing.  Obama gets a bit of a bad rap on taxes.  Outside ObamaCare (discussed below), he hasn’t really raised taxes.  OK, he raised the cigarette tax his first month in office.  And he’s always wanting to raise taxes on “the rich,” but he hasn’t pulled that off just yet.  In fact, he’s generally cut taxes.  But look at the way he does that.

Remember the big tax fight at the end of 2010, when Republicans simply wanted to keep the Bush tax rates in place?  The Republican plan was scored as adding $544B to the 10-year deficit since those rates were scheduled to increase.  Democrats, being so concerned about deficits suddenly, argued that that was too much.  They wanted to let tax rates increase on higher incomes.

So here’s how they all compromised: they kept all those tax rates in place and added yet more tax cuts to make the total bill $858B.  The “compromise” was bigger deficits than either party originally proposed.  Here were the tax cuts and credits added by Democrats.  (By the way, a “credit” is considered a “tax cut” even if you had no taxes to cut and the government sent you a check.)

  • Unemployment insurance,
  • Earned income tax credit,
  • American opportunity tax credit,
  • Child tax credit,
  • Payroll tax,
  • Investment incentives,
  • Ethanol and alternative fuels credits.

Let me tell you all the ways that was bad.

(1) These extra cuts and credits increased the deficit — even more than simply doing what the Republicans had asked for, 60% more.

(2) When the goal should be to simplify the tax code, these made it incredibly more complex.

(3) When the goal should be to reduce the progressivity of the most progressive tax system in the developed world, these made it more progressive.

(4) These cuts and credits were “targeted” rather than broad-based.  Politicians picked who the winners and losers were.

(5) The U.S. tax code became a temporary, two-years-at-a-time, made-up-as-we-go-along system.  No one can make long-term financial decisions (investing, buying a house, hiring) based on the U.S. tax system.

(6) The changes did absolutely nothing to address the fact that the U.S. has the highest corporate tax in the developed world, which incentivizes U.S. businesses to move and hire overseas.

(7) The payroll tax cuts put the already shaky entitlements of Social Security and Medicare in even more precarious positions.

In 2007, the Bush tax rates managed to raise 18.5% of GDP, above the 1960-2000 average of 18.2%.  With all the tax-tinkering in the last four years, federal revenues have stayed below 16% of GDP — the lowest levels since 1950.  (That might be a good thing, if we weren’t spending at the highest levels since 1946.)

More complex, more progressive, more anti-growth, more fiscally irresponsible, and less predictable.  Everything you want in a tax system, right?

Debt.  All you need to know about the federal debt and Obama’s plan to deal with it is contained in this chart from his own FY 2013 budget.

Look at that chart in parts. The left part is through 2007. Once we paid down our World War II debt, it never exceeded 50% of GDP.  And when Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 1994, for the first time in 40 years, they brought that debt down from 49% of GDP to 36% of GDP in 2007.

Then Democrats won both the House and Senate.  Democrats wrote the budgets for FY 2008 and ’09, and then maintained those gains with continuing resolutions ever since (not real budgets).  From 2007 to 2012, federal debt held by the public more than doubled as a fraction of GDP!  See that sharp rise up in the chart in those years?

In those few years under Obama, we blasted through the 50% threshold we had kept for over half a century.  Then, only one year later, we blasted through the Maastricht threshold of 60%.  Our public debt is now over 70% of GDP.

Over half a century of reasonably responsible fiscal policy was wiped out in one president’s term.

Now look at the chart and see what comes after 2012.  First is a little one-decade flat period manufactured by Timothy Geithner’s outlandish assumptions like real GDP growth over 4% from 2014 through 2017.  After Geithner’s make-believe 10-year window, we’re off to the races.  Our public debt goes through all levels seen by Spain, Greece, etc. and, in fact, off to infinity.  It never even levels off, much less declines.

And this is Obama’s plan.  This chart is the best his guys could come up with, even making all the bogus assumptions they could possibly invent.  His “plan” is little more than running up the most expensive restaurant bill in history and then skipping out on the check.

ObamaCare.  The CBO now estimates the gross cost of ObamaCare over the next 11 years (2012-2022) as $1,683B.  That is offset by various penalties and taxes of $515B, for a “net cost” of $1,168B.

So why does the CBO say that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit and repealing it would increase the deficit?  Because Obamacare also cuts $711B from Medicare and raises yet more taxes by $569B over the ten years of 2013-2022.

In round numbers (because the time periods don’t match exactly), ObamaCare really costs about $1.7 trillion, but it also raises taxes by about $1.1 trillion (oops, I guess Obama did raise taxes), and it cuts Medicare over $700 billion.  The CBO says.

Even if you believe the numbers, it is a massive increase in spending, a massive increase in taxes, and a massive cut to Medicare.  But I don’t believe the numbers.  Costs will go up, the revenues won’t show up, and Medicare will hobble through with various accounting gimmicks and IPAB dictates.  It expands entitlements at the very time we can’t afford the entitlements we already have.

Energy and regulation.  You might think the above litany would be enough.  But Obama wasn’t finished.

  • He killed the Keystone pipeline.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put that at “more than 250,000 permanent jobs in the long run” that were killed.
  • He put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf (19,000 jobs), restricted Gulf drilling overall, and outright banned drilling in the eastern Gulf for 7 years (230,000 jobs).
  • And of course, no drilling in ANWR or offshore on the east or west coasts.  But Obama is not against offshore drilling everywhere; he provided $2B in loans to Brazil to drill offshore there.
  • The Government Accountability Office estimates that new EPA regulations will result in two to twelve percent of coal plants being closed.
  • Obama is not against all energy companies — just those that actually produce energy.  You might have heard of Solyndra, a solar-panel company that received over $500 million in government funding, then went bankrupt.  Other government-funded “green” companies that went bankrupt: Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, Mountain Plaza, and Olsen’s Mills.  Obama has the reverse-Midas touch when it comes to green energy.  (Or maybe it has to do with his “green jobs czar” being a self-described communist.)
  • If your child was having an asthma attack and you found yourself without an inhaler (they’re not called breathalyzers), you could have made a quick trip to the local drug store and got one over-the-counter.  Not anymore.  Now you will need a prescription, and it might not work as well.
  • And of course, “pro-choice” Democrats are not so pro-choice when it comes to light bulbs.
  • Business regulations too numerous to mention: the EPA’s climate change regulations, OSHA’s “occupational noise” regulation, the EPA’s new ozone regulations, Dodd-Frank, the EPA’s training requirements for renovation projects, etc.

Question for the reader: if you were to pivot and focus on jobs like a laser, would you flood the country with new job-killing regulations as fast as your czars could create them?

I close with a quote.

“If the president loses in 2012, we will lose too, and the country will once again be in the hands of rightwing extremism. There is no option to the left of President Obama.” –Sam Webb, chair of the Communist Party USA, addressing the party in 2010.

Randall Hoven can be followed on Twitter.

Defending the Constitution by Edward B. McLean

Defending the Constitution

by Edward B. McLean

August 31, 2012 
 In Defense of the Constitution, by George Carey
Liberty Press, Indianapolis, IN 1995.
Most Americans are puzzled that their belief in limited government is not matched by government officials who persistently intrude into their daily lives. Also, their settled beliefs regarding what is right— what they are permitted to do— and what they must not do, are changed for them by functionaries in a distant Byzantine capital, far removed from the reality with which most Americans deal. For example, we are told that we may not open public activities with prayer, that a woman may kill her unborn child, and that we may not inquire about a person’s marital plans, sexual perversions, or high school grades when interviewing them as prospective employees. All of this occurs in a nation with a constitution that limits what the government may do. One may well ask if we have a limited government, why then does the government do whatever it pleases? George Carey, distinguished scholar and professor at Georgetown University, reveals for us— clearly and pointedly—how we have reached this sorry state.
His book, In Defense of the Constitution, is of signal importance in explaining what has happened to the American Republic, and it “sets straight” what the intentions of the founders were regarding the nature of the republic. Carey’s book is at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy in American academic and professional communities regarding American constitutional government. This, of course, is what commends it so highly.
Many of the mischievous views regarding the role of the Supreme Court of the United States, the doctrine of separation of powers, and the nature of the federal union, stem from misreadings of the Constitution by “revisionists” such as Parrington, Beard, Croley, and others. Carey reveals the inadequacy of their scholarship, their imposition of preconceived doctrinal positions in their textual analysis, and their mis-statement of the founders’ views. By exposing these writers, whose views dominate modern academia and the minds of federal judges, Carey exposes their distortion of the constitution. These “revisionists” argue that the constitution may be used to rationalize every act of government. They allege that since there is no coherence in the views of the founders regarding the republic they formed, the Constitution may be interpreted in whatever manner one wishes. Carey’s careful examination of Madison’s and Hamilton’s ideas about the nature of the extended republic, the nature of the federal union, the role of the separation of powers, and the constitutional role of the supreme court, demonstrates clearly that the revisionists’ conclusions are insupportable.
For instance, Carey demonstrates the falsity of the claim that Hamilton favored an oligarchical form of government while Madison favored a republic. Those who maintain otherwise distort the words of these two men and evidence a studied refusal to understand what they actually said. Both Madison and Hamilton accepted the value of an extended republic, and they believed it could survive only if the national government was powerful enough to prevent centrifugal forces from tearing it asunder. Due to this fact, neither believed in a totally centralized, national government. Instead, the national government’s power would be conditioned by the particular circumstance at hand and would require ad hoc responses to particular issues at particular times.
In examining the causes for this and other departures from the Constitution, Carey points to the effects that the philosophy of “secular, scientific humanism” has had on our culture, our government, and our understanding of the constitution. This philosophy has its roots in natural rights doctrines spawned by the “enlightenment.” Accordingly, each man is gifted with “individual rights” that precede the existence of both society and government, which are products of the reason and will of those who create them. Each man is considered a “moral universe” unto himself, and no corporate claims may legitimately be made upon him without his agreement. The created state is not bound by any transcendent standard or objective. Its functions and the legitimacy of its acts are thus self determined, and the state may exercise its power as it wishes. It becomes the embodiment of all the aspirations, values, and purposes of individuals—including their very rights to life. This current religious myth of the state, Carey demonstrates, is buttressed by a notion of “scientism” that assumes that the “proper” distribution of goods and services of the society can be decided by those who can act with accuracy and neutrality. This idea is merely an updated version of the ludicrous “felicific calculus” of simplistic utilitarian thought. Such reactionary doctrine is standard fare among many academics, media “personalities,” and national political leaders.
One of the direst consequences of this reactionary thought is reflected in the “myth” that the court is objective and neutral, and that it is not entrapped in the sullied political process. Therefore, the court is best equipped to determine the proper distribution of the goods of society, and to extend or restrict human activity. We are to be the beneficiaries of this wisdom of the court, which is the only institution of national government that can, with a straight face, create and justify discovered rights as “emanating from an penumbra!” The court has further denominated itself as the “final arbiter” of the Constitution.
Carey observes that the most basic organic document that reveals the founders’ ideas of what the court was created to do is Federalist 78. This paper clearly shows that they believed that the court was a necessary element in the constitutional scheme, for the very logic of the separation of powers required it. The founders understood that all government is potentially dangerous to the liberty and well- being of its citizens. This danger is magnified under any arrangement where the legislative, judicial, and executive powers are concentrated in one branch. The separation of powers was designed to prevent this from occurring. As Carey notes: “[The] separation of powers [is] in many respects the most important of the constitutional principles…” (p. 51).
There is, however, widespread confusion—among liberals and conservatives— regarding the purpose of this principle. It is widely believed that the principle is designed to protect minorities from majoritarian rule. This view is completely contrary to that of the founders’. The only real danger to republican government lay in the legislature being tempted to abandon the limits on its powers. The separation of powers would serve to limit such attempts by the legislature. The respective branches would have the power to act and the personal motive to do so.
Obviously, the legislature could not be left free to self-define the constitutionality of its acts. What then was the role of the court in preventing this? First of all, as Carey points out, the court, in assessing legislative acts, was to exercise judgment and not will. Carey clearly explains here that these are not ambiguous terms. Will, he says, “connotes at least a choice among alternatives or goals with the concomitant capacity to achieve, implement, or move toward the attainment of the choice” (p.131). This is clearly distinguishable from the passive quality of judgment, which is used to determine whether the choice effected by the will exceeds the limits of the legislature’s powers. This passive role was to be played by the court, which was not to determine the desirability of the choice made by the legislature. Rather, it could reject such legislation, on only two grounds: (1) did the act violate the “manifest tenor” of the constitution; or (2) did it contain provisions irreconcilably at variance with the constitution. The court was to act within these narrow confines, and was to be “bound by strict rules and precedent” (p. 133).
These prescriptions do not control the power exercised by the court today. Instead, today’s court engages in wholesale rewriting of legislation passed by the people’s duly elected representatives at both national and state levels. Such regulation is based solely on the displeasure the court feels about the policy adopted—not whether the policy violates the manifest tenor of the constitution and contains provisions that are irreconcilably at variance with the language of the Constitution. This unconstitutional behavior of the court is particularly egregious given the fact that it operates in an adytum far removed from the practical affairs of the citizens whose lives it affects. The court does not have the benefit of the “give and take” of opinion and information that is central to the legislative process. Carey also notes that the law schools from which the members of the court are graduates do not provide them with the breadth of information or experience needed to make prudent and intelligent decisions.
The court feels free to exercise its will in place of judgment, and acknowledges no constitutional limit on its power. It imposes its often particularized, narrow, and ill-informed policy choices on the entire nation. It has, in effect, replaced the political processes of the republic in many instances.
Nowhere is this seizure of power more evident, Carey explains, than in the court’s Roe v. Wade decision. It is in response to this decision that Carey suggests the remedy that might be used to compel the court to return to its constitutional role. He rejects both the idea that the correction should be by constitutional amendment and the idea that the court should return the decision to the states. Carey’s objection lies in the fact that to do either is to approve the court’s unconstitutional behavior. Such actions would indicate that the court is empowered to do what it has done. Rather, Carey says the Congress of the United States should enact legislation that would end the “national right” to abortion “on demand.” Such an act would leave the court with only two alternatives: (1) it could accept Congress’ decision and abandon its self-styled supremacy, or (2) it could declare the act unconstitutional and reaffirm its “right” to be the sole interpreter of the Constitution. In the first case, the congress would have effectively stripped the court of its pretentious claims to supremacy, and in the second case should not hide from the threat of impeachment of those justices who insist on extending their powers beyond that permitted by the constitution itself. Were, for example, the congress, under its specified powers in the Fourteenth Amendment, to pass legislation defining the fetus as a person entitled to the full protection of the law, the court would be put on notice that it would either have to admit to legislative supremacy in this case, or risk taking the congress on in a battle which it could not hope to win. In addition, such an action by congress would revive the discussion regarding the appropriate role of the federal judiciary under our constitution; a discussion that unfortunately has not been held for years, but one that is desperately needed. In either case, Carey notes, the actions would help move the United States back to its constitutional anchor, by compelling the court to recognize the fact that its members, like all government functionaries, are to operate under the constitution and not above it, and that there are sanctions to which it is subject if it chooses to abandon constitutional limits on its powers.
It does not seem to this reader, however, that Carey gives sufficient attention to the possibility that the national government approves of this judicial misconduct. The mutuality of interest of all national governmental functionaries in seeking a strong, centralized, and uncontrolled national government, induces each of the three branches of government to tolerate the excesses of the other. Not only does the congress indulge the court in its endless spinning out of vacuous theories of rights, but the court also indulges the congress in its movement to control every facet of American lives by continually pouring out legislation that is presumably based on Interstate Commerce powers; by remaining unwilling to check the excesses and patent abuses of administrative behavior; and exempting itself from obeying the laws it passes for others.
The supposed contest between the branches may be considered only a ritual that never results in the checking of what all of them seek, i.e., national government that can operate above the Constitution. Other methods that might possibly be used to counter the abuses of national governmental power—ones that Carey does not examine fully—are those of interposition and nullification by the states. Most assuredly these are severe remedies, fraught with danger, but ones that the founders understood might need to be employed. One may legitimately ask, however, whether their potential dangers are more troubling than the continued abuse of the constitution by the court and the other branches of the national government.
These minor oversights do not detract from the great merit of Carey’s book. The book is recommended enthusiastically and unqualifiedly to a broad reading audience, which should include anyone associated with the legal and political systems of the nation. Carey’s excellent scholarship and carefully reasoned argument are not the only qualities that commend it. Even more important is the sharp insight it provides into America’s profound political and social crisis.
Edward B. McLean was Professor of Political Science at Wabash College. He was the editor of Derailing the Constitution: Essays in American Federalism (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995). Reprinted with the gracious permission of The Intercollegiate Review (Fall 1995).

Prayer is best source of courage for facing hostile world, Pope says. by David Kerr

Prayer is best source of courage for facing hostile world, Pope says.
by David Kerr

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 29, 2012 / 10:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI says the heroic sanctity of St. John the Baptist proves that a solid life of prayer is the best source of courage for Christians facing a modern world that is hostile to God and those who love him. 

“The martyrdom of St. John the Baptist reminds us, Christians of our time, that we cannot stoop to compromises with the love of Christ, his Word, the Truth. The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise,” the Pope stated in his Aug. 29 general audience address at Castel Gandolfo.

Christian life, he said, requires a “daily martyrdom of fidelity to the Gospel” which can be defined as the “courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions” and can only occur through a “solid relationship with God.” 

Pope Benedict also reflected on the contribution of prayer.

“Prayer is not a waste of time, it does not rob much space from our activities, not even apostolic activities, it does the exact opposite: only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, confident prayer will God Himself give us the strength and capacity to live in a happy and peaceful way, to overcome difficulties and to bear witness with courage,” he said.

The Pope’s words were part of his ongoing weekly catechesis on the theme of prayer, with today’s focus being on the prayer life of Saint John the Baptist.

Since Aug. 29 is the liturgical memorial of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, Pope Benedict noted that he is the only saint whose birth and death are celebrated on the same day.

St. John the Baptist was martyred following his denouncement of King Herod’s incestuous marriage to Herodias, who was his brother Philip’s former wife and also King Herod’s niece.

“For the love of truth, he did not stoop to compromises with the powerful and was not afraid to use strong words with those who had lost the path of God,” said Pope Benedict. 

“Where does this life of rectitude and coherency, this interior strength, completely spent for God and to prepare the way for Jesus, come from?” asked the Pope. 

“The answer is simple: from his relationship with God, from prayer, which is the main theme of his whole existence.”

Reflecting upon the life of St. John the Baptist, Pope Benedict observed that since his conception the prophet’s existence was underpinned by prayer, beginning with his father Zechariah’s song of praise, the “Benedictus,” which is now recited by many Catholics during the early morning prayer of the Church.

His example of a prayerful life is so significant, suggested the Pope, that when the disciples asked Christ to teach them the Our Father, their request is formulated with the words “Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

“St. John the Baptist intercedes for us, so that we always maintain the primacy of God in our lives,” concluded the Pope, before leading the faithful in the singing of the Our Father in Latin.

On Enemies of the Church by JC Sanders

On Enemies of the Church

| Wednesday, August 22, 2012
In my previous post, I took stock of the possibility that President Obama is an enemy of the Church. Supposing that he is, what would this mean for us as Catholics? For one, it would obviously exclude voting for him or otherwise supporting his campaign for re-election: the exhortation that “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Proverbs 25:21) does not extend to lending our enemies aide in the act of actually persecuting, harming, oppressing, or otherwise attacking us.

Actually, we have a pretty clear set of principles for what to do about our enemies—whether they are elected officials or something a bit more local. Our own society has raised tolerance to the level of a civic virtue, telling us constantly that we must tolerate the people we disagree with, that we must tolerate them and their ideas and their lifestyles. But, as the venerable Fulton Sheen noted in Old Errors and New labels,

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience towards evil, and a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. But what is more important than the definition is the field of its application. The Important point here is this: Tolerance applies only to person, but never to truth. Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error.”

We can tolerate President Obama as a person, but not his enmity, his hostility towards us. We have a duty—moral as well as civic—to resist those policies of his administration which will erode our freedom of religion and chip away at our rights of conscience. If, moreover, these policies are to be the centerpieces of his administration, then we have a duty, not so much as Catholics but as citizens, to work to remove him from office at the ballot box.

But tolerance alone is not enough for us as Catholics. We are called to take things a step further, not merely to tolerate our enemies but to love them.

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

We do not merely tolerate our enemies: we must love them and pray for them, even as we hate their sins and persecutions. Moreover, we find that we should do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27), which is clarified to mean that we should engage in the various corporal and spiritual works of mercy on their behalf (e.g. rebuking sinners, instructing the ignorant, praying for them and for their conversions, but also taking care of their material needs when they are finally cast down).

It may not be the seven princes of hell, but hey, it was good enough for Dante. Image source.

Here, then, we encounter one of the paradoxes of the Faith. The Church may have many enemies—those who persecute her or work to undermine her, those who would subvert her authority in public and in private—she herself is the enemy of very few. President Obama may be an enemy of the Church; there have certainly been others before him, from the Mohammedans to Marx to Nietzsche, from the Tudors to Bismarck to the caliphs to Juarez and Calles, from Hitler to the heresiarchs to Dawkins and his ilk, and from Turks and Saracens to vikings to the Roman emperors of the first few centuries AD.

All of these men persecuted the Church or worked to undermine and destroy her, many by force and often with direct intent to do so. Yet none [1] of them can lay claim to being the true enemy of the Church, that is, the true enemy of the Church, the only one who can make the claim that the Church really is his enemy. That enemy is Lucifer, Satan (literally, “the enemy”), the devil; I suppose that we must also count his minions, the devils and demons, the legions of fallen powers and principalities. These are ultimately our true enemies, and we are ultimately theirs. Prayer can only be against them, for their defeat and for God’s protection of us against their devices. They alone can we hate and curse. And since it is ultimately suffering to willingly serve them, we may pity their instruments on earth and pray for their release and conversion.

“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood,” we are warned by St Paul, “but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12). Saint Augustine, for his part, tells us that many people who will become holy are now hidden among the ungodly (there are many unexpected converts), and that there are many false Christians within the Church (think “devoutcafeteria Catholics or “Church hating Catholics,” though even these may change their hearts and minds). In The City of God, Saint Augustine tells us that the Church

“must bear in mind that among these very enemies are hidden her future citizens; and when confronted with them she must not think it a fruitless task to bear with their hostility until she finds them confessing the faith. In the same way, while the City of God is on pilgrimage in this world, she has in her midst some who are united with her in participation of the sacraments, but who will not join with her in the eternal destiny of the saints. Some of these are hidden; some are well-known, for they do not hesitate to murmur against God, whose sacramental sign they bear, even in the company of his acknowledged enemies. At one time they join the enemies in filling the theatres, at another they join with us in filling the churches.

But, such as they are, we have less right to despair of the reformation of some of them, when some predestined friends, as yet unknown even to themselves, are concealed among our most open enemies. In truth, these two cities are interwoven and intermixed in this era, and await separation at the last judgment” (City of God Book I Chapter 35).

We cannot therefore treat as true enemies even those who are openly enemies of the Church, for even among them are to be found future friends. Our only true enemy is the devil, and we fight him best through prayer, fasting, penance, the sacraments, and joyful obedience to the Church; and above all by placing our whole trust in God. In short, we fight a spiritual battle which we can win only by becoming faithful, hopeful, and loving men: that is, by becoming saints. In the words of Saint Paul:

“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good…Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality, bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them…Do not repay anyone evil for evil..Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12:9, 11-14, 17, 21).

President Obama may be an enemy of the Church—but the Church is not and can not be the enemy of President Obama. We may not be able to vote for him in good faith or with clear consciences: but we can and even must still pray for him. There are no wasted prayers, even if the only effect is to prepare us for another four years under his rule (or worse). In the end, we can but pray and persevere; these tasks are difficult enough, but the rest are for God.


[1] Unless we want to count such things as Nietzsche’s claim to being anti-Christ.

About the Author ()

JC Sanders is a cradle Catholic, and somewhat of a traditionalist conservative. He is currently a physics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas, where he studies high-intensity laser-plasma interactions and Raman processes. He is a lay member of the Order of Preachers, with a three year commitment to the Order. JC has been happily married since June of 2010. He has at times questioned – and more often still been questioned about – his Faith, but he has never wandered far from the Church, nor from our Lord. “To whom else would I go?”

Barack Obama: Enemy of the Church? by JC Sanders

Barack Obama:  Enemy of the Church?

| Tuesday, August 21, 2012
This is part one of a two part series.


There is a meme which is beginning to make its rounds on facebook stating simply that President Obama is an enemy of the Church. Given his tyrannical HHS mandate, which seems to be specifically targeted at Catholics [1], there does appear some truth to the statement. His administration has a history of being overly-antagonistic and/or discriminatory against faithful Catholics. This includes:

  • Denial of funding to Catholic campaign against human trafficking due to their refusal to perform/refer abortion to the people they are aiding
  • Classification of pro-lifers (meaning faithful Catholics) as potential terrorists
  • The current HHS Mandate requiring all employers (including faithful Catholics) to provide their employees with coverage specifically of contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients as “healthcare”
  • The hidden $1 abortion surcharge, whose sole purpose is ultimately to to force all insurance policyholders to pay directly for abortions
  • The US Department of Justice’s increasing ideology that “traditional” marriage (which is the Catholic teaching on marriage) equals bigotry
  • The US Department of Justice’s attempts to abrogate to itself the authority to determine who can and cannot be a minister (e.g. Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. E.E.O.C., which could set the precedent to do so in the future).
  • The administration’s attempt to dictate what does and does not count as a “Catholic Institution,” both in the context of the HHS Mandate and in other contexts (e.g. US Department of Labor’s declaration).

Obama has gone so far as to make the HHS Mandate a centerpiece of his campaign. Miss Sandra Fluke, the “poor” poster-girl for the “need” for this mandate, has taken to the campaign trail with him, presumably to continue the discredited narrative that contraception is expensive though necessary for women [2]. Tellingly enough, the penalty for not providing these supposedly necessary services of contraception, sterilization, and abortion is less than the penalty for simply refusing to provide health insurance altogether.

President Obama has been a little bit quieter about the $1 abortion-surcharge which will be added to many peoples’ insurance plans [3]. Many people will not be given the option of opting out of this surcharge, which will come directly from their own pockets. The fact that the fee is paltry is irrelevant, though it would be insult to injury if the fee were large. Both this fee and the HHS mandate demand that Catholics and others of good faith burn the proverbial grain of incense before the altar of Caesar. G.K. Chesterton describes the scene aptly:

The Temple of Divus Julius, that is, of Julius Ceaser under his divinized title.

The life of the great civilization went on with dreary industry and even with dreary festivity. It was the end of the world, and the worst of it was that it need never end. A convenient compromise had been made between all the multitudinous myths and religions of the Empire; that each group should worship freely and merely give a sort of official flourish of thanks to the tolerant Emperor, by tossing a little incense to him under his official title of Divus. Naturally there was no difficulty about that; or rather it was a long time before the world realized that there ever had been even a trivial difficulty anywhere. The members of some Eastern sect or secret society or other seemed to have made a scene somewhere; nobody could imagine why. The incident occurred once or twice again and began to arouse irritation out of proportion to its insignificance. It was not exactly what these provincials said; though of course it sounded queer enough. They seemed to be saying that God was dead and that they themselves had seen him die. This might be one of the many manias produced by the despair of the age; only they did not seem particularly despairing. They seemed quite unnaturally joyful about it, and gave the reason that the death of God had allowed them to eat him and drink his blood. According to other accounts God was not exactly dead after all; there trailed through the bewildered imagination some sort of fantastic procession of the funeral of God, at which the sun turned black, but which ended with the dead omnipotence breaking out of the tomb and rising again like the sun. But it was not the strange story to which anybody paid any particular attention; people in that world had seen queer religions enough to fill a madhouse. It was something in the tone of the madmen and their type of formation. They were a scratch company of barbarians and slaves and poor and unimportant people; but their formation was military; they moved together and were very absolute about who and what was really a part of their little system; and about what they said, however mildly, there was a ring like iron. Men used to many mythologies and moralities could make no analysis of the mystery, except the curious conjecture that they meant what they said. All attempts to make them see reason in the perfectly simple matter of the Emperor’s statue seemed to be spoken to deaf men. It was as if a new meteoric metal had fallen on the earth; it was a difference of substance to the touch. Those who touched their foundation fancied they had struck a rock.

The fate of many early Christians. Image source.

With a strange rapidity, like the changes of a dream, the proportions of things seemed to change in their presence. Before most men knew what had happened, these few men were palpably present. They were important enough to be ignored. People became suddenly silent about them and walked stiffly past them. We see a new scene, in which the world has drawn its skirts away from these men and women and they stand in the center of a great space like lepers. The scene changes again and the great space where they stand is overhung on every side with a cloud of witnesses, interminable terraces full of faces looking down towards them intently; for strange things are happening to them. New tortures have been invented for the madmen who have brought good news. That sad and weary society seems almost to find a new energy in establishing its first religious persecution. Nobody yet knows very clearly why that level world has thus lost its balance about the people in its midst; but they stand unnaturally still while the arena and the world seem to revolve round then And there shone on them in that dark hour a light that has never been darkened; a white fire clinging to that group like an unearthly phosphorescence, blazing its track through the twilight’s of history and confounding every effort to confound it with the mists of mythology and theory; that shaft of light or lightening by which the world itself has struck and isolated and crowned it; by which its own enemies have made it more illustrious and its own critics have made it more inexplicable; the halo of hatred around the Church of God.

Persecutions of the sort found in the Roman Empire (or, for that matter, in many places today) may or may not be forthcoming from all of this. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration has at the very least implemented a variety of policies which have been so many little attacks on the Church, on the freedom of religion and on the rights of conscience [4].

Many will dismiss all of these “little” attacks on the Church by noting that they are policy measures meant to advance a vision of the world which “happens” to be in opposition to Catholic moral teachings. Thus, Obama is pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-sterilization, pro-”gay marriage” more so than anti-Catholic. There are plenty of people who could say they are opposed to Church teaching without actually being intentionally anti-Catholic or intrinsically hostile to the Church.

On the other hand, the claim to not being hostile to the Church herself implies some measure of tolerance, a live-and-let-live attitude which disagrees with the Church, and perhaps even attempts to minimize her authority in the public square. This is, after all, what President Obama himself claimed, both in his keynote speech at Notre Dame [5] and in his broader speech to the nation as (Senate) candidate Obama [6]. This is somewhat less reconcilable with using the power of government to compel cooperation with intrinsic evils. A coincidental pattern of antagonism and hostility may not make him an outright enemy of the Church, but he is no friend to Catholics and others of good faith.

In the next piece, I will consider what this means for us as Catholics.



[1] See religious exemptions for Amish, but not for Catholics.

[2] In truth, it is expensive: morally expensive to use, but not financially expensive to obtain. But then, the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t care about economic cost effectiveness.

[3] Perhaps this point is kept quieter because more people acknowledge that abortion is evil than acknowledge that contraception is evil, and thus this plan is more disfavorable to the voters.

[4] Speaking of which, it is also very telling that the group “Catholics for Choice,” which until recently has been all about the primacy and freedom of conscience over against Church teachings, is so suddenly against that same primacy and freedom when the government under a pro-abortion president makes policies which violate the conscience of the citizens. The organization’s goals are apparently not the support of conscience rights so much as the demand for ready access to contraception and abortion-on-demand, as well as opposition to the authority of the bishops.

[5] In his keynote speech during the Notre Dame graduation, he said (emphasis mine):

“Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions. So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women”

Nothing in the policies of his administration has in the least suggested that he actually honors the consciences of those who disagree with him; this is especially true in the HHS mandate, the abortion surcharge, the lack of a conscience protection clause in the Obamacare bill which was ultimately rammed through both houses of Congress by Democrat majorities.

[6] This is his once famous and now perhaps forgotten Call to Renewal keynote address about religion and politics in America. This speech was one of the speeches which put him on the map, so to speak, and was widely praised by the media at the time. The relevant passage is (with my emphases):

“what I am suggesting is this – secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history – were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. To say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”


About the Author ()

JC Sanders is a cradle Catholic, and somewhat of a traditionalist conservative. He is currently a physics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas, where he studies high-intensity laser-plasma interactions and Raman processes. He is a lay member of the Order of Preachers, with a three year commitment to the Order. JC has been happily married since June of 2010. He has at times questioned – and more often still been questioned about – his Faith, but he has never wandered far from the Church, nor from our Lord. “To whom else would I go?”

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