When lawless men make the law, there is no law. I write this blog article with deep sadness, because I see great suffering coming on this land. Now that homosexual marriage is the so-called law of the land, the clash of cultures in America has come to a very sharp point. How is a Christian to participate in secular America, where the Christian now must, under penalty of law, do things anathema to conscience and the righteousness of God? Many situations opposed to conscience can, it is beginning to be made clear, arise and threaten the rights of a Christian conscience. A few have already come to light, and the threat is already becoming a promise of more persecution to come.
From an Aug. 14, 2015 article, the National Review on-line had this:
Yesterday the Colorado state court of appeals upheld an administrative-law judge ruling that the Christian owner of a Colorado bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, did in fact have to bake a cake for a gay wedding regardless of the owner’s religious beliefs. The owner, Jack Phillips, had declined a gay couple’s request that he bake a cake for their same-sex wedding because he “believes that decorating cakes is a form of art, that he can honor God through his artistic talents, and that he would displease God by creating cakes for same-sex marriages.” Put in less religious terms, Phillips didn’t want to be forced to help celebrate an act he finds deeply objectionable.
In an article in response to this court judgement, Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., commented in Crisis Magazine:
The court said that any “reasonable” person would not say that selling a cake violates one’s religion. The issue, of course, is whether the court’s notion of what is reasonable is itself reasonable.
And if that were not enough, the man has to implement “sensitivity” sessions for his employees evidently to cleanse them of any lingering doubts about the law. The baker also has to send regular reports to the court of why he refused any customer a sale. He can personally “hold” the strange ideas that something [is] intrinsically wrong with gay “marriages.” But he cannot refuse to sell wedding cakes and stay in business.
On hearing this harsh sentence, the baker announced that he was no longer in the business of selling wedding cakes to anyone. Good news, no doubt, for his competition. Similar cases in other states have dealt with photographers and florists, as well as bakers. The baker’s religious freedom under the First Amendment, the court said, could not be used. What has been overturned here is not just a simple baker’s conscience, but, when spelled out, the very roots of our republic.
Another Crisis article (Sept. 1, 2015, also written by Fr. Schall)) focused on the case of Mercy Catholic Hospital in Redding, California which “adjusted” its Catholic policy of not performing sterilizations of healthy men or women, such an adjustment apparently being made reasonable and proper “under threat of a suit inaugurated by the ACLU.” This Crisis article includes this:
… The hospital’s normal practice is not to allow sterilization procedures. The reason for this prohibition is not arbitrary. It is an unnecessary mutilation of a normally functioning human organ and is use[d] simply as another form of birth control. If the organ were diseased, another kind of reasoning would apply. ….
However, this being said, under threat of a suit inaugurated by the ACLU, the hospital in Redding reversed its normal policy. It allowed the tubal ligation requested by one Rachael Miller. A headline in one of the papers or blogs that I saw read as follows: “If You Want to Be Sterilized in a Catholic Hospital, Institute a Lawsuit.” And that, of course, is why this Redding case fits into the other recent cases like the one of the baker in Colorado. Only in this case, unlike the baker, the hospital capitulated. Instead of taking the case to court and perhaps losing, it did something that it itself held to be wrong. Religious consciences and religious sponsored institutions are increasingly required by law to perform acts that they consider immoral.
Now, of course, the latest assault on Christian right of conscience in America at odds with modern lawful sexual immorality is the imprisonment of a county clerk Kim Davis, whose conscience forbade her to allow her name to be affixed to marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples. A Foxnews report on this summarizes:
LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Kentucky county clerk has appealed a judge’s decision to put her in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Attorneys for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis officially appealed the ruling to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sunday. The three page motion does not include arguments as to why Davis should be released but amends Davis’ earlier appeal of the judge’s order.
Davis objects to same-sex marriage for religious reasons and stopped issuing all marriage licenses in June after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis to issue the licenses and the Supreme Court upheld his ruling.
What is the meaning of freedom of religion if one will be jailed for living the religion? The secular culture has redefined freedom of religion to mean merely freedom of worship, meaning singing and praying to your heart’s content on Sundays while confined to an IRS.-approved house of worship. Those brave settlers who crossed the dangerous Atlantic in search of religious freedom, to settle in an unknown New World of America, must be weeping in their graves (poetically – not theologically – speaking, of course).
Persecution can be expected, more and more. The secular culture has become so strong – as the culture of life has weakened more and more, and settled more and more deeply into its couches and recliners of comfort. I’ll close this blog with an article in the UK’s Catholic Herald last spring on Pope Francis, with some quotes from him. This pope here is very conscious of the persisting struggle of the two cities – the City of Man against the City of God – in this present manifestation, the struggle of secularism against the way of the Lord and His Kingdom.
To avoid living like pagans, Christians must guard against the temptation of “slipping toward worldliness and power”, Pope Francis has said. “This is the daily temptation for Christians, for all of us who make up the Church.” …
After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the people in the day’s Gospel account (Jn 6:22-29) seek Jesus not “because of the religious awe that leads one to worship God,” the Pope said, but “for their material interests.” When one tries to profit from following Jesus — an attitude frequently shown in the Gospels — then one “risks not understanding” and even obscuring the “true mission of Jesus,” said the Pope.
“Many people follow Jesus for their own interests. Even among his apostles: the sons of Zebedee, who wanted to be prime minister and finance minister, sought power.”
He added: “That fervour to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed and to proclaim a year of favour, becomes obscured. It is lost and it is transformed into something of power.”
The Pope said the temptation to exchange religious awe, “which Jesus grants in his encounter with us,” for profit-seeking has always existed.
Such was the nature of the three temptations of Jesus in the desert, said the Pope: the temptation of food or material goods, spectacle or power, and apostasy or “the adoration of idols.” The Pope also warned that “religious comfort” leads to worldliness, and when this comfort grows, it becomes “that attitude that Jesus calls hypocrisy.”
The result is that “we become Christians in name, in exterior attitudes, but the heart is invested in interests,” the Pope said. The consequence of such attitudes is that the faith, the mission and the Church “are weakened,” he said. However, God “wakes up” Christians with the witness of the saints and the martyrs, “who daily proclaim to us that the path of Jesus to follow is that of his mission: to proclaim the year of favour,” he added.
The suffering of these cases is certainly not that of those thrown to the lions for pagan amusement – but it is not consistent with religious freedom either. Nor is the legal redefinition of marriage in a way contrary to natural moral law and also to Christian religious faith, and its enforcement as a legally protected human right, thereby sane public policy and governance. It is insane. It is an assault on families (the foundation of any society), on innocent children to be adopted, on Christian conscience to be attacked, on this nation to be seduced even further from its righteous foundations as “one nation under God.” America, will you yet learn to discern true value? License is not freedom. Money is not wealth. Thrill is not happiness. Lust is not love, and truth is not determined by vote – not of a country, nor of a court of men.