Monday, July 2, 2012

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

With all the hairs raised and spittle flying over "Obamacare," the Fortnight for Freedom, and the Supreme Court's decision regarding our health care system, a lot of people have made themselves look really bad by misunderstanding both the position of their opponents and, unfortunately enough, their OWN position. So Catholics, set down your pitchforks and torches for a minute and let me inform you of what you actually believe.

Here's the situation: Everyone* is required to have health insurance. All employers* are required to provide health insurance to their employees. Contraceptives and abortifacients are included in that health insurance.
(*: with a few exceptions, but those exceptions are not noteworthy to our discussion.)

First, let's talk about what we, as Catholics, DON'T believe (or, at least, are not bound to believe by the deposit of faith). Morally and religiously speaking, there is no problem whatsoever with the concept of universal health care. In fact, it is a good thing - the bishops have even actually stated support for the idea of a public health care system. The moral imperatives involved here are that we should heal the sick and wounded whenever and however possible, as Jesus commands us: "Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:13-14). It is a good thing to seek care and treatment for all ill people.

Pictured: Universal health care in action.

All objections that can be raised to this idea do not fall under the categories of moral or theological teaching, and thus are not within the scope of Catholic obedience. The fact that any given plan for health care may be unfair, or unaffordable, or unfeasible, or [insert complaint here] is not a matter of Catholic teaching, but rather a matter of politics and/or economics. Far too many people have misrepresented the Catholic Church's position by projecting their own thoughts and political leanings on the Church, as if they were the spokespeople for the bishops. When someone asks, "Why is the Catholic Church so opposed to the health care plan?", they answer, "Well, it's shooting our economy to pieces, destroying our medical system, blah blah herpaderpablugga blah..." and essentially giving every reason EXCEPT the reasons that actually have anything to do with Catholic teaching. Of course, those may still be completely valid reasons, but the point here is the Catholic Church does not lend her weight to them - they are questions for another sort of person (other than a priest) to answer. The Church will simply sit back and say, "The goal of universal health care is noble and good. Figure out a way to make it happen if you can. Just don't come up with a plan that sucks and doesn't work."

You know. Like one that thinks THIS is okay.

So what is the Catholic objection here? Only this: the health insurance program currently in place requires Catholics to pay for certain things which we find immoral. Namely, those things are contraception and abortion. Simply put, we'd like to have the option not to pay for those.

Honestly, this shouldn't even be an issue. The government should just say, "Oh, sorry, forgot you guys are big fans of babies," and let us go on without paying for things we find immoral. Keep the health insurance plan in place, fine, whatever, that's our elected officials' prerogative, just don't make us pay for the part that we believe to be intrinsically, objectively evil. Don't violate our religious freedom by forcing us to pay for things that our religion abhors.

You see, we do in fact have the right not to participate in things we believe to be wrong. Read the Constitution. No, read the Declaration of Independence... no, hell with it. Read the history of the colonization of America, starting in Europe even before the Mayflower skipped across the pond like a rock from a giant's hand. America was founded PRECISELY BECAUSE of this kind of issue - religious liberties and economic/political rights being trampled by a government that wasn't really actively seeking to destroy the rights of minorities, so much as it just didn't care about them. We came here to escape that. But now, we see that even here, even in a country founded on religious freedom with a government built specifically on human rights, with the right to religious freedom being first and foremost among the Bill of Rights... even here we are not safe.

Happens in every century.

Here, then, is the source of all the Catholic outrage, and the largest organized civil-disobedience campaign since the racial equality movement of the 1960s. Here is why this stuff matters to all non-Catholics as well as Catholics, and why flocks of atheists, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, New Agers, and URRBODY should be streaming through the streets to aid us in our protests: Our religious freedom is being ignored. Violated. Stripped and beaten and nailed to the Constitution. And yet nobody else seems to care. 

Not a single group of people would be blind to the problem if Jews were forced to buy pork, or Muslims forced to buy bikinis, or Jehovah's Witnesses forced to join the Army, or the Amish forced to buy cable TV packages. It would be fairly clear what's going on, and as Americans, we Catholics would rally around our brethren of other faiths in support of their right to practice their beliefs according to the dictates of their religion and consciences.

In fact, if we don't support one another in the free practice of religion, then we bring a terrible consequence upon our own heads, for if one belief system can be oppressed, then so can all others. An aside to my non-Catholic brothers and sisters: If we Catholics go down, it's only a matter of time before you non-Catholics are next. It doesn't really matter at all whether you agree with us on the morality of contraception or abortion. It's the principle of free practice of religion that matters here, whatever that religion may be. You need to help us, or we won't be able to help you when the time comes.

So what can be done? Many things. First and foremost is prayer. Pray for our nation, for our leaders, yes, even for Barack Obama himself. The hard thing about this war is that it will not be won by hatred, but by love. We must pray for our enemies and ask for forgiveness on behalf of our persecutors, as Christ did on the cross. If you'd like to pray in unity with the whole American Catholic Church, you can find a beautiful prayer by clicking on these words: Litany for Liberty. Catholics in particular, now is the time to go to Mass, more than just on Sundays. Go to daily Mass whenever possible. Make frequent use of Confession and Eucharistic Adoration wherever you find it.

Second, take action in your hearth and home. If you have a family, sit down with them and talk about this. Talk about the issues, how you all feel about it, talk about what you want to do about it as a family, and pray together. If each person who wants to stand for religious liberty would just do this one simple thing, the war would already be won. Mother Teresa tells us, "What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family." The same applies to world freedom and equality. Set things right with your family, and the world will change around you.

Third, go back to step 2. Seriously. Don't you even dare to step into the public arena until you've talked about this with your family. The state of your home is the state of your heart, remember?

Fourth, if you have built a strong foundation of prayer and discussed all this with your family, and you want to start spreading the movement outward, one good place to start is here: Another place I highly recommend is here: If you're Catholic, ask at your parish or contact your diocese to find out about local events or efforts where you can get involved. If you're not Catholic, now's a good time to make some Catholic friends who can plug you into the activism scene.

Make no mistake: this will not end well for the opponents of religious liberty. For 2000 years, men have attempted to destroy the Roman Catholic Church, both from the outside and from the inside. Their efforts have only served to test the Church in fire, to temper her steel skin and sharpen her sword, for she wears the armor of God, and is led unscathed through hellfire and ruin by Christ Himself. Mere governments of man cannot withstand her, nor can they shake her foundations. We are the Church, and we have awakened to the sound of drums and hoofbeats.

The Ents are about to go to war.

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