Catholics Could Go to Jail over HHS Mandate

April 25, 2012

Via COAST and the Weekly Standard:  The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is fighting back, and they’re not pulling their punches:

We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today.

We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened. Now is such a time. As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans . . . .

. . .

HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services has received wide attention and has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty. These features of the “preventive services” mandate amount to an unjust law.

. . .

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Americans shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry. The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences, not only an appeal to the Constitution for America to honor its heritage of liberty.

In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, “The goal of America is freedom.” As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition:

I would agree with Saint Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

It is essential to understand the distinction between conscientious objection and an unjust law. Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience—conscription being the most well-known example. An unjust law is “no law at all.” It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.

(Endnote omitted.)

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11 Responses to “Catholics Could Go to Jail over HHS Mandate”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    I know I’ve made this point before and I’m very confused about it – doesn’t the Bible specifically endorse slavery?

  2. Snoodickle Says:

    Let’s let the readers decide for themselves.

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)


    • That’s permission and reform of a pre-existing institution, not creation or endorsement. God is moving His people away from slavery, not toward it.

      “historical critic” gave much longer, more detailed answers in the previous conversation, linked above. Any readers who want to judge for themselves should read those (or at least read the rest of the Bible) as well.

      I’m not going to repeat those answers, or make the same mistake of taking you seriously and taking the time to answer you at length here.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        You have to concede though that the foregoing passage, among many others, is at the very least troubling, and downright bizarre when thought of as the word of God, or at least included in a book that embodies the word of God.


      • No, it’s not. God was taking the first steps toward redeeming fallen man. People used to keep slaves and treat them horribly; under the Mosaic law, they treated them something like human beings. It’s not perfect, but a lot of things in this world aren’t. God is working on it.

        E.g., under the Mosaic law, if you knock out your slave’s tooth, you have to set him free.

        Are you aware that slavery continues to exist in large parts of the world today? It’s basically the Christian West that decided it should be abolished. That’s God continuing to work in the world.

        Perhaps He could have fixed the world a lot faster, but that would involve (among other things) destroying everyone who was still wallowing in evil and hadn’t chosen Him yet. I assume you wouldn’t want that.

      • Snoodickle Says:

        No, but I would have liked him to say please don’t have slaves.


  3. […] Catholic Vote .org calls us to fight the HHS mandate (see also “Catholics Could Go to Jail over HHS Mandate”): […]


  4. […] Obama has started trying to outlaw the church; if Obama is re-elected, Catholics could go to jail.  Romney and Ryan make it clear that a Romney-Ryan administration will not try to outlaw the […]


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