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-A Choice Between Progressive Agenda and Religious Freedom?

by Dr. D ~ February 14th, 2012

Image representing New York Times as depicted ...

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The continuing saga of President Obama verses the Catholic leaders on Contraceptives and abortives is drawing out many to take sides and causing some to say some  things that they have thought for years, spoke about only among friends, but haven’t dared to speak about in public.

Last week it was the shocking display of those questioning if maybe the Founders made a mistake when they guaranteed religious freedom in the Constitution.  This week there are those outwardly stating that there must be limits to that freedom in the face of higher rights defined by a progressive agenda. In this case, women’s right to choose and be provided with contraceptives, abortives, sterilization, and ultimately abortion.

Here’s the latest to propose that the progressive understanding of woman’s rights should trump the free exercise of religion in America. Nicholas Kristof writes in an editorial for the New York Times:

Look, there’s a genuine conflict here. Many religious believers were sincerely offended that Catholic institutions would have to provide coverage for health interventions that the church hierarchy opposed. That counts in my book: it’s best to avoid forcing people to do things that breach their ethical standards. …

The basic principle of American life is that we try to respect religious beliefs, and accommodate them where we can. But we ban polygamy, for example, even for the pious. Your freedom to believe does not always give you a freedom to act.

In this case, we should make a good-faith effort to avoid offending Catholic bishops who passionately oppose birth control. I’m glad that Obama sought a compromise. But let’s remember that there are also other interests at stake. If we have to choose between bishops’ sensibilities and women’s health, our national priority must be the female half of our population.

Response: The current progressive thought displayed here by Kristof is representative of many. If there is a choice between the progressive agenda and religious freedom then somehow religion and its proponents must give way to progress. As Kristof says here- “there are also other interests at stake” and those interests should trump religion regardless of the Constitution.

This battle is far from over, in fact it is just beginning. It revolves around the secular-progressive need to re-define the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. Even though the Founders saw fit to place it as the first of the First Amendment rights in the Constitution, look for a major effort to limit those religious rights in the next 5-10 years and find ways to trump them with ‘more important’ interests and ‘higher’ progressive rights particularly of women and homosexuals.

The media, the schools and universities, and the courts will be the major venues for this battle. As hundreds of secular progressives are appointed to federal benches all across America, the religious freedoms that we have taken granted for so long in America will be increasingly challenged.

<<Here’s a link to Dr. Albert Mohler’s great response to Kristof’s editorial>>             *Top

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2 Responses to -A Choice Between Progressive Agenda and Religious Freedom?

  1. Brian

    A quote from the NYT article:

    ‘The basic principle of American life is that we try to respect religious beliefs, and accommodate them where we can. But we ban polygamy, for example, even for the pious. Your freedom to believe does not always give you a freedom to act. ”

    A key distinction, which seems to escape the notice of the NYT editor, is that there is a huge difference between banning practices and mandating practices.

    Various states have long banned polygamy, and did so in response to Mormon practices in the 19th Century. The Supreme Court upheld such a ban in the 1880′s in a case called Reynolds. However, the Obama administration is, rather than banning a practice, is attempting to mandate that people of faith participate in a practice.

    The over-the-top analogy I would draw would be that a government can ban human sacrifice, but instead this administration is trying to mandate participation in human sacrifice.

    So far, in the history of this Republic, there have been very few out-right bans on religious practices. Other than the polygamy example mentioned above, about the only one I can think of involves various state mandated restrictions on snake handling, by the relative handful of Pentecostals in Appalachia who are involved in this practice. The governmental ban on religious practice has been applied very cautiously and only in extreme circumstances. On the other hand, mandates which require an action by a religious group are pretty much unheard of. Can anyone think of a prior example? Yet that is what Obama is doing – requiring religious groups, even indirectly, to act in support of a mandated position which is contrary to their believes – - an absolutely unprecedented position in American law.

    A second analogy I would draw would be to various “separation of church and state’ cases, where the mere impression that someone might somehow believe that the state was putting a seal of approval upon the religious group. For example, part of the reasoning in the recent “Bronx Household of Faith” cases is that an impressionable person might believe that the NYC public schools were, in some fashion, endorsing this church by allowing it to meet on weekends in the school. Simply allowing that appearance or perception would be a shocking affront to the ‘separation of church and state” and schools must not be allowed to host weekend church meetings to avoid such a misunderstanding. (The same reasoning has been applied to counsel other church and state cases).

    Now, lets think about Obama’s mandate that religious groups/institutions must provide contraceptive/abortion services to females affiliated with these organizations. It would be very easy for an individual, becoming aware that a religiously affiliated school must provide contraceptive services, to assume that the church supports the contraception/abortion agenda. So, where is the worry about the mistaken appearance of support in this context?

  2. Dr. D

    Brian,
    Right on and thanks for contributing the value added analogies.

    Here’s the latest wrinkle to this saga -a claim that conservatives are trying to ‘ban’ contraceptives altogether. Notice the way the Kristof article starts out- “…I had thought that Jesus talked more about helping the poor than about banning contraceptives.” That beginning is not a mistake or hyperbole but the latest liberal strategy to turn the whole issue around and use it for political gain and alarm folks who do not pay that much attention. Watch the MSM play up this crazy angle.

    Nobody is talking about ‘banning’ contraceptives yet that is what you will find on the progressive blogesphere- little or nothing about religious freedom but a concern that conservatives are trying to ‘ban’ contraceptives with the so-called ‘religious right’ supposedly leading the way.

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