Gay Marriage, HHS Mandate and The Fortnight for Freedom 2013

Prayer, study and peaceful action.

What are you going to do for the Fortnight for Freedom 2013?

Bishop Francis Malooly of Maryland gives one of the most clear and easily understood outlines of the issues the Church and all Christians are facing in America today.

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Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 3. Puppet People = Legislators Who Can’t Take the Heat

Public Catholic exists because of two events.

1. President Obama declared war on my church. I first learned about the (then) proposed HHS Mandate forcing religious institutions to purchase insurance that paid for contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization in the fall of 2011. I knew immediately that this was an unprecedented attack on religious freedom. I also saw it as a deliberate attempt to destroy the Church’s moral voice by forcing it to compromise its teachings in the face of government power. I had known for a long time that Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church in particular, was under growing secularist attack. But this mandate went beyond what I thought any President would do.

2. The Republican-led Oklahoma House of Representatives killed over half the pro-life bills backed by Oklahomans for Life in 2012. They used exactly the same tactics the Democrats had used to kill pro-life bills for decades. When Oklahomans for life attempted to hold them accountable in the same manner they had held Democrats accountable in the past, House leadership became verbally abusive with pro-life activists.

They carried this so far that a prominent pro-life activist who had spent decades in the trenches fighting for life and who had basically gotten these people elected to office wrote a cowering letter of apology to the House Republicans. Pro life leaders apologized to so-called “100% pro-life” Republicans for expecting them to vote pro-life. Think about it.

The first event — the HHS Mandate — got me out of my chair. The second — the arrogant, heartless, hypocritical killing of pro-life bills by “pro-life” legislators — set me in motion.

I knew before they killed these bills that the official Republican Party hierarchy was lying about being pro-life. I knew the money backers who really run the party thought that all this religious stuff their candidates spouted was an embarrassment. I knew they regarded it as a necessity that they had to allow in order to gain power for themselves. I also knew that some of the legislators in both parties were phony Christians and phony pro-life supporters who just said and did what they had to in order to win elections. I knew this, had known it for years.

But I would have staked my reputation on the sincerity of some of the others. I would have defended them anywhere, to anyone. When I saw these people I believed in turn their backs on the babies, it took the air out of my lungs.

I fought all this. I mean, I fought it. I spoke at press conferences, debated and tried to kill ruse votes on the floor. Then, I went to my colleagues one at a time, trying to get enough support to force a vote on the  personhood bill. It takes hours to do this by yourself, but at the end of the day, you know, and I mean you know how people stand on the issue.

I didn’t release this tally to the press. That’s not the way I operate. But I did share it with my colleagues who were working with me to try to get a vote on this pro-life bill. Somehow or other, it ended up getting printed. About 10% of the members of both parties were willing to go against the leadership and demand a vote on the bill. The rest of them caved to the manipulations and the pressure.

Exactly what kind of pressure made all these “100% pro-life” legislators turn their backs on what they said they believed?

They were faced with:

1. Threats of having an inside group of consultants who were hired by the leadership run candidates against them in their next campaign. They were threatened with well-funded puppet people opponents. It went without saying that they would lose the machine that had elected them. Since they were puppet people themselves, this was scary stuff.

2. “Lobbying” from the State Chamber of Commerce which told them that “social issues” such as pro-life legislation created a bad business environment. They were told that being pro-life and supporting other moral values made Oklahomans look like a bunch of hayseeds. In other words, they were convinced (and it wasn’t too hard to convince them) to be ashamed of the morals and values they had touted when they wanted to get elected.

3. Shunning by their pals. By this I mean the we-won’t-speak-to-you/eat-lunch-with-you/tell-you-jokes/sit-with-you grade school discipline of being on the outs with your caucus, your party, your team. I’ve experienced this. My own party nearly censured me for passing a pro-life bill. Our local liberal newspaper, The Oklahoma Observer, publishes demands for me to be kicked out of the party on a fairly regular basis. I haven’t been to a party function in years because I don’t like being called names and looked at like I’m a lower form of life.

Being genuinely pro-life will get you in trouble with the real “haters” of American politics, and that’s a fact.

I put up with all this and by the grace of God, I kept going. But the puppet people couldn’t take the hurt and ran away in fear of a competitive election campaign. They betrayed what they said they believed, turned their backs on innocent unborn children, because they wanted an easy re-election to office and to be invited out to lunch with the guys.

Even though this happened in Oklahoma, it could happen anywhere. It has happened just about everywhere. The bewildering lack of courage shown by puppet people who hold elective office isn’t just an Oklahoma problem. It may not even be just an America problem. It exemplifies why electing puppet people is such a disaster for this nation, and ultimately, for our world. It also shows why, no matter who we elect, nothing changes.

The reasons I’ve concentrated on the Republicans in this is because (1) they were the ones with the power, and  (2) they are the party that claims to be pro-life. I am outraged by the way Democratic party activists treat the pro-life people in their midst, by their hostility and attacks on Democrats who support traditional values and their mindless championing of anything that attacks the sanctity of human life.

But what I’m talking about in this post is the flat-out betrayal of pro-life people by legislators who claimed to be pro-life, campaigned as pro-life and were elected for being pro-life. Those pro-life bills weren’t killed by Democrats. They were killed by Republican legislators that thousands of trusting pro-life people had worked and sacrificed to elect.

The “pro-life” Republicans didn’t start out this way. They fought for pro-life legislation, rather than killing it, when they were on their march to power. It was only after they had taken over the state government, picked up all the marbles, that they turned against the issues and people who had supported them in election after election. I’ll go into how and why I think this happened in Part 4.

In the meantime, listen to me carefully: We will never overturn Roe v Wade, we will not save traditional marriage, we will not stop the tide of killing that is euthanasia, organ buying, baby selling, human trafficking, not so long as we continue to elect puppet people to office.

Why? Because they represent the powerful interests that financed their enormously expensive campaigns, rather than the people who elected them. Because they can’t think their way out of a paper bag. Because they don’t have any guts. Because, not to put too fine a point on it, they get hysterical and run and hide at the least bit of opposition.

Do they feel bad about any of this? Not that I can see. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is impossible to overestimate the political amnesia of a political puppet. Less than two weeks after he worked to kill the Personhood bill, I had one of them look me in the eye and tell me, “I would stand for pro-life even if  it meant the lives of my own children.” I think he thought he was telling me the truth.

I didn’t argue with him. There comes a point where there is no point.

“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” John Heywood said that a long time ago. I was blind once. I helped kill unborn babies and honestly did not comprehend what I was doing. But, back when I was doing pro-choice things, I at least knew that I was pro-choice. I wasn’t living under the delusion that I was pro-life.

This post is deeply personal to me. Too personal, really. I’m not over this enough to talk about it in public. I decided to go ahead because the American people deserve to know this. Nothing, but nothing, is more on point than a letter from the front lines.

It’s really a simple equation.

Puppet People = Legislators Who Can’t Take the Heat

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Introduction

Stop slogan-voting. Stop hate-voting. Stop being manipulated.

We are in a fight for religious freedom in America. Religious freedom is sometimes called the “first freedom.” It is, after all, enshrined in the First Amendment. But there is another reason to call it the “first freedom.” Religious freedom is the basic human freedom on which other freedoms are built. It strikes to the core of our souls, of who we are as individuals and how we view ourselves and other people. All the questions of human worth and the proper relationship of government to the individual person have their genesis in the right to religious freedom.

If the government takes on itself the power to subjugate religious institutions, to bring them under its heel, it will also take onto itself the power to, as Elizabeth I said, “open a window” into its citizen’s souls. That is what is at stake.

The only hammer we the people have in this debate is our vote. Like the good citizens we are, we do vote. We vote. And then the people we elect proceed to represent the same special interests they represented before we voted. We change the people who hold office, but we can’t change the direction of government. It’s as if we pull a lever and find it’s not connected to anything.

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about all this; praying about it, and trying to decide what I can do in my small Oklahoma world to aid in this fight. I think that the truth is our best weapon.

I am going to write a series of posts which I will publish here on Public Catholic every Monday. I want to use this series to tell you the truth about politics as I understand it. That means I’m going to tell you some things you don’t want to hear, including things about we the people that we don’t want to face. What I’m going to say isn’t The Truth. It’s not absolute. It’s not part of the eternal verities by which we all should seek to live. It’s not anybody’s gospel, not even mine. It’s just how I honestly understand the process and what I think is true about our situation.

While what I say is not The Truth, my ideas are certainly informed opinions. I’ve spent many years in elected office and many more on the political sidelines. I’ve been on the inside of at a least one of the critical issues we face as a nation,

You can disagree with me all you want. It doesn’t bother me in the least. My goal isn’t to manipulate you into thinking as I think. My goal is to jump-start your understanding and to inspire you to begin thinking for yourself.

We the people are giving away the power of our vote by letting ourselves be manipulated into hate-voting and slogan-voting. It’s time to stop.

It’s Not About Us or This Country. It’s About Them.

It is not, ever, about us.

It is not, ever, about this country.

Congress is once again heading for another titanic fight over a deadline. This time it’s the debt limit.

Now, I ask you, what would you consider important enough to shut down the government, damage America’s credit rating (all you credit card holders out there, think what happens to your payments when your interest rate goes up) and further traumatize an already traumatized citizenry?

The HHS Mandate? Would saving the First Amendment be enough reason?

Nope.

Ending our cycle of continuous wars? Would stopping the hemorrhage of money and lives that results from always being at way with somebody, somewhere be worth it?

Nope.

What would matter enough to our elected officials for them to push this country to the brink of a full-blown economic shut down and depression. Here, in the words of one of these elected officials, is what’s good enough for them:

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,”

That’s it, folks. Mano y mano. Show the president that we’re for real. Get our side up on the political score board.

We’re talking respect for us from the big guy. Anybody stupid enough to elect us is probably also a total fool. We can “frame our message” so that they’ll let us get away with it.

The Politico article discussing the latest looming nation-endangering political temper tantrum reads in part:

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,”

House Republicans are seriously entertaining dramatic steps, including default or shutting down the government, to force President Barack Obama to finally cut spending by the end of March.

The idea of allowing the country to default by refusing to increase the debt limit is getting more widespread and serious traction among House Republicans than people realize, though GOP leaders think shutting down the government is the much more likely outcome of the spending fights this winter.

“I think it is possible that we would shut down the government to make sure President Obama understands that we’re serious,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state told us. “We always talk about whether or not we’re going to kick the can down the road. I think the mood is that we’ve come to the end of the road.”

Republican leadership officials, in a series of private meetings and conversations this past week, warned that the White House, much less the broader public, doesn’t understand how hard it will be to talk restive conservatives off the fiscal ledge. To the vast majority of House Republicans, it is far riskier long term to pile up new debt than it is to test the market and economic reaction of default or closing down the government.

GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

The country would eventually default if House Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, which the Treasury estimates will hit in late February or early March. The government would shut down if House Republicans instead were to refuse to extend the law funding current government operations on March 27.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/behind-the-curtain-house-gop-eyes-default-shutdown-86116.html#ixzz2Hy7M9Fpw

Reverend Katharine Marple at Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally

Reverend Katharine Marple blogs at Keep Life Legal. She is one of Public Catholic’s most stalwart supporters and a dear sister in Christ. I am going to reproduce her testimony, There is Beauty for Ashes below the YouTube video. The video is her speech at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally in her state.

Reverend Katharine Marple: My Story, There is Beauty for Ashes

I was on my way to the abortion clinic with my mom. It’s been so long ago that I don’t remember the day of the week or what month it was; but I do remember that is was 1978.

Isaiah 61:3 says, …..‘To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.’

When I found out I was pregnant, my mother told me that under no uncertain terms was I going to have a baby and live in her house. My grandmother (who lived with us) wouldn’t look at me. You’re smarter than this, they said. So I left. There’s not a lot of places a pregnant 17 year old girl can go who doesn’t have a job or a car. I ended up at my aunt’s house. I knew she would be empathetic because she loved children and had many of them. She might be able to talk my mother out of the abortion. Actually, she stayed strangely neutral. I didn’t know I needed a savior, not a way out.

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I felt like I was in a bunker waiting out the enemy. But my back was against the wall and it was only a matter of time that I would cave and go home to tell the enemy that I would go to the clinic.

‘And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me….’*

Two years prior, my mother confessed to me that she had an abortion. She had been in a relationship with a married man that was her high school sweetheart. I never liked the guy for the way he used my mother up without waiting around long enough to see the results. She would come home from one of their weekends and I could see the dried tears on her face when he would once again tell her he can’t leave his wife yet. Yet another man that talked a woman out of motherhood – she aborted their child just like he aborted her from his real life.

Maybe that’s why Mom wanted me to get rid of my baby – because she was cheated out of hers? I’ll never know the answer. I can’t make myself ask her.

‘The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.’**

You know, I have thanked God for many, MANY things but I am especially thankful that I really don’t remember much about the procedure. I was a basket case and scared out of my mind. I mean, how does a doctor suck a baby out of the womb? I knew nothing about what was going to happen. Abortion wasn’t talked about much so I didn’t understand what was really going on. I had no idea that there was a viable life inside of me. Everyone said it wasn’t a baby YET.

When my mom made the appointment, I remember the woman at the clinic told her that we needed to go into a back door so we wouldn’t be ‘assaulted’ by the pro-life protesters. There wasn’t very many of them as I recall. And honestly, I don’t remember anything after that. THANK YOU GOD.

‘….and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.’***

I wish I could say I learned something from that experience and I lived a chaste life with the knowledge of the world that I desired no more, but the truth is that I was too drunk for too long to care. Abortion kills everyone – it killed me. While most other women I knew had at least one abortion apiece, I was the one that took it hardest. They said I was too young to get so maudlin about such a small thing. But what they didn’t realize is that their drug and alcohol abuse was why their abortion(s) didn’t matter.

How do I end this story? It really doesn’t end. Every Post Abortive Woman remembers that day every day of her life. I spent the next 23 years after the abortion in on and off drinking binges and two lousy marriages. But one December day in 2001 I met Jesus and in 2005 I married the man God set aside just for me. Now I have beauty for ashes and joy unspeakable! The missing piece of the puzzle had finally been put in place; now I am complete. Do I still think about the abortion every day? YES – because God has a plan for me and my ministry to help women that have gone through the horror of abortion.

‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’ (Matthew 28:19-20, KJV)

*Psalm 27:6 (KJV); **Psalm 103:6 (ESV); ***Hebrews 8:12 (KJV)

HHS Mandate: It’s That Simple

The strum und drang surrounding the HHS Mandate complicates the issue beyond comprehension for a lot of people.

The mandate attacks religious freedom. I think it’s a bellwether of government enforced religious discrimination to come. As such, it as serious as any issue can be. It puts the government of the United States in the position of attacking the first freedom guaranteed to the people of the United States, the freedom to practice their religious faith without government interference.

In addition to those high-flying arguments against the HHS Mandate, we also have common sense. That is what a new ad by the Catholic Archdiocese of St Louis brings to the discussion about the mandate: Common sense.

The ad, which is called It’s That Simple, begins by saying, “You wouldn’t force an atheist to buy a Bible,” and goes on to “You wouldn’t force a vegetarian to buy a hamburger, then why would you force a Catholic employer to buy your birth control?” Each question is punctuated by the statement “It’s that simple.”

And it is. That simple, I mean.

It’s That Simple is well worth watching. Have a look below.

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Politics, Religion and Lilies That Fester

To Dolan or not to Dolan? That was the question.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and his offer to pray the Benediction at the two political conventions were all the news a few weeks ago.

It seems that he offered to pray at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The Republicans, who are sharper tacks all around when it comes to currying religious political favor, answered with an immediate yes and then used their publicity machine to spread the word.

They made the most of the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of all the bishops in these United States, was going to dip his vote-getting toe into their little pond. In their glee over what they obviously wanted to play into a de facto endorsement by the Catholic Church, they did everything but put out press releases saying, “We bagged the big guy!”

The Democrats, on the other hand, dissed the good Cardinal and his attempt at bi-partisan even-handedness by not even bothering to reply when he offered to pray the benediction at their convention. Their message, which was equally loud and clear, was “We don’t need no traditional Christians.”

It would have stayed like that if the Republican publicity machine hadn’t set off a mini-firestorm with its announcements. It looked, as the Rs intended, like Cardinal Dolan was playing favorties between the two political parties. Gloating Republicans slapped him on the metaphorical back while outraged Dems denounced him for being a partisan political hack.

Forced to defend himself, he explained that he had offered to pray at both conventions, and the Republicans had accepted his offer. The Democrats, on the other hand, had not even acknowledged it.

The officials who run the Democratic Party evidently had their heads stuck so far up their own militant secularism that it took them a couple of days to figure out that this wasn’t the big vote-getter they had originally believed. This gave time for the whole thing to become the church-state fight du jour.

Cardinal Dolan, and through him the Catholic Church, became one of the many bones of contention that allow the two political parties to chew on one another in their never-ending quest to get to 51% of the electoral vote.

After a few days of dealing with public indignation over this bit of hubris, the Ds evidently decided that maybe one itty bitty prayer wouldn’t compromise them all that much. Cardinal Dolan and his benediction were a pill they would swallow.

The two political parties want slightly different things from the Church. The Republicans want control of the Church’s moral voice so that they can use that voice to win elections. The Democrats, who have given up on using the Church’s moral voice, want to silence the Church, and, as much as possible, strip it of all its ministries.

Both parties want to bend the Church to their purpose and their will. The Republicans want to do this by patronizing the Church. The Democrats by attacking it. The result in both instances would be to slice and dice the Church down to an equally voiceless political carcass to be fed on and ignored.

That is precisely what the Rs and the Ds have done to every other denomination who has worked with either one of them. The so-called liberal Christian denominations and the so-called “evangelical” or “conservative” denominations have both carved up the Gospels to suit their politics. We expect certain denominations to give us a hatched up phony Gospel supporting corporatism, and the economic rape of the American people. We know that certain other denominations are going to come blaring in with their truncated Gospel supporting abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

We expect it. We know it’s coming. And truth be told, this weary wariness of what are obviously bogus claims to holiness on the part of these denominational-leaders-political-operatives is a big part of what is driving the ugly secularism that is developing in this country. We just don’t believe these guys are speaking for anybody but themselves.

These religious leaders have so destroyed the Gospels on which they stand in order to fit in with their political crowd that they are useless and shorn. They don’t have a moral and prophetic voice left.

The only denomination I’ve seen that has stood against this, the only voice that has refused to edit the gospels down to a political convenience in the name of getting their boy elected is the Catholic Church.

My great fear is that the pressures of fighting these fights against the out-of-control secularism and social nihilism that are tearing at our society will erode the Catholic Church’s determination to stay clear of politics and follow the Gospels. I am afraid that the Church will allow itself to become another bite of power in the maw of these two political parties. I dread the day on which the Catholic Church’s moral and prophetic voice is cast before political swine. I dread it to my core; not only for my Church, but for my country.

I hope and pray that I will never hear the American Bishops endorse a political candidate or a political party. As a Democrat, the way my party treated Cardinal Dolan disgusted me. If I had any remaining ability to be ashamed of my party, I would be ashamed of them. If I was a Republican, I would be equally ashamed of them, for different reasons.

I have seen the way that Republican office-holders treat the religious leaders who pushed to get them elected once they are in office. I have also seen those same religious leaders cow-tow to the elected officials and back down on the very moral issues that they say prompted them to be politically involved in the first place. It is an ugly and disillusioning thing to have to watch.

I don’t know how to be cynical enough about both these two political parties. I try, but my cynicism just can’t keep up with them.

I am not cynical about my Church. I go to mass and touch Jesus in the Eucharist and I am healed. There’s no way to be cynical about that.

I understand that the bishops are trying their best to defend the Church in what is an unprecedented attack in the HHS Mandate. I understand how grave this is. I also know, sadly, that both parties want the Mandate, each for their own reasons.

The Mandate helped the Republicans bag the big guy. It is probably why more and more Catholics are switching from Democrat to Republican. I think it is why the Democrats rudely ignored Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s generous offer to pray at their convention. Both parties are playing to their base, and right now their lead violin is the Catholic Church.

The only church that the politicians I know still respect at all is the Catholic Church. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the Catholic Church is big. It represents millions of votes. Second, neither party has succeeded in getting the Church to edit the Gospels to suit their politics. The Catholic Church still calls both parties to task when they violate the teachings of Christ. The same Pope who refuses to bend the Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on the sanctity of human life also refuses to support neo-con goals of corporate dominance and the endless wars of empire. I don’t know of any other church that does this.

There’s an old saying in politics; keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The Church is the enemy of both the Democrats and the Republicans for the simple reason that it has, at least until now, refused to be co-opted by either of them. Politicians want to control, to co-opt groups and organizations and turn their purposes to the politician’s use. That is what the Republicans have succeeded in doing with a large number of denominations and what they are currently trying to do with the Catholic Church.

If they can’t control and co-opt, then politicians try to strip the person or group of power and influence so that they can’t give them any trouble in the future. It’s the classic “you’re either with me or against me” scenario played out in terms of budget items, regulations and laws. That is what the Democrats are trying to do to the Catholic Church right now. They have, as their Republican counter-parts have, managed to co-opt a large number of denominations; to get them to interpret the Gospels in ways that favor Democratic party goals. But they’ve given up on ever being able to turn the Catholic Church to their purposes.

Enter the HHS Mandate, the refusals to give grants to Church organizations who won’t refer for abortion and all the other ugliness we’ve seen and will continue to see.

The bottom line here is that neither political party is anybody’s friend. Nobody’s. Not yours. Not mine. And certainly not any church that preaches and teaches the Gospels of Christ.

Do we need the Church to step up and be the prophetic voice of God in our society? Oh my, yes we do. We need them more now than ever before.

But the very fact that we need them so badly is a reflection of what choppy water they are going to encounter as they do this. Our culture is trapped in a downward spiral. It is disassembling itself morally, spiritually and economically. Only the truth of the Gospels can equip the American people to save themselves from themselves. We need revival, but we will never get it from anyone less than a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Politics and politicians have to be engaged. We live in a democracy, which makes involvement in politics our duty as well as our right. But our god must be God, not our political parties.

Too many good people have been led astray  by bad shepherds who have taken the R or the D for their god, and have taught us to do the same. These religious leaders have become false prophets and failed shepherds who lead the flock astray. They are like Shakespeare’s lilies, who, when they fester, stink far worse than weeds. One failed religious leader does more damage than many militant secularists.

My humble suggestions to the bishops, and any other religious leader who is thinking about involving themselves in politics, are these:

1. Never, never, never compromise the Gospels of Christ for any political party. Call the Republicans out on their economic policies and blast away at the Democrats for their attacks on the sanctity of human life and marriage. Don’t compromise the gospels for these birds. Please.

2. Be prepared to be disliked, pandered to and, if the pandering fails, accused and abused. The world does not like real Christians. It never has.

3. Let the laity be the ones to slug it out in the political trenches, but arm us with good teaching and absolute fidelity to Christ so that we may do it well. Teach us. Lead us. Inspire us.

The Catholic Church is the only effective moral and prophetic voice left in this country. My plea to Cardinal Dolan and all the bishops is please, don’t allow my Church to become another religious political pawn.

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But Leave it There

I respected the woman speaking to me. She and I had the same background, shared most of the same beliefs. But we were at odds that day. She looked at me with the hot-eyed stare of a person who is not to be reasoned with and pointed her finger at me to emphasize her words.

“You can go to church as much as you want,” she said, “but leave it there.”

She was angry with me because I had passed a bill that, among other things, required unemancipated minors to either get parental consent or a judicial bypass before elective abortions.

The abortion wars destroy friendships in politics, and my friendship with this lady was ending over this bill. I could have said a lot of things to her that day, but I sensed some deep wound driving her anger, and I didn’t want to hurt her. So, I held my tongue. I knew as I walked away that this woman who had been my friend was now my enemy.

I also knew that her request that I leave my faith in the church pews was both arrogant and common. Accusations that people who believe in the sanctity of human life are trying to “legislate their religion,” or that they want to “build a theocracy” are standard commentary from the other side of the debate.

I try my best to never reply in kind. I don’t call people who favor legal abortion names. I don’t attack them for slips of the tongue or research their personal lives looking for sexual peccadilloes, embarrassing photos from long-past fraternity parties or ugly divorce testimony.

I do all I can to let them have the low road if they want it so much and keep my focus on the one thing I care about in all this, which is my simple belief that it is wrong to kill people. I won’t use my job to kill people. And I won’t help anyone else kill them, either. I know that sounds almost comically simple. But adhering to it in a legislative environment can get you cursed, reviled, slandered, picketed and, yes, advised to leave your faith at church.

I’ve been getting these demands that I be a sham Christian for years. Go to church all you want. We don’t care. But leave it there. The people who say this are usually in a froth of self-righteousness when they do it. They can look at you with such hatred that it almost scorches your skin. And they almost always toss in a canard about “separation of church and state” to give dignity to what is in reality an outrageous thing to say.

It’s ironic. People are always accusing politicians of being hypocrites, but in this instance we have a large segment of the population actually demanding it of them.

“Go to church all you want, but leave it there” has nothing at all to do with separation of church and state. There is nothing in the First Amendment that says that elected officials may not reference their personal religious and moral beliefs in the decisions they must make.

I don’t believe this lady was worried about separation of church and state. I think she wanted me to live and vote according to her beliefs rather than my own. That’s the core of these attacks. It’s that you’re not doing what they want you to, and attacking you with bogus nonsense about separation of church and state and building a theocracy sounds better than just pitching a fit and saying “Do what I tell you or else!”

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning has advanced far beyond me and what an angry lady said to me in the hallway outside the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Today we have the Health and Human Services Department of the United States Government telling the largest religious denomination in America virtually the same thing and backing it up with what amounts to a draconian threat.

Teach what you want from the pulpit they tell the Church. But if you don’t bend to the government and violate those same teachings in your institutions, we will fine and penalize you out of business. That’s the gist of the HHS Mandate compelling the Catholic Church to provide insurance coverage for birth control and abortifacients for the employees of its institutions.

What it all comes down to is that the Federal Government is telling the Catholic Church “Say mass as much as you want. But leave it there.”

And, yes, this time it really is a violation of separation of church and state.

Christian Persecution: It is Time for Christians to Stand Together

Do you read the stories?

Christians burnt alive, beheaded, stabbed, crucified, shot, gunned down. Christians tortured, imprisoned, raped, sold into slavery. Christians unable to work, forbidden to worship, forbidden to train new priests. Bibles, crucifixes, religious medals banned.

Have you lived the discrimination?

Christians mocked, ridiculed, belittled, slandered. Christians constantly forced to defend their faith in the face of aggressive jerks who feel an entitlement to force their way into private conversations, push themselves onto web sites and chat rooms to denounce the faith and belittle anyone who has the temerity to refer to Christ in public.

Have you seen the bigotry?

Christianity and Christ Himself, belittled, slandered, mocked, reviled and constantly lied about in a repetitive way by people who evidently feel an entitlement to leapfrog into any discussion or situation and unburden themselves of their verbal offal.

Have you seen this? Are you aware of it? Do you understand what it means?

We are at a fulcrum. If we do not stand for Christ now, here, in America, there is a tsunami of persecution out there under the water, waiting for all Christians, everywhere, including here.

It is time, it is past time, for us to stop sniping at one another over our narcissistic God ownership issues.

I am a Public Catholic. People who hate Jesus, or people who hate the Catholic Church, often seem to view me as the receptacle for their hatred and spleen. I think I may have heard every repetitive, factually inaccurate bit of pamphleteering claptrap anybody ever used to attack Christianity, Jesus, or the Catholic Church. I’ve heard it all. Several times a week. For years.

I do not reply in kind. I try to answer what are unreasonable attacks with reason. I use facts against lies. I do my best to answer gently and to keep on answering, even if it means I have to say the same things over and over again.

I never, ever, ever try to poke holes in other Christian’s beliefs. I do not feel called to deliver long-winded analyses as to why their particular denomination is wrong. I don’t do it because I think this kind of behavior is both nonsensical and destructive.

I am going to say this as clearly as I can:

There is only one Jesus.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’ve said before on this blog that I think that if we had the power to judge, no one would ever go to heaven. We’d all condemn one another to hell. I believe that’s the truth of it.

We are fallen people, living in a fallen world. These attacks on one another at a time when we need to unite and stand together are a symptom of the burden of original sin that we all carry. They are, to be blunt, the devil’s work, his weapon against us that we use on one another. If we are arguing over these silly things with one another, we are also wasting time, energy and intellect that we could be using to speak for Christ.

Almost all the attacks on the Catholic Church which I have to deal with are based on claims that are factually untrue. The same goes for the many attacks that I hear against Christianity as a whole and Jesus in particular.

I believe that in both instances — the attacks on the Church, and the attacks on Christianity — the people who do it are really acting out their own narcissism. If they were even slightly interested in the truth they would have checked these things out themselves.

Christianity is aggressively attacked all over the world, including here in America. It is ignoble that we are arguing over whose church is the best while Christians are dying for Jesus in Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, and parts of Asia.

Millions of Christians will go to sleep tonight under the blood moon of Persecution. Christians in America allow Jesus to be mocked reviled and slandered and duck their heads in shameful silence. The courts push every mention of Christianity to the corners of life. The HHS Mandate puts the government itself in the business of forcing the church to abandon its teachings or face crippling government fines.

What does it take to get our attention?

If we don’t stop bickering among ourselves and stand for Christ as one redeemed Christian people, we may well be the generation that lets freedom of religion pass from the face of the earth.

It is time, it is past time, for us to grow beyond our narcissistic claims of God ownership on behalf of our various denominations. It is time for Christians to stand together.

President Obama and Religious Freedom, the Lighter Side

St Peter’s List, has a series of political cartoons concerning President Obama, the Church and the HHS Mandate which they have generously offered to share. I’m printing some of them here. Enjoy

For the whole article or to visit St Peter’s List, go here.

 

 

 


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