HHS Mandate: How Far Will This Fight Go?

St Paul and most all of the Apostles did it. Martin Luther King did it. Christ the Lord did it.

Would you be willing to do it, too?

Go to jail, that is.

In this country, we normally associate going to jail with some sort of public misbehavior that most of us agree is reprehensible. Going to jail is disgraceful. Embarrassing. A blot on your record, your reputation and your honor.

But that isn’t always so. Demonstrators in this country and others have accepted the possibility of going to jail as the price for civil disobedience to unjust laws many times. The question is are we coming to a time when that kind of civil disobedience and the subsequent price of jail is something Christians must consider to protect their religious freedom?

One prominent prosecutor says we have. Virginia ATtorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a recent radio interview that civil disobedience and a willingness to go to jail by Christians would “expose the tyranny” of the HHS Mandate.

I think it’s important to understand that Mr Cuccinelli was running for election when he made that statement. I do not know him, so I can not evaluate this more than add that caveat.

On the other hand, I know that the American Bishops said something similar in their statements concerning this mandate in early 2012.

The owners of Hobby Lobby has already made the decision to risk their company rather than accede to the Mandate. Even though they’ve found a way to delay the fines for not following the mandate, it still hands over them.

Where is all this going? If the Supreme Court does not overturn this Mandate (and it’s anybody’s guess what they are going to do) where will it lead?

The National Catholic Register article discussing Mr Cuccinelli’s comments says in part:

‘Civil Disobedience’ Would Expose HHS MandateVirginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli advises citizens to risk jail, if necessary, to protest against the contraceptive and abortifacient health insurance mandate.

by BRIAN FRAGA 01/17/2013 Comments (25)

RICHMOND, Va. — Citizens should defy the federal government’s contraceptive mandate, even to the point of going to jail, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a recent radio interview.

Cuccinelli, a Catholic who is running this year for governor of Virginia, told conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace that civil disobedience would expose the “tyranny” behind the federal law that would compel religiously affiliated organizations and private businesses to cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in their employee health-insurance plans.

“My local bishop said he told a group, ‘Well, you know, I told a group I’m ready to go to jail,’ and I told him, ‘Bishop, don’t take this personally — you need to go to jail,’” said Cuccinelli, one of the first state attorneys general to file a federal lawsuit against the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Cuccinelli’s spokesman Brian Gottstein said the attorney general was not available for comment because of the busy state legislative session.

Cuccinelli spoke about the issue in a subsequent interview with The Washington Times.

“I’m certainly not advocating that people go to jail, but religious liberty is why a lot of people came to this country,” Cuccinelli said. “If our government is driving so many people to be contemplating this kind of civil disobedience, I think there’s a good reason to double check and ask, ‘Have we gone too far here?’”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on his remarks. However, the attorney general’s statements are in line with a March 2012 USCCB document that warned Catholics to be prepared to engage in civil disobedience if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate was not rescinded.

“Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified,” the bishops wrote in the message, which was formatted for use as a parish bulletin insert. “Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.”

The bishops also cited a passage from Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” in which the civil-rights leader noted St. Augustine’s proverb “An unjust law is no law at all.”

 

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