Administration’s Dismissal of Religious Conscience

Deacon Greg has something to say about this week’s Gospel reading and the Obama/HHS assault on freedom of religion and our consciences:

This goes far beyond whether or not someone agrees with the Church’s teachings about birth control and abortion. But this is, in a fundamental way, a life issue. This is about respecting the most personal and private aspect of human life: the conscience. This is about protecting it. Honoring it. Defending it.

A great saint to remember is St. Thomas More, who gave his life for his conscience. When Pope John Paul declared him the patron of statesmen and people in public life, he wrote: “The defense of the Church’s freedom from unwarranted interference by the State is at the same time a defense, in the name of the primacy of conscience, of the individual’s freedom vis-à-vis political power. Here we find the basic principle of every civil order consonant with human nature.”

My friends, this is so central to our human nature. It is about our fundamental rights as human beings, as Catholics and, yes, as Americans.

It is about who we are. What we cherish. What we believe.

In 1952, Lillian Hellman said: “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

Sixty years later, neither can we.

Read it all and send it around. Maybe let your priest/preacher see it!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • kevin

    Hate to say it but someone in Congress needs to draft an article of impeachment against Obama. He is not preserving and defending the Constitution of the United States, but is affirmatively undermining the First Amendment, and is in violation of the Oath of Office now.

    He needs to be impeached.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Yes, he does.

  • Reg

    There’s something hilariously ironic about citing Thomas More in defense of “respecting the most personal and private aspect of human life: the conscience,” when he burned numerous Lutherans, who by the way, put out a pretty good statement of their own on the HHS decision:

  • Pam

    I don’t think there were any Lutherans at the time of St. Thomas More. Luther was several years later. What are you talking about?

  • Gerry

    Never fear! Nancy Pelosi has publicly declared that she is standing with her fellow Catholics by supporting the Obama administration’s courageous decision.

  • Nicholas Kronos

    More and Luther were contemporaries, though I’ve never read or heard of More burning any Lutherans. Given his refusal to embrace Henry VIII’s Protestantism, however, it’s not surprising More was an enemy of Luther.

  • Thomas R

    No, Luther did exist at the time of Thomas More. More wrote some polemics against Luther in fact.

    I read a rather unflattering biography of Thomas More once that compared him to Torquemada. That’s more than a little unfair, but to be honest I think it’s true he didn’t believe in the individual conscience in quite the way we do now. From his perspective certain forms of Protestantism, although Lutheranism is not a great example as it wasn’t common in England, would lead to anarchy if expressed publicly. If people were privately Protestant he didn’t necessarily mind. He also seems to have been, for the era, unfazed by Judaism and non-Christian faiths. (I’m aware there were virtually no openly Jewish people in England at that time, Jews having been expelled during the Plantagenets, but the English were still aware of Judaism) Still it would be fair to say that More’s legacy, although it’s largely about defending the Church, could support the idea that a nation should have “shared values” and that those who won’t conform to those should be silent in public.

    I’m not saying this to be shocking or upsetting. The things More did, even going by that negative biography, are not as bad as what was done to him. He was willing to find some agreement where he could maintain his principles, I think he was good with withdrawing from any office, but they’d have none of that. They made him watch as they killed a group of Carthusian monks out his window as they knew he admired that order. (Although in fairness those Carthusians are in some ways easier to admire as they never hurt anyone) Whatever sins one thinks he committed he suffered greatly and with a good deal of dignity. I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing him. I’m just saying the history justifies the idea that he would not believe the individual conscience trumps everything. He believed the individual could be wrong, deluded, etc.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Well, if we’re going to get into nitpicking, when we come right down to it—Lillian Hellman had no problem whatsoever cutting her conscience when it came to following Communism’s fashions. And Stalin, whom she supported, was far worse, even than Henry VIII. There something’s pretty hilarious about Hellman supposedly supporting freedom of conscience, when she most certainly would have denied the same to Russian Christians in the Gulag.

    And Luther hated Jews—though nowadays, that would probably make him very popular! Heck, he’d probably get his own talk show, and a newspaper column, too!

    It’s freedom of conscience that’s being defended here; the flaws, and weaknesses, of those who were martyred for it, really don’t matter; it’s the principal that’s important. Also, defending our Constitution, and our country, which became a haven for those fleeing religious persecution. Because the majority of those who suffer will not be famous men, like Moore, and Luther, but the unknown, and anonymous: those Russian Christians in the aforementioned gulags; the Copts, being persecuted in Egypt, Iraqi Christians being driven from Iraq and countless Jews, who’ve been persecuted for what they believe.

  • Mark

    Rhinestone Suderman, I had the same reaction to seeing Lillian Hellman, Stalin supporter and socialist used here. Stalin of course had a record for killing that almost matches planned parenthood. She was one of 50 women who signed a document “we have had abortions” in 1972 in their fight to make killing babies legal across this country. For Deacon to use this woman in a sermon is kind of amazing unless he sees her fight for legalizing abortion as positive in some way or the holocaust the followed.

    There are times I have to wonder about Deacon Greg and my wife Greta certainly took him to task which caused her to be banned from his site. Today, she gamely continues her battle for life and even in this battle, each day includes saying all 5 Mysteries for those who sinfully still support abortion, the mothers who have had abortions, and the millions slaughtered in our American holocaust. To see a Catholic Deacon use someone who fought to make this holocuast legal is amazing. Hellman was not fighting for religious liberty, but for the right to defend Stalin and his butchering of innocent people in the USSR that Reagan and Pope JPII would help to end by promoting religious freedom around the world. What Hellman and her cast of characters were defending was a system that Obama is trying to build here which is loss of all religious freedom.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Mark, God bless you, and Greta. I always enjoyed her posts here. I will pray for her, and you.

    I was taken aback too, by Deacon Greg’s mention of Hellman, and, I’ve wondered about him myself—all too frequently.

    I was going to let the comment about Hellman pass, however, but when the nitpicking about Thomas Moore and Luther began, and the subject got sidetracked from freedom of conscience to “Well, wasn’t Thomas Moore just a mean ol’ meanie-face?” I couldn’t resist.

    Once again, Christ bless you and dear Greta.