Peter Singer: “Just Close Your Doors, and All Will Be Well”

Peter Singer: “Just Close Your Doors, and All Will Be Well” June 22, 2012

Only the second day of the Fortnight for Freedom, and already, there emerges a new idea from a new corner for resolving that pesky old religious liberty problem!


You remember Peter Singer, that colorful and controversial bioethicist from Princeton University who thinks that animals are people, too, and who advocates for child-killing up until the age of two? 

Singer contends that there’s no real difference between the child in the womb and the newborn.  So far, so good!  However, he then takes a leap so preposterous that everyone—from the lawyers to the politicians to the mother and father out in there in small-town America—recoils in horror at the natural extension of abortion-on-demand:  Singer suggests that since we permit abortion, we should likewise permit parents to kill their infants and toddlers if they choose, for any reason, since they are not yet rational persons worthy of protection.

Now, demonstrating the same propensity for embracing the abhorrent, Singer proposes a solution to the conflict between the Obama Administration and the Catholic Church regarding the HHS Mandate:  

Just close your institutions. 

In a column published June 17, 2012 in the progressive journal Cap Times, Singer asserts that “the Obama administration’s requirement to provide health insurance that covers contraception does not prevent Catholics from practicing their religion. Catholicism does not oblige its adherents to run hospitals and universities.” 

Actually, Dr. Singer, you’re wrong.  The Bible does offer quite a bit of evidence that adherents of the Catholic faith—and Christians in general—must serve the sick and the poor. 

The Golden Rule pops up in Matthew 7:12:  “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” And in Luke 6:31:  “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”

James 2:14-18 is even more explicit in requiring that faith be demonstrated by works of mercy: 

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”

At the last judgment, Jesus explains in Matthew 25, the Lord will separate the “sheep and the goats”—those who have done his will and those who have not: 

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;   naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘ Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

In his article, Singer speculates (wrongly) that Catholics would give up their precious beliefs before they would surrender their expensive institutions. 

“Of course,” Singer writes, “the Catholic Church would be understandably reluctant to give up its extensive networks of hospitals and universities. My guess is that, before doing so, they would come to see the provision of health-insurance coverage for contraception as compatible with their religious teachings.”

He goes on to recommend that the Catholics could simply give away their institutions, abandon their mission to serve the poor and the sick and to educate their young people, and all will be fine. 

“But, if the church made the opposite decision,” Singer writes, “and handed over its hospitals and universities to bodies that were willing to provide the coverage, Catholics would still be free to worship and follow their religion’s teachings.”

Finally, a way to respectfully and effectively use the words of Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown:  Sorry, Dr. Singer, but No means No.

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