A New Declaration of Independence

declaration-of Independence

Twelve score minus two years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent … something that no longer exists.

In 2014, Independence Day is more commonly called the Fourth of July—a Jacobin rather than a Christian practice, naming holidays after dates. (Imagine celebrating the 25th of December.) The rhetorical shift reflects an underlying reality. Lost to the mists of memory for most Americans is the fact that the Declaration of Independence announced the secession of 13 separate states from British rule, and that after the war and the treaty that ratified the action taken by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, those states combined to form, not the Constitution of the United States, much less the regime we know today, but a short-lived confederation that proved inadequate to the tasks set before it.

On July 4, 1776, the Constitution of 1787 was not even a distant dream; by July 4, 1863, as Gen. Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia in retreat from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, it had become something that neither those who signed the Declaration nor those who ratified the Constitution could have foreseen; and long before July 4, 2014, it had become a dead letter.

We continue to go through the motions today, paying rhetorical obeisance to a document that, for the last 50 years at least, no elected official or unelected judge has truly allowed to act as a check on his will to power. Few of us understand, much less really wish to return to, the Constitution as ratified, or even as amended by the Bill of Rights; we treat it instead as a proof text, something we mine to bolster whatever political positions we happen to hold, as Thomas Paine mined history in order to undermine Christianity, tradition, and the established political order.

In this, we differ only in quality, not in kind, from the current occupant of the Oval Office—or, for that matter, from Ronald Reagan, who quoted Paine more often than any other thinker, and who expanded the power of the executive branch in ways that made Barack Obama not only possible but inevitable.

And so we—and yes, I include myself—have been celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCullen v. Coakley, striking down, on First Amendment grounds, a 2007 Massachusetts state law banning pro-life protests within a 35-foot buffer zone outside of abortuaries, while trying hard to overlook the inconvenient truth that the application of First Amendment restrictions to the states occurred only as a result of the destruction of federalism, the U.S. constitutional counterpart to the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. The ends, it seems, justify the means, even when the means—the expansion of federal power at the expense of other levels of government—may ultimately be used to subvert the very pro-life ends that we desire.

And thus we—and again I include myself—have been positively giddy over the Court’s June 30 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, even though that “great victory” hinges on an idea of “corporate personhood” that is found nowhere in the Constitution but was created out of whole cloth by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1819 (Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward). The five-member majority in Burwell included Chief Justice John Roberts, whose decision two years and two days earlier in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius saved ObamaCare and made this case necessary. Roberts could just as easily have gone the other way in Burwell, and quite possibly tacked rightward this time for the reason he tacked leftward last time—for the sake of his own reputation. To paraphrase Stephen Presser, the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History at Northwestern University, “What does the Constitution say? Whatever John Roberts thinks it says that day.”

Or, for that matter, whatever Samuel Alito thinks it says. Delivering the opinion of the majority in Burwell, Justice Alito argued that the Department of Health and Human Services had failed to demonstrate that requiring the owners of Hobby Lobby to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs was the least burdensome option, in part because:

HHS has already established an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious objections…. Under that accommodation, the organization can self-certify that it opposes providing coverage for particular contraceptive services…. If the organization makes such a certification, the organization’s insurance issuer or third-party administrator must “[e]xpressly exclude contraceptive coverage from the group health insurance coverage provided in connection with the group health plan”and “[p]rovide separate payments for any contraceptive services required to be covered”without imposing “any cost-sharing requirements … on the eligible organization, the group health plan, or plan participants or beneficiaries.”

That, of course, is the “accommodation” HHS has “offered” to, among others, the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is the subject of its own federal lawsuit. While Justice Alito notes that “We do not decide today whether an approach of this type complies with RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] for purposes of all religious claims,” he seems to have no particular problem with said approach, and thus it is easy to imagine him being the swing vote in a future decision that compels the Little Sisters and other religious organizations to acquiesce to that “accommodation.” Should Justice Alito say so, closely held for-profit corporations may turn out to have greater freedom of religion in the United States today than do Catholic religious orders.

Considered thoughtfully, outside of the soundbite debates of FOX News and MSNBC and the tribal battlegrounds of Facebook and Twitter, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is hardly a “great victory for religious freedom” but simply the latest little pothole in the road toward a more powerful central government and a society freed from the “unenlightened” influence of the Christian Faith. The Court’s decision does not do anything to restore federalism; nor, as Justice Alito’s suggestion to the Obama administration shows, does it revive in any significant way First Amendment protections for Christians. Two years ago, most of the same people who were cheering on the Court for its ruling in Burwell were condemning (and rightly so) that same Court for the ObamaCare decision. Having lost the constitutional war, we have now settled for making the other side angry for not getting everything they want at the very moment when they want it.

But they will get it eventually.

And that is the way it goes, as American Christians, and American Catholics in particular, cede more and more ground in a culture war that grows wider with every passing year. In the wake of the Court’s decision, the Republican Party—deathly afraid of being perceived as “anti-women” as they head into the midterm elections this fall—circulated talking points on Burwell, and many good Catholic pundits and bloggers repeated them all, including the point that everything is copacetic because Hobby Lobby is happy to cover 16 of the 20 forms of contraception mandated by ObamaCare. Never mind that the reason why Plan B and Ella, two of the four forms of contraception that were the focus of Burwell, act as abortifacients is because they have been engineered to increase the abortifacient effect already present in the Pill, one of the 16 forms of contraception with which those who repeated the talking points have apparently made their peace.

Just as the willingness to accept homosexual civil unions so long as gay “marriage” was off the table didn’t prevent gay “marriage” from coming to pass (and sooner rather than later), this “compromise” over contraception ultimately won’t prevent a future federal mandate of insurance coverage for chemical, or even manual, abortions. In every new battle, the anti-Christian forces push the envelope a little further, and we never push back as hard as we should, because we lack the courage of our convictions.

Or, perhaps, we simply lack conviction, because we have lost any sense not only of what government under the U.S. Constitution was meant to be, but of what the Church teaches that all government should be. In 1791, the first bishop of the United States, John Carroll of Baltimore, a cousin of the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote A Prayer for Government, and ordered it to be recited in the parishes of his diocese. The structure of the prayer itself is enlightening, beginning as it does not with secular government, but with the Church and the governance thereof; but even more revealing are Archbishop Carroll’s words about the rightful purpose and aims, not just of government in general, but specifically of the federal government established under the U.S. Constitution:

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

Today marks the end of the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and many of us have joined in by praying the USCCB’s Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty. Yet after reading Archbishop Carroll’s prayer, it is hard not to take note of the rhetorical shift from it to these lines from the USCCB’s:

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome—for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us—this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Archbishop Carroll called on an omnipotent God to guide the leaders of a limited state in advancing the ends of the Christian Faith; today’s bishops ask that same God to give us strength to defend ourselves and the Church against the leaders of an increasingly omnipotent state that represents a danger not just to the ends, but to the very substance, of that Faith. The comparison is enlightening, and sobering.

This Independence Day, as we in the United States thank God for what remains of our political liberty, we might consider whether it may be time for a new Declaration of Independence—not from the British Crown, but from the reign of politics over our souls. When you are fighting a losing battle, sometimes the answer is as simple as changing the battleground.

Scott P. Richert

By

Scott P. Richert is the executive editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and writes the Guide to Catholicism for About.com.

  • Vinnie

    We have lost simplicity.

  • JERD2

    Well done! You raise an interesting point. Would we be more free if the court had never strained to apply the bill of rights to state action?

    It is ironic, is it not, that the supreme court’s attempt to reign in the power of the states to limit the protections afforded citizens by the bill of rights (and constitutional amendments that came thereafter, most notably the 14th amendment) has led to a stronger centralized federal government that tends to diminish those same protections?

    Centralized power is always corrupting. I agree, we should go back to the drawing board and rekindle the freedom and power of the several states expressed by our founders.

    • hombre111

      “Centralizing power is always corrupting, I agree.” Listen up, Holy Father and the Roman Curia.

      • DE-173

        You can’t even get a direct quote right.

        • hombre111

          o o o o o

          • DE-173

            You still screwed up the quote and it’s easy for everybody to check.

            • hombre111

              o o o o o

              • DE-173

                zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • DE-173

      It’s not only corrupting, it lacks loses knowledge.

  • publiusnj

    The answer does not lie in stricter constructionism, although that is a necessary part of the temporary amelioration of the corruption. We need, instead, to understand that Governments–even ones with relatively effective constitutions–are composed of politicians and politicians always strive for power, any which way but loose. “Power does tend to corrupt” and we are 238 years along in the corruption process. Indeed, the USA was being corrupted for almost a century before Acton wrote his famous observation.

    One of the biggest ways we are being corrupted is in the sheer growth of the US populace/congress person ratio, which was designed to be the ultimate check on the power of the Federal Government. Back in 1789, there was one congress person for every 33,000 or so constituents. Today, there is one congress person to every 718,000 or so constituents. How are any of the constituents to be weighed in a Congress person’s judgment these days? As not a very large factor. That is why politicians look on the populace as a series of pressure groups to be coalesced into winning coalitions for the next election. Again,though, the answer is not in a band-aid of more Congress persons: a body of 9464 congress persons (to get back to the old ratio) would be utterly unwieldy, not to mention a locust swarm devouring what is left of American Wealth. The only answer is to limit the scope of the Federal Government by even stronger pro-Federalism amendments or a re-write of the Constitution that devolves power to the states which are far closer to the people. IOW, to use a very Catholic thought: Subsidiarity.

    • fredx2

      The only way you will do it is to educate children in the reasons why limited government is better government. Every American should understand that basic principle. But the schools and the media treat more government as better government, so most people have no idea why we should have limited government.

      • publiusnj

        Government schools are part of the problem. They teach the Government Propaganda. Another part of the solution is smaller state governments. Give School Choice a Chance.

        • DE-173

          State governments are largely anachronisms, if not fictions. When the federal government wants something done, it dangles cash (often not very much as the percentage of a program) along with a list of requirements, sometimes unrelated.
          For better, worse or indifferent, today, a 21 year old drinking age and a .08 BAC are universal, not because of any remarkable consensus, but because property casualty insurers and their client agitators (Mothers against Drunk Driving) lobbied Congress to condition federal highway funds on enactment of these limits. To ensure that there’s vigorous enforcement, state and local police departments are eligible for “grants” to pay overtime to run special enforcement efforts, that dispense with annoying “probable cause” requirement and are often multi-state coordinated efforts.

  • http://eisbrener.info/blog Michael Eisbrener

    The end occurred before Lincoln was elected. The burial happened during WWI. What is left is myth. We are on our own.

  • Tom Piatak

    An excellent piece.

  • hombre111

    Mmm, I think we are less threatened by the power of politics over our souls than we are by the power of economics over our souls. But the birth control snit distracts us from the religious vacuum that helps us continue as happy materialists who want more, more, and more.

    • DE-173

      You don’t think.

      • hombre111

        0 0 0 0 0

        • DE-173

          But you can’t resist your impulse to respond.

          • hombre111

            0 0 0 0 0

            • DE-173

              zzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • John O’Neill

    Nolite in principibus confidere. We should never look to political leaders for moral leadership, especially in the modern Neo American State. The culture war is done and over; we lost. It is pathetic to see people still wrapping themselves up in flags and singing God Bless America to a corpse. We exists now is an amoral international conglomerate which continues to sow death and destruction around the world. Pretending that what was once America is some sort of moral and ethical force in the world is pathetic. We as Catholics should realize that we are an underground church if we exist at all and toadying up to the American commissars is disgusting and evil. Si malum malorum videre volunt; circumspice.

  • Kirry

    On the comment that “corporate person hood is found nowhere in the constitution” is in part correct but it please see below:

    “Do you know who decided that corporations are people, too? Congress. To see that, you don’t need to read any further than 1 U.S.C. §1, the very first law on the books. It reads: “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise [...] the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals. And guess what? That’s the whole point of a corporation. They enter into contracts, as if they’re people. They’re allowed to own property, as if they’re people. They have to pay income tax, as if they’re people. If you got rid of these rights and duties, you would be eliminating the entire purpose of corporations existing, which is why no one who understands corporate law seriously proposes changing this part of 1 U.S.C. §1.”

    There seems to be some common misunderstanding about this part of the US Code of Law.

    I hope copying and pasting the above quote doesn’t cause a problem with the site.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      The French Revolution took a very different course, as witness the famous decree of 18 August, 1792: “A State that is truly free ought not to suffer within its bosom any corporation, not even such as, being dedicated to public instruction, have merited well of the country” or the Law of 14 June 1791, “The guild no longer exists in the state. There exist only the particular interests of each individual and the general interest. No one is permitted to encourage an intermediate interest that separates citizens from the common interest through a corporate spirit”

      They all went, the churches, the religious orders, the colleges, the universities, the hospitals, the trade guilds, the town corporations, the orders of chivalry, even the village lands (there used to be a lotof village property in France) were partitioned between the then existing proprietors. No intermediary body could stand between the individual – now armed with his natural rights – and the nation – now the guarantor of those rights

      Trading companies were spared; as Maitland laconically noted, “the State saw no harm in the selfish people who wanted dividends, while it had an intense dread of the comparatively unselfish people who would combine with some religious, charitable, literary, scientific, artistic purpose in view.”

      • Kirry

        Can you please clarify your purpose for mentioning France? They are fairing no better than we are regardless of corporations being viewed as individuals or not. The government is supposed to be the protector of our God given rights not the one who creates rights.

        • DE-173

          You seem to be a new poster, so let me explain. MPS can post some remarkable stuff, unfortunately he seems to be afflicted with an acute case of Francophilia.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            I hope my answer to Kirry above shows the relevance to the whole issue of corporate personality

            • DE-173

              No, just your fealty to the state.

              • Tony

                But Professor P-S has NOT expressed fealty to the state. He has said that according to the German jurists, the corporation that human beings compose is not a legal fiction; it is a real and natural society; it’s a similar view that Pope Leo had of the medieval guilds, the religious orders, and the family.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Kirry

          My purpose for mentioning France? Two revolutions, around the same time, both proclaiming the Rights of Man, but with diametrically opposed views of corporations.

          If the personality of the corporation is a legal fiction, it is the gift of the state, but is it? The Realist school of jurists (mostly German) says no. “When a body of twenty, or two thousand, or two hundred thousand men bind themselves together to act in a particular way for some common purpose, they create a body, which by no fiction of law, but by the very nature of things, differs from the individuals of whom it is constituted.” Think of an organism, which is more than the sum of the cells that compose it. Such a group has a real will, a real personality of its own, whether it is, in law a corporation or not. Think of a university, a church, a political party or a labour union.

          If corporate personality is a legal fiction, it is a necessary fiction and, as Maitland says, “a fiction that we needs must feign is somehow or another very like the simple truth.”

    • pja

      thank you for this comment.

      • Kirry

        I would just like to give credit where credit is due. The quote I reference is from an article entitled “Four Things You Probably Have Wrong About the Hobby Lobby Decision” by Joe Heschmeyer on the New Advent site. Please take the time to read it. It is very informative.

  • fredx2

    Of course corporate personhood is nowhere found in the Constitution. Corporations as we know them did not exist then. Only in the form of rather broad, royal and state charters. However, it is instructive that as soon as our modern day corporations began being used, the Court immediately found that they were “persons” for many purposes. And the law has sustained that characterization for a long, long time now.
    So, in 1819, the court already came to that conclusion

  • mariacristi

    When will we start calling ourselves CATHOLIC AMERICANS and not all the way around, AMERICAN CATHOLICS?

    • Idler

      We are Catholics first and Americans second. In English, the adjective goes before the noun. We say the red car, not the car red. So, if we are Catholics then we would say we are Catholics. If we want to qualify that then we would say that we are American Catholics (as opposed to Roman Catholics). Unless you are trying to say that you are an American first and Catholic second?

      And, that’s why we are Catholics and not Roman Catholics. Most of us who are Catholic aren’t from Rome.

      • Greg

        I can see where you are coming from in some cases, but as far as the Catholic Americans / American Catholics distinction goes, I agree with mariacristi. We are Americans by accident, if we were born here. Regardless of what we choose, we are Americans. To say we are Catholic Americans, letting “Catholic” be the modifier, is to say that we let Catholicism guide us.

        • Barry Penobscott

          Please help. How should we define Nancy Pelosi?

          • Ruth Rocker

            Preferably as out of office and excommunicated!!

          • RWer

            As this is a genuinely Catholic publication we cannot charitably describe what that pridefully vile woman is.

          • DE-173

            Clinically insane, perhaps posessed.

      • John O’Neill

        I consider myself a Roman Catholic which indicates that the Church which is located in Rome and which has for two thousand years come to us through Roman customs. An American Catholic is one who follows the teachings of the Kennedy family and Nancy Pelosi.

        • Idler

          Catholic means universal. You are a Catholic who practices the Roman (or Latin) rite.

  • grzybowskib

    If we are so scared of being perceived as being misogynistic, then WHY THE HECK aren’t we talking more to our opponents about Natural Family Planning and all the benefits that come with it? There’s just so much good that can come from this that you don’t see with artificial birth control, and it can easily be shared with all women, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of it. I am working on an essay about that right now. And I will attempt to send it here to Crisis or any other Catholic publication that will take it. Because we can’t just say ad nauseam that we’re against artificial contraception. We have to present a solid, positive alternative to it. This is a huge teaching moment for us. Let’s not neglect it.

  • Idler

    Our “independence” ended on July 4, 1776. That’s when a bunch of Protestants decided that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. And, that’s what we have now. A government of the people, by the people and for the people. So, when you complain about what is happening in this country, remember, that we voted for it. Mob rule.

    That’s why Protestants were afraid of a Catholic president. Catholic’s know that government’s derive their power from God. That’s why a king was crowned by a bishop.

    Read Pope Leo XIII for more information. Personally, as a Catholic, I think he is a more reliable source of the Truth than Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, et al.

    • DE-173

      “And, that’s what we have now.”
      Not even close. We have a kleptocracy that operated by the principle of providing clear, conspicuous and copious benefits to cohesive groups, who rapidly become dependent-meanwhile the costs are unclear, inconspicuous, delayed and diffuse.

      • johnalbertson

        The Tudors were crowned in Westminster Abbey by archbishops of Canterbury: Henry VII by Cardinal Bourchier in 1485 and Henry VIII by Archbishop Warham in 1509.

        • DE-173

          Thanks.

      • Idler

        First of all, when saying “that’s what he have now”, I was being sarcastic. What I meant was that we are in the position we are in because the people have decided that we are in this position. Precisely what Alexis de Tocqueville predicted.

        From, Pope Leo XIII: “For, it is the opinion of some, and the error is already very common, that the social question is merely an economic one, whereas in point of fact it is, above all, a moral and religious matter, and for that reason must be settled by the principles of morality and according to the dictates of religion.
        ..
        And speaking also of the last judgment and of the rewards and punishments He will assign, He declared that He would take special account of the charity men exercised toward each other. And in that discourse there is one thing that especially excites our surprise, viz., that Christ omits those works of mercy which comfort the soul and referring only to those which comfort the body, He regards them as being done to Himself: “For I was hungry and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; naked and you covered Me; sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

        And, “It is abhorrent to the profession of Christianity that any one should feel unwilling to be subject and obedient to those who rule in the Church, and first of all to the bishops…”

        Really, you should read Pope Leo XIII. Starting with http://www.ewtn.com/library/encyc/l13grcom.htm

        It seems to me that you have more in common with Henry Tudor then you would care to admit. We are sheep, we should be happy to be counted in Jesus’ flock watched over by His bishops. We should not be so prideful to think otherwise.

    • johnalbertson

      Calm down. In his encyclical “Longinqua”, Leo XIII extols our Republic and praises Washington as a hero: he speaks of our “liberty and independence coalesced into a constitutional Republic” and says “popular suffrage placed the great George Washington at the helm of the Republic.” The Pope calls Washington “that illustrious citizen of yours” and a man of “genius and statesmanship.”

      Precisely
      at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid,
      achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional
      Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst
      you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great
      Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by
      apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship
      and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to
      be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord
      and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without
      morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen
      of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy
      of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. – See more
      at:
      http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/02/22/pope-leo-xiii-on-america-and-george-washington/#sthash.ODMy6ZZY.dpuf

      • Idler

        Let there be no question of fostering under this name of Christian Democracy any intention of diminishing the spirit of obedience, or of withdrawing people from their lawful rulers. Both the natural and the Christian law command us to revere those who in their various grades are shown above us in the State, and to submit ourselves to their just commands. It is quite in keeping with our dignity as men and Christians to obey, not only exteriorly, but from the heart, as the Apostle expresses it, “for conscience’ sake,” when he commands us to keep our soul subject to the higher powers.[3] It is abhorrent to the profession of Christianity that any one should feel unwilling to be subject and obedient to those who rule in the Church, and first of all to the bishops whom (without prejudice to the universal power of the Roman Pontiff) “the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God which Christ has purchased by His Blood.”[4] He who thinks or acts otherwise is guilty of ignoring the grave precept of the Apostle who bids us to obey our rulers and to be subject to them, for they watch as having to give an account of our souls.[5] Let the faithful everywhere implant these principles deep in their souls, and put them in practice in their daily life, and let the ministers of the Gospel meditate them profoundly, and incessantly labor, not merely by exhortation but especially by example, to teach them to others.

  • Harry

    Hello, Scott P. Richert,

    You have put the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and the McCullen v. Coakley decisions in a more accurate perspective, one that considers the bigger picture. This consideration is absolutely essential. If the American Church was a train speeding down the track at 90 mph, and a few miles ahead the railroad bridge over the canyon had collapsed, one would have to wonder if those passengers having a victory party over the fact that the train had slowed down to 85 mph, like those celebrating these two SCOTUS decisions, really had a firm grasp of the bigger picture.

    The American bridge over the canyon of totalitarianism is out. As John Paul II prophetically pointed out in his 1991 encyclical, Centesimmus Annus: “As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” He repeated this simple truth in his 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, and on numerous other occasions. His warning has been often cited by other Vatican officials. This prophetic warning is now being fulfilled before our very eyes.

    The Church is under assault by atheistic secularism and the godless social engineering of the modern secular state — social engineering which includes an utter rejection of the traditional Christian understanding of human sexuality. Contemporary Christianity is facing no less a threat than when it was under assault by the Muslim empires during the pontificate of Pope Urban II, bringing him to launch the first crusade. Yet this assault is more deadly and dangerous than the Muslim threat because it is more like a cancer that ravages the body from within long before there are any obvious symptoms. The Churches are filled with people as usual, but, unlike having the Church bombed, which everyone would notice, we don’t seem to notice or be too disturbed by the fact that many of those filling the Church really think no differently than the poor sheep outside who have been duped by godless social engineers regarding human sexuality. This is a much larger disaster than Churches being bombed.

    The Muslim threat to Western Civilization and its Judeo-Christian foundation was a situation historian Thomas Madden described as follows:

    “From the time of Mohammed, Muslims had sought to conquer the Christian world. They did a pretty good job of it, too. After a few centuries of steady conquests, Muslim armies had taken all of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor and most of Spain.

    “In other words, by the end of the 11th century the forces of Islam had captured two-thirds of the Christian world. Palestine, the home of Jesus Christ; Egypt, the birthplace of Christian monasticism; Asia Minor, where St. Paul planted the seeds of the first Christian communities — these were not the periphery of Christianity but its very core.

    “And the Muslim empires were not finished yet. They continued to press westward toward Constantinople, ultimately passing it and entering Europe itself. As far as unprovoked aggression goes, it was all on the Muslim side. At some point what was left of the Christian world would have to defend itself or simply succumb to Islamic conquest.”

    And has not atheistic secularism and its radical contracepting, baby-killing, same-sex-marriage-promoting, homosexual-fornication-legitimizing, sex-as-recreation-only, eugenics-based view of human sexuality conquered much of the Church — and even some of its bishops? At some point what is left of the Christian world will have to defend itself or simply succumb to conquest.

    We need bishops like Pope Urban II, who saw the threat and dealt with it, who will launch a crusade directed first at their own flocks in defense of the truth of God’s plan for human sexuality.

  • Art Deco

    while trying hard to overlook the inconvenient truth that the
    application of First Amendment restrictions to the states occurred only
    as a result of the destruction of federalism,

    No, not as a result of the ‘destruction of federalism’ (bar in the addled neo-Confederate heads of those on the staff of the v. Mises Institute). Incorporation of aspects of the 1st Amendment dates from around about 1925, when the federal government chewed up about 1.7% of gross domestic product and their most troublesome assault on state autonomy was subsidizing the construction of the U.S. Route system.

    Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence is an abusive bit of business. That does not mean that the phrase “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;” provides no warrant to review state law. Now there is this provision in the Massachusetts constitution: “Article XVI. The liberty of the press is essential to the
    security of freedom in a state: it ought not, therefore, to be
    restrained in this commonwealth. The right of free speech shall not be
    abridged.”. The question would be here whether the guarantee clause in the federal constitution gives the federal judiciary a warrant to enforce a provision of state law being blatantly ignored. (Robert Bork would not endorse that view but said it was arguable).

  • JP

    The misconception with Burwell is that Christians must negotiate their rights away, and that the arbiter of those rights are nine masters in black garments who sit above us like the Great Sanhedrin. In Burwell, we were one justice away from losing the Right to exercising our freedom as Catholics.

    If anyone doesn’t believe that the time is coming up soon when LGBT members will demand the right to the Catholic Sacrament to Holy Matrimony, then they haven’t been paying attention.. Of course, there will be those Catholics who will be willing to negotiate with the LGBT activists (via the Courts and federal bureaucracy), and it will take time. But the Church will soon be forced to buckled under federal mandates – gay marriage included.

  • JP

    I think there is a bit of confusion concerning corporations and Constitutional Rights. What at stake are property rights. In the Hobby Lobby case, the corporation is 100% the property of 2 families. Hobby Lobby incorporated for liability reasons. It is not a public company, as there are now outside shareholders to own Hobby Lobby equity, or bear its debt. To say, the owners – 2 families – must check their rights at the door because they are owners of a multimillion dollar corporations is absolutely ludicrous

  • cestusdei

    I suspect that Obama will do what he wants and ignore the law and the scotus ruling. He rules by decree.

  • JD Salyer

    An excellent analysis.
    Catholics are quite right to be alarmed over the way things are heading; at the same time, we need to realize that getting worked up over the latest conservative establishment crusade is a waste of precious time, energy, & money. Whatever the right response may be, it is surely one that heads off the reservation, so to speak.

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