Government entanglement in our lives is increasing exponentially. Nowhere is this more evident than the recent assault on religious freedoms from varying governmental entities. As Rick Santorum would put it, “It is a top down approach” and it truly is.
From the top, we have the Obama administration’s new health care mandate requiring religious organizations to provide health insurance for certain procedures that are inimical to their core beliefs. Christian groups such as the Catholic Church would be required to cover abortions even though these groups see the medical procedure as a heinous act, a mortal sin. In order to comply with the order, these organizations must abandon their teachings. It would be rank hypocrisy for them to follow the Obamacare mandate.
On the bottom, we have New York City. The City has a policy of renting out empty public schools for use by local groups. It can be used for nearly any purpose but religious services. The Second Circuit Court of Appeal has recently upheld this practice. On first blush, this may seem reasonable as government cannot promote religion. However, the First Amendment also prohibits government from punishing religion. If the government opens up their property for use by non-religious groups, it must afford the same access to religious groups. Think of the legal absurdity of the Second Circuit’s ruling, an atheist group can hold a rally in a NYC public school denouncing god but a religious group cannot hold a service to praise God. The verbal jujitsu used by the Second Circuit to rationalize its decision is breath taking. In upholding the policy, it claims that it is not banning a religious view point but an activity – worship services; but by banning worship services, the government can now dictate how one expresses their religious viewpoint. Why the Supreme Court took a pass on this case is perplexing.
As the above shows, there is a top down approach to marginalize those who practice organized religion and it will not stop with religion as government (on all levels) looks to increase its authority over the populace. The Obama administration will issue more rules under Obamacare affecting other organizations that these entities cannot and will not comply with. The end result will be more and more people uninsured and looking to the government for health coverage. Localities such as NYC will look to ban other groups from public spaces using the circular logic employed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Can a ban of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts be next?
When traditional groups that we look to for guidance are pushed to the side; all that is left standing is the government. Instead of citizens, we will be wards of the state. Wards have their lives dictated to them instead of living them. Important decisions such as the number of children one can have (China) and end of life decisions (England) will be made for you.
If we are not willing to fight over our religious freedoms, when other rights are under siege, it may be too late.