Timing is everything. This maxim is especially the case if good is to prevail over evil. Whether it be personal sin or political tyranny, response to a crisis is most effective when it is done in the beginning stages.
As the spiritual classic, the "Imitation of Christ," cautions: "(W)e must watch, especially in the beginning of temptation; for then the enemy is more easily overcome, if he be not suffered to enter the door of the mind, but is withstood upon the threshold the very moment he knocks. Whence a certain one has said 'Resist beginnings; all too late the cure.'"
What applies to sin in the spiritual order also applies to injustice in the political order. And just as with personal sin, when government is a menace to liberty it must be met head-on at the outset.
If history bears witness to the fact that secular-liberalism, when unleashed, runs roughshod over human rights, then the HHS contraceptive mandate is only a harbinger of things to come. This mandate bids us to resist the social and political intolerance while there is time to do so.
We can anticipate the State not stopping at coercing Catholic agencies to provide abortifacients and contraceptives to her employees.
There is another demand that is turning out to be--and will certainly prove to be–a more pressing matter. Indeed, the political will to advance same-sex marriage and criminalize its opposition are much more emotionally charged than the demand for contraception. Enter Chick-fil-A.
Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president, also happens to be an outspoken Christian. And thanks be to God, he is not shy about the biblical doctrine on marriage. In fact, he publicly stated, “I think we’re inviting God’s judgment when we shake our fist at him, you know, (saying), ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray on God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try and redefine what marriage is all about.”
Although Mr. Cathy is not a Catholic, this is certainly a position the U.S. Catholic hierarchy can support.
But to Chicago politicians, such a Christian stance on the meaning of marriage is intolerable. For this reason, Chick-fil-A is running into obstacles as it seeks to expand in the Chicago area.
For instance, Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, complained that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”
In an attempt to speak for all Chicagoans, the mayor went on to express his political motives for trying to obstruct Chick-fil-A’s attempt to expand in Chicago:
“What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope ... is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments ... reflects who we are as a city.”
Rahm Emmanuel is not alone. Chicago alderman, Joe Moreno, also echoes this aversion to the Christian position on marriage: “Same sex marriage, same-sex couples—that’s the civil rights fight of our time. To have those discriminatory policies from the top down is just not something that we’re open to. ...We want responsible businesses.”
It is important to note, as many people already know, that this challenge to religious liberty and free enterprise is certainly not restricted to Chicago. The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, made his intentions clear as well when he said that Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston.
Indeed, not only is America being challenged in this respect, but other nations are as well. Gospel values, which, at one time were sanctuary, are no longer so. The more we read the news, the more we realize that religious liberty and freedom of speech is being eclipsed by the “right” not to be offended; especially as it pertains to sexual preferences.
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, Scotland, is taking this growing threat to religious liberty very seriously. According to a Catholic News Agency report, “(J)ust a day before the Scottish government announced it would legislate in favor of same-sex marriage, the archbishop predicted, ‘I could see myself going to jail possibly at some point over the next 15 years, if God spares me, if I speak out.’”
Just like the early Christians who were accused by pagans hating the human race simply because they were unwilling to accept their unlimited number of gods, Christians in the twenty-first century will likewise be accused of hatred.
In fact, they already are. Archbishop Tartaglia said, “I am deeply concerned that today, defending the traditional meaning of marriage is almost considered ‘hate speech’ and branded intolerant. Such a response is undemocratic, closes debate and is highly manipulative.”
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.