New York Times, July 3, 2014
On July 3, following the Hobby Lobby decision, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (RFRF) took out a full-page ad in the New York Times (A13) excoriating the five members of the Supreme Court for their decision in the case. Part of the ad reads as follows:
“Dogma Should Not Trump Our Civil Liberties.
All-Male, All-Roman Catholic Majority on Supreme Court
Puts Religious Wrongs Over Women’s Rights”
“Are you dismayed and alarmed by the Supreme Court’s June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling? The Supreme Court’s ultra-conservative, Roman Catholic majority—Justice Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy, and Thomas—has sided with zealous fundamentalist who equate contraception with abortion. The court has granted employers with ‘sincere’ religious objections the right to deny women employees coverage for birth control. This ruling marks a turning point in the struggle to uphold civil liberties in the face of relentless attacks by the Religious Right.” . . .
Congress must repeal RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act]. Employers should have no right to impose their religious beliefs upon workers. Fight back! Won’t you join FFRF in waking up America to the growing dangers of theocracy?”
The ad seeks donations from the readership.
Anti-Catholicism in the United States
Anti-Catholicism, the last acceptable prejudice in the United States, has a long history, but a new anti-Catholicism has taken on a blatant and brazen coercion by the government in the name of freedom. This appears as the virtuous counterpart of hatred of the Catholic Church because of its unyielding defense of human life, marriage, and the family.
“The freedom of the Church is a pregnant phrase,” writes Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J. His thoughts as articulated in We Hold These Truths mean, in the first place, the freedom of the Church as a spiritual authority to carry out her divine commission. But, secondly, it means the freedom of the Church as the Christian people to live within her fold an integral supernatural life, a life with inherent super-political dignity that transcends the goals and power of the state.
The Church claims immunity from subordination to the state and its temporal ends. The chief example of this is matters dealing with the dignity of the whole person, marriage and the family.
Coercive Power, St. Thomas More, and St. John Fisher
(Column continues below)
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“These are the times that try men’s souls.” It was true for Thomas Paine, and it remains true today. It was true in 1534, when Henry VIII declared himself the supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church in England. He demanded an oath of fealty from his subjects when his request to Rome for an annulment from his wife Catherine was refused—an annulment that would annul the first annulment to marry her. Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher would not bend to a divorce that would free Henry to marry Anne Boleyn. For this reason, he had them beheaded. They were neither the first Englishmen nor the last to suffer martyrdom for the faith.
In Robert Bolt’s play, “A Man for All Seasons,” there is a tense encounter between Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More. The Cardinal asks More, the future short-lived Chancellor, to approve of the King’s divorce. More replies: “Well, I believe, that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.” At his mock trial, the future saint declared, “I am the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
These days, tension in the country runs high and moral un-freedoms threaten to bring us low. We are still the greatest country on earth, but we need to keep a close eye on John Fisher and Thomas More in the rear-view mirror.