Oct 13, 2016
The English philosopher John Stuart Mill once quipped that “the Battle of Marathon, even as an event in British history, is more important than the Battle of Hastings.” And, he was right. Though the Battle of Marathon was fought centuries before Europe was born, the fate of Western Civilization hung on the outcome of that famous battle.
In September of 490 B.C., 10,000 Athenians left their city to face the invading Persians at Marathon. If the Persians had won the battle, their manner of governing would have extinguished the beginnings of democracy in the West. But they did not win. Instead, the Greeks, by their decisive victory, ensured that Greek influence would spread across the Mediterranean to Rome and, through her, to the entire West. Thus, the Battle of Marathon was the crossroads where two ideas of civilization met and where history took the road to freedom and democracy.
Today, we stand at a decisive point in our history. In our day, religious freedom and government control stand at the crossroads. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to practice our own religion or no religion at all. But, there are increasingly loud voices in the highest levels of government that are demanding that religion conform to the political agenda of the ruling class.
On Sept.8, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued its 306-page report, “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.” In a few words, the report asserts that the government should not grant religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws. The report maintains that such exemptions “significantly infringe” on the civil rights of those who claim protection from the government on the basis of “race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
Such a unilateral emphasis on civil rights over religious liberty provides the rationale for the government’s demand that Catholic schools hire teachers who are opposed to Catholic teaching. It allows the government to penalize those Catholics and others, who, on the basis of their religious beliefs, withhold their services for celebrations of same-sex unions. It opens the way for insisting that church-sponsored hospitals provide contraception, perform sex change operations and abortions and engage in euthanasia. All of these are actually now happening.