Begging for Religious Freedom … in America?

President Obama’s assault on liberty is unfathomable–and real

Yesterday, in churches around America, Catholics prayed a special litany for religious freedom. And they weren’t praying for some tyrannical third-world country, but for freedom right here in the United States. As I heard the priest at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Austin, Texas, give a passionate sermon about those who through history have given their lives rather than violate their consciences, I couldn’t believe that I am hearing this type of talk in America in 2012.

When Sir Thomas More started to stand up to King Henry VIII, his friends thought he was crazy. In the movie A Man for All Seasons, one of More’s friends, a duke, told him not to worry so much: “This is England, man. It’s not Spain”—implying that England was a free country, where people had rights. No one’s going to lose their head here, unlike inquisitorial Spain! Well, he was wrong, and within a few years, many had either sacrificed their lives or their consciences.

It’s not yet that serious in America, but President Obama’s assault on the freedom of conscience is unprecedented in our history. He has made plenty of Constitutional violations; this one is all the worse because it also violates basic human rights and the entire spirit of what this country stands for.

If you cannot even have a free conscience—a free mind—you have no freedom. You might have superficial liberties—like the ability to choose the size of soda pop you want (oh, wait, maybe not for much longer) or what your kids should eat for lunch (oh, wait, not in North Carolina)—but all those things mean nothing when you have to choose between betraying who you are–which is what happens when you ignore your conscience–or breaking the law.

True, this is America, it’s not inquisitorial Spain or despotical Iran or the anti-religious USSR. But it will only remain America if we choose to keep it that way when we vote this fall.

Upon the completion of the Constitution, Ben Franklin said that the Framers had given the people a “Republic—if they can keep it.”

Let’s try to keep it.

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