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Current Events HHS mandate Ink Slingers Mary P.

(Mis)understanding the Hobby Lobby Ruling

supreme courtOn Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a controversial ruling exempting craft store Hobby Lobby (as well as three other businesses) from a portion of the HHS mandate of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). SCOTUS said that due to their religious objection, they do not have to provide employees with insurance coverage for certain abortifacient drugs and devices (Plan B, Ella, and two types of IUDs). The internet was abuzz with comments about this decision. Some of the ones I saw were so outlandish that they made me laugh out loud (before I cried). A common element was a complete lack of understanding. As is standard in today’s social-media-saturated world, people seem to be parroting what they read or hear, without any facts to back up their impassioned viewpoints. It doesn’t help that the news media and the President himself also have been spreading misinformation.

At first, I wanted to write a post making fun of the crazy comments I encountered. I was in disbelief as to the level of ignorance (ie lack of understanding/knowledge) people were displaying. In response, I was full of snark and was ready to unleash it on the world through this post. However, mean-spirited snark is not really our style at CS. So, instead of making fun of people, I want to call on our readers to pray for the ignorant. I want us especially to pray for those who are willfully ignorant because honesty with themselves and others would be too painful. I want us to pray for those whose intellects have been so darkened by the sin in their lives that they truly are unable to have a rational conversation about contraceptives and abortifacients. Most importantly, I want us to pray for people whose hearts are full of hatred and violence over this issue. Some of the comments I read were far from funny – they were chilling. People sincerely want to bring harm upon Hobby Lobby’s CEOs, and those who support them, simply because they are defending conscience rights. Apparently, it’s a heinous, unforgivable transgression to stand in the way of women getting their abortifacient drugs for free. This ruling has revealed a lot of darkness in a lot of hearts, and it is truly scary.

I also want to look at this in a practical way, addressing some of the misunderstandings (or perhaps lies) that are being bandied about. The following are the ill-informed notions about this ruling that I saw expressed most often, and my responses to them

1. This decision is about all birth control. This is by the far the biggest inaccuracy being presented as fact. Most of the hysteria over the decision stems from people thinking (or pretending to think) that the SCOTUS ruled that Hobby Lobby did not have to provide coverage for any contraception. This is simply false. Hobby Lobby has no objection to most forms of birth control. Their insurance provides coverage for 16 different types of very common contraceptives. This ruling was about certain drugs and devices that have a high probability of preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg. These are abortifacients because, regardless of what they are now teaching in medical school in deference to the abortion industry, life beings at conception (not implantation). The owners of Hobby Lobby are not Catholic and do not take the Catholic position on contraception; they do not acknowledge that hormonal contraceptives have the potential to prevent implantation. Therefore, all the foaming at the mouth about women not getting coverage for their birth control is unwarranted. We do hope that in future religious liberty cases before the Supreme Court, religious employers will be exempt from providing coverage for all contraceptives, in accordance with their beliefs. But we have not yet crossed that bridge.

We need to make sure we keep this fact at the forefront of any discussion about this ruling. When people complain that Hobby Lobby is willing to cover Viagra and vasectomies and is therefore discriminating against women for not covering their “sexual health needs,” we need to understand how this is off-base. Viagra and vasectomies do not disrupt the development of an already-conceived child and are therefore completely incomparable; and Hobby Lobby’s insurance covers tubal ligations.

2. This means women who work for Hobby Lobby will no longer be able to use contraception. This is an off-shoot of the Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Case Challenging Affordable Care Act
misunderstanding that this ruling is about all contraception. But let’s pretend for a moment that it is about all contraception. This ruling does not prevent women from obtaining or using any drugs or devices – not even the ones that the ruling was actually about. Just because Hobby Lobby does not want to pay for a certain drug or device does not mean it is unattainable, or that they are policing employees’ bedrooms to make sure they are not using it. Women are free to use whatever birth control, and even abortifacients, that they want – on their own dime. Is it really such a horrible prospect that people pay for their own sexual choices, especially considering how today’s mantra is that it’s no one else’s business what people do in their bedrooms? (By the way, if you don’t want your boss in your bedroom, then stop demanding that he subsidize what goes on in there).

Some related inaccurate notions are that the SCOTUS is allowing employers to force their religious beliefs on employees, or to force them to bear unwanted children. No one is forcing anyone to do anything. It is the government (and enraged feminists everywhere) who want to force people to do something, ie., monetarily participate in something that they sincerely believe to be immoral.

3. Employees of Hobby Lobby who currently have insurance coverage for these drugs and devices are suddenly going to lose access. This is, once again, mostly related to the idea that Hobby Lobby wanted to get rid of coverage for all contraceptives. People are very upset to think of women suddenly having to pay for their own birth control when previously they were getting it for a small copay or for free. But even if this claim were made about the drugs and devices to which Hobby Lobby objects, it’s still off-base. I initially was under the impression that Hobby Lobby never offered coverage for these drugs and devices. However, I read today that they used to do so, but stopped in 2012, shortly before they filed this lawsuit. They claim they did not realize they had this coverage, and once they did realize, they did not want the government to force them to keep it. I have no choice but to take them at their word, and it doesn’t actually matter why they dropped it. The point is that the loss of coverage has already happened and employees have had two years to adjust to it (and if they were hired since 2012, they have never known anything different). They will not suddenly lose any coverage.

The same is true of employees of Catholic organizations who object to providing any contraceptives. They never had this coverage in the first place, and the plea of their employers is that they be able to keep the status quo, not to make a huge and sudden change to their health insurance offerings.

4. This is a violation of women’s rights. This claim is so ludicrous to me that I don’t know how to address it any other way than to say that no one has a right to free birth control or abortifacients. There is nothing in our Constitution that guarantees anyone all the sterile sex that they want to have, on someone else’s dime. You know what is a right, though? Practicing one’s religion without government interference, absent a very compelling State interest. Unfortunately, some people do seem to think that it’s a compelling State interest that men and women be able to have consequence-free sex at no expense to themselves, but I think that the SCOTUS has just blasted a hole in that argument.

Sadly, there are many more points of misinformation that I could cover, but I surpassed my target word count a few [hundred] words ago. So this will have to suffice for now.

I spent way too much time over the past few days trying to have rational conversations with people about this issue, without seeming to have borne any good fruit. These attempts at conversation served mostly to disturb my peace and cause me to think unkind thoughts about others. So I encourage you to be careful if and when you choose to engage others on this topic. If you find yourself starting to become as angry as they are, step away. If time constraints force you to choose between praying about this issue and discussing it, choose prayer. And remember that this battle is not only not about contraception, it’s also not really about abortifacients. This battle is about religious freedom, which is one of the principles upon which this country was founded but something that is becoming more and more endangered and despised. Additionally, it’s a battle against the damage done by the Sexual Revolution, which enshrined in our society the concept that birth control and abortion are as important to our lives as food and water. In this battle, our ultimate enemy is not the stranger in the combox, or even the government. Our enemy is The Enemy, against whom we’ve been fighting since the dawn of time. He’s pretty clever and crafty, so please be vigilant; but remember who was, is, and always will be The Victor.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

 

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Abortion Alessandra Campaigns Fasting HHS mandate I have a say campaign Ink Slingers Martina NFP and contraceptives Novenas Offering your suffering Prayer Prayer Campaign Rosary Sacred Scripture

40 Days for Conscience: July 1st to August 9th

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Consciences formed in accord with Holy Mother Church, the Church that Christ Himself established, do not support HHS! From July 1st to August 9th, join Catholic Sistas in the next prayer campaign, 40 Days for Conscience.

As you may know, the deadline for our bishops to violate their consciences or face undue tax burden, lose their tax-exempt status and possibly end up in jail is August 1. If ever there was a time to fervently pray for the continued united voices of our bishops in the United States, now is it. We need you to commit to join us in prayer. Please join us by participating with us on Instagram and Facebook, where we will be conducting the campaign. Each day a new petition will be unveiled, giving you a new petition to pray with us for the day. 

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on January 20 that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.In so ruling, the Administration has seemingly ignored the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. As a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens because of their religious beliefs. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. All that has been built up over so many years in our Catholic institutions should not be taken away by the stroke of an administrator’s pen. This order reduces the Church to a private club, destroying her public mission in society. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.”  ~ Cardinal George

Encyclicals and Church Documents that support Freedom of Conscience:

What else can I do?

Join the USCCB in their Fortnight for Freedom starting June 21-July 4.

Review the USCCB’s fact sheet.

Send an e-mail to Congress.

Read comments by the USCCB in response to the latest mandate rule.

Text FREEDOM to 377377 to get the latest updates from the USCCB.

Ask St. Thomas More to intercede for us, as he is the patron saint of religious freedom.

Watch these videos on religious liberty.

Read 12 Things Everyone Should Know about The Contraceptive Mandate.

Read what the Church really teaches about Love and Sexuality.

Read up on HHS Mandate Legal Resources.

Add this to your daily prayers:

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” ~ Cardinal George

“We must promote religious liberty for all people. Every man and woman must be free to profess his or her faith, whatever it may be. Why? Because that man and that woman are children of God.” – Pope Francis 

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Abortion Catechism Current Events Doctrine Erika Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mass Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Respect Life Month

A Newbie’s March for Life 2013

I’ve been on countless local Walks for Life, but have never been able to make it to the March for Life in Washington DC. Let me just say, “It was awesome!!!” With so many wonderful things about the trip, it’s difficult to contain myself. First, let me also say that I had some trepidation about going. For one thing, in 6 years of marriage, I’ve never been away from my husband and children for even one day. I also went alone — no travel partner or even close friend. Last, I’m not exactly fond of traveling. All these factors mattered not one whit once I got on the bus with the Gospel of Life group from our diocese. I still missed my family and still dislike traveling, but I found not only kindred spirits on the bus, but also a surrogate family.

After a 13 hour trip, we arrived in DC around noon the day before the March for Life and to this newbie the check-in process was chaos. I don’t know how many bus loads of people came to our hotel, but there were three or four concierges at the base of the escalators directing people to keep moving. Duffle bags, rolling luggage, backpacks, and other miscellaneous pieces of baggage were piled waist high in some areas. Yet, in this throng of travel weary people there was no misbehavior or unkindness. Something else was immediately apparent, the bus loads of people weren’t the fabled “old men” of the pro-life movement. There were families including infants, teens, elders, and people like me (somewhere in the middle).

The first event occurred a few hours later – the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Although we arrived two and a half hours before Mass was scheduled to begin, the pews and aisles were already filled to capacity. Prior to this, the largest church I’d been in was the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis. The Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has a listed capacity of 3500 sitting and 6000 total. I wandered through the Basilica with one of my new friends from the bus – an eight trip veteran of the March for Life. Together she and I worked our way around the entire Basilica, stopping at two separate chapels to light votive candles and pray. Then it was time to find an open spot for Mass. There were none. In fact, some groups had been there for so long that they were lying in the floor sleeping. Room to breathe was rare with 13,000 faithful participants, most of them teens.  We finally located a corner in sight of the altar. Once Mass began, the awesomeness continued. The Procession was longer than the average weekday Mass. The final count was 9 cardinals, 42 bishops, 390 priests, 80 deacons, and 590 seminarians. Talk about disproving that “Catholicism is dwindling and new vocations are at all-time lows” tripe!

We returned to our rooms further exhausted, but filled with joy and peace from our Faith filled Mass. A scant eight and half hours later we were up and at ’em again, heading to the Youth Rally and Mass at the Verizon Center. When we arrived, a band was already playing contemporary praise music. One of my newfound friends and I decided to take the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The entire concourse of the arena was filled with young people. My friend and I found the entrance to the “confessional”. However, unlike the typical confession, there was a line over halfway around the concourse at least four people wide. We waited about 40 minutes for our turn. I was awestruck by the “confessional”! At least 50 priests were scattered around the Acela Club. They were hearing confessions at the bar, at tables, at the grill, and along the walls. It was amazing! Once we returned to our seats, we had only a few more minutes until the Youth Mass began. Again, the sheer numbers of clergy was amazing. It was amazing to see the devotion of the youth at the Mass. Many kneeled in the tight space of the arena seating and all raised their voices in song and response. In short, the Youth Mass, while not my style, was the ultimate Catholic youth experience.

Immediately after the Youth Mass, the march to the March for Life began with a police escort. After exiting the Verizon Center, there were individuals handing out signs, bumper stickers, and other stickers. At one point, I walked along-side two priests in blue robes carrying a silk-cloaked statue of Mary. Even in the sub-freezing weather, these two priests were bathed in sweat as they processed to the Mall. One of our members, another veteran, was in a wheel chair. However, that didn’t slow him or us down in any way, nor did it dampen our enthusiasm. He promptly asked for a sign and joined in the young people’s chants.

Upon our arrival at the Mall, we heard Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) exhorting the attendees with his inspiring pro-life message. The crowd was so large that it was difficult to hear or see the speakers. Finally it was time to hit the streets again – this time on the official March for Life! The crowd milled around and surrounded us. We walked shoulder to shoulder peacefully and energetically. Although the pace was slow, and sometimes halting, the energy of all the participants was high. Young people began chants, “Obama, Obama, your mama chose life!”, “We love babies, yes we do. We love babies, how ’bout you?”, and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!” Our group moved through the crowd, towards the front, rather rapidly, even with our wheelchair. Yet, no matter where we were in the crowd, the chants continued to grow and no misbehavior was observed.

Tiny babies swaddled in snow suits and covered with blankets in arms or in strollers were commonplace. Toddlers and elementary school children tagged along with their parents. Middle and high schoolers marched with their chaperones. College students proudly represented their alumni. Adults and the elderly mixed and mingled with all the groups. Some groups had matching hats, scarves, or jackets. Other groups had planned ahead and designed their own unique signs. Some of my favorites were small wooden crosses borne by a group from Texas (I think). The cross-members were labeled “Exodus 20:13”; while the upright members were labeled with a year (the significance of which I’m unsure). The significance of Exodus 2013 is twofold in my mind: the Scripture verse is simply “Thou shall not kill” and the March for Life is an exodus from complacency in 2013.

About halfway through the March, it began to snow. Yet, neither the snow nor the cold dampened the enthusiasm of the faithful. Throughout the crowd people snapped photos. Complete strangers could be seen, conversing and helping one another. As a newbie, I was struck by the overwhelming positive attitude of the Marchers. There were smiles all around and very little grousing about the bitter cold and snow. When we neared the summit of Capitol Hill, the energy became even more apparent as countless people hesitated and turned to see the crowd down the hill, behind us. Although we were probably solidly in the middle of the pack, I could not see the end of our number. Knowing that there were that many people with the same priority was awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time. When we finally reached the Supreme Court building chaos reigned, but still no griping or misbehaving. It was in front of the Supreme Court building that I saw my first and only counter-protestors. They had crudely created signs that had no purpose except to offend. With that in mind, I faced the woman holding the rudest sign and stated my objection to her sign, then simply turned and walked away.

Upon our return to the hotel, we had only a couple hours to thaw out and prepare for the Rose Banquet. After the freezing chaos of the March for Life, it was a relief to don my dress clothes. A fellow Sista and I had been texting throughout the day, trying to find a place to meet. We were finally able to meet in the lobby. Then I almost ran into Fr. Frank Pavone after coming off the escalator! When I found our table, I noticed it was diagonal from Fr. Pavone’s — sweet! There were also a group of nuns from a Franciscan Charismatic order at his table. I noticed them all standing for a photo, so I jumped up to get one as well. After taking the photo, I was informed by someone from my table that the light-haired man in my photo was the producer of October Baby. Before too long it was time for the program to begin.

Our first speaker was the creator of HeartBeat International, a crisis pregnancy center. Mrs. Peggy Hartshorn spoke to us of the history of the pro-life movement. One key point I learned was that, prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, there was already a small but potent movement opposing abortion. She also reiterated that, contrary to what abortion proponents say, groups like HeartBeat International care for pregnant women and the newly delivered. In fact, their numbers far overshadow the number of abortion clinics in the U. S. Mrs. Hartshorn also spoke warmly of the recently deceased Nellie Gray –  founder of the March for Life. As a newbie, I was stupefied to learn that one woman organized this rally for years and years culminating with this 40 year anniversary. Rep. Chris Smith also spoke fondly of Nellie Gray and her spirit that lead the March for Life for so many years. During his speech he intimated that we were not finished fighting the good fight to defeat abortion. New March for Life president, Jeanne Monahan, gave a rousing speech focused on the indomitable spirit of pro-lifers. She indicated that even though we had just witnessed the second term inauguration of the most pro-abortion president, we weren’t hopeless or defeated. In fact, since the March for Life this year was the largest ever, the pro-life crowd was showing our true spirit. Throughout these speeches I was also struck by how firmly Faithful this group of pro-lifers was. Knowing that the majority of those involved with the March for Life are Catholic gave me a burst of pride in my Faith.

Since this was the 40th anniversary of the March for Life many comparisons were made to the biblical stories involving the number 40. Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land. Like Moses, perhaps Nellie Gray was never meant to enter the promised land of an abortion-free United States, but we, the faithful, may indeed finally win this fight. Noah and his family also had 40 days of rain that wiped out the rest of the earth while they stayed safe in their God-directed ark. Yet, because they were steadfast and faithful to the Lord’s command, they lived and prospered even with the countless wild animals on board. Also, Jesus was in the desert for 40 days being tempted by Satan prior to His suffering and death. We, too, have been tempted and gone long stretches without much success and have been weakened by temptations to give up the fight. However, we have remained strong and continue on our journey. However, perhaps just like Jesus, immediately after our fortieth “day” in the desert we may be challenged even more before finally being triumphant. Though the cost of 55 million lives is overwhelming, we must remain strong in the belief that with God on our side, nothing can defeat us! March on!

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Abortion BirgitJ Campaigns Catechism Crafts Current Events Doctrine Domestic Church Evangelization Faith Formation Fasting HHS mandate Homeschool Ink Slingers Meatless Fridays NFP and contraceptives Prayer Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Rosary Sacred Scripture Year of Faith

Hobby Lobby – Crafting Religious Freedom

As a group of crafty Catholic women, joining Pinterest was a no-brainer for many of the Catholic Sistas Ink Slingers. As an Art Major, former Catholic school art teacher, homeschool mother, and now homeschool Nana this was certainly true for me.  Therefore, this past Advent and Christmas season brought me to Hobby Lobby more times than I can count. They have always had my respect as a Christian- owned business that closes on Sundays  “the day most widely recognized as a day of rest, in order to allow our employees and customers more time for worship and family”. So what’s not to like?

ObamaCare Enters In

Conversely, Hobby Lobby  hardly seems like a name that would appear in the same sentence with the HHS Mandate – yet here we are. It appears that the insidious HHS Mandate has encroached even into the world of Christian, crafty, self-made entrepreneurs.  At first glance, ObamaCare appeared to be a virtuous idea to some, even as others struggled with the strangle hold it would have on every citizen in the nation. That topic alone would garner a several part series for another day. The portion of ObamaCare that is more easily isolated and agreed upon is the portentous HHS Mandate, which will force – as of January 1, 2013 – businesses, organizations, and institutions to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs to all of their employees – free of charge.

What about Freedom of Religion?

“What about Freedom of Religion?” you might ask. According to Stuart Delery , Acting Assistant Attorney General, “Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion”.  Therefore  “because Hobby Lobby is a secular employer, it is not entitled to the protections of the Free Exercise Clause or RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]”.

Wait a minute! Don’t they realize that a corporation is made up of people? That those who spend their lives taking the risks it takes to create a business do so according to their religious beliefs and core values? Even at a corporate level, moral decisions are made every day – such as how to treat employees, customers, and vendors. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Economic activity, conducted according to its own proper methods, is to be exercised within the limits of the moral order, in keeping with social justice so as to correspond to God’s plan for man” 2426. Trying to divorce principles from the business world creates exactly the type of selfish capitalism against which we rail.

Freedom of Worship vs. Freedom of Religion

The reasoning put forth by the Obama Administration exemplifies the push for freedom of worship rather than freedom of religion that is stealthily being integrated into our culture these days. In this highly flawed rationale, every person has the right to worship in the way they desire but they should leave that philosophy at the church steps. Once one enters into day to day life, all religious bets are off, so to speak,  and we are to neutralize our belief system at the behest of the secular world. This way we don’t impose our values onto others and we don’t strain the sensibilities of those who do not believe as we do. But aren’t we all here to work toward heaven together? Shouldn’t we encourage godly thinking and morality for all? Yes, and that is why this situation is so pertinent to all of us!

The Church Stance

So is the Church really on board with the civil disobedience planned by the Bishops? Blessed John Paul II, in his Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, stated, “in the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it”, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”. This ideal of following God first and civil authority second goes all the way back to the Bible where Acts 5:29 tells us, “ But Peter and the apostles answering, said: We ought to obey God, rather than men”. Preferably, as godly American citizens, we would do well to replicate the dedication of Saint Thomas More who, according to Pope Benedict XVII, “…followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose ‘good servant’ he was, because he chose to serve God first.” After all, the very morality of our nation is at stake and we fight for justice for all of our brethren!

So What Does this all Mean?

Although Hobby Lobby is the only non-Catholic business of the 42 cases and over 110 plaintiffs being brought against this unconstitutional mandate, they are the largest and therefore have the most money to lose as far as potential fines go.  For Hobby Lobby, civil disobedience will mean up to $1.3 M in fines – per day! Having been denied an injunction by several judges, including Supreme Court Justice, Sonya Sotomayer (a Catholic) , they appear to be poised to risk just that. This is where we all come in as the people of God. If a Christian business is willing to face financial ruin for their moral principles shouldn’t we step up in solidarity? Shouldn’t we raise them up in prayer and in deed?

Plan of Action

Hobby Lobby defies HHS Mandate

I propose that we shop Hobby Lobby first, when it comes to the type of products that they carry. Further, I’d love to see them receive many votes of confidence in the form of emails and letters. Not to be forgotten, it behooves us to pray mightily for them and for all of the brave soldiers in this fight for Religious Freedom. The USCCB has given us a campaign in which to participate – Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Freedom.

1) Eucharistic Adoration
2) Daily Family Rosary
3) Mass intentions for Life, Marriage, and Religious Freedom
4) Abstaining from meat and fasting every Friday
5) A second Fortnight for Freedom at the end of June and the beginning of July 2013 emphasizing Life, Marriage and Religious Freedom in light of the HHS Mandate.

Wrap Up

All in all, the most important consideration is that we are all in this together. This is not just another political issue that has valid, moral points on either side. Nor is it something to be easily dismissed because it’s not really relevant to us. No, this is a trail down a very slippery slope whose outcome will be affecting our lives very intimately in all the years to come. Don’t dismiss this issue out of hand! Instead join us as we pray, fast, and act on behalf of following the laws of the God of Life! May the Goliath of Big Government be subdued by the unified Davids to be found in those brave enough to defy the HHS Mandate, plus you and me!

Despite Sotomayor Ruling, Hobby Lobby Won’t Comply With Abortifacient Mandate 

Beckett Fund and the other plaintiffs

Categories
Abortion Assisted Reproductive Technologies Current Events Doctrine End of life Faith Formation HHS mandate Ink Slingers Misty Pro-Life Issues Respect Life

Father, Forgive Me–I Voted for Obama

I know, I know–you thought with the election being over, the politics posts would stop. But when I woke up a few weeks ago to discover Obama had been reelected–with considerable help from Mass-going Catholics–I realized the issue of Catholics supporting pro-abortion/pro-gay marriage/pro-insert-objective-evil-here isn’t going away. Obama v. Romney won’t be the last time we have to choose between less-than-ideal candidates, so in anticipation of the next round of political undesirables, let’s prepare ourselves to explore exactly what our Church teaches about moral voting practices. (It is the Year of Faith, after all.)

Whether Catholics can vote for pro-abortion politicians without sinning themselves originated in a six-point memo from then-Cardinal Ratzinger, published online years ago by L’Espresso, an Italian magazine. The memo outlined that Catholics can’t vote for a pro-abortion candidate without incurring mortal sin–except for “proportionate reasons,” but the future pope didn’t clarify what those justifiable reasons would be. Though the memo mentioned pro-abortion politicians specifically, civil leaders who support other intrinsically evil acts such as euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, or legalizing gay “marriage” create a similar quandary for Catholics.

The best guidance I’ve found that attempts to clarify what proportionate reasons would justify these votes for Catholics was put out by Bishop Emeritus Rene Henry Gracida of Corpus Christi, Texas:

When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons strictly defined.

Since abortion and euthanasia have been defined by the Church as the most serious sins prevalent in our society, what kind of reasons could possibly be considered proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for a candidate who is known to be pro-abortion? None of the reasons commonly suggested could even begin to be proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for such a candidate. Reasons such as the candidate’s position on war, or taxes, or the death penalty, or immigration, or a national health plan, or social security, or aids, or homosexuality, or marriage, or any similar burning societal issues of our time are simply lacking in proportionality.

There is only one thing that could be considered proportionate enough to justify a Catholic voting for a candidate who is known to be pro-abortion, and that is the protection of innocent human life. That may seem to be contradictory, but it is not.

Consider the case of a Catholic voter who must choose between three candidates: Candidate A, who is completely for abortion-on-demand; Candidate B, who is in favor of greatly restricting abortion; and Candidate C, who is completely against abortion, but universally recognized as being unelectable. The Catholic voter cannot vote for Candidate A because that would be formal cooperation in the sin of abortion if that candidate were to be elected and assist in passing legislation which would remove restrictions on abortion-on-demand. The Catholic can vote for Candidate C, but that will probably only help ensure the election of Candidate A. Therefore, the Catholic voter has a proportionate reason to vote for Candidate B, since his vote may help ensure the defeat of Candidate A and may result in the saving of some innocent human lives if Candidate B is elected and votes for legislation restricting abortion-on-demand. In such a case, the Catholic voter would have chosen the lesser of two evils which is morally permissible under these circumstances.

What this bishop says is common sense. If you’re voting for a pro-abortion/euthanasia/gay marriage candidate because that candidate supports those things, you’re complicit in the evil and committing a mortal sin, too. Duh.

But what if you disagree with the candidate on abortion or gay marriage, but think his position on issues such as war, welfare, or the environment justify overlooking the first two? No again. Prior to the last election, Catholic Answers put out a great guide titled, “Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics,” which outlined the five major moral issues declared by the Church to be objectively and absolutely immoral: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, and same-sex “marriage.” As Catholics, we’re morally obligated to vote against all five and–with only rare exceptions–to vote against politicians who support any of them.

Despite the confusion promulgated by those who subscribe to the “seamless garment” or “consistent life ethic” philosophies, which aim to present all life-related issues as equally important, the fact remains that some issues are simply more critical than others and must be considered first. Abortion is always wrong, whereas war may sometimes be justified. Euthanasia is always wrong, but capital punishment may not be. Yes, we’re called to support policies that respect the sacredness of all human life, but when forced to choose, there’s a hierarchy of moral issues and some (those five non-negotiables, for example) rank more important than others. (Incidentally, you can download a great lecture by apologist Tim Staples here that more fully explains our moral obligations on these life issues.)

But there’s a third category of voter, that I first encountered five years ago. As a professional writer, I used to contact strangers for interviews every day, so it’s nothing for me to contact public figures via e-mail. I’ve lauded and upbraided many celebrities and what’s shocked me is how many of them actually write back. I’ve conversed with actress Carol Drinkwater, Some Girls author Jillian Lauren, and editor-in-chief of the American Medical Journal, to name a few. Once I even got a phone call back from the former editor of Our Sunday Visitor, after I sent a letter in criticizing Ted Kennedy’s bishop for cozying up to the late politician despite his pro-abortion stance.

Perhaps the most surprising response I ever received, however, was from writer Anne Rice, famed author of The Vampire Chronicles series. Rice had publicly confirmed her return to Catholicism a few years earlier after decades as an atheist. I wrote to her via e-mail expressing my disappointment that despite claiming to desire full union with the Catholic Church, she was nonetheless stumping for presidential hopeful John Kerry, a pro-abortion Catholic.

Rice wrote me a lengthy letter back, explaining that she was voting for Kerry because she believed his social policies would actually do more to reduce abortions than John McCain’s would. In other words, Rice claimed to have “proportionate reasons” to licitly vote for a pro-abortion candidate. (Not that Rice has to worry about being in union with the Church anymore, having decided she no longer wants to associate with any institution that upholds the traditional teachings of Christianity. But I digress.)

Rice’s justification surprised me at the time, but in the past month, I’ve heard that same reasoning offered by several practicing Catholics who voted for Obama (again). In their opinion, whether Romney or Obama say they’re pro-life or pro-choice is meaningless; we have to look to their proposed economic and social policies to determine which candidate is truly “for life.” And in their opinion, Obama’s record and policies are simply more “pro-life” than Romney’s, which makes it morally permissible for them to vote for him. The HHS Mandate (which will force Catholic institutions to violate the faith), as well as Obama’s record in promoting Planned Parenthood, as well as his public stances against all five of the non-negotiable life issues…none of these override the actual, practical good that will come from having him as president over the other candidates, they say.

Readers, what do you say? Does the logic of Rice and other prObama Catholics hold water? And if not, why not? What reasons, if any, would constitute legitimate “proportionate reasons” for voting for similar candidates in the future? I look forward to your answers.