Liberals just don’t like what the Founders did, do they?

February 16, 2012

A little while back, I featured Justice Ginsburg opining that the US Constitution really wasn’t a suitable model for the modern age.

Now we have a Washington Post editor wondering if, perhaps, the first Congress got it wrong when it guaranteed the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment:

That‘s what Washington Post editor Melinda Henneberger told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews last night while defending Catholics. Here’s the full quote:

“Maybe the Founders were wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion in the First Amendment but that is what they did and I don’t think we have to choose here.”

And maybe they made a mistake guaranteeing free speech, too; otherwise we’d be able to punish dolts like Henneberger for saying such stupid things. And that whole trial by jury thing; it just gets in the way of government enforcing the law to protect us.

Head, meet wall.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy spots several problems with Henneberger’s proposition, the foremost being the centrality of freedom of religious expression to the Colonial experience and the foundation of the United States, itself:

First, there is the sheer unreality of it. As someone of Ms. Henneberger’s sophistication must know, the Founders cannot have been wrong to guarantee free exercise of religion. Had they failed to do so, there would have been no nation to found. Free exercise was a deal-breaker for Americans, and the adoption of the Bill of Rights (in which free-exercise was among the core of individual liberties that had to be specified) was a deal breaker for skeptics in several states who believed the Constitution transferred too much power to the federal government.

(Emphasis added.)

In other words, the new HHS rule regarding insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients at religious institutions is exactly and precisely the kind of tyrannical and oppressive act regarding the free exercise of religion those who argued for a Bill of Rights had in mind, even if it’s presented as a “public good.”

They weren’t wrong, Melinda, they were prescient.

RELATED: Getting back to Justice Ginsburg and the outdated Constitution, historian Steven Hayward figured out why she seemed so enamored of the South African constitution:

The South African constitution is equally watery.  Yes, it does include an independent judiciary and a long list of positive rights.  Then there’s this:

“When interpreting the Bill of Rights, a court, tribunal or forum must promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom; must consider international law; and may consider foreign law.”

No wonder Ginsburg likes it so much: it more or less gives judges a blank check to look anywhere they want to reach any result they want.

So much more fun that sticking by our stodgy old rules, no?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Religious unity against HHS decision

February 4, 2012

I wrote earlier that Catholic bishops across America had come out strongly against the Obama administration decision requiring religious organizations to pay for the cost of providing contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees. Jewish and Protestant groups aligned themselves with the bishops.

Now Orthodox Christian bishops have joined in:

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care.  We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.

As Joshua Treviño describes it, it is very unusual for Orthodox bishops to make an overtly political declaration. (Also h/t)

I really don’t think Team Obama quite knows what they’ve unleashed on themselves. But they’ll find out on Election Day.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama won’t be expecting the Spanish Inquisition

January 30, 2012

It isn’t bad enough that the majority of Americans oppose ObamaCare and want it repealed. No, the administration had to go and tick off the Catholic Church, too.

Background: As part of the implementation of ObamaCare, Secretary Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations requiring religious groups to provide health insurance that would cover practices and procedures, such as abortion,  diametrically opposed to their beliefs. The groups were given a year to comply. (Or else?)

This was too much for Catholic bishops to take, and a letter denouncing this move as an assault on religious liberty was read in thousands of  parishes across the land this last Sunday. Here’s an excerpt from one:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week 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 Obama Administration has cast aside 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. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama 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. 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. 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. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

Each bishop sent out his own letter, so there’s some variation. Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh said the HHS ruling amount to telling Catholics “to Hell with you:”

Kathleen Sebelius announced that the mandate would not be withdrawn and the religious exemption would not be expanded. Instead, she stated that nonprofit groups – which include the Catholic Church – will get a year “to adapt to this new rule.” She simply dismissed Catholic concerns as standing in the way of allegedly respecting the health concerns and choices of women.

Could Catholics be insulted any more, suggesting that we have no concern for women’s health issues? The Catholic Church and the Catholic people have erected health care facilities that are recognized worldwide for their compassionate care for everyone regardless of their creed, their economic circumstances and, most certainly, their gender. In so many parts of the globe – the United States included – the Church is health care.

Kathleen Sebelius and through her, the Obama administration, have said “To Hell with You” to the Catholic faithful of the United States.

  • To Hell with your religious beliefs,
  • To Hell with your religious liberty,
  • To Hell with your freedom of conscience.

Want to know how seriously the Church in America takes this? One bishop directed that the Prayer to St. Michael be read at services within his diocese (h/t PJM):

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen

Why is that significant? Between 1930 and 1965, when it was last included in regular services, the prayer was recited for the benefit of believers trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

This isn’t just opposition; this is a declaration of war.

It’s also incredibly risky (to put it nicely) for a president who badly wants reelection. Catholics amount to about 25% of the electorate and constitute significant voting blocs in several keys states. Naturally not all would agree with the bishops or think this as serious a matter as they claim. But I’m willing to bet that large numbers will, and that, combined with the already existing ire over ObamaCare and the economy, the President may well come to regret Secretary Sebelius’ highhandedness.

Especially on Election Day.

PS: About that subject line.

LINKS: Yuval Levin, Religious Liberty and Civil Society.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Religion of Tolerance Watch: one-legged man to hang for leaving Islam

February 7, 2011

We as Americans value religious freedom. Descended from people who themselves were persecuted for their religious choices, we made it a core article of our civic creed that one may freely practice one’s religion (within certain broad boundaries) and even change one’s beliefs without fear of punishment from the State. Not happy as a Catholic or a Buddhist? Then you can become Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, Hindu, Taoist, some brand of neo-pagan, even atheist — whatever you want. And if your new beliefs don’t make you happy, switch again. You’re religion is your own business, and no one else’s.

Except in Islam, where the punishment for apostasy is death:

An Afghan physiotherapist will be executed within three days for converting to Christianity.

Said Musa, 45, has been held for eight months in a Kabul prison were he claims he has been tortured and sexually abused by inmates and guards.

Mr Musa, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion in the 1990s, has worked for the Red Cross for 15 years and helps to treat fellow amputees.

He was arrested in May last year as he attempted to seek asylum at the German embassy following a crackdown on Christians within Afghanistan.

He claims he was visited by a judge who told him he would be hanged within days unless he converted back to Islam.

But he remains defiant and said he would be willing to die for his faith.

This punishment is in line with what is written in the hadiths, the sayings and deeds of Muhammad as related by his Companions and those who came after. For example, we read in one of the most highly-trusted collections, the Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated ‘Ikrima:

Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.‘”

Emphasis added. Keep in mind that, according to the Qur’an, Muhammad was a perfect pattern of conduct for all mankind and, since the Qur’an is supposed to be the eternal words of Allah, for all time, too. Thus, while the sentence of death per se for apostasy doesn’t appear in the Qur’an, its presence in Bukhari’s collection as the words of Muhammad spell bad news for Mr. Musa.

Or anyone who wants to leave Islam.

This news prompts two questions:

How fragile and insecure must a religion be, that it threatens to kill those who dare leave it?

And why isn’t Secretary Clinton on the phone right now with Afghan President Karzai to remind him that a nation dedicated to religious freedom might have a problem with fighting and dying on behalf of a nation that kills people for exercising that freedom? Correct me if I’m wrong, but, so far as I can tell, the administration has said nothing.

via Jihad Watch

RELATED: A good discussion of Islam and apostasy at Sheik Yer’mami.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Religious tolerance for me, but not for thee

November 6, 2010

Just another reminder that the principles of liberal democracy and Sharia law are not compatible: In New York, Muslims want to build a mosque near Ground Zero and most Americans, while hating the idea, agree they have the right to do it. Meanwhile, in Kuwait, Christians are denied permission to build churches:

A group of Christians has complained that Kuwait City’s Municipal Council is preventing them from getting land to build a church. “The Municipal Council is the big problem preventing us from getting land; not all of the members, just the Islamic fundamentalists,” said Archimandrite Boutros Gharib, head of the local Greek Catholic Church.

Recently the municipal council blocked an attempt by the Greek Catholic Church to acquire land in Mahboula, an area in the Ahmadi governorate south of Kuwait City. The request has been pending for several years.

A new church would reduce over-crowdedness in a villa currently used for worshiping, Fr Gharib said.

According to the Greek Catholic clergyman, both the government and the country’s leader, Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, have given their approval and blessing to the Church to have its property built. However, the Council has not followed suit. What is more, “The council did not give us any reason,” he added.

“We found the higher levels of government say yes and the lower levels of government say no,” said Rev Andrew Thompson, the Anglican chaplain to Kuwait, who stressed that religious fundamentalists controlled the municipality.

As Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch points out, and as the “fundamentalist” councilmen understand, Islamic law prohibits dhimmi (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians) peoples from building new places of worship or even repairing the old ones. Yet, while while American Muslim groups complain if someone just speaks out against the building of a new mosque in the US, they say nothing about the far worse (and genuine) religious persecution practiced in Muslim lands. Indeed, Muhammad himself ordered that only Islam shall be practiced in the Arabian peninsula. I suppose the city councilors could argue that, hey, at least they’re allowing those dhimmi Christians to practice at all. Be grateful.

This isn’t an argument for tit-for-tat discrimination or, as some might put it, “they can build a mosque in New York when we can build a cathedral in Mecca.” To do so would be to abandon our own deeply held principles.

But neither can we ignore blatant hypocrisy and religious discrimination for the sake of an intellectually addled multiculturalism, regardless of how warm and fuzzy it makes us feel. Instead, it is incumbent on us to challenge and call out the advocates of Sharia in every case where their religious law, which they see as their duty to impose on us, conflicts with the basic human freedoms Western civilization holds dear.

If we don’t we may eventually find ourselves in the same unhappy state as the Greek Catholics of Kuwait.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Wait, the conservative Christian doesn’t want to burn Qurans?

September 9, 2010

Back in the 2008 campaign, one of the most persistent smears of Sarah Palin was that she tried to have some books banned from the local library while she was Mayor of Wasilla. That’s kind of hard to square with the woman who would write this, however:

Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque at Ground Zero.

I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire. If your ultimate point is to prove that the Christian teachings of mercy, justice, freedom, and equality provide the foundation on which our country stands, then your tactic to prove this point is totally counter-productive.

So, let me get this straight: that raging, fire-breathing Evangelical Christian, that chillbilly social conservative, is arguing against burning the sacred texts of a religion, Islam, many of whose adherents are waging war against us in its name? And she’s doing so in eloquent terms that appeal to reason and express the best ideals of her country and her faith?

Yeah, she’s a danger to the nation. You betcha.

Oh, and she didn’t try to ban books, either.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Darn those intolerant conservatives!

August 31, 2010

Excerpt of the day from Bill Kristol:

So evangelical Christian Sarah Palin spent Friday night with (mostly) observant Jews, along with various Christians, including some Amish. Then on Saturday she spoke at a rally hosted by a Mormon who went out of his way in his remarks to refer to the important role of “churches, synagogues and mosques” in American life.

Early Monday morning, as it happened, I received an e-mail from (Catholic convert) Newt Gingrich from Rome, asking for contact information for a (Jewish) scholar whose book on certain (not very religious) enlightenment thinkers he was reading.

Can’t you just feel the seething wingnut bigotry and neanderthal hatred? I’m sure Keith Olbermann is readying a trenchant special comment declaring… well, someone… the Worst Person in the World, even now.

(Crossposted to Sister Toldjah)