For Life and Freedom: A Political Proposal For 2016
(Nov. 12, 2014)
[UPDATE: Feb. 1, 2016. Note the original posting date of this essay: Nov. 12, 2014. Since then, the Supreme Court has extended equal protection to same-sex couples. Around the turn of 2015-2016 Russell Shaw wrote Catholic Voters and 2016 and George Weigel wrote Looking Toward November 8, both pointing out that the next president will likely be able to reshape the Supreme Court in a manner which, in Weigel's words, could deal "potentially fatal hammer blows [to the causes of life and religious freedom] for the foresseable future." Some pundits want to relive 1820 to 1865 ( the year a bloody civil war ended) by ignoring Supreme Court rulings. In 2015, Fr. Frank Pavone published a book, Abolishing Abortion etc., just in this writer's hand, in which he addresses the Johnson Amendment to the IRS code. It remains to be seen if pro-life grass-roots/legislative tracking organizations, such as NCHLA / Human Life Action, will continue to be incompetently reticent about future federal judicial nominations. And the presidential race has certainly gotten interesting, hasn't it? If a reckless, wildly swinging wrecking ball with angry white males clinging to it is what it takes to keep a proabortion president out of The White House, so be it. Eventually I will write an essay that supercedes this.]
There have been many presidential elections of which I have said that it doesn't matter who wins. One year I opined that the only difference one candidate or the other winning would make is in how fast gasoline got to $5.00 a gallon.
In a 2012 essay entitled "Paul Ryan, Literary Idols and Catholic Wonk Words" (1), I argued in the sidebar that bishops should avoid being seen with politicians, including those who are sympathetic to Catholic causes.
However, regarding the 2016 presidential election, I cast these attitudes aside. In 2016, it matters very much who wins the U.S. presidency because we have come to a crisis point for pro-life progress and the freedoms of religion, speech and press.
The Nominating Power
A president is not just one person. He or she is all the people he or she appoints, the judges or other unelected policymakers such as those who make regulations for federal agencies. A Democrat candidate who wins the White House in 2016, no matter how moderate he or she may seem, will have to please the Democratic Party's powerful base of pro-abortionists and anti-faith sexual expressionists (2), To do so, that Democrat president will appoint judges and bureaucrats who will make abortion an absolute right and who will rule and regulate away our freedoms to express and live by our beliefs.
The 2016 election must be won by the Republican presidential candidate, no matter how much a schmendrake he or she is (and is likely to be). Catholic bishops, priests and leaders of other faiths must, where and when necessary, take an active role in persuading voters to vote for the Republican nominee, even if it means flouting Internal Revenue Service regulations for non-profits.
A growing number of evangelical Christian pastors, more than 1600 in 2014, are taking positions in campaigns, mostly endorsing Republicans (3).
What About 2014?
That the Republicans have captured the Senate in 2014 should not be cause for a sigh of relief. While a Republican-controlled upper chamber can refuse to confirm the nominations of Obama or a Democrat successor elected in 2016, there is no guarantee that it will. It is much preferable to have a president who does not nominate pro-abortion, sexual-expressionist totalitarians in the first place. A bicameral Republican congress may also get into mischief, such as leading the country into unwanted foreign wars, that hands the White House to the Democrats in 2016.
As I mentioned at the outset, a crisis has developed because of the following converging trends against pro-life progress and freedoms of religion, speech and press:
1) Resurgence of American Anti-Catholicism. While the suspicion that the Catholic church is a criminal conspiracy (not entitled to any rights) out to oppress free people has not been expressed as much as it was before the First Civil War and in the 1920s, it still dwells in the American psyche. As American as apple pie, anti-Catholicism is again bearing its teeth. However unlike the old bigoted dogs, the new breed of secular anti-Catholics are sexual expressionists unrestrained by Christian ethics. Their accusation against the church is that it is out to stifle sexual freedom. They are as dangerous and potentially as deadly as the ancient Roman pagans.
2) Reason Yielding To Sentimentality. St. Thomas More said, "I'd give the devil the benefit of the law for my own safety's sake." The protection of First Amendment rights won (largely by liberals) in the mid-20th century as well as the civic attitude of tolerance that was fostered by that protection is eroding. Fewer people accept the principle, "I don't agree with what you say, but I'll defend your right to say it because it protects my right to say what I believe." That attitude is giving way to a fickle, irrational, hypocritical, emotional mindset that is guided only by what it likes or abhors in the moment: "I don't like you, what you believe in, what you say, so you ought to be silenced and I'm OK with you being harassed and even destroyed." Or to use a real example: The sports team owner is a jerk, so it's OK if bullies and extortionists interfere with his property rights.
People who think like this don't understand that a pendulum wildly swinging every which way will eventually wrap around their necks and strangle them. Unfortunately, elites, who have often been the protectors of rights in the face of the fickle and ignorant, have dumbed themselves down to where they themselves are fickle and ignorant. Written laws that guarantee civil liberties eventually won't offer much protection if they are not bolstered by public belief in civil liberties, if not even judges understand or believe in them.
3) Growing Intolerance. That East and West Coast urban liberals harbor an intense hatred for white Christians is nothing new. However, coupled with the abandonment of principle for sentiment and of the Christian vision of human dignity, it has become dangerous. Many urban liberals are convinced that white Christians are an inferior species, insects out in the hinterland. They cannot conceive that there are devout Christians like this writer living and working in their midst.
As one of these infiltrators, I can tell you that there are urban liberals, ordinary people, who would have no problem with the persecution of Christians and who would indeed cheer it. I am certain that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent in U.S. v Windsor (133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013)), the gay marriage case, was referring to this hatred when he wrote that the majority had characterized opponents of gay marriage as hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race. That is what the Romans called the accused Christians of being whenever they persecuted them.
4) Evil and Stupid Academics. For years many university and law school students have been indoctrinated by radical feminists and aging hippy professors in militant political correctness and sexual expressionism. For these students, rabid intolerance of differing viewpoints and harassment of those with whom they disagree is normal, heroic behavior (4). These people who shout down guest speakers on their campuses, who invent crimes such as "micro-aggression" and who call wearing sombreros an act of racism do not believe in freedom of speech or of religion or of conscience. They have been graduating and taking their brutal attitudes into careers in the grievance industry. These are the types who seek power, gain it and make policy. They are obsessed with their anti-male, pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agenda.
A coming trend may be academics in charge of accrediting agencies threatening to discontinue the accreditation of Catholic and Christian colleges and universities if those institutions continue to proclaim the church's teaching on sexual matters (5).
As of Nov. 2014, the justices currently sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court were born between 1933 and 1960. All but two were born in 1950 or before. During the presidential terms beginning in 2017 and 2021, there will be many retirements from the supreme bench, a majority turnover.
5)"The Supreme Court, The Supreme Court, The Supreme Court." (6) Liberal Democrats are much more savvy about courts -- and the political process in general -- than pro-lifers and other social conservatives. Because they have contempt for democracy and average Americans, liberals rely heavily on courts, upon which many of their elitist comrades sit, to get their way. If liberals don’t like a law that a majority of the people have enacted, they know they have a chance at getting that law struck down in court.
As of Nov. 2014, the justices currently sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court were born between 1933 and 1960. All but two were born in 1950 or before. During the presidential terms beginning in 2017 and 2021, there will be many retirements from the supreme bench, a majority turnover. The president sitting during those eight years who replaces those retirees will have an impact on how much religious and other freedom we have -- or don't have -- for decades.
By now every informed person of faith should know how Obama's Affordable Care Act placed persons and charities such as the Little Sisters of The Poor between violating their conscience by providing coverage for contraception or by paying severely punitive fines (7). Because the U.S. Government could provide contraception for all without involving religious institutions, there is well-founded suspicion that the Democrat government is colluding with sexual expressionists to oppress people of faith who disapprove of the sexual expressionists' agenda. This is sure to continue and expand if another Democrat administration is elected in 2016.
Other things that will be threatened by a Democrat president who empowers anti-Catholics and sexual expressionists include:
1) Pro-Life Progress. Over the past several years, the Pro-Life Movement has made great strides in reducing the number of abortions by getting enacted, on the state level, health-of-the-mother legislation that holds abortion facilities to higher cleanliness, safety and professional standards. Most facilities, because they are run by butchers and not genuine health-care professionals, would rather close than meet the standards. The abortion industry, wearing its glittering bling, Planned Parenthood, has exchanged gloves for brass knuckles. It is countering the Pro-life arguments that life begins at conception and that abortion can be regretted act for women with "Yes, we know life begins at conception and we don't care," and with women who had an abortion and who testify: “A first trimester abortion takes three to five minutes. It is safer than giving birth...I feel good. I’m done. Yay.” (8)
Beyond the battle for hearts and minds, even if the pro-life side is gaining ground in public opinion, the pro-abortion people are planning to take down pro-lifers and their legislative victories in the courts. These are arenas in which public opinion, uplifting stories and how many young people show up at the marches and rallies do not matter. Every chance they get, pro-abortion lawyers will argue that an absolute abortion right is necessary for women to enjoy protection of the laws equal to men and that regulation of clinics outright deprives women of this right or deprives them indirectly by imposing "undue burden" as vaguely defined in guiding Supreme Court abortion decisions. See my essay, The Pro-Life Movement And The Equal Protection Iceberg (9).
Right now (Nov. 2014) four of nine Supreme Court justices, including all three women, solidly support the absolute abortion right. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has made it her life project. As explained above, a Democrat president elected in 2016 will likely have the chance to nominate one or more justices during his or her term. Because judicial appointments are of particular interest to the Democratic Party's pro-abortion base, the Democrat president, to please that base, will surely appoint pro-abortion justices. There will then be a majority on the highest court who can strike down all abortion regulation, setting the pro-life movement back decades and causing the deaths of tens of millions of unborn children.
2) The Freedom to Preach and Teach. The Internal Revenue Code and IRS regulations, which I discuss further below and in the sidebar, grant non-profit, tax-exempt status to churches, religious groups and organizations provided, among other requirements, that they do not endorse or oppose specific political candidates. However what constitutes electioneering is open to interpretation and determined by IRS bureaucrats. For decades, pro-abortion groups including The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) have been arguing to IRS bureaucrats that bishops, priests and ministers preaching against abortion and Obamacare and preaching for freedom of conscience, even though they don't mention specific candidates in their communications, constitutes electioneering in violation of regulations made pursuant to 501(c)(3).
In 2012, the FFRF filed suit against the acting commissioner of the IRS (10) complaining that the agency was not enforcing its political intervention prohibitions. In 2014, the FFRF filed and was granted a motion to dismiss the suit without prejudice, meaning it can be revived again. The motion was filed after the pro-abortion group was copied a letter from an IRS examinations director to one of Obama's assistant attorney generals, that is a subordinate to Eric Holder (11), the William Cecil of the 21st Century.
The IRS has truly been lax in moving against churches who violate the intervention prohibition. Even pastors who have sent tapes of their sermons to the agency hoping to be sued are disappointed at the lack of response. However as Quin Hillyer wrote in “The IRS' God Complex,” (12), Obama's IRS may be starting to listen to the FFRF. The aforementioned letter between Obama's IRS and Obama's DOJ, the missive that appeased the FFRF, promised that the IRS was reviewing its examination procedures and notified that it has a list of about 100 churches that it is going to examine.
Democrats are becoming bolder about using offices and agencies for raw political purposes. If Obama's IRS doesn't go after churches with a ludicrously stretched electioneering net, the IRS of more earnest totalitarian Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren will.
There are also state laws regulating non-profit advocacy group's' relationships with candidates. For a commentary on how "bad laws and bad bureaucracies [are] susceptible to abuse by bad people," see George Will's Oct. 24, 2014 column, "The nastiest political tactic this year." (13)
3) The Seal of The Confessional. Likely future assaults against religious freedom will also be directed at the Catholic confessional. Why? Because we are living through a flare-up of feminist rape hysteria and Catholic priests may know who rapists and other are types of criminals are. <sarcasm> We can't let principle and law and some perverted church's crazy seal of confession stand in the way of catching these monsters.</sarcasm>
In the very Catholic State of Louisiana, parents of a molested girl sued a Catholic priest and the Diocese of Baton Rouge on the grounds that what the girl told the priest in the confessional was not really a confession and that therefore the priest was obligated to report the crime under La.'s mandatory reporting laws (14). The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled in Mayeux v. Charlet that a trial court in an evidentiary hearing, that is, the state, must decide whether or not the dialog that took place between the priest and the girl was an actual confession. As of Nov. 2014, The Diocese of Baton Rouge has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (15).
4) The Expansion of "Hate Crimes." For centuries, it was a principle of law that a perpetrator's motive is not a factor in determining punishment. Vandalism was punished as vandalism. Assault was punished as assault. No extra penalties were added because someone vandalized a church or synagogue out of hatred for Christians or Jews or because someone had a racial motive for assault. It was a sad day for the rule of law and principle when the "hate crime" was codified, when criminal acts were aggravated that is, made more grievous by the motive of the perpetrator. If we now have crimes that are made worse by "hate," why not just take the next logical step and make hate itself a crime?
Why is that bad? Isn't hate wrong? Why shouldn't people be punished for it? First of all, hate is an extremely elastic term. The Catholic church's teaching about the immorality of homosexual acts is considered by many to be "hate." Others consider non-Mexicans wearing sombreros to be "hate." In countries such as the U.K. and Canada, where politically correct tyrants have bullied society farther along toward totalitarianism, a man (U.K.) was arrested (but released) for posting on-line a joke about Nelson Mandela (16), a joke that did not even include a racial epithet. A man in Scotland was fined almost $50,000.00 for the "hate crime" of declaring that homosexuality is wrong.
An example of hate may be a genuine example of vice, but as St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica (17), you can't outlaw everything that is immoral including vice, only those acts such as murder and theft which are more grievous and harmful to the order of society. Thomas’ reasoning was that imposing too much on imperfect men would cause them to despise the precepts, i.e., lose respect for the rule of law, and “break into evils worse still.”