What Chen Gaungcheng and the Catholic Bishops Have in Common

Each of us lives in a variety of relationships and roles. Our experience in all the various situations affects our behavior in each. Nobody can actually divide all those elements of life into separate non-communicating compartments.

This is the reason I write about political issues along with posts on spiritual growth. Nobody can have a political opinion that has no relationship to his personal values that are shaped in part by spiritual convictions. We human beings are complicated.

This post is about a complicated subject, and some people who like everything in neat, orderly packages will not like this post. Don’t get comfortable. Read attentively. Argue with me if you like. Promise me you will pray about the problem and study your Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States of America for understanding and perspective on this issue. Blast me in a comment or an email. I am open to conversation, but please do not sweep this issue under the rug.

Until today I was only vaguely aware of the news articles about Chen Gaungcheng. I knew that the Chinese government did not like him. I knew that the US government was waffling in their appearance of support. I knew that human rights activists were outraged that the US did not rescue him.

When I know only a little of any news item, I am hesitant to have an opinion. Today I took the time to dig a little deeper. I asked myself why our government would tiptoe around this man that human rights leaders around the world support so strongly. After doing a little research, I think I see the problem. It can be summed up in one word: abortion.

Well, the problem is larger than that one word, but that word is the touchpoint for everything else. It is the word that stood out in all the reports of Chen’s activity, and it appears to be the gruesome pinnacle of China’s efforts to control its population. After our president’s confrontation with the Catholic Bishops over contraception, sterilization and abortion, I don’t believe I expect our government to come out publicly as the champion of a man who resists China’s rules about contraception, sterilization and abortion. Chen Gaungcheng and his family have been imprisoned and tortured for objecting to and exposing to the eyes of the world China’s one-child policy and the procedures by which China enforces that policy. The Chinese government uses forced abortion, forced sterilization and other severe punitive measures against Chinese citizens who do not comply with that policy. Our own president and his administration strongly support contraception, abortion and sterilization under the fraudulent heading of “women’s health.” The fact that no executive order declaring a one-child policy in the US has been issued yet does not mean that it has not yet been contemplated.

I do not expect our government to advocate that China let up on someone who objects to exactly the same thing the Catholic Bishops object to: government policy requiring contraception, abortion and sterilization.

Why should Christians in general care about this dissident or the president’s policies? Unless they are Catholic? Or at least practicing Catholics?

Christians, and Hindus, and Muslims, and atheists should all be appalled at the president’s blithe disregard for the religious convictions of any American citizen. Our Constitution was written specifically to assure the right to liberty claimed in our Declaration of Independence. Liberty was understood to be something the government could not grant, because God granted it, and the government had no right to take away freedoms. The recognition of the freedom and dignity of the individual has shaped even the way our nation treats prisoners who have been convicted of horrendous crimes. One of the important freedoms protected by this declaration was the freedom to exercise faith or no faith as the citizen freely chose to do. Freedom like this is not protected in China, and in China, religions believe and act as they are allowed to do by the government. When our president flattened a fundamental tenet of the Catholic faith by requiring Catholics and Catholic institutions to comply with a policy in complete opposition to their faith principles, he emulated the cold oppressive force applied to Chinese citizens by a government which is not loathe to do physical harm in the name of enforcing its laws. In that moment he behaved more like the president of China than the president of the USA. We can look to that moment for some idea of his reaction to Chen’s behavior.

The fact that our president cannot in good faith come to the rescue of Chen Gaungcheng is simply one more evidence that the culture of the USA has undergone some dramatic changes in recent years. We used to believe that our Declaration and our Constitution accurately defined the shape of our government. Until recently, we would all have assumed that our country would speak out and even act in opposition to the flagrant abuse of the God-given rights of women who choose to celebrate life and fertility and become pregnant and have more than one child. We would furthermore have expected our Secretary of State and our president to speak up and demand that such abuse be stopped. We used to believe that our Secretary of State and our president would be vocal and active in their support of a person being persecuted for the “crime” of exposing such human rights abuses. But then, we used to believe that our government would never bulldoze anybody’s freedom to exercise his religious principles.

Not anymore. Not if the “crime” interferes with the administration of a policy using the “women’s health services” of contraception, abortion and sterilization to assure that no baby rejected by the government or by the parents lives after they decide to get rid of “it.”

In Christ, no baby is “it.” Before that baby is conceived, that baby is loved and planned for by our heavenly Father. In our limited understanding, we may call a baby an “accident,” but no baby is an “accident” in God’s eyes. The whole idea of aborting a baby is repugnant to a Christian understanding of God’s sovereignty and his love. The idea of forcing a woman to abort a baby against her will is an extreme example of government run amok, acting to destroy rather than protect the citizens it exists to serve. The evidence of disregard for Catholic principles in opposition to contraception, abortion and sterilization make me fear that our own government today does not stand for what is right. God will not force either Barack Obama or the Chinese government to do things against their will. God gives people freedom to choose their behavior. That is the God-given right to liberty claimed in our Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, I will pray that the Holy Spirit works in this situation to make people world-wide recognize the extremes to which advocates of contraception, abortion and sterilization will go to enforce their will on other people, with or without their consent.

What do you think?

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