The United States Supreme Court now completes the circle. Every branch of government has now caved in to a progressive and liberal replacement of the ideas somebody wants in place of the Constitution of the United States. All three branches of our government, which in theory act as checks and balances to each other’s excesses, have now completely betrayed the people and trashed the Constitution of the United States of America.This announcement would ordinarily be out of place in a blog on the subject of the Christian life and the signs of a building trend toward religious restriction and persecution. Today, however, this announcement is fully consistent with the theme of this blog. The so-called “Affordable Healthcare Act” includes a requirement for employers that has resulted in the complete trashing of the First Amendment to our Constitution, and the affirmation by the Supreme Court of the law in its entirety assures us all that religious restriction and perhaps even persecution are not beyond the reach of our government.In the midst of all this disaster, God remains on his throne. In the affairs of time and space, he is not obligated to intervene and act as we, his besieged children, might ask. He promises to go with us through the fire and to give us grace to endure it. I see the fires already, and I know I need the grace. I prayed that the healthcare bill would not pass, and it did. I prayed that the court would overturn it, but the law is upheld. It matters not that any third-grader could recognize that the plain meaning of language has been completely distorted in order to declare this law constitutional. I accept God’s sovereignty, whether or not I understand it, and I continue to trust him with my life. However, the country for which I used to give him thanks is gone.
As of today, the United States of America, governed according to the Constitution of the United States of America, no longer exists. It is a glorious memory, a high and noble story in the history of the world, but it no longer exists. With this decision, the Supreme Court declares that the words of the Constitution are irrelevant and that all words henceforth mean only what the government declares them to mean.
This state of affairs does not bode well for freedom of religious expression. It particularly does not bode well for Christians, because Christian teaching is the source of the idea that people are born free and have a right to run their own lives. The concept that every person has a right to choose and freely express his religious choice has thrived in countries where Christians were the majority, but in countries where other religions prevail or where no religion prevails, this freedom has almost universally been at least constrained if not completely suppressed.
My friends who identify with liberal political views, even if they call them progressive, will claim I have wandered off topic. I have not. National healthcare and religious practice are integrally related. (You can argue that we don’t have national healthcare if you want, but healthcare required and enforced by the national government is national healthcare. Any other wording is a semantic game.) The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has already felt the heavy hand of oppression in the regulations associated with this law. Their right to free expression of their faith, and the right of institutions and individual employers to express their faith have been suppressed, even crushed, by the administration of this law and the president’s adamant refusal to allow a conscience exemption for them. We should all view today’s decision with horror and trepidation. If the government can do this, what can it not do?
When I was a little girl, I learned not to fear my government. My parents and my teachers all told me that our government believed in personal freedom and respected the freedom of every citizen to run his own life without interference, unless the citizen chose to engage in criminal activity. I don’t think a choice whether to buy health insurance has a criminal aspect. It is simply a personal choice, just like buying furniture or a car, or, for goodness sake, a light bulb. In all those decisions a citizen in the constitutionally governed United States would be left alone to make his own decisions while the federal government busied itself with its rightful concerns. As of today’s decisions, the government has sat down comfortably in every family’s living room, and even in the hospitals and social services operated by churches. Our days of freedom are over. I do fear my government.
Enslavement to individual property owners ended during the Civil War. It was a bad thing and we should be proud that it ended. However, we are all slaves now, slaves to an overarching government that accepts no limits to its power to intrude in our lives.
I pray that it will take a while for the government to decide to make any more rules or laws about religious expression, but given that I never thought a healthcare law, constitutional or not, would involve religious liberty, I no longer have any idea that I can predict what the government is likely to do.
I am a proud citizen of the constitutionally governed United States of America. I will make one last attempt to save the country from complete destruction by voting for Mitt Romney for president on November 6. If he doesn’t win, there is no hope that anything even vaguely resembling the United States of America and its Constitution will survive beyond November 7.