Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has added his voice to that of Hartford’s Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, together with several other major prelates in the United States, to the effect that religious freedom here is now dangerously imperiled by the Federal Government. Hence, in Archbishop Chaput’s words, “We need to wake up.”
Wake up to what, specifically? What about coercing a citizen, despite the obvious wording of the First Amendment, to pay for services which he or she knows are seriously unethical – abortion, for example, or sterilization or contraception. Isn’t this form of coercion currently being proposed by one of the agencies of the Federal Government?
Isn’t the act of forcing a person to violate his or her religious beliefs – that abortion, say, is intrinsically immoral and can never be ethically justifiable – a direct attack on the Constitutional rights of every person; specifically, religious freedom? These rights, as enumerated in the Bill of Rights, constitute an integral part of our United States Constitution. As such, they derive from our Creator, God; hence, the State cannot ethically infringe upon them.
Whereas the Catholic Church does support universal, basic health care programs per se, it cannot reasonably defend any law, regulation or government dictate that mandates an unethical procedure on its face in the guise of medical treatment, nor require taxation for those who view abortion (or sterilization or contraception) as unethical. Such overtures are equivalent to an assault upon conscience, whose integrity is safeguarded by the First Amendment.
That government coercion in a matter of conscience has been proposed here in America is ominous and should alert every citizen to its dangers.