Say “No” to Gambling in New York

October 30th, 2013

A ballot measure will come before New York voters on Election Day, asking us whether we will approve a constitutional amendment to permit an expansion of gambling in our state.  The Bishops of New York State have issued a clear statement on this initiative, urging us to consider all the relevant factors in deciding how to vote on this matter.

I have done as our Bishops have asked.  Speaking just for myself (and not in my capacity as an official of the Archdiocese), I strongly urge voters to reject this amendment.

The idea is being touted by state officials as a way to enhance government revenue and increase jobs.  In fact, the measure would just increase compulsive gambling, impose an unfair regressive tax on poor people, and further coarsen our culture by encouraging improvidence, wasteful spending, and vice.

Once you get past the propaganda and deceptions put out by the euphemistically-named “gaming industry”, you can see that gambling is a bad deal for New York, and that there was a reason that everyone once considered gambling to be a vice to be suppressed, not a form of entertainment to be encouraged.

Two recent scholarly studies (see here and here) summarize the negative social effects of gambling, particularly as it will impact New York.  Among their findings:

  • A modern slot machine is a sophisticated computer, engineered to create fast, continuous, and repeat betting.
  • Modern slot machines are carefully designed to ensure that the longer you play, the more you lose — and virtually everyone loses in the short and long run.
  • Modern slot machines are highly addictive — and are designed that way, to attract young video-game players into a more expensive “hobby”.
  • Problem gambling is more widespread than many casino industry leaders claim — far more than the 1% of the population claimed by the industry.
  • Problem gambling affects families and communities as well as individuals — the costs include financial hardships, burdensome debt, loan defaults, fraud, bankruptcy, loss of a business or home, sometimes total destitution, neglect of family and children, the diversion of money from productive to wasteful spending.
  • The benefits of casinos are short-term and easy to measure while many of their costs are longer-term and harder to measure — just ask yourself how Atlantic City is doing these days.
  • State sponsorship of casinos is a policy contributing to patterns of inequality in America — low-income workers, retirees, minorities, and disabled people make up a disproportionately large share of casino patrons, which only increases their economic hardships.
  • This doesn’t even include the awful corrupting effect on our political culture from the massive expenditures by the “gaming industry” to politicians — creating a repulsive marketplace for “legal graft” and back-room influence peddling in our state capital.  Or the deliberate and deceptive slanting of the language of the ballot initiative, in a transparent attempt to gull people into supporting it.  If you have a strong stomach, check out the recent report outlines the sordid political deals that have brought us to this point.

    In their report, “New York’s Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State”, the Institute for American Values asks a very pointed question about this ballot initiative:

    The question for New York is a simple one. Is this who we are?

    The answer should be a resounding “No!”  We are better than this.  We should not be wasteful, improvident, and exploitative.  We should not allow any powerful industry to prey upon weaknesses, nor should we allow our government and politicians to profit from them.  We should protect people and their families from vice and addiction.

    Please, for the sake of the soul of our state, and the lives of our fellow citizens.  Vote “No” on New York State Proposal One on Election Day.

    What Shall We Do to Build a Culture of Life?

    October 20th, 2013

    (I was invited this weekend to speak at all the Masses at St. Augustine’s Church in Ossining, one of our beautiful parishes, for Respect Life Month.  Here is the text of my talk.)

    When St. John the Baptist moved among the people, he preached to them about the approach of the Messiah.  The people kept asking him the same question — “what shall we do?”  And now, all of us who are concerned about respect for life ask that same question.  “What shall we do?”

    In 1985, in his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life, Blessed Pope John Paul II addressed the threats that are so serious and widespread that they have created a virtual “culture of death”. We see this in violent crime, war, terrorism, torture, human trafficking, the drug trade, the arms trade, and abject poverty.  But at this time, abortion and euthanasia must be the focus of our attention here in the United States. They involve unjust attacks on people when they are most vulnerable and defenseless, and they are tolerated and even approved by our society as “rights”.

    But it’s important to remember that we don’t just say “no” to things, we say “yes” to becoming a people of life and for life, and to building a new culture of life.

    To make this more concrete, I would like to offer a number of practical ideas.

    Our first task is speaking the truth about the sacredness of every human life – about how God loves every single human person, and that every human life has dignity from the moment of conception.  This is not just a principle of our faith — we rely on the basic scientific fact, available to everyone who has seen a sonogram or a video of “life in the womb”.  Human life – the life of each one of us, the life of Jesus himself in his human nature – began at conception, and carries on until our natural death, and then on into eternal life.  Every one of us, regardless of our age, disability or diminished “quality of life”, is always and forever a human person and must be treated with reverence.  Our first task is to speak this truth about the gift of human life – always with love.

    The second task is prayer.  We must pray constantly, with determination, patience and trust.  We thank God for the gift of life, and we ask Him to protect all vulnerable lives.  We do this as individuals, and we also pray as a community.  For example, praying the Rosary as a group, participating in the National Night of Prayer Vigil every December, or holding a Holy Hour on the Feast of the Incarnation of Christ (the Annunciation), or inviting people to spiritually adopt unborn children and pray for them during their nine months in the womb (kids especially love this).  We also celebrate life when we have special Masses and blessings of engaged couples, expectant parents, or new families, or communal anointing of the elderly and ill.  Life is a great gift!  And we should celebrate that in our prayer.

    The third task is to serve those in need, especially the most vulnerable.  For example, we help the elderly by visiting and offering companionship, or we offer expectant mothers alternatives to abortion.  There are many wonderful groups that do that, like Good Counsel Homes and the Sisters of Life.  We can help them by taking up collections (for example, a “baby bottle” campaign to collect small change), or by running baby showers for the new moms, or by volunteering to help with simple tasks, like driving the moms to doctors’ appointments.  Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been emphasizing our duty as Christians to reach out personally  to the needy and those who seem lost in our society and without hope, and this is a beautiful way to promote and defend human life.

    A particularly important way we serve others is through public policy advocacy. Last Spring, the New York State Legislature came very close to passing a bill that would have expanded abortion in our state.  We already have 110,000 abortions a year.  We don’t need any more abortion, we need more life!  But this bill would have allowed even more abortion by allowing non-doctors to do abortions, and removing the few remaining regulations on late-term abortions.  This bill was defeated because citizens raised their voices in opposition, by letter, call, email, participation in public witness and prayer rallies in Albany and locally.  The bill was defeated, but it will come back, and we have to be ready.

    I’d like to take a moment to say a special word about how we can serve women and men who have experienced an abortion.  The Gospel of Life is a message of hope and mercy and healing.  Those who have experienced an abortion should never give in to discouragement and despair.  Our loving God is always ready to give forgiveness and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The Sisters of Life run regular retreats for those who have experienced abortion, and other groups like Lumina provide support for the healing process.  Pope Francis has spoken movingly about the power of God’s mercy, and how we all can invite others to experience that mercy themselves.  There is always hope and healing available.

    The most important way we build the culture of life is within our own families, where we welcome and nurture new life, and where we support, comfort, and defend our elderly and disabled loved ones.  Our families should be a school of life!  So, married couples should never stop working on our marriages.  Parents can never stop working on your relationship with your children, teach them how to live virtuous, chaste lives and about the value of every life.  In the end, strong families and marriages are the foundation of the culture of life.

    Each and every one of us has a role to play in this mission given to us in the Gospel of Life.  So many people are doing so much already, and God bless you for that and thank you.  But every one of us can do something.  Please speak to members of your local pro-life committee, or check out the website of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese.

    At the end of every Mass, we often hear the words, “Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord”, or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.  These words don’t just mean that Mass is over – they also mean that we are being sent on a mission.  We are called — each one of us — to go back out into our regular lives and proclaim the Gospel of Life.

    By bearing witness to the dignity of every human person.  By helping parents recognize that even though a pregnancy may be difficult or inconvenient, a child is always a blessing.  By ensuring that every young woman understands that there are alternatives to abortion, and that she will be given the help and support she needs.  By making certain that all of our elderly are protected against abandonment, and are always be loved and cared for.

    And ultimately, our mission is to love, defend and serve all our brothers and sisters, from conception until natural death.  By our words and our deeds we can build a new culture of life in our land.  We ask the question, “What shall we do?”  And when, one day, we are asked by Our Lord, “What did you do?”, we will be able to answer, we were a people of life and for life, and Our Lord will be pleased with that answer, He will thank us, He will be proud of us, and He will receive us into eternal life with Him.

    Any Chance for Reasonableness?

    October 1st, 2013

    There’s even more furor and confusion than usual in Washington, as the House, Senate and White House struggle over the passage of budget bills, raising the national debt limit, funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and government shut-downs.  But something important is being overlooked — the continuing threats to the conscience rights of individuals and institutions in the Affordable Care Act and the regulations that are implementing it (including the HHS contraception/abortifacient mandate).

    In a normal, functioning governmental system, important public policy measures are introduced as individual bills, public input is obtained through hearings, and the measure is openly debated by legislators.  Since we no longer appear to have such a system of government, important policy issues are tacked onto spending bills, and our government leaders rely on confrontational strategies and parliamentary gamesmanship to bend others to their will.

    Lost in all of this is that crucial constitutional and natural rights are being threatened, and legislative action is needed to provide necessary protection for those rights.

    One such proposal is to delay the implementation of the HHS mandate.  The Administration has already granted numerous waivers, delays, exemptions, and grace periods for various provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  What we would like to see is for Congress to vote to delay the implementation of the HHS mandate for one full year, which would give the Supreme Court time to decide some of the cases challenging the mandate.  In essence, all we are asking is that Congress put the controversy on hold, out of respect for the seriousness  of the constitutional rights at stake.

    The House has already passed a continuing budget resolution that included that provision, but the Senate has rejected it.  We hope that a more conciliatory, reasonable approach will prevail, and that this common-sense measure would be accepted.

    We also hope that genuine conscience protection legislation would be considered by Congress.  For example, the USCCB is advocating with Congress to include the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (which would provide broad protection for religious liberty among health care workers and institutions).   The bishops have also been pressing for legislation to address the specific conscience problems presented by the HHS mandate.

    The situation in Washington is extremely frustrating, and it is difficult to see a solution to the partisan gridlock.  All we are asking is for some breakthrough of reasonableness, so that precious liberties aren’t lost in the process.

    That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

    The Manhattan Declaration Challenges and Rallies Us

    September 27th, 2013

    On Wednesday evening, September 25, an amazing event was held on the campus of Columbia University, “The Manhattan Declaration Returns Home”.

    The Manhattan Declaration is the ecumenical statement of conscience by Christian leaders, dedicating themselves to defending life, marriage, and religious liberty.  It was signed in 2009 by numerous leading figures of every Christian denomination and church.   The Declaration has since been signed by over 550,000 other people, who have committed themselves to its core principles.  It is a vitally important rallying point for people of faith who are engaged in the struggle to defend and restore a true civilization of life and love in our nation.   If you haven’t signed it yet, I strongly encourage you to sign it right away.

    This event at Columbia was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese, Alliance Defending Freedom (who have been heroic leaders in their defense of the Declaration’s core principles), the New York State Knights of Columbus, and DeSales Media from our neighboring Diocese of Brooklyn (who livestreamed the event over the internet).  The event was a landmark, because it represented not only a return of the Declaration to the borough where it was signed, but because of the power of the presentations and the uplifting spirit that they gave the audience.

    The speakers were a powerhouse lineup of experts and activists: Eric Teetsel (the director of the Manhattan Declaration); Alan Sears (head of the Alliance Defending Freedom); Ryan Anderson (The Heritage Foundation, and co-author of the seminal book, What is Marriage?  Man and Woman: A Defense), Sherif Girgis (Ph.D. Candidate at Princeton University, J.D. Candidate at Yale University, and co-author of What is Marriage?); Marjorie Dannenfelser (Susan B. Anthony List), Eric Metaxas (Bestselling Author and Radio Commentator), and Jennifer Marshall (The Heritage Foundation).  The evening kicked off with an ecumenical prayer service featuring Cardinal Dolan, who got the program started off on just the right note of prayer and dedication to God’s mission among us.

    I served as the emcee of the event, and I made just one small point in my introduction.  In spite of the conditions of our society, and the challenges we face, people of faith remain convinced that it is our duty, our privilege, and our honor to bring God’s light into the public square, into the marketplace of ideas.  We believe that the eternal truths have something important to off our secularized world.  And we are certain that God’s light and truth will enrich the lives of every single human person, and society as a whole.

    “The Manhattan Declaration Returns Home” event was important on several levels.  It offered people an outstanding panel of speakers who are actively working to defend life, marriage, and religious liberty.  Their work and expertise offered a sobering view of where we are in America on these issues, but also hope and encouragement for the struggle ahead.  The event was also significant because of where it took place — Columbia University, which was founded as a religious school but now is completely secularized and largely inhospitable to Christian values.  Having this event, at this location, is a microcosm of the work people of faith are doing in the public square — bringing timeless principles of our faith to a society that has largely lost those values, and challenging them to recapture the truth and beauty that they are still yearning for in their hearts.

    This struggle is difficult, and the challenges are many.  The world is working very heard to discourage us, and to convince us that the battle is over, and lost.  But we know better.  As Ryan Anderson reminded us, and as the Manhattan Declaration proclaims, the battle is never lost as long as we have truth on our side.  Truth always wins in the end, over any alluring lie.

    The Holy Father Puts First Things First

    September 19th, 2013

    The Holy Father recently gave a lengthy interview to a Jesuit journalist, and it has now been published around the world.  The secular media, once again displaying their strange ideological obsessions (and their habitual failure of reading comprehension), has cherry-picked some quotations on their favorite topics, resulting in some serious misinformation about what the Pope really said.

    The interview itself is long, and very rich in content.  I urge everyone to read the original, and not the New York Times version.  I actually think that it will take several readings to get the full impact of our Holy Father’s thoughts.

    One thing that’s clear is that the Pope is not changing any Church teaching, nor is he criticizing the way that the Church has taught about the “hot button” issues of abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.

    It really is a beautiful and evangelical interview — the Holy Father does a wonderful job of expressing the essence of the New Evangelization.  To read his words, you clearly see his vision of the Church’s mission — to proclaim to the world that the Church is open to everyone who wants to come to God, even with all our imperfections.  So, for example, he says this:

    This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. And the church is Mother; the church is fruitful. It must be.

    As for his comment about the “hot button” issues, Pope Francis said this:

    A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing….

    We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

    The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

    He’s right, of course.  We can’t reduce Church teaching to just the issues of abortion, contraception and homosexuality.  It’s about so much more than that — the essence of the Christian life is to have life and love in communion with God and each other, not just to follow rules.  The irony is that the world makes just that same error that they accuse us of — they think that we’re all about those issues and nothing else.  But that just means that they’ve missed the point of what the Holy Father was talking about.

    The key point is that the Holy Father wants us to put first things first:

    We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.  The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

    That means that our focus must always be on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his mission to us sinners and his offer of peace and healing and redemption.

    If only the media would focus on this section of the Pope’s interview:

    I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds…. And you have to start from the ground up.

    The message of the Holy Father continues to engage and attract the world.  May his words lead more and more people to the beauties of the Gospel and to the love of God.

    The Mask Comes Off

    September 17th, 2013

    During the bruising battle last Spring over Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion bill, we repeatedly argued that one of the intended goals of the proposal was to permit non-doctors to perform surgical abortions.  In response, we were routinely derided as being alarmist and accused of lying about the bill.  Even the most ardent supporters of the bill denied having any such intention, and denied that it would have that effect.

    They were wrong, of course, because the bill clearly would have permitted non-doctors to do abortions.  In fact, one of its supporters finally admitted that on the floor of the Assembly.

    But it says something that the pro-abortion people still felt a need to conceal their ultimate goals.

    Well, in California, they recently enacted a law that would permit physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives to do chemical and surgical early abortions.  The ostensible reason for this law is to increase “access” to abortion, which they see as an inherent part of women’s “reproductive health”.

    Yes, you read correctly that midwives would be doing abortions, even though the entire purpose of their profession is to assist in giving birth.  And yes, an abortion is seen as being part of “reproductive health”, even though it prevents reproduction and is hazardous to the health of both mother and child. Such is the twisted mindset of the anti-life ideology.

    It says something about the state of things in California that the pro-abortion people don’t even feel a need to hide things any more.  They are comfortable with being open, up-front, and honest about their goals — they want abortion to be unsafe, extremely legal, and anything but rare, and they don’t mind at all that people know about it.

    This is an important lesson on the impact of the Culture of Death.  When respect for life becomes so attenuated, and the desire to deal death becomes so routine, truth is inverted into lies, and lies become respectable.  It is a cautionary tale for all of us, since we will certainly see a renewed effort by the Governor and his allies to pass an abortion expansion law here in New York.

    War Breeds War, Violence Breeds Violence

    September 3rd, 2013

    The situation in Syria is unimaginably horrific.  The current civil conflict has caused over 100,000 deaths, as many as four million refugees, and incalculable human suffering.  The present regime is notorious for its brutality and indifference to human rights, and its disregard for norms of decency and humanity.  The recent reported use  of chemical weapons by the regime against civilians shocks the conscience.  Yet many of the rebels are associated with terrorist groups that have targeted America and our allies, and have also used violence against civilians.

    The use of chemical weapons has prompted the President to consider striking Syrian targets with military force, and he has announced that he will be seeking Congressional approval for that action.

    This tragedy could easily be dismissed as yet another instance of the long history of inhumanity in that region, which has been plagued by war and violence for as long as history can recall.  War-weary Americans could easily be excused for turning their eyes away from these terrible events, or for throwing their hands up in despair at what seems a hopeless and intractable situation.  It is also understandable for people to reflexively support military action, out of an impulse of revulsion over the use of such terrible weapons, or from a desire just to do something in response.

    But for Christians, we have a sacred obligation, which comes to us from our Lord Himself, to approach this situation differently.  We must work for peace, prevent war, and heal those who are ravaged by conflict. We must make sure that voices for peace are heard, amidst the calls for action and war.  War should always be the absolute last resort of national policy, even in the face of crimes against humanity.

    Christian leaders in Syria have been calling for the United States not to take military action.  They have already been suffering from oppression and war, and will bear the brunt of further violence.  We need to listen to them, and heed their advice.

    Pope Francis has strongly called for people to seek the path of peace in Syria, reminding us that “war breeds war, violence breeds violence”.  One need only view the video of his Sunday Angelus address, to get a sense of how our Holy Father is moved by the situation in Syria, and how desperately he wishes for peace.

    The Holy Father has specifically called for us to pray and fast this Saturday, September 7, for peace in Syria.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have asked Americans to contact Congress to urge them to choose the path of diplomacy instead of conflict.

    This last Sunday, the Communion antiphon included the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount:

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

    This is a challenging time for all Christians, and all people of good will.  War breeds war, and violence breeds violence, but peace can also breed peace.

     

    What the Persecution Will Look Like

    August 26th, 2013

    For quite some time, the Church and our allies have been warning that there are grave threats to religious liberty, presented by such developments as the redefinition of marriage, the advance of “gender theory”, and the defensive entrenchment of the pro-abortion mindset.

    In response to our warnings, we have been widely ridiculed.  Elite academics, media pundits, and combox denizens pooh-pooh our concerns as mere sensationalist fantasies.  Interestingly, amongst the denials, you can frequently hear a subtle undertone, as if to say “of course your fears of religious persecution are ridiculous (but in any event you are bigots who deserve it because of the immemorial oppression by Christians against [insert your favored group here])”.

    Well, for those who have eyes unclouded by ideology, our concerns are becoming even more difficult to deny.  Some recent events give a good general picture of what the persecution will look like.

    Excluded from economic activity

    Last week, a decision was handed down by the Supreme Court of New Mexico that points the way that our courts will handle cases of religious liberty.  The case involved a photographer who declined to take pictures of a “commitment ceremony” for a lesbian couple (New Mexico does not recognize same-sex “marriage”, but this event was tantamount to a wedding).  Her reason was that participating in such an event would violate her Christian religious beliefs.  The lesbian couple then chose to sue the photographer for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    The lower court, and ultimately the New Mexico Supreme Court found that the photographer had violated the state’s anti-discrimination statute, and levied a fine against her.  While the result is troublesome enough, the language in the concurring opinion is truly chilling to hear.  Having lectured at length about the Supreme Court’s decisions on civil rights cases, the concurring judges ended with this:

    All of which, I assume, is little comfort to the Huguenins, who now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.

    The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead… But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

    So we can now be compelled by law to compromise our most sacred religious beliefs, as the price of being American citizens.  The court’s message is clear — keep your religious beliefs behind closed doors, and don’t dare to try to live in accordance with them in the public square.

    In other words, conform or be cast out.

    Disqualified from public office

    A second example of the coming persecution happened recently in San Antonio, Texas.  A bill was introduced that would affect eligibility to serve in public office in that city.  The bill states, in part:

    No person shall be appointed to a position if the city council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or disability.

    This is another chilling development.  Apparently, all candidates for any kind of position with the city government will be required to pass a test to ensure that they have never uttered a statement that might be construed as “bias” by a bunch of local politicians.  So, for example, if you have ever expressed a faith-based belief about such issues as the immorality of homosexual behavior, opposing the re-definition of marriage, casting doubts upon the notion of “transgender rights”, or even on the evil of abortion, you might be declared ineligible to hold public office.

    In other words, conform or be cast out.

    The Return of the Penal Laws

    Those of Irish heritage will recall the infamous days of the Penal Laws, which systematically excluded Catholics from full participation in society — owning property, serving in the government, and certain professions were all banned for Catholics.  Some of these laws carried over into the United States in the colonial and post-revolutionary era.  Similar laws (like the Alien and Sedition Acts and the anti-Communist bills of the McCarthy era) have been passed at various times in our history to penalize unpopular opinions.  Yet all of these efforts to suppress dissent were eventually rejected as inconsistent with the American dedication to liberty.

    But our nation is now returning to that ugly path.  The way is now becoming clear to placing religious believers in an ideological ghetto, if they fail to adhere to the modern view of sexuality.  This will be done in gentle, seemingly-reasonable, gradual and incremental steps.  Courts and legislatures will claim that they are merely extending the reach of previous decisions, and executive agencies will say they are just applying the law as they interpret it.

    Sadly, many religious people will choose to conform, as the Israelites did during their captivity in Babylon.  But make no mistake, the remnant will feel the effects of the coming persecution.

    Designed to Fail

    July 16th, 2013

    Once again, our clueless Newspaper of Record has displayed how people become impervious to reason and common sense, in the service of the Cult of Contraception.

    In an advocacy piece published last week (under the guise of a health news report, of course), the Times gushed over the fantabulousness of the New York City schools policy to make so-called “emergency contraception” available to girls as young as 13 years old, without explicit parental consent.

    Most of the piece is not worth reading — you could pretty much paste it together from Planned Parenthood press releases and propaganda.  We can leave aside for a moment the question of why the City schools are willingly acting as accessories after the fact of a crime, since sex with a child under 14 is still illegal in New York, and many other young girls are criminally sexually exploited by older men.  And we can also pass over the obvious medical malpractice of dispensing powerful medicines that may cause early abortions and many other side effects, after only the most cursory medical examinations, without consulting those who know most and best about the patient’s medical history.

    The only part of the article worth reading is buried deep beneath the digital fold, far into the second page, accessible only to those with strong hearts.  I refer to this passage:

    Most of the scientific evidence, however, suggests that making the morning-after pill available does not increase sexual activity, according to a review of studies by James Trussell, a professor of economics at Princeton, and Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond, senior medical associate with Gynuity Health Projects, a research organization that supports access to contraception and abortion.

    But the pill also does not reduce pregnancy rates, they concluded, mainly because women who take it will often have unprotected sex a short while later and not take the pill.

    So, the scientific evidence shows that the distribution of “emergency contraception” is a failure.   And yet the City still proceeds with the experiment — knowing that it will fail.

    Of course, that makes no sense to a person of reason and prudence.  But to the ideologues in the City government, and their publicists at the Times, it makes perfect sense, once you understand the real purpose and nature of “emergency contraception” (and, in fact, of any kind of contraception).

    “Emergency contraception” is the “gateway drug” to the Culture of Death.

    Its failure to reduce pregnancy is not a flaw, it’s part of the design.  Its purpose is to acclimate  young people to the evil lies of the Culture of Death — fertility is a sickness, pregnancy is a disease, and an unborn child is an enemy to be eliminated.  It is also designed to deliver vulnerable young women to the contraception of last resort — the abortion industry.

    “Emergency contraception”, and the City policy that promotes it, is made to fail.  And, indeed, it does fail — it fails young people by deluding them about the nature of sexuality and fertility, it fails young women by damaging their hearts and bodies, it fails parents by separating them from their children, and it fails all of us by promoting a culture of sexual license that destroys families and wounds society.  And all the while, the real answers that are readily at hand — virtue, chastity, marriage — will be ignored and derided as doomed to fail, by the same “experts” who promote failure themselves.

    If this sad situation follows the typical script, the City will shortly discover that there has not been a reduction in teen pregnancy rates.  Then, to the applause of advocates and the Times, the City will propose the usual solution — even more contraception.

    Failure, built on failure, calling for more failure.  All by design.

    Yet Another HHS Mandate Fraud

    July 10th, 2013

    The Administration has once again announced yet another attempt to square a circle, and they have once again failed.  And so, we now have new regulations on the HHS mandate — the requirement that employer health insurance policies cover abortifacient drugs, sterilization, and contraception.

    The objections of the Church to this violation of our rights are well known, and were asserted yet again by Cardinal Dolan on behalf of the U.S. Bishops.

    The Administration and its allies, on the other hand, continue to assert that they have already satisfied all objections, and, in effect that religious people and organizations should just sit down, be quiet, and obey.

    Not so fast.  The new regulations — just like the old ones — are a fraud and a violation of fundamental rights.

    Consider the alleged “exemption” and “accommodation” for some religious employers.

    The “exemption” would certainly grant protection to many religious organizations, but nobody knows how many, or how few.  The key provision in the regulation refers to an obscure part of the Internal Revenue Code that is not exactly written in clear and self-evident prose.  Nobody knows how, in the end, the IRS will interpret and apply that provision.  Does anyone trust them to do so in an even-handed way?

    The “accommodation” is even more problematic.  Every religious non-profit that objects to the mandate knows that when they offer their staff health insurance, they will also be providing them the objectionable products and services.  It is true that they won’t have to list the offensive things in their plan booklet, but they know that they’re covered in any event — and that the employer will be paying for them.  As a moral matter, that’s really no different from directly and explicitly providing for the coverage in the insurance plan.

    The “accommodation” is basically asking religious non-profits to accept a lie and pretend that it is the truth.

    The new regulations offer no help whatsoever to for-profit businesses.  They will be coerced into providing, promoting, and paying for morally offensive things.  Nothing is changed for them in the fundamental injustice of the HHS mandate, and their many lawsuits against the mandate will go forward.

    The heart of the matter ultimately doesn’t depend on specifics of these very complex regulations.  We have a situation where the government is forcing people to cooperate in immoral activities, either directly or under a transparent fig leaf of lies.

    There is a core of liberty that is inherent in the nature of the human person, into which the government may not intrude without becoming a tyranny.  One such area is the natural right of individuals and institutions to be free from government coercion of their consciences.  One would have thought that this was made clear on July 4, 1776, and that the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials would serve as ample reminders of those principles.

    Apparently the lesson has been forgotten in our nation’s capital.