Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Anti-Catholic McCarthyism in the US Senate

Friday, January 4th, 2019

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

That notorious question was the hallmark of the infamous McCarthy era of American history. It was a time when there was legitimate concern about communist influence and Espionage in the United States. But that fear morphed into a kind of paranoia that resulted in virtual witch hunts that stigmatized legitimate political opinions and blacklisted people who refused to cooperate or whose names were given to the inquisitors. Fortunately, America regained its sanity, that period was soon over and – supposedly – its lessons were learned.

But paranoia never really goes away, it tends to look for new targets. We’re now seeing a resurgence of the McCarthy mentality in the United States Congress. But this time it’s dipping into the deep well of anti-Catholicism that has been a stain on American history since the colonial era. This new wave is fixated on Church teaching on sexuality and human life, particularly our adamant rejection of abortion, contraception, and sex outside of marriage. Those positions are considered by some of our political rulers as being beyond the pale, extreme positions that must be rooted out wherever they are found. I should note too that this prejudice isn’t limited to Catholics. It’s also being expressed against any Christian community that holds to traditional teachings on sexuality.

The trend is clear, and well-documented. It can be seen in questions that are being asked of nominees to the federal courts. Here are some examples:

  • In June 2017, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) submitted written questions to a District Court nominee about his personal views on issues of same-sex marriage and abortion in light of his membership in a conservative Anglican church.
  • In September 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), citing the Catholic faith of a nominee to the Seventh Circuit, said that “the dogma lives loudly with in you, and that’s a concern.” At the same hearing, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) asked the nominee “What’s an ‘orthodox Catholic’? … And do you consider yourself an ‘orthodox Catholic’?” Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said “I think [an article written by the nominee] is very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges.”
  • In March 2018, Senator Feinstein submitted written questions for the record to a nominee to the Seventh Circuit that noting his membership in the St. John the Cross Parish and asking about his involvement with the parish’s efforts to establish a crisis pregnancy center.
  • In May 2018, Senator Whitehouse submitted written questions for the record to a District Court asking about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus.
  • In October 2018, Senators Feinstein, Whitehouse, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kemala Harris (D-CA) submitted written questions to a nominee to the Fourth Circuit asking about her involvement with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group.
  • In November 2018, Senator Feinstein submitted written questions to a nominee to the Third Circuit about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus.
  • In December 2018, Senators Hirono and Harris asked a District Court nominee questions about his membership in the Knights of Columbus. Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) also asked questions centering on an interview the nominee gave to an advocacy group closely identified with Evangelical Christians.

The offensive and dangerous nature of this trend can be seen in the last example. Senator Hirono’s questionnaire stated that “The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions” and then proceeded to ask numerous questions about the Knights’ positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, implying that the nominee’s membership in the Order was sufficient alone to show that he was unable to be neutral. She also had the audacity to ask baldly, “If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”

This is anti-Catholic McCarthyism, plain and simple. It is particularly disturbing that 8 of the 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have displayed such blatant prejudice. And it especially appalling that no prominent member of the Democratic Party has breathed so much as a word of disapproval. That silence is remarkable from the party that loves to display its horror at any hint of bigotry, and that prides itself on inclusiveness.

I don’t have to defend the bona fides of the Knights of Columbus. I am a proud member of the Order, but the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, said all that is necessary in his recent statement about this scandal.

Some hard questions need to be asked. Has it become dogma in the Democratic Party that membership in the Knights makes a person suspect?  Or has it become dogma in the Democratic Party that anyone who believes what the Catholic Church (and many other Christian communities) teaches and believes is no longer fit to hold public office?

The question being asked in the United States Senate – for now — is, ” Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Knights of Columbus?” Will it soon become, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Catholic Church?”

Our Government is the Enemy of Religious Freedom

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Throughout American history, people have depended on our government to protect our basic liberties — our “unalienable rights”. Our Declaration of Independence was based on the premise that the purpose of government was to secure these rights, and that any government that sought to extinguish them was unjust and should be replaced. Our Constitution likewise contains numerous provisions that are specifically designed to protect individual liberties — especially the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

In recent years, it has become more and more clear that the current Administration harbors a settled hostility to religious liberty and freedom of speech, and a deep commitment to coercing compliance with their ideology of sexual liberation and gender theory. The history of the HHS contraception mandate shows the relentless commitment of the Administration to coerce all employers, including religious organizations, to offer insurance coverage for procedures and medications that are offensive to their religious beliefs, like abortifacient drugs and devices.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court sent a very clear message to the Administration that they wanted them to come to some kind of compromise over the HHS contraception mandate. But rather than heeding that suggestion, the Administration has instead intensified its assault on religious liberty.

In May, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new regulations that are astonishing in their breadth and daring. The regulations rely on an interpretation of the term “sex” in current anti-discrimination laws, and stretch that clear term to encompass “gender identity” — which the regulation defines as a person’s “internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female”, which would even include people with “non-binary gender identities”. A definition that includes so much is no definition at all — it is hopelessly broad and vague, and ultimately incoherent. But that is gender ideology at its heart.

The regs go on to require every doctor, hospital and other health care entity that receives federal funds (e.g., Medicare) — in effect, virtually every single health provider in the US —  to cover all procedures and interventions related to a person’s “gender transition”. Just to be clear, that means medical procedures like massive doses of hormones and the removal or mutilation of health body parts (i.e., hysterectomies, castration, penectomies, mastectomies, plastic surgery to create fake sex organs, etc.) — all so that a man can pretend he is a woman, and vice versa. This coercive mandate will override the medical judgment of a doctor that such acts are not medically necessary or appropriate, and they permit no exceptions based on religious or moral values.

It gets even worse. The regs also interpret the notion of “sex discrimination” to mean that a health provider cannot refuse to perform abortions, and must cover abortions and all those “gender transitioning” procedures in their health insurance plans.

All of this was done through the administrative law process, which is an arcane and undemocratic way to make law. Instead of having a bill passed by both Houses of Congress, all this requires is a regulatory agency plublishing proposed rules, allowing people to comment for a short time, and then promulgating whatever rules they wish. No public hearings are needed, so the entire process is hidden deep in the pages of a massive publication called the “Federal Register”, which no normal person can read and understand (even lawyers, who are far from normal, have a hard time). It is extremely difficult to overturn regulations, because our courts have abandoned their duty of constitutional oversight and give extreme deference to the agencies putting forth the regs.

Our government has been increasingly using this undemocratic process to impose their ideology on the nation. In fact, they go even further by issuing “guidances”, which are purportedly not binding but which in fact are just as coercive as regulations and statutes.

A lawsuit has been filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing a number of states, religious health institutions, and health professionals. If the government follows its previous practice, they will fight tooth and nail against any compromises, and will never concede any ground. No religious objection is ever enough for them, and no demand by gender ideologues is too much. That is the regime under which we live.

In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders stated clearly that when a government no longer secures basic rights, and instead seeks to usurp or repress them, it can only be described as a tyranny. Our government may not be comparable to the wicked despotisms around the world, but it has clearly crossed a line with its relentless attacks religious freedom.

A New Disgrace in Albany

Friday, May 20th, 2016

The appalling New York government never fails to disappoint in its ability to be shameless. This time, it’s not just a matter of their reprehensible ethics. Now it is literally a matter of life and death.

With no prior public notice or advance warning, the long-time anti-life Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Dick Gottfried, has scheduled a committee vote on the recently-introduced physician-assisted suicide bill. This was learned on Friday afternoon, and the vote is scheduled for Monday. The committee meeting has been called “off the floor,” which means that nobody in the public will have any idea ahead of time where or when it will take place. It’s a stealth meeting on an issue of monentous importance.

This is an outrageous abuse of power. The issue of assisted suicide is deeply controversial and highly complex. If it is going to be considered by the Legislature, it demands a full and extensive debate, with all sides having a chance to be heard. Evidence needs to be considered, the moral arguments have to be heard, and a careful weighing must be made of the consequences for the public good.

That, of course, is a nice ideal, but it surely is not the way the New York Legislature does things. Instead, this kind of legislative skullduggery is a violation of every principle of good government and fundamental fairness. Even if it is not a technical violation of New York’s Open Meeting Law, it surely violates it’s spirit and intention. Those who are most at risk in this area — elderly and disabled people — are being betrayed by those who are supposed to represent them.

If the bill’s supporters are so sure of the merits of their argument, why are they resorting to such a sneaky tactic? Could it be that their arguments have now been rejected unanimously by two New York courts, and they realize that the more people learn about assisted suicide, the more they are leery about legalizing it?

New York’s government is notoriously dysfunctional, and deserves its reputation as one of the worst in the country. This latest maneuver brings it to an even more disgraceful low point. The Assembly leadership should feel ashamed — if they’re even capable of it.