Friday, October 7, 2011

The Ides of March and the First Ammendment

Tonight I saw this:
It was certainly thought provoking...

With a title like The Ides of March one can't help but think of this:
Ah, yes, a little Shakespeare never hurt anyone...well, unless your name is Julius Ceasar.

In the movie (spoiler alert), one of the characters chooses to abort a pregnancy which results in her own suicide. Granted, there are other forces in play here, but in essence, death begets death. Fitting, in keeping with the Shakespearean theme.

Yet, I was shaken not so much by the death portrayed within the movie, but by the impetus.  We all remember Mark Anthony addressing the crowds post Caesar's fatal demise with his famed, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me you ears..." A speech designed to sway the crowds' allegiance and convince them that no wrong hath been committed in the Senate that ill-fated day.  So too, do we see several instances of these persuasions within The Ides of March, and as in all good fictional portrayals, truth is deeply laced within the fabric of the plot.

In light of that truth, I cannot help but draw the comparison to what is currently taking place in our own "senate"- where our own leaders are proclaiming to us, "Friends, citizens, Americans...the gift of "preventative" healthcare for women is here for all." It is infuriating.

It is not the mandatory coverage of abortive contraceptives or abortions themselves that infuriates me (although this, in and of itself, is blatantly wrong). It is the universal mandating that such procedures need to be covered by inherently opposed institutions, namely, Catholic and other pro-life organizations. This is egregious and in direct contrast with the basic tenants of this country.

Archbishop Charles Chaput says it best,
“Freedom of religion cannot coexist with freedom from religion. Forcing religious faith out of a nation’s public square and out of a country’s public debates does not serve democracy. It doesn’t serve real tolerance or pluralism. What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation’s civic life, we’re really just enforcing a new kind of state-sponsored intolerance—a religion without God.”

In other words, we fight not for who is dogmatically correct, but for unadulterated religious freedom in the public square; so that all men and women will be able to exercise their professed faiths without fear of legislation that will mandate their engaging in something that goes against the very core of their belief systems. All this lest we not create a new dominating belief system- "state-sponsored intolerance." 

I understand that this proposed legislation has established provisions that allow certain religious exemptions, but they are far narrower than alleged, and exclude any organization that serves those outside of the faith. For instance, thousands of Catholic hospitals are going to be mandated to offer abortive and sterilization services because they serve more than just the Catholic population. These are the same institutions founded on universal healthcare so that ALL people, regardless of their belief system, would have access to quality health intervention. Or, Catholic Charities, serving hundreds of thousands of our country's most "in-need," regardless of their religious affiliation, who will now be forced to wrestle with providing their employees with healthcare where premiums are partly funding sterilization, contraceptives, and abortion? 

It is simply not right...

Let's look at it another way-- let's say the government mandates meals at their new super-posh restaurant aptly named, Offending the First (specializing in pulled pork, pork tenderloin, and baby back ribs). Let's also say that around 23.9% of the population keeps a strict Kosher diet. That means nearly 24% percent of Americans would be mandated to partake in something that goes against everything in which they believe. Do they have to order pork? No- they can certainly get a salad, BUT they do have to immerse themselves in an extremely offensive environment, coupled with the not-so-insignificant fact that they would be required to pay for other people to partake in something inherently against what they believe to be truth. Would the public not be up in arms?? 

Again, Archbishop Charles Chaput,“[Americans] were founded as a religious people, but with public institutions that avoid religious tests.  American public life depends for its life on Jews and Protestants and Latter Day Saints and Catholics and all religious believers vigorously advancing their convictions in public debate. We need to do that peacefully and respectfully, but we need to do it -- without evasions or apologies or alibis. Otherwise we’re stealing the most precious things we have – our religious faith and our moral character – from the struggle for the common good. And the God who loves us will nonetheless hold us accountable for that cowardice.” 

Regardless of your stance on sterilization, contraception, or abortion, we all need to recognize that this is a horrendous manipulation of our First Amendment rights. We need to take a stand... it's certainly a slippery slope.

Beware...beware the ides of March.

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