(Denver Post, June 3) The Founders wouldn’t believe it. The Colorado Court of Appeals says the governor may not proclaim an official day of prayer because of a clause in the state constitution prohibiting that “any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.
This novel interpretation would come as a surprise not only to the governors who have issued such proclamations dating back many years, but also to the authors of that very constitution, who declared in its preamble their “profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.”
They couldn’t have intended the religious preference clause to become a barrier to state action encouraging Coloradans to seek that Supreme Ruler’s favor. Good to know that Gov. John Hickenlooper has directed Attorney General John Suthers to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, which should surely overturn it based on logic and precedent.
But wait; did I say “surely”? When it comes to religion and politics, church and state, nothing is sure any more. Also headed for the state Supreme Court is an ACLU challenge to Douglas County parents using their own tax dollars to educate their own children in (horrors) faith-based schools.
Meanwhile at the legislature we’ve seen both political parties consider divorcing the legal definition of marriage from its time-honored theological definition. The rationale for gay civil unions was put this way by Hickenlooper: “We don’t believe we should legislate what happens inside a church or place of worship, but government should treat all people equally.”
Leaving aside the vexed question of how the law recognizes different kinds of couples, look what the governor is saying in that sentence BEFORE the comma. He implies that government’s power over you and me stops only at the church door. This echoes a theme from President Obama, whose speeches always refer to “freedom of worship,” not “freedom of religion.”
What’s the difference? Freedom of religion includes the individual right of conscience in conduct outside of church – exactly what secular theocrats are trampling on with the HHS mandate for Catholic and evangelical institutions to provide drugs for contraception or abortion, in violation of their allegiance to God.
“The Supreme Ruler of the Universe,” you see, is no longer acknowledged as a reality under the dominant liberal consensus. He, or it, is now treated as just an outmoded notion which backward folk are allowed to preach about in their sanctuaries – but to whom they must no longer render homage by public word or deed. That homage is now supposed to be Caesar’s alone.
Where is all this leading? For over a millennium and a half, ever since the Emperor Constantine in 312 A.D., Christians in Europe and eventually America have been accustomed to friendly treatment by civil government. But that is over, over there, and may soon be over with here.
The Church of State, as my Colorado Christian University colleague Kevin Miller calls it in his important book “Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally,” is setting up as the one and only religious establishment. I won’t say get used to it, because we never should. It must be fought.
But we who honor the God of the Bible had better gird ourselves, for this will get worse before it gets better. We’d better study the persecuted church, thriving in China and Africa; our own time may be coming. We must realize, as the Founders knew, that America is not in the Bible. Americans are, however. It holds vast wisdom and warning for us.
As the Constantinian settlement – itself quite unscriptural – passes away, a good place to start would be Jesus’ own rule: “Render to Caesar, render to God.” That balance, the only safe harbor for faith and freedom, was lost in Christendom centuries ago. It is now ours to rebuild.
Friday, 17 February 2012 14:36 by Admin
Republicans will suffer politically from their "overreach on family planning" in response to a minor mistake by HHS, says Susan Barnes-Gelt in the January round of Head On TV debates. Nothing minor here, replies John Andrews; Obama's mandate on religious institutions is a declaration of war. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood, Iran's threat to Israel, Colorado legislative ethics, and the presidential race. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for February:
1. HHS MANDATE ON RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS
Susan: It took the Obama administration a week to acknowledge Secretary of HHS over-reached in requiring Catholic-owned hospitals and non-profits to include birth control in employee health plans. The compromise –already implemented by 24-states - calls on insurance companies to cover the cost. Good for Obama for addressing the problem.
John: Obama personally, not some cabinet secretary, broke his promise to Catholics about insurance regulations that would respect their religious objection to contraceptive drugs. Obama personally brutalized evangelicals with his mandate for their churches, charities, and schools, including the college where I work, to provide abortion drugs. He has declared war.
Susan: You’re at war on too many fronts – lacking the resources to battle Repub overreach on family planning. How is it that small government conservatives want to regulate individual choice and what happens in the bedroom. Keep it up. The R nominee is bound to get a couple thousand female votes.
John: Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists – one thing we all have in common is cherishing America as the land of the free, a place where government won’t trample our religious beliefs. But Obama on his left-wing power trip obviously doesn’t care. People of faith won’t let this one stand.
2. KOMEN FOUNDATION BOWS TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD
John: The issue of abortion raises two questions. Legally, when can a woman end a pregnancy? Culturally, how much do we value life at every stage? America has developed a culture of death since Roe v. Wade. The Komen Foundation knuckling under to Planned Parenthood proves it yet again. Really sad.
Susan: I’m puzzled when small government conservatives –adamantly opposed to government overreach, passionately support government’s role in the bedroom, free choice and a very blurred line between church and state. Shame on former Komen VP Karen Handel for politicizing a formerly worthy charity.
John: This was two private organizations, not government. Komen decided its work of saving lives by fighting breast cancer should not be entangled with Planned Parenthood’s work of taking lives by performing abortions. The liberal firestorm wasn’t about 1/1000 of Planned Parenthood’s budget, it was about perpetuating the culture of death.
Susan: No John. Komen’s disgraced VP – Karen Handel is an uber-conservative Georgia Republican who lost her bid for governor. Her single-issue platform? Anti-choice, targeting Planned Parenthood. Successful non-profits rely on political neutrality. Komen has done irreparable harm to its reputation and long-term viability.
3. ISRAEL AND IRAN
Susan: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons. And the string of recent attacks thought the region - is an escalation that threatens Israel. State Dept officials believe Israel could attack Iran this spring, in order to stop Tehran from building a nuke. Time for diplomacy – on steroids.
John: The worst weakness of this weak president has been his non-resistance to Iran’s goal of nuclear blackmail. Equally bad is Obama’s moral and strategic blindness in treating Israel as America’s adversary, instead of our ally. Israel has stopped two other neighbors from going nuclear. If they strike Iran, we must support them.
Susan: Pul-eeeze! The President took out bin Laden, his key operatives; brought the troops home from Iraq, toppled a Libyan dictator and has strong public approval for winding down the irresolvable mess in Afghanistan. None of his potential Repub opponents has the foreign policy chops to take him on.
John: Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map, dominate the Middle East, neutralize Europe, destabilize Latin America, empower North Korea, and intimidate the United States. In the face of this threat, Barack Obama is the Neville Chamberlain of our time – indecisive, inept, timid, and weak. Thank goodness Netanyahu is strong.
4. PRESIDENTIAL RACE YET AGAIN
John: The roller coaster of Mitt Romney and his rivals, from Perry and Cain to Gingrich and Santorum, is like nothing I’ve seen in watching Republican politics since 1960. The weak leadership of Barack Obama is like nothing you Democrats have had in the White House since Jimmy Carter in 1980. This year is crazy.
Susan: Every month the R’s look for a candidate, President Obama gets stronger and stronger. Flavor of the month Santorum is forcing Mitt further to the right, making it tough for him to recapture the chameleon character he’s depending on in November. Can’t wait for Pawlenty to join the race.
John: Obama getting stronger? What planet is your pollster on? His numbers are poor, and the DNC trails the RNC in fundraising. Hence Obama’s sudden chumminess with the super PAC’s. Hence the vote-buying on foreclosures and student loans. Catholic and evangelical voters hate his mandate on abortion drugs. Even the black vote is soft.
Susan: With every Republican primary mudfest, Obama’s numbers get stronger. Right wing-nuts, forcing their potential nominees to debate birth control instead of job creation send key swing voters – center right independents – straight to Obama. Americans want to vote FOR the future. Not fight 19th Century social issues.
5. ETHICS CASE ROILS LEGISLATURE
John: Did state Rep. Laura Bradford have one too many that night? Did the Denver Police handle it badly? Those matters are soon forgotten. What we shouldn’t forget is how squeaky clean the Colorado General Assembly is, compared to legislatures in most other states. The ethics rules are uncomfortable, but they work.
Susan: Yes, Coloradans are lucky – our state legislators are cleaner than most, in spite of a toothless ethics code. I’d say it has to do with Colorado being a place where voters are uncomfortable with old-style backroom shenanigans. Sadly in the case of Rep. Bradford, Denver Cops were out of line.
John: Legislative ethics have teeth. I served there and saw members get bitten. Kudos to Speaker McNulty for invoking the process against his fellow Republican, Bradford, despite threats of a party switch. Democrats have done likewise. TABOR and term limits also help keep government clean. Corruption is less when power is limited.
Susan: Thank you John, for opening the garage-door of opportunity. Let’s talk Doug Bruce’s TABOR policy. The icon of the strangle-government movement is going to jail for cheating, lying and swindling. Doug Bruce’s story is a cautionary tale for lawmakers who operate outside the law.
As the Obama administration clumsily attempts damage control on the HHS mandate for religious institutions to pay for abortifacient drugs, abortion counseling, sterilization, and contraception, Americans must not lose sight of the full scope and menace of this First Amendment outrage.
Catholics are up in arms, and rightly so, at the insult of being "allowed" one year to accept Caesar's negation of their 2000-year commitment to the sanctity of life.
But evangelical Christians and other Protestants who regard abortion as murder, as well as Jews who jealously guard their religious heritage and human rights here in the land of the free (?), oppose the HHS mandate with equal intensity.
Colorado Christian University's lawsuit to overturn the mandate, filed on Dec. 21, shows the seriousness of that opposition.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, evangelical elder statesman Chuck Colson, and Jewish scholar Meir Soloveichik, signing a joint manifesto of resistance in the Wall Street Journal today, exemplify the solidarity of America's three historic faith traditions in vehemently condemning President Obama's strike against religious freedom.