This is not how you get religious people to change their minds

Little Sisters of the PoorMona Charen has written an excellent article about the Obama administration’s use of Obamacare as a vehicle for attacking religion and religious people.  I urge you to read it.

I was particularly struck by one point Charen made, regarding Sebelius’s previously stated view about religious accommodation — to wit, that the religion, not the state, has to adapt:

Two years ago, announcing that non-profits like the Little Sisters would be required to go along with providing all contraceptives and abortifacients even if it violated their religious convictions, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sniffed that the religious would “have to adapt.”

Put aside the fact that the Constitution, by making freedom of worship religion one of the paramount rights vested in the individual, means that the state, not the individual (or corporate collections of individuals), must adapt.  After all, we’re now used to hearing this combination of ignorance and disdain when the Obama crowd talks about the Constitution and constitutional rights.  That Sebelius erred there is a no-brainer.

The thing is that Sebelius didn’t just err about the Constitution.  She also erred about the way assimilation has always worked in America.  It hasn’t worked by persecuting religions (which is what the administration is doing now).  Instead, if you want to get rid of religion in America, you make the secular popular culture so attractive that religious people voluntarily abandon their doctrinal and procedural commitments to God.  Coercion begets resistance.  Enticement is what gets results.

Perhaps I should be grateful that, when it comes to Obamacare, the administration is clueless about this fact.

Using social media to defend the Constitution and the Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the PoorA caller to the Rush Limbaugh show today asked Rush how to get the media to change its tune. Rush’s response was that this will never happen. The media is an arm of the Democrat Party and that’s the end of it. Conservatives have to make their case outside of the media, he said. It can be done too, Rush added, pointing to Scott Walker’s success in fighting back an attempted recall and in beginning to make changes to Wisconsin’s hard Left culture.

What Rush left unspoken, since his show ended there, are the practical steps that ordinary people can take to expose other people (Leftists and non-political types alike) to facts and ideas that the media refuses to cover or contemplate. I happen to believe that Social Media is a wonderful way, both to learn what ordinary Progressives think (it’s seldom pretty) and to introduce new ideas to people whose world is contained within the four corners of the MSM.

I had a most illuminating Facebook conversation with a Progressive just today regarding the Obama administration’s full throttle effort to force the Little Sisters of the Poor – a Catholic charity staffed by nuns – to fund abortions.

On Facebook, since I’m fully aware of my liberal friends’ biases, I’m always careful to cite to sources that they belief are reliably leftist. After all, events sometimes force even the Washington Post or the New York Times to be honest about the facts.

This time, I linked to the USA Today editorial stating that the Obama administration has gone too far by attacking the nuns. I figured that, even though USA Today lacks the status of the New York Times (New York Times readers think that they’re the most intelligent and informed news consumers in America), it still has liberal street creds.

Oy, was I wrong! A Facebook friend who used to be a real friend decades ago when we were both non-political, went completely ballistic. He first offered a nasty opinion about the Church. When I politely asked him to back up his views with data, he doubled down on his attacks against the Church and stated explicitly destroying religious people’s political reach has to trump the Bill of Rights.

You’ll notice as you read our Facebook conversation that I was relentlessly pleasant, and that was true despite his frequently offensive statements. I also left on the table several issues that he raised as part of his attack on the church and the constitution. That was deliberate.

It quickly became clear to me that nothing I could say would change his mind. (And it will become clear to you too as you read on.) However, I was mindful of the fact that about 150 other people, almost all Progressives (because of the liberal enclaves in which I’ve always lived) would also be reading this back and forth.

Given the invisible audience I could reasonably assume I had, given that many people have told me that they sign on to Facebook solely to read what I post, I stuck to a very narrowly focused goal. I wanted to provide a reasonable intellectual foundation supporting the nuns’ position. I live in hope that Democrats who are beginning to feel uncomfortable about the administration’s decision to bully nuns will think about what I said. I was therefore worried that if I got too confrontational or started following red herrings with a die-hard ideologue, I’d lose my more important, albeit invisible and silent, audience.

The following is a non-verbatim rendering of my Facebook conversation. I’ve carefully retained the gist of what he and I said, but have changed the words to protect his privacy. He was a jerk, but even jerks deserve privacy. He wrote on my Facebook wall assuming that his identity wouldn’t be broadcast far and wide, and I have to honor that.

So, to set the stage, I linked, without comment, to USA Today’s editorial about the Obama regime’s overreach in its demand that nuns fund abortions and birth control. The following written dialogue ensued.

Him: They shouldn’t get any special treatment just because of their beliefs. None of the rest of us do.

Me: I’m not clear what you mean about “special treatment.” This is the first law ever that’s forced religious organizations and people to fund something that’s doctrinally prohibited.

Him: I don’t get why, just because they’re religious Christians attacking birth control, their beliefs trump other strongly held religious beliefs.

Me: I’m still confused. What are some examples of the government forcing people to act in opposition to strongly held religious beliefs or to fund others to commit those same types of acts?

Him: Okay. It’s not fair that religious organizations are tax exempt, which means I have to pay more taxes, essentially funding them. Lots of states won’t allow gay marriage because these tax-exempt churches have campaigned against it. Also, just because the Hobby Lobby owners don’t like birth control, they refuse to provide it to their employees.

Me: Given how political churches have gotten, you’re right about doing away with those tax breaks. [When I wrote those words, I was actually thinking about how political Leftist churches have gotten, but the point is the same.] Still, your other examples seem to me to miss the point. The editorial is talking about the fact that the government is using its taxing authority to force religious groups or individuals (or business owners) to engage in or fund activities that are antithetical to core belief systems. As far as I can tell, that runs directly counter to the 1st Amendment’s promise that the government cannot interfere with Americans’ freedom of worship.

Him: You’re trying to pick and choose your arguments. Religious people aren’t trying to defund that military. After all, don’t a lot of religions prohibit killing?

Me: [I made the decision here to ignore the red herring about religions and killing.] Your argument ignores the Constitution, which expressly contemplates a military as a core government function. There is a way to change that so as to allow conscientious objectors to refuse to pay taxes designated for the military, but you’d need a constitutional amendment. Unlike funding a standing army as part of the government, though, there’s nothing in the Constitution that mandates that private citizens are entitled to contraception and the morning-after pill, or that other citizens must pay for those services. That means the people and groups opposed to the ACA mandate have the stronger constitutional argument.

Him: The Constitution is irrelevant to this. What enrages me is that powerful people use religion to manipulate and control other people.

Me: I’m confused again. The nuns aren’t manipulating or controlling anyone. They’re asking that the government refrain from manipulating and controlling them by forcing them to pay for something that their religion prohibits. The Church has been opposing abortion and birth control for thousands of years, while the ACA’s demand that all Americans pay for all other Americans’ birth control and morning after pills is just four years old. Isn’t it unreasonable to ask the Catholic church to give up two thousand years of faith just because of the ACA, especially when the church as the 1st Amendment on its side?

Him: It’s obvious that the church never cares about death and suffering until it suits them. At that point, nothing stops the church.

Me: You’re entitled to your opinions about the Church, but it seems to me that, no matter how you look at it, the constitutional edge on this question lies with the Little Sisters and with Hobby Lobby.

At which point he gave up.

My point isn’t that I made the best arguments in the world. I know I didn’t. I also know, as I stated before, that I let a lot of his mean-spirited or uninformed statements go by without comment. Looking at what I said, though, I feel that I succeeded in my initial goal, which was to appear reasonable and to present to passive onlookers solid arguments that might give them food for thought if they dislike seeing the President beat up nuns.

Solidarity with the nuns — a tipping point moment?

Lech WalesaRemember back in 1980 when something happened in Poland that seemed little but had enormous consequences?  That was the year that Lech Walesa started to lead the Gdansk shipyard workers.  Their trade union eventually led in a straight line to the Soviet Union’s downfall.  From a trade union, those shipyard workers morphed into an enormous, non-violent protest against the Polish government (a Soviet proxy).

When the Polish government blinked, people throughout the former Soviet Empire realized that the Communist monster was weakening and could be challenged.  Aided by Reagan’s, Thatcher’s, and Pope John Paul II’s moral support, as well as political and financial aid from Western countries fighting in the Cold War, communist bloc citizens suddenly had real hope — not the phony stuff Obama and his media acolytes socialists have always peddled, but real hope that the decades they’d spent imprisoned in their own countries were finally ending.

Let’s call the Solidarity movement a tipping point.

For reasons best known to itself, the Obama administration has seen fit to wage war against these ladies:

Little Sisters of the Poor

These gals, of course, are the Little Sisters of the Poor.  For more than 150 years, this order has been serving the elderly poor.  And when I say “serving,” I mean that.  They aren’t just conduits for funds.  They go out every day and work amongst the elderly poor, especially the ones who are sick and alone.  As you can see from the picture above, the little sisters are mostly elderly themselves.  They are grandmotherly types whose deep and abiding faith carries them to places most people don’t even think about.  And to the extent they do think about them, they cut a check to charity or, when they’re paying their taxes, try to minimize the pain by saying, “I guess it helps fund Medicaid.”

Being good Catholics, the Little Sisters were in the forefront of groups refusing to abide by the Obamacare mandate that they provide insurance for their employees that includes contraceptives and abortifacients.  Aside from the fact that the nuns don’t need either contraceptives or abortifacients, to the extent that they might hire a receptionist or accountant, they weren’t about to condemn their immortal souls by providing those services for her either.

The Obama administration, recognizing that this was a fight it couldn’t win, came up with an illusory compromise:  Religious institutions can sign a slip of paper saying that they won’t buy those “benefits” for their employees.  However, their insurance company must still provide those same benefits for employees.  In that way, said the administration, the nuns weren’t violating their consciences.

Nuns, however, are not as stupid as the Obama administration seems to think they are.  They understand that, if their insurance company must provide those benefits, someone needs to pay for them — and that’s going to be the insured.  In other words, even though the nuns will no longer directly pay for contraceptives and abortifacients, they will still indirectly pay as the insurance company hikes their fees to pay for unidentified “sundries.”  Whether the nuns pay directly, or the insurance company pays on their behalf, the nuns are still paying.

You’d think, at this point, that the Obama administration would have the intelligence to back down.  Nobody, however, has ever accused committed ideologues of intelligence, nor have I ever made the mistake of accusing the Obama administration of having any intelligence greater than a feral manipulative ability, gilded by an adoring and complicit press.  They are in this to win.

The question is whether the public will side with the Obama administration or with the nuns.  The hardcore NARAL crowd, of course, will side with the president and claim that the nuns are just being pointlessly fussy.  You and I, of course, will side with the nuns, because we recognize that they’re not being fussy at all.  If they sign the paper, they are giving their insurance company permission to use their money to fund something doctrinally prohibited and repugnant.

It seems to me, though, that the masses will not like seeing Obamacare used to pummel little nuns who work tirelessly for the elderly poor.  There’s no way that you can paint these nuns as wild-eyed Todd Aikins who believe that pregnancy negates rape.  Since the roll-out, those who have lost insurance and lost their doctors and spent fruitless hours trying to use the exchange have been the face of Obamacare’s victims.  Employers, however, haven’t had a face . . . until now.  These nuns exemplify the villainy of forcing America’s employers to buy insurance antithetical to their values or even impossible for their budgets.

I would love to see nuns across America descend on Washington, D.C., for a “Million Nun March.”  Nothing would put a clearer face on Obamacare’s trampling of individual rights than seeing elderly nuns protesting at the White House.  Arrayed behind them should be priests (of course) as well as Americans of all creeds who believe in religious freedom.  Were that to happen, I think we might see the same tipping point that started in a Polish shipyard a long, long time ago.

Does the Obama administration really want to get involved in a fight with the elderly nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor?

Although Ted Cruz didn’t mention this during his magnificent 21 hour marathon attempt to reach past the media and speak directly to the American people, one of the things he’s fighting for is religious freedom.  Case in point:  Mother Theresa’s The Little Sisters of the Poor, which is made-up of mostly elderly, and definitely celibate, nuns has been forced to file suit in order to avoid the Obamacare mandate that it must provide all of its employees with insurance that includes birth control and abortifacients.

I can’t wait to see the wits in the internet come up with poster memes for that one.  Anyway, if you’d like to know more about this one and understand just how tyrannical Obamacare is, please check out the Anchoress’s post.