Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Abdication of Conscience

The political and cultural battle continues to rage over whether the government can rightfully usurp people's consciences by, for example, forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, or forcing adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples. The struggle is over whether the government can be allowed to trump faith and conscience.

I believe this battle is much older than most folks realize. The conscience clause ought to have been raised several decades ago when the government began to use public money to fund abortions, sterilizations, and the like. If it is wrong to commit an abortion, then it is also wrong to pay for one. If the government must not force a Christian physician to do abortions, it must likewise not force the taxpayer to fund them. It is this simple but radical conviction that led me to launch over 4 years ago.

But is this really the root (radicus) of the problem? Perhaps the issue goes back even further. Like maybe the 1940's, back to FDR and the New Deal. And then greatly intensified in the 70's and beyond with LBJ's Great Society and the War On Poverty.

Raised in a liberal Democrat home, it was difficult for me to make this radical (root cause) connection. For a long time I was strongly in favor of the various social programs of the liberal Democrats. It initially made no sense to me that the same politicians who wanted to 'help' the poor also wanted to abandon the poorest among us, those who cannot raise even a tiny voice in protest. Only gradually has it occurred to me that government entitlement programs and tax-funded abortions are woven of the same fabric. And only recently have I begun to understand the reason why. It has to do with the question above: Ought religious people surrender their faith and conscience to government authority?

The corporal and spiritual works of mercy - feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, give aid to the homeless, the sick, and the dying - have always been an integral part of an authentic life of faith. But nowhere in Scripture or in sound Catholic teaching are we commanded to turn these duties over to a secular government. In fact, the desire to do so could be seen as an abdication of one's personal responsibilities. The faithful Christian must feed the hungry and clothe the naked. To ask Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi to do this for me is to surrender my moral conscience to them. If you want Barack Obama to be your conscience with regard to the hungry and poor, then he will also be your conscience with regard to the pre-born and sexual deviation. The problem with ObamaCare is not an inadequate conscience clause. The problem with ObamaCare is ObamaCare. The problem with ObamaCare is the New Deal and the Great Society. The problem began when the government usurped the Church's responsibility to the poor and needy, when the government began to commandeer people's consciences, and when Christians willingly abdicated.