Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: Catholic Bishops call for civil disobedience to an “unjust law”

Catholic Bishops are fighting back against Obama’s “health care law” and have issued a very powerful statement rejecting Obama’s healthcare law (and several other governmental assaults on personal freedom and liberty).

The following are few key excerpts:

Religious Liberty Is More Than Freedom of Worship
Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day, both here at home and overseas.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it. Religious believers are part of American civil society, which includes neighbors helping each other, community associations, fraternal service clubs, sports leagues, and youth groups. All these Americans make their contribution to our common life, and they do not need the permission of the government to do so. Restrictions on religious liberty are an attack on civil society and the American genius for voluntary associations.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America issued a statement about the administration’s contraception and sterilization mandate that captured exactly the danger that we face:

Most troubling, is the Administration’s underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its “religious” character and liberties. Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration’s ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization’s religious principles. This is deeply disappointing.

This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.

Exactly.

The Bishop’s continue; pointing out that many laws emanating from Washington are unjust laws and, therefore should not be followed.

In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, “The goal of America is freedom.” As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition:

I would agree with Saint Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

It is essential to understand the distinction between conscientious objection and an unjust law. Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience—conscription being the most well-known example. An unjust law is “no law at all.” It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.

The Christian church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.

Be sure to read the rest. It is a very powerful statement.

It’s interesting this hasn’t made a bigger splash in the media. As pointed out at Ace O’ Spades:

It’s surprising how little press this got, considering how much the make-believe-media loves to bash Christians. Explicitly calling for Americans to ignore or disobey a law beloved to the Left is certainly otherwise newsworthy, no?

Perhaps the media wants to ignore this because polls show most Americans agree with the Church that the mandate is a violation of our liberty. A call for open rebellion like this could start an embarrassing preference cascade.

Yep, Obama’s healthcare law is not popular. Not at all.

Comments
  • Firepower May 3, 2012 at 8:47 am

    It’s not just the Roman Catholic church.
    ALL churches LONG AGO gave up the business of saving souls
    for the business
    of business