In the same week, two lawmakers in Connecticut and President Barack Obama overreached. The result can and should be chilling. And a great blessing.
The example of the pending legislation that would reconfigure the management of Catholic churches in the state of Connecticut was a religious liberty outrage, plain and simple. But it also served as a warning siren — pointing to injustices past and to come.
Religion is a convenient target when the faithful practice what they purport to believe and work not only to preserve marriage in their own homes, but in their state and country — the foundations of a successful civilization.
President Obama’s decision to assault human dignity and put federal dollars toward embryo-killing stem-cell research should have come as absolutely no surprise to anyone paying attention. Of course, the problem is so many are not paying attention. Including. Especially. Catholics. If we were paying attention to what was going on — and to our obligations — he would not have been elected in the first place.
Of course, he was not elected to wage an assault on the unborn. He was elected for a whole host of reasons. He talked about hope. The other guy didn’t exude it. And Catholics were not alert.
During the presidential campaign, Obama made clear his stem-cell position. His abortion record, too, was clear. While in the Illinois Legislature, he refused to protect children against infanticide — but voters had to work hard to find the coverage (but it was here in the Register, on talk radio, and in National Review). Obama’s opposition to a Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was an early indicator of his radical stand against life.
Some were fooled by his faux humility, declaring to evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren that when life begins is a question above his “pay grade.” Mere months later, he would be signing an executive order to use human beings as guinea pigs in costly, fatal research — and during an economic meltdown. Apparently we’ve now found one group not worth bailing out: the unborn. Instead, we’ll use taxpayer money to create life in order to kill it.
Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, declared the order “a sad victory of politics over science and ethics.” He said that it “disregards the values of millions of American taxpayers who oppose research that requires taking human life” and added that “it ignores the fact that ethically sound means for advancing stem-cell science and medical treatments are readily available and in need of increased support.” The outrage here is not just against morality, but practical science, too.
Those who despair that there isn’t enough guidance from Church leaders should note that the bishops’ conference of the United States presciently asked this summer: “Will we ignore ethical norms and use some of the most vulnerable human beings as objects, undermining the respect for human life that is at the foundation of the healing arts?”
We have our answer, at least from the majority in Washington. At least for now.
But every layperson in the pews on Sunday and every day is called to be a part of the saving work of God. On our journey to sainthood, we’re called to prayer and protest against evil. How that plays out in your life will be determined by your individual calling.
But if you’re a politician, you have clear obligations. And if you’re a voter, you do, too. And that has got us all covered.
Kathryn Jean Lopez
(firstname.lastname@example.org) is the editor of National Review Online (NationalReview.com).