Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
The attack on religious liberty is a two front war. One front you know about, the other one you may not have noticed.
Language is the blunt instrument of choice with which the secularist left in this country bludgeons our freedoms. The secularist left has successfully used seemingly slight alterations in language to change the way ordinary people perceive an argument. Most people who pay attention to these things are very much aware of this tactic, as we have seen it so often.
This is nowhere more apparent today than in the President’s repeated use of the phrase “freedom of worship” rather than “freedom of religion.” They prefer and proffer this language change because “freedom of worship” is about something you do for one hour a week. “Freedom of religion” is about how you live in the other 167 hours of the week. The secularist left now in control of our government is content to allow one hour of free “worship” so long as they get to tell you how to live the other 167 hours. Of course, our Constitution does not guarantee us merely freedom of worship but freedom of religion. The first amendment is about all 168 hours a week, which is the whole point. The secularist left hopes that by repeated references to freedom of worship, you will eventually come to accept the diminution of your God-given rights.
This change in language is often coupled with another bit of lesser-known subterfuge used to rob people of their God-given freedom, the corporatizing of rights. By this, I mean the attempt to take rights that naturally and rightly belong to the individual and apply them only to a group. When these rights belong only to a group, then the government can determine who belongs to this group. This group will steadily become smaller and smaller until the right does not seem to exist at all.
A great example of this tactic is the battle over the second amendment. For over 150 years all Americans understood the second amendment as an individual right to keep and bear arms. The left’s great distaste for this right is well known, but the 2nd amendment seems fairly clear on this point. Undaunted, for years the left asserted, contrary to all historic understanding, that this “right” belonged not to the individual, but to a group. In this case “A well regulated Militia.” They attempted to make a result of the right, the right itself.
If only “A well regulated Militia” has a right to keep and bear arms, this right no longer applies to the individual and ultimately the government gets to decide who can be in and what constitutes “A well regulated Militia.” Membership in the group is then more and more narrowly defined that in the end, the corporate right ceases to exist in reality, as does your former individual right. Thankfully, thanks to determined groups of citizens, the former understanding of this right as an individual one has been reasserted and established by the Supreme Court. Thank heavens, for such liberty lost is only found again in blood-soaked places.
As I watch the debate on Obamacare and the HHS mandate, the secularist left is using this same corporatizing tactic to attack your fundamental right to religious liberty.
So much of the debate over the HHS mandate has focused on the expansion of the conscience clause to cover not only religious institutions themselves but also religiously affiliated institutions like hospitals and colleges. This is where the left wants the argument. They desire an argument about which institutions have this freedom and which do not. If this is the argument, religious liberty is lost no matter how much the President deigns to expand or restrict its application. If this is the argument, they win no matter what. They win because they have just corporatized your right.
When this happens, you are no longer free to exercise your religion as you see fit. This freedom now only belongs to religions, narrowly defined corporate entities dedicated to a belief system.
Freedom of religion has just become freedom of religions. We lose.
The first amendment of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion. This is an individual right. This means I, me, an individual have the right to practice my religion as I see fit. It means I have the right to put into practice my religious precepts in all aspects of my life, even if I am a business owner. The government has no right, no right to pass any law prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This means the government has no right to force me, an individual and perhaps a business owner, to purchase something for myself or my employees, something that I find to be religiously and morally repugnant.
The 1st amendment guarantees me the right to practice my religion. This is not a corporate right that applies to certain institutions as defined under this regulation or that. This freedom belongs to me, an individual, it is mine and I want it.
Do not let the government transmogrify your individual freedom of religion into some lesser thing known as freedom of religions. If they do and even if we win the battle to modify or expand the HHS conscience protections to cover a whole host of religiously affiliated institutions, we have lost the war.
Do not cede your individual and God-given right to freedom of religion. Do not let them corporatize something that belongs to you. Remember, as I said before, for such liberty lost is only found again in blood-soaked places, if ever it is found again at all.