The Corner

We’re All Catholics Now

I’m not the first to comment on the Obama administration’s breathtaking assault on religious liberty, I won’t be the last, and I’m certainly not the most eloquent. I am, however, a lawyer prepared to do something about it. At issue are two competing visions of religion in American public life. For the Obama administration — beginning with its stance that federal employment laws trumped even a religious organization’s selection of its own ministers and now extending to dictating that religious employers must violate their deepest beliefs as a precondition for maintaining their core religious mission — has decided that religion is nothing special, really. It’s nothing more than perhaps just one competing business philosophy — some businesses read Good to Great, others read the Bible, and some read both. In any case, all are subject to the benevolent embrace of the all-ecompassing state.

The opposing view looks back to the Mayflower and to a past immeasurably enriched by the most robust, tolerant, and vibrant religious expression in the developed world and realizes the essential importance of our nation’s “first liberty” — religious freedom. We are who we are in large part because of our respective denominations and faiths. Indeed, “the better angels of our nature” (to borrow from Lincoln) have again and again sprung from our faith communities — from the indispensable role churches played in the Revolution, to the abolitionist movement, to our struggle against fascism, to the fight for civil rights, and to the present, world-leading philanthropy of American citizens.  

If our courts — and our citizens at the ballot box — choose the Obama administration’s view, then the Europeanization of America may well become irresistible. As the Obama administration assaults our nation’s great Catholic institutions, it’s time for the church universal — the holy catholic church — to unite. Do we not all value our liberties? Do we believe that the state can love its citizens better than Christ operating through His followers? And for our nation’s Protestants, are we so wedded to our distinctions from our Catholic brothers and sisters that we’ll fail to rally to their aid much less closely examine our own apparent willingness to quietly cover and fund abortifacients?  

It is times like this when the words of our creeds matter. We are, in fact, part of the “holy catholic church.” We are one Body. The Obama administration should and must face a completely and firmly united American Christian community. As far as the Obama administration is concerned, we’re all Catholics now.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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