No Tolerance for the First Amendment
by Kevin Sullivan | Georgetown University
The First Amendment is very straightforward. It is not the “Elastic Clause,” that allows Republicans and Democrats alike to brutally abuse the vision of our Founding Fathers for a truly free and prosperous society. Rather, it is very difficult for anyone to somehow twist and misuse the First Amendment to promote intolerance, as it is the safeguard of the most basic freedoms that we hold dear and essential to the concept of America. Difficult, that is, unless the intolerance is against the religious.
The Department of Health and Human Services mandate for the health insurance plans of religious institutions to provide contraception coverage brings out in full the hypocrisy of the American Left when it comes to “liberty.” Any religious teaching that they deem wrong must be fixed by the coercion of the state, just in the same manner that “intolerance” towards the non-religious must be fixed. The American Left has finally grown tired of tearing the framework of our society and government (the Constitution) into pieces, and has moved onto its own traditional document of “freedom.”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Pretty clear right? Apparently not when it is deemed that the Catholic Church is “wrong.” This exemption is just as ridiculous as the Obama administration’s offensive attempt at an exemption. It is a firmly held religious doctrine of the Catholic Church that the use of contraception is morally wrong because of its effect on the family, the foundation of every society. This doctrine should be considered just as legitimate as the Jewish prohibition of ham or the Islamic prohibition of pork, these restrictive beliefs are not questioned and assaulted by the state.
It is for this reason that Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut delivered a defense of religious freedom in the United States before Congress just as simple and eloquent as the First Amendment itself. It’s title: “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.”
The analogy? “Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.”
Such a law would be considered ridiculous, regardless if the majority of the population wants ham and if they think this belief is outdated and restrictive. It would be absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich and even more absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state. Even more illogical is that the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down.
This analogy demonstrates the true intention of the Obama administration and those that no longer believe in freedom of religion. Tolerance only applies to those beliefs that are deemed “acceptable” or that fit into the “liberation” agenda. The same agenda that has “liberated” America from “outdated” beliefs regarding the family and has led us to a 50% divorce rate, over 50 million abortions and almost 50% of children being born to single mothers. We have reached intolerance of the First Amendment itself, which is the purest form of tolerance that was passed down by the Founding Fathers.
It is this simple truth that the Obama administration and those that oppose the Bill of Rights are crusading against, and waging a war of illogical and dangerous propaganda. Take for example the recent New York Times editorial. I follow the logic of the article, despite severely disagreeing with it, all the way until the end – when the real intentions of this movement are revealed. “The real threat to religious liberty comes from the effort to impose one church’s doctrine on everyone.”
Think about the blatant inaccuracy of this statement. The Church’s services, which exist purely for the mission of Jesus Christ and serving those less fortunate in society, are a critical part of our nation’s healthcare and social service sector. Simply because they, as institutions with a Roman Catholic identity and as institutions that exist purely to carry out the mission of the Roman Catholic Church, do not provide a health care provision they believe to be immoral, they are somehow “imposing doctrine on everyone.”
I urge you to think about this ridiculousness and respect the religious freedom of the Catholic Church, just as you respect the religious freedom of kosher delis and the institutions of any other faith. Our First Amendment goes both ways.Kevin Sullivan is a NGJ 'News and Politics' Editor and a rising Junior at Georgetown University, where he is majoring in International Political Economy.