Friday, October 31, 2008

Why this Election is About the Freedom of Religion

(Hat tip: Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex)

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus writes about the importance of this election at First Things:
One can argue that every presidential election is a “historic” election. But some are more historic than others. Daniel Henninger had a provocative column yesterday making a strong case that this one is a “tipping point” between America continuing as an entrepreneurial society or going the way of the European “social democracies.” He cites the late Senator Pat Moynihan who said the big difference between Europe and America is that the former gives priority to equality and the latter to liberty. I’m not sure that Henninger is right in saying there would be no turning back after four or eight years of President Obama and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress imposing their passion for a government-directed program of redistribution and social coordination, but the future he depicts is both plausible and ominous.

There is another dimension of this ideological passion for the expansion of government control that is at least equally worrying. It has to do with the freedom of religion in the American constitutional order and the indispensable part that religion plays in checking the ambitions of the modern democratic state. Obama has said that he thinks it is “tragic” that the Supreme Court has declined to advance the cause of redistributive justice. That refers, of course, to economic redistribution. But the language of healing divisions and bringing us all together—under government auspices—applies also to the social dynamics of American society.

There are several issues, all closely related to religion, on which Obama, for all his undoubtedly sincere talk about his own faith and the importance of religion in public life, is manifestly hostile to the vibrant diversity of American life. The first is abortion, of course. The protection of innocent human life should not be seen as an exclusively religious concern, for it is grounded in scientifically-informed moral reason that should be compelling to all. Nonetheless, the pro-life cause is largely driven by the religiously motivated.

Obama makes no secret of his intention to shut down that cause and disenfranchise the millions who are committed to the abolition of the abortion license imposed by Roe. This is evident beyond doubt by his repeated and enthusiastic endorsement of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would, among other things, eliminate all state regulation of abortions—such as informed consent and parental notification—and provide government funding for abortions. FOCA aims to extinguish once and for all the single issue in American public life on which the free exercise of religion has had greatest potency in the last several decades of our history. Similar dynamics are in play in the court-imposed laws favoring same-sex marriage, of which Obama has expressed his approval, such as the California ruling now being fiercely contested in a referendum.

My Comments:
In addition to abortion and marriage, Fr. Neuhaus goes on to mention parental choice in education and faith-based social initiatives as just a few examples of where Sen. Obama is not only out of step on matters of importance to people of faith, but is, in fact, "an ideological statist, determined to impose a monist vision on a pluralistic society".

An important read that queries whether the views of values voters would be tolerated in the public square of Sen. Obama's America.

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