Obama’s Ideological Brinkmanship

We knew it would come to this, but we weren’t sure until when until the Obama administration announced the contraception mandate; even then, we weren’t sure when exactly it would be explicitly spelled out by the leadership of the Church. I am referring to the U.S. bishop’s recent statement declaring, among other things, the following:

It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

It is essential to understand the distinction between conscientious objection and an unjust law. Conscientious objection permits some relief to those who object to a just law for reasons of conscience—conscription being the most well-known example. An unjust law is “no law at all.” It cannot be obeyed, and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal. (Emphasis added)

In making this statement, the bishops have echoed Pope Leo XIII’s statement in his encyclical Libertas: “But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God.”

I was deeply disappointed with the bishop’s support for Obamacare, and I still reject the wholly prudential argument that a national healthcare scheme is required to secure some sort of “human right” for people in this country. I especially reject the notion that a militantly secular regime such as Obama’s could ever be entrusted to secure such a right. One can only hope that the lesson was learned, and that it is not too late.

Turning to the President himself, by going down this path he is waging a campaign of political and ideological brinkmanship. I think it is pretty clear that the bishops, not to mention other faithful Catholics who will resist this unjust law, are prepared to suffer for their principles. The question is, will Obama become a (manifest) tyrant to enforce his? If the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, the issue will be moot. If it doesn’t, he still has an election to win. I’m not sure whether caving on this issue would hurt him more than attempting to force it as far as his electoral prospects are concerned: I’ll leave that for another post (and the com-boxers: have fun).

Finally, I hope that those “out there” in secular and Protestant America who have concerns about or who actively oppose Obama will come to realize what I came to realize not long ago: that the Church, contrary to being some kind of enemy of political liberty, is actually one of its greatest benefactors. Even if you cannot appreciate the spiritual mission of the Church, the fact that it divides men’s loyalties and gives them something other than the will of the state to share their obedience with has been irritating tyrants for ages.

Go here for additional commentary.

28 Responses to Obama’s Ideological Brinkmanship

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    Too many Catholics have embraced a false notion of the relationship between religion and politics. Basing themselves on Suarez’s interpretation of St Thomas, they have talked of a “natural order,” governed by Natural Law, consisting of truths accessible to unaided human reason, as something that can be kept separate from the supernatural truths revealed in the Gospel. “Under such circumstances, the supernatural is no longer properly speaking another order, something unprecedented, overwhelming and transfiguring” (Henri de Lubac)

    It was this that led Laberthonnière, a hundred years ago now, to accuse the Neo-Thomists of his day of ““a false theological notion of some state of pure nature and therefore imagined the state could be self-sufficient in the sense that it could be properly independent of any specifically Christian sense of justice.”

    It led his friend and contemporary, Maurice Blondel, to insist that we must never forget “that one cannot think or act anywhere as if we do not all have a supernatural destiny. Because, since it concerns the human being such as he is, in concreto, in his living and total reality, not in a simple state of hypothetical nature, nothing is truly complete (boucle), even in the sheerly natural order”

    Jacques Maritain, too, declared that “the knowledge of human actions and of the good conduct of the human State in particular can exist as an integral science, as a complete body of doctrine, only if related to the ultimate end of the human being. . . the rule of conduct governing individual and social life cannot therefore leave the supernatural order out of account”

    Unless we insist, in Blondel’s words, that we can “find only in the spirit of the gospel the supreme and decisive guarantee of justice and of the moral conditions of peace, stability, and social prosperity,” we shall inevitable acquiesce in practice in the Liberal privatisation of religion.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Michael Paterson-Seymour: “a natural order” is inscribed in our Declaration of Independence: “the laws of nature and nature’s God”. To change our founding principles ratified 236 years ago, requires a change by two-thirds of the states agreeing to the change. It IS that simple. Joseph Suarez based on Saint Thomas Aquinas (saints are in heaven with God), Suarez says: “Human existence (from God) is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights” Human existence begins when two become one flesh and our Creator gives the child a sovereign personhood endowed with unalienable rights to life. Obamacare is one rung in the ladder of one world government under one world bank instead of under God, disallowing the soul of man, because the soul of man cries out to God to be heard and the soul of man will be heard. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Gorbachev, Putin, they can wait, there are many waitng in the shadows for the one world shadow government under the world bank to step center stage. They show the face of Dr. Jekyl. If they showed the face of Mr. Hyde, who would vote for them, or trust them. In God we trust, “our Creator”

  • Phillip says:

    “I was deeply disappointed with the bishop’s support for Obamacare, and I still reject the wholly prudential argument that a national healthcare scheme is required to secure some sort of “human right” for people in this country. I especially reject the notion that a militantly secular regime such as Obama’s could ever be entrusted to secure such a right. One can only hope that the lesson was learned, and that it is not too late.”

    Unfortunately I don’t think they will. Many are still bound by the current, disordered sense of social justice. It was this disordered sense of justice that brought about support for Obama’s health care reform.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    Hilaire Belloc summed it up very well, when he said that “Catholic life is not normal to a society unless Catholic morals and doctrine be supreme therein. Unless the morals of the Faith appear fully in the laws of that society, unless it be the established and authoritative religion of that society, the Church is ill at ease… She proposes to take in men’s minds even more than the place taken by patriotism; to influence the whole of society, not a part of it, and to influence it even more thoroughly than a common language. Where She is confronted by any agency inimical to Her claim, though that agency be not directly hostile, She cannot but oppose it.”

    It is the failure to keep this truth before our minds and the acceptance of a compromise that proposed a government founded on merely natural principles and, guided by human reason, pursuing merely natural ends that has brought us to this pass.

    As for “Nature and Nature’s God,” Pascal warned us, “All those who seek God apart from Christ, and who go no further than nature, either find no light to satisfy them or come to devise a means of knowing and serving God without a mediator, thus falling into either atheism or deism, two things almost equally abhorrent to Christianity… They imagine that it simply consists in worshipping God considered to be great and mighty and eternal, which is properly speaking deism, almost as remote from the Christian religion as atheism.” This is the God of the Phiosophes, not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Phillip: “I was deeply disappointed with the bishop’s support for Obamacare, and I still reject the wholly prudential argument that a national healthcare scheme is required to secure some sort of “human right” for people in this country. ” Healthcare is CHARITY, a voluntary virtue. One of man’s responses to the gift of Faith from God. CHARITY comes under the FREEDOM OF RELIGION First Amendment Freedom.
    Michael Paterson-Seymour: The Declaration of Independence is our founding principle to which all people must adhere or change with two-thirds of the states ratifying. This is Important because the atheists are telling us to go find two-thirds of the states to reratify the laws already in place such as the right to LIFE and that all men are created EQUAL. Founded on “Divine Providence” our country continues its being through virtue. Virtue is America’s lifeline. What Pascal said is happening right now, without Christ. Let me continue this. I am late for Mass.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Mary,

    The Declaration of Independence has NO legal standing whatsoever. Wile I agree that it contains the founding principles of the nation, and that this makes it in many respects as important if not MORE important than the Constitution, it is not itself law. It is not subject to any vote.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Michael,

    “It is the failure to keep this truth before our minds and the acceptance of a compromise that proposed a government founded on merely natural principles and, guided by human reason, pursuing merely natural ends that has brought us to this pass.”

    What failure? It was never done to begin with. This country was founded by Freemasons.

    “We” really had no role in this. It is the society that was given to us. And so to some extent we have to operate within its framework.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    Beauchamps

    “What failure? It was never done to begin with. This country was founded by Freemasons.

    “We” really had no role in this. It is the society that was given to us. And so to some extent we have to operate within its framework.”

    It is one thing to accept the inevitable and to operate with the institutions one has, as Leo XIII exhorted French Catholics to do, when he called on them to “rally to the Republic,” explaining that a distinction must be drawn between the form of government, which ought to be accepted, and its laws which ought to be improved. It is another to treat the state’s rejection of “traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ,” as Dignitatis Humanae puts it as somehow good or desirable in itself, as so many Catholics have done, and not only those on the Left.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”: Caesar belongs to God. Constituted through the sovereign personhood and unalienable rights of each and every created equal, endowed citizen, government is under God, born of the free will endowed by our Creator, Divine Justice, authentic authority, and humble service. Government does not create life, nor personhood, nor man. Government gives citizenship. Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, is perfect Charity. Jesus Christ as man loves. Jesus Christ as God is LOVE. The virtue of CHARITY as all virtues and vices is practiced through the consent and free will of the person. The virtue of charity is voluntary, that is, practiced through the free will and consent of man. Levying taxes to effect the virtue of charity without the free will and consent of the tax payers is extortion. The will of God expressed through the voice of the people is the duty of government. Obamacare, in the practice of the vices of abortion, contraception and euthanasia, violates the will of God, our Creator. Obamacare, in levying taxes without the will and consent of the people is extortion. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us and Christ took His life up again. In Christ, man has eternal life. Embraced, Jesus Christ is FREEDOM.
    In 2013, in Maryland, gay marriage becomes law. Who told governor O’Malley to deny the rational, immortal souls of the participants, of his constituents and of God? It was not God Who told O’Malley. God said: “Thou shall not lay with a man as with a woman” (biblical note to follow) God has become HATE SPEECH. For the common good? for our own good? REALLY? Government of the people, for the people and by the people has perished from the face of the earth.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Bonchamps: The Declaration of Independence was ratified by every state before the War for Independence. That makes the Declaration of Independence law. The Declaration of Indpendence was never nulled and void, or abrogated or unratified. In fact, the U.S. Constitution begins by saying: “in the twelveth year of our Independence…” sure sounds to me like the Founding Fathers built our country, our freedom and our independence on the Declaration of Independence as the absolute minimum. Please show me where our Independence as inscribed in our Declaration of Indpendence is proscribed and do not go with unjust law.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Bonchamps: Every man woman and child, there were three generations who fought for independence, who fought and died, died in vain, for a founding principle that no longer exists? The Declaration of Independence gave birth to America, July 4th 1776. The Statue of Liberty holds that Declaration in her left hand. The U.S. Constitution defines the government, not the nation. There would be no United States of America nation if the Declaration were not ratified (ratification is a vote by the people). July 4th is our nation, the United States of America’s birthday, unrepealed and unrepentant. The Declaration of Independence is our people. The U.S. Constitution is our government. Where were you when Obama, as sitting president, and on video, no less than three times, recited the Declaration of Independence omitting “our Creator”, as the endower of our omitted and neglected “unalienable rights” Oh, yes, The Declaration of Independence is very much alive and well, except in Obama’s regime.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    WK Aiken: Headache. “WE”, the people and “WE” hold these truths to be self evident are the same “WE”. Government by the people prevails over government by the government. Put the Declaration of Independence on the ballot since Bonchamps thinks that it is not a law.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Mary,

    You are causing me a headache too.

    You’re entitled to your own opinion. You aren’t entitled to your own facts. The Declaration of Independence is very important philosophically. I think it should inform the laws of the nation. But it is not a legal document and it has no legal standing. That’s not my opinion, that’s not my preference, its just a fact.

    Stop arguing with me as if I am saying the Declaration is bad or something. Stop arguing like a nutjob. I love the Declaration of Independence. I think it is one of the most important documents in history. But I also recognize facts, truth, reality, etc. You should too.

  • Bonchamps says:

    ” It is another to treat the state’s rejection of “traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ,” as Dignitatis Humanae puts it as somehow good or desirable in itself, as so many Catholics have done, and not only those on the Left.”

    Who did this? I guess that’s where I’m confused. Are you saying I did this?

    Personally, I think Dignitatis Humanae implies that the Church once engaged in systematic violations of “human rights”. There were Church councils that called for all Christian princes to suppress public Islamic worship on the sole grounds that it was offensive to God (not to preserve public order or anything like that).

    One of the reasons I am a “traditionalist” (I really dislike that term, btw) is that I don’t believe that yesterday’s moral “rights” can become today’s intrinsic wrongs, nor do I believe that new human rights can come into existence because popular opinion on various topics has changed.

    So you get no argument from me on this point. Leo XIII’s position in Libertas was more than sufficient – there was no need for DH. None at all. We tolerate certain evils for the sake of the public good. This is how we talk about and address the modern world, which imposes evil on us. But we don’t call good evil, or evil good.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    Bonchamps

    “There were Church councils that called for all Christian princes to suppress public Islamic worship on the sole grounds that it was offensive to God (not to preserve public order or anything like that).”

    Dignitatis excludes coercion in matters of religion by the civil power, “dummodo iustus ordo publicus servetur” [Provided the just demands of public order are observed]

    “Public order” is a technical term in the Civilian or Roman Law tradition and is much wider than “keeping the peace” ; its nearest English equivalent is “public policy,” or “in the public interest.” Thus, the provision in the Code Civil on Respect for the Human Body, which declares (inter alia) that the human body, its parts and products cannot be the object of ownership – “Les dispositions du présent chapitre sont d’ordre public,” literally “The dispositions of the present chapter pertain to public order” appears in the official English translation (on the Legifrance website) as, “These provisions are mandatory.”

    National security, public safety, the economic well-being of the country, the prevention of disorder or crime and the protection of health or morals all fall within the concept of “ordo publicus” and are regularly so described in legislation.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Michael…

    “Dignitatis excludes coercion in matters of religion by the civil power”

    I think that was my whole point. The Church used to insist upon just that kind of coercion. And I don’t have a problem with it. It wasn’t a sin that we had to atone for. It wasn’t a mistake that had to be corrected. It was a policy that simply no longer needed to be applied.

    As for the rest… ok? I mean, is there a point in there somewhere? That’s related to anything I said? Are we having a discussion or are you just talking with yourself?

    I’m seriously asking.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Without the Declaration of Independence there would be no “Law of the Land”. There is no either, or, but both. Clarification: The Declaration of Independence is our founding principle without which no one can be or become a citizen. The atheist says there is no God. God is existence. The atheist would annihilate himself if that were true, but the atheist needs God to annihilate himself.
    Jurisdiction over the newly begotten sovereign soul in the womb belongs to our founding principle: The Declaration of Independence. Jurisdiction over sovereign souls who are given birth belongs to the United States Constitution as the Law of the Land. The U.S. Constitution as the Law of the Land has no jurisdiction over the newly begotten soul in the womb, neither through abortion nor taxation, except to enforce our founding principles: that all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. The right to privacy inheres in the Declaration of Independence, all or nothing at all. This is borne out in foreign individuals who come to America as diplomats, have diplomatic immunity, therefore, cannot be tried under the Law of the Land. Foreign criminals too, must be sent back. Only for laying in wait and killing a man (capital one premeditated homicide) must a man be put to death. Being unwanted is not a crime for execution, especially after being invited by the parents. (We are not Vlad the Impaler.) These persons must be treated with all courtesy through good will and good will is expected of them but they are not citizens. When the sovereign person enters the world through birth the United States acknowledges him with citizenship and he must keep the Law of the Land, according the our founding principle: The Declaration of Independence. Without The Declaration of Independence, our Constitution becomes whatever anybody says it is, subjective interpretation without any sovereign authority, except that which comes from the interpreter. The sovereign person in the womb who is about to be aborted is denied and cannot constitute our sovereign nation. It is the will of our Creator that any and all persons be created. The Declaration of Independence establishes our nation and the Law of the Land, that is why The Declaration of Independence is called our founding principle. Perhaps it is time to try the Declaration of Independence in court under the Law of the Land.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Bonchamps says:
    The Declaration of Independence has NO legal standing whatsoever. Wile I agree that it contains the founding principles of the nation, and that this makes it in many respects as important if not MORE important than the Constitution, it is not itself law. It is not subject to any vote.
    Bonchamps: I beg to differ with you and your interpretation of our founding principles.
    The Declaration of Independence, “We, hold these truths to be self-evident” defines a sovereign person as created equal and endowed with unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, an individual member of the species, Homo Sapiens, and as belonging to humanity as a human being composed of human body and metaphysical, rational, immortal soul. The Declaration of Independence secures the individual human being’s place among the nations of the world. The Declaration of Independence ought to be the marching orders for the United Nations. Alas and alack it is not.
    The Constitution for the United States of America defines the American citizen’s rights and privileges under the Supreme Law of the Land. These rights are inscribed in the Preamble: “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Aborting our constitutional Posterity is not in the Law of the Land. Redefining the human person as having no soul to legalize abortion, or same sex union, or chattel of the state, is impossible and counter to constitutional law. Redefining the existence of God and the Supreme Sovereign Being as a servant of the people is neither constitutional nor predicated on Justice and independence. Disenfranchising the parishioners of the Catholic church of their right to engage in ministry, according to their rational conscience removes the path for any and all people, especially atheists to find a way into religion, (an individual’s personal and free will response to the gift of Faith from God), and the exercise of rational thought as expression of the rational soul and the freedom of suffrage, the vote. “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” There is no separation of the freedom of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. It is only when peoples start redefining the reality of our Creator and His persons, that men and government lose their meaning. As an aside: When in Roe v. Wade the woman wanted to kill her child, the child became a ward of the court, a ward of the court, the court allowed to be killed.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Mary,

    ” I beg to differ with you and your interpretation of our founding principles.”

    I have no different interpretation of our founding principles. This is why your comments are just disturbing to me. I am simply saying that the Declaration of Independence is not a legally-binding document. Show me the court case in which it has ever been invoked as such.

    The most important parts of the Declaration are summarized in the Bill of Rights. The protection of life, liberty and property is in the 5th amendment. The protection of our political rights in the 1st amendment. The protection of our legitimate privacy is in the 4th amendment (not the 9th amendment, as the Blackmum court fantasized). The right of people to determine their own destiny apart from a controlling centralized government is found in the 10th amendment.

    But the plain fact is that the Constitution is not a prefect document. That’s why I like anti-Federalists such as Robert Yeats. It was well understood by him and others that the Constitution may well provide us with a tyranny instead of freedom. And absolutely no one thought that the mere existence of the Declaration of Independence provided any sort of institutional guarantee that this wouldn’t happen. It has certainly INSPIRED people to challenge unjust laws, but it has never been cited in any court case I know of as a legal justification for overturning them. Show me where it has been.

  • Bonchamps says:

    And again, I am aware that its principles have often been cited. But never as “the letter of the law” – more like the “spirit.” And I would agree: the Declaration is like the soul to the body of the Constitution. But they aren’t identical in form or function.

    And bodies decay.

  • “…and in a very small voice, I say that the Person of God is the Person for Whom the Constitution was written.”

    I don’t think the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence for that matter were written “for” God. But certainly their foundation and basis is God.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Paul W. Primavera: The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were framed for the PERSON. Jesus Christ is both a human and a Divine PERSON. Pope John Paul II said that when one person’s rights are denied, all persons’ rights are denied. The Person of Jesus Christ is a citizen of the world, the Sovereign King. The Person of Jesus Christ is denied acknowledgement in the public square. This is contrary to all men being created equal. Christ in His human nature is a man with equal civil rights. As you know Jesus, in His human nature, life was taken from Him, His liberty was denied to Him, and of course He is being even now, forbidden to pursue His Happiness. This happens when Jesus’ name is forbidden in public. The Person of Jesus Christ had to be banned before God’s children could be murdered in the womb. It is the sovereign personhood of the newly begotten human being who’s soul is being torn from his body in abortion. We are all one in the mystical Body of Christ. If some in public office do not respect the PERSON of Jesus Christ, how can they respect any of us or themselves? The PERSON is WHO we are at our core. THE PERSON IS IMMUTABLE. The PERSON is a PERSON, is a PERSON ALWAYS.(from the work of Rev. James Lentini) The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are ratified for the PERSON, by the PERSON and through the PERSON. Thank you Paul W. Primavera for corresponding. I am learning the Ave Maria in Greek. WOW. I have tried Bonchamps patience, brother McClarey’s kindness and very much enjoy your friendship. One Hail Mary
    Av? Mar?a, gr?ti? pl?na,
    Dominus t?cum.
    Benedicta t? in mulieribus,
    et benedictus fr?ctus ventris tu?, I?sus.
    S?ncta Mar?a, M?ter De?,
    ?r? pr? n?b?s pecc?t?ribus,
    nunc et in h?r? mortis nostrae.
    ?m?n.
    Hail Mary, full of grace,
    the Lord is with thee;
    blessed art thou amongst women,
    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death.
    Amen.
    And for good measure, the ancient Greek version as well (which reads a little differently) (hope the Greek letters come out OK):
    ??????? ???????, ?????, ???????????? ?????,
    ? ?????? ???? ???. ?????????? ?? ?? ???????,
    ??? ??????????? ? ?????? ??? ??????? ???,
    ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ????? ????.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Paul W Primavera says:
    “…and in a very small voice, I say that the Person of God is the Person for Whom the Constitution was written.”

    “I don’t think the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence for that matter were written “for” God. But certainly their foundation and basis is God.”
    The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were written for “THE PERSON OF GOD”, and “with” God, July 4th in the year of Our Lord, 1776.
    One nation under God means that the judges of the Supreme Court for the United States of America recognize and acknowledge that they are the personification of almighty God’s absolute and merciful Justice when they are called upon to be JUSTICE. The executive executes the Supreme Law of the Land UNDER GOD through the JUSTICES, the personification of God’s Justice, and the souls of his constituents. The Congress of all men speaks the will of the people. Only TRUTH will be spoken, only TRUTH will be heard or the Congress of all men will have betrayed the nation and committed perjury in the Court. This is possible, practical and privileged through the rational, immortal soul of each and every person, to be represented; his constituency to be acknowledged and to be accorded the endowed unalienable rights of the children of God, by the children of men.
    The atheist, secular humanist, heretic, fallen away from God repudiates his own human soul as having perfection in almighty God, and renders unto Caesar imperfection and more imperfection, denying the newly conceived (constitutional) posterity, created in original innocence, virginity and perfect charity, the only person deserving endowed, unalienable rights, the truth about their sovereign personhood, their constituency in establishing one nation UNDER GOD, and their adoption into the family of God.

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