God sees how you vote in the polling booth; Stalin doesn't


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ABSTRACTHHS Mandate: A Bridge Too Far - Conrad Black - National Review Online Get FREE NRO Newsletters   Log In   |   Register Follow Us Everywhere         April 16 Issue  Subscribe to NR  Renew  April 16 Issue   |   Subscribe   |   Renew Home The Corner The Agenda Campaign Spot The Home Front Right Field Bench Memos The Feed Media Blog Critical Condition Larry Kudlow David Calling Exchequer Phi Beta Cons Planet Gore UK Between the Covers Radio Derb Tweet Tracker NR / Digital Subscribe: NR Subscribe: NR / Digital Give: NR / Digital NR Renewals & Changes Shop! Donate Media Kit Contact Zubrin: Carbon Emissions Are Good Derbyshire: March Diary Costa: The Ron Johnson Factor Hanson: Iran’s Win, Win, Win Bomb Habeeb: Too Young to Die Sowell: Argument from Disparity Charen: Violence and Family Breakdown Fonte: Saving Sovereignty Prager: They Don’t Know Us Lowry: Meltdown with Keith Olbermann Pipes: It’s Not Road Rage, It’s Terrorism O'Sullivan: The Significant ‘Little War’ Lopez: Desperately Seeking Women Ponnuru: The Culture Warrior Geraghty: Senate 2012 Outlook Fund: Penny Anti Interview: Ringing a Bell for Liberty Barone: The Constitution’s Comeback Sowell: The Death of Mrs. G Murdock: Socialist Hong Kong? New on NRO . . . Close To: Your Email: Your Name: Subject: February 15, 2012 4:00 A.M. HHS Mandate: A Bridge Too Far (Page 2 of 3) By Conrad Black Archive Latest RSS Send Print Text   Comments 42 Conrad Black  Pope Benedict recently stated that, in the U.S., religious freedom is under threat from “radical secularism.” The pope warned that “powerful new cultural currents” have worn down the country’s traditional moral consensus and have launched a “concerted” assault on “the rights of conscientious objection.” In the preceding history of 42 presidents and 15 popes since American independence, no such charge has been made. In 1790, the new president of the new country addressed the country’s Roman Catholics: “May the members of your society in America . . . enjoy every spiritual and temporal felicity.” George Washington cannot have meant anything like this. It is such an insane enterprise, so brutal, gratuitous, and premeditated, after a debate between the Catholic men and militant feminists around the president, that the administration will, unless it has taken complete leave of its senses, backpedal as far as it has to to get clear of this fiasco, and the immediate, rather specious climb-down may not achieve that. Advertisement Vice President Biden, who is pretty accident-prone himself but at least saw this one coming and takes his Catholicism seriously, told a Cincinnati radio station that he was confident of a compromise. Such a dirigiste regime, so hostile to any alternative source of moral authority in America to itself, may have trouble withdrawing gracefully. The administration is trying to retreat in the proclaimed interests of social peace, but some taste, though not a lethal one, will linger. If it does not compromise seriously and eliminate the requirement for church-related organizations to pay for something of which they morally disapprove — especially the post-conception drugs and treatments — an epochal turning point impends. The Roman Catholic Church is a uniquely venerable and influential institution, which knows all about martyrdom, and has won its full share of battles with secular authority, from the Emperor Julian the Apostate to the Italian Communists in the time of Pius XII (“God sees how you vote in the polling booth; Stalin doesn’t”), and the Polish Communists and John Paul II. Mr. Obama will not go to Canossa, but this can’t stand. Of course, what is unfolding is not like the religious persecution of despotic and totalitarian states, but such conduct as this from the U.S. government is more surprising than was the murder of the archbishop of Paris in the Paris Commune, or Juan Peron’s burning down Catholic churches in Argentina in 1954. (Neither of those regimes lasted more than a few more months.) In the debates in the administration between Catholic men, led by Biden and former White House chief of staff William Daley (who have had a great deal of experience with elections), and the feminists, led by Valerie Jarrett (who have not), the feminists relied on Catholic dissent from the official counsel of perfection on matters of birth control to divide and weaken Catholic opposition. But even pretty casual Roman Catholics tend to regard the public oppression and humiliation of their church as unjust and unwelcome, and prefer internecine arguments to remain that. No dissenting Catholic has asked the assistance of the U.S. government against the episcopate. And, even more damaging to the administration, the regulation also applies to abortifacient dru.......