Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

by David Trumbull -- July 13, 2012

I don’t agree with the A.C.L.U. on a lot of things, but in this case they happen to be right.” -- New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
To the embarrassment of Bostonians, Mayor Menino made national news when he wrote to Dan Cathy, President of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, warning, "I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston." His comments in the Boston Herald were more menacing: "If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult." One Facebook friend, after reading Mr. Menino's threat, posted, "Did he also add, 'That's a nice restaurant you have up there at the Burlington Mall. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.'?" Chicago Mayor and former Chief of Staff to President Obama, Rahm Emanuel, made similar threats against Chick-fil-A in that city.

Why this vendetta against a business, which according to accounts (I've never eaten there myself) serves up some mighty tasty chicken? Well, as you may know by now, Mr. Cathy, citing his deeply held religious convictions, has stated that he does not support same sex marriage. To the best of my knowledge, there is no allegation that Chick-fil-A has engaged in discrimination against gays and lesbians. To the contrary, the company has a policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation. So this is not in the slightest about discrimination on the part of Mr. Cathy or Chick-fil-A. What it is is blatant, officially sanctioned intolerance of Mr. Cathy's religious beliefs. Shame on you Mayor Menino!

Mr. Cathy's views are certainly not out of the mainstream. Mr. Cathy is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, the second largest religious body in the United States (over 16 million members). Many millions of Americans, for religious or other reasons, do not support same sex marriage. Why, up until a few weeks ago President Obama was against same sex marriage! Mr. Emanuel, who campaigned and worked for the President, expressed no outrage about Obama's opposition to same sex marriage. Mayor Menino's Catholic Church (largest religious body in America) holds the same position on the subject as Mr. Cathy's Southern Baptist Convention. Why single out Mr. Cathy? Simply this, he doesn't keep his views to himself, he has stated them openly and has donated money to like-minded organizations. In sum, Mr. Cathy has engaged in political speech to say something liberal politicians don't like to hear, so they seek to shut him up by threatening to make it impossible for him to do business in their cities.

"It’s clearly unconstitutional," said University of California at Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh in response to Menino's threat to deny permits based on a person’s opinions. And, as Mayor Bloomberg pointed out, even the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports same sex marriage, warned Chicago politicians against infringing First Amendment rights. “What the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” said Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the ACLU of Illinois.

I think it's about time I find out for myself whether Chick-fil-A tastes as good as they say. To do so I'll have to cross the road -- several roads -- and go up to Burlington.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Part of " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Don't You Understand, Mr. President?

What Part of " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Don't You Understand, Mr. President?
by David Trumbull - July 20, 2012

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wisconsin) has introduced legislation, H.R.6097, the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act, to stop the Obama Administration from taxing religious institutions and employers for choosing to follow core tenets of their faith rather than bow to the HHS mandate that violates their conscience rights.

As you know, on January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") reaffirmed a rule forcing health care plans to cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Many religiously-affiliated school, hospitals, and social service agencies cannot comply with this mandate. Obama's response is to tax them out of existence.

“Obamacare gives the federal government the tools to tax religiously-affiliated schools, hospitals, universities and soup kitchens right out of existence," said Representative Sensenbrenner, who pointed out that the fine for following your conscience is $100 per employee per day. As Sensenbrenner explained, "A religious institution that, say, has a church and an elementary school beside it that employs fifty employees total, which include the administrative and maintenance personnel, ends up being taxed $36,500 per employee per year." For that church and school with 50 employees the tax on the right to follow church teaching would be nearly $2 million per year, every year.

Boston has Catholic schools that would be forced to close if the Obama Administration war on religious freedom is allowed to go forward. Sensenbrenner, who is an Anglican, pointed out that in his state of Wisconsin there are many Lutheran schools as well as Catholic schools that will be forced to close if Obama has his way.

Sensenbrenner is joined by 56 cosponsors of the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act. All the sponsors are Republicans. Not a single Democrat in Congress has been willing to oppose the President and stand up in support of our First Amendment freedom to practice religion.

The HHS mandate is just the latest Obama Administration attack on religion. Back in January the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a Lutheran school (Hosanna-Tabor) had a First Amendment religious freedom to choose its own ministers and that the Obama Administration's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's attempt to meddle in the church's employment practices was unconstitutional.

The HHS mandate must, and will, be overturned!

Friday, July 13, 2012

First, Do No Harm

POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica
First, Do No Harm
by David Trumbull -- July 13, 2012

According to its promoters, the proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts has been certified to appear on our November ballots. The Archdiocese of Boston has launched a website, http://suicideisalwaysatragedy.org/ to educate voters about this ill-considered proposal, warning of doctor-prescribed death:
  • It facilitates the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.
  • It promotes a most insidious form of discrimination, especially against the disabled.
  • Certain people claim for themselves the power to decide who ought to live and who ought to die.
  • It harms the integrity of the physician/patient relationship.
I applaud Cardinal O'Malley for directing resources of the Archdiocese against this dangerous initiative. One hopes that in Massachusetts, one of the most Catholic States in the Union, voters will reject this assault on the dignity of all human life. Equally, I hope that opposition to physician-assisted suicide not become narrowly religious. Reason, unaided by Scripture, but guided by Nature, ought to lead one to reject doctor-prescribed death. Some ancient, pre-Christian scientists and philosophers did exactly that.

Ancient Roman statesman Cicero, writing in the first century before Christ, disparaged self-murder, likening the suicide to a soldier who deserts his post. In the Sixth Book of his De Re Publica, Cicero has us imagine the hero Publius Scipio Africanus the Younger (185–129 B.C.) visited, in a dream, by his dead father and grandfather. In the dream the elder Scipio (236-183 B.C.) tells his grandson that the dead are, in truth, more alive than the living, for they "have soared away from the bonds of the body, as from a prison-house; but your life, as it is called, is really death."

The younger Scipio responds to the ghost, "Why do I linger on earth? Why don't I hurry up and come to you there?" The answer is given: "Unless that God, to whom all this region that you can see belongs, has released you from the keeping of your body, the entrance to this place cannot be open to you... So, my Publius, you and all good men must allow the soul to remain in the keeping of the body, nor without His command, by whom it was given to you."

Even earlier, around the 5th century before Christ, physician-assisted suicide was rejected as incompatible with the healing profession. "First, do no harm," is a commonly voiced summary of the eponymous oath crafted by the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.). For centuries, physicians of all, and no, religious belief have recited:
"I swear by Apollo the Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods, and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that...I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

American Freedom and Equality Continued

American Freedom and Equality Continued
by David Trumbull - July 6, 2012

The drama of liberty, which we celebrated on the Fourth of July, continues. Four years after the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts framed this Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants:
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
Those words were invoked three years later by Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice William Cushing, stating:
[the words of the Constitution] declare that all men are born free and equal; and that every subject is entitled to liberty... In short slavery is in my judgment as effectively abolished as it can be by the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to its existence.
It would take decades, and America's bloodiest war, to bring freedom to all Americans. Abraham Lincoln's words in 1863 at Gettysburg mark another scene in the drama:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal" Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.
However, in the political and civic realm the genius for enlargement of liberties has, in recent decades, severely atrophied. On November 2, 1976, the voters of the Commonwealth adopted Amendment 106 to the Massachusetts Constitution, which added to the phrase, All people are born free and equal, the following enumeration: Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin. It is a catalog of protected classes, which, far from expanding freedom, suggests that while "all people are born free and equal" the law need only concern itself with persons so far as they are representatives of their sex, race, etc. In sum it is a denial of individual freedom in favor of group identity.

Under this political theory, which now enjoys support among the elite in our Commonwealth, persons are not equal before the law based on nothing more than shared humanity. Rather, they assert that rights arise out of membership is some particular class. There is no end to the new protected classes than politicians can pander to, to the detriment of the common good and equality of persons. And no end to the spurious new rights, which are no rights at all but merely political patronage directed at preferred classes who vote for these politicians.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Collect for Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independence Day 2012
by David Trumbull -- June 29, 2012
“…In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole…This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English Colonies probably than in any other people of the earth...”
--Edmund Burke, addressing the English House of Commons,
March 22, 1775.
At ten o'clock on the morning of Wednesday, July 4th, the Declaration of Independence will be read out to the assembled people from the balcony of the Old State House just as it first was in Boston on July 18, 1776.

The document is tripartite. The preamble contains a general justification of self-government. It ends with the formal declaration of severance of ties to Great Britain and the establishment of a new sovereign entity, the United States of America. Between these lies an enumeration of the outrages of King George III which justify this revolutionary act.

They are -- or ought to be -- familiar to us. They would have sounded familiar to hearers in 1776 as well, for the Americans' bill of indictment of King George echoes in many ways the 1689 English Bill of Rights -- an indictment of King James II after he abdicated the throne. The English Bill of Rights declared that the king had subverted the laws and liberties of his kingdom:
  • By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with and suspending of laws and the execution of laws without consent of Parliament;
  • By committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power;
  • By levying money for and to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative for other time and in other manner than the same was granted by Parliament;
  • By raising and keeping a standing army within this kingdom in time of peace without consent of Parliament, and quartering soldiers contrary to law;
  • By causing several good subjects being Protestants to be disarmed at the same time when papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;
  • By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;
  • By prosecutions in the Court of King's Bench for matters and causes cognizable only in Parliament, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal courses.
The American patriots quoted with slight modifications many of those phrases. And they improved on the English precedent by dropping the anti-Catholic language which to this day mars the British constitution.