Land of the Free – ish

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I’m writing this on Independence Day, so expect words like “freedom” and “God-given rights” to make their appearance. This is why we celebrate our country on the fourth day of July. This past week’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case has already been discussed at length in most media. You’ve heard the arguments on both sides. You’ve formed your own opinion about the findings. But let me remind you why this case is so very important.

Our country was founded on the belief that our right to live a free life is given to us by God and not by any government. Liberty is an “unalienable right” ordained by God, not by a Congress or President or Supreme Court. So whenever our liberty is infringed upon or caged or in some way lessened, we should all take notice and fight against it. No matter what you believe about contraception, the Hobby Lobby case is really about liberty. This is important to remember. Both sides have done a pretty good job at explaining their arguments. As a Catholic, my faith teaches me that any form of artificial contraception goes against God’s plan for our lives. Others believe differently, and that is their right. The issue in this case might have been something other than contraception. What is at stake is whether or not government can override the liberty given to us by our Creator.

But because the case involved contraception, many have missed the central point. They have reacted to the emotions that surround a subject like contraception instead of peeling away feelings and opinions and politics and looking at the real core of what our government has attempted to do.

I’m asking you to try and look at the Hobby Lobby case without seeing contraception as the argument. This is hard. But if you can I think you’ll realize just how terrifying it would have been if the Supreme Court had ruled differently. Let’s say the majority of the justices had found that it was indeed constitutional for government to force a company (and by extension, an individual) to buy something that violated their strongly-held beliefs. Let’s lay aside those items and practices like car insurance or driving licenses that we purchase since they include a responsibility for the common welfare. Focus on individual beliefs and personal freedoms. Let’s say our government made a law that required you to buy a large green balloon for display on your front porch. Failure to do this would get you a $5000 per day fine. You strongly believe that this goes against your rights as a free American. You believe that your rights include refusing to purchases items that violate your God-given freedom to choose how to spend the money you’ve earned. The green balloon has nothing to do with your religious beliefs but it represents the intrusion of government into your personal life and liberty. That green balloon takes away from your quality of life and disposable income. It’s an impediment to your pursuit of happiness as a free American. You don’t want it. You don’t need it. And yet you’re forced to buy it and even forced to provide them to your employees. You wonder what the government will force you to buy (to do, to accept, to believe) next?

This is where we find ourselves in America in 2014. In the Hobby Lobby case, the nine justices voted 5-4 in favor of liberty. For now. The question must now be—how could 4 of the justices NOT have voted for liberty? Why wasn’t liberty upheld unanimously by the highest court of our land? This is a frightening thing. We find ourselves only one vote away from the loss of our God-given freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness, as our founders envisioned. The Hobby Lobby case should wake us up. We are “this” close to living in a very different country.

The God Who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”
—-Thomas Jefferson

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