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The Beast of Bethlehem:

 Traditional Catholics Square off against Obamacare Mandate...and Lose in Federal Court

Father John POSTED: 1/16/13


Herod the Horrible

( Recently the Church celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. Did you know that for several centuries, the Nativity of the Lord was celebrated on this day? The liturgical master, Dom Prosper Gueranger, wrote:

The Epiphany is indeed a great Feast, and the joy caused us by the Birth of our Jesus must be renewed on it, for as though it were a second Christmas Day, it shows us our incarnate God in a new light. It leaves us all the sweetness of the dear Babe of Bethlehem, who hath appeared to us already in love; but to this it adds its own grand manifestation of the divinity of our Jesus. At Christmas it was a few Shepherds that were invited by the Angels to go and recognize the WORD MADE FLESH; but now, at the Epiphany, the voice of God Himself calls the whole world to adore this Jesus, and hear him.

The Gospel reading for the Feast of the Epiphany is, of course, the narrative of the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, recorded by Saint Matthew. This otherwise uplifting account ends with the ominous note that these God-fearing Gentiles were warned in a mystical dream to return home by another route. As radio personality Paul Harvey used to say, we know the rest of the story. In this case, Herod the Great, who should have been called Herod the Horrible, ordered the massacre of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, in his paranoid attempt to preclude the reign of Christ the King on Earth at its very inception.

In the hours preceding the Feast of the Epiphany, a day which the Church describes as most holy, I found myself in a most unexpected place: a United States Federal Courthouse. As I sat in a wooden paneled courtroom, adorned only with the U.S. flag and a portrait of the presiding judge, I longed to return to my own church with brightly lit candles and Christmas lights and a manger scene prominently displayed, for the celebration of the First Friday Tridentine Mass. I was in court as a moral support for one of my own parishioners, a man committed to tradition, who was suing the federal government over its mandate that he provide contraceptives to his employees. Beside me sat his lovely spouse and his eight young children.

The irony was not lost on me. For just as Herod the Horrible attacked human life at its most vulnerable and innocent stage, so too the United States Government does the same; nay, even worse, it now demands that God-fearing citizens be complicit in these despicable acts of contraception, sterilization and abortion.

Those who have been following news on this know that across the nation, some forty or more private businesses and employers have brought lawsuits against the federal government over the so-called Obamacare mandate. This mandate requires that all health insurance plans provided by employers include coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients (abortion inducing drugs). Presently there is a narrow exemption applicable only to certain religious institutions, which exemption is so narrow that even these may soon feel like the proverbial camel passing through the eye of a—government—needle.

At the time of this writing, the courts have shown themselves divided over the issues presented by the contraceptive mandate, though individual conscience—for now—has a lead over government intrusion. Thus far, of the forty cases in court, ten have had verdicts favorable towards the plaintiffs and four for the government. By the time you read this, the national scoreboard may have changed. Unfortunately, my parishioner plaintiff was among the four. God bless him; he is not giving up and an appeal is in progress.

The details in this case are somewhat unique among the many legal challenges to Obamacare. Not only was this the first such case in this state but it is noteworthy that this plaintiff could elect to drop health insurance for his employees altogether, thereby avoiding a confrontation with the federal government. At present, businesses that employ fewer than fifty are not required to provide health insurance at all. But this is a man of principle and an employer who is committed to the health and welfare of his employees.

The arguments of the federal government attorney and the ACLU representative, who was recognized by the court as an amicus of the federal government, were fallacious and reprehensible. What’s the old saying, “With friends (amici) like that, who needs enemies?" But both are our enemy: a court of thieves.

The ACLU amicus began his secular screed by noting that ordinarily the ACLU would be advocating the rights of the free exercise of religion; but not in this case, since the reproductive rights of women are at stake. He is correct in asserting that two rights cannot be in opposition to each other; unfortunately, this amicus is wrong about what is truly right. It really comes down to this question: Who determines what is right and therefore what constitutes our rights: God or Government? You have chosen badly, Mr. Amicus!

The main argument against the God-fearing plaintiff was that the requirement to provide contraceptives to his employees via health insurance is not a substantial burden upon his religious freedom. Government argued that our traditional Catholic friend is not impeded from attending church services; neither is he himself forced to use contraceptives in his personal life. It was further argued that if exceptions were made to individual employers according to the dictates of their consciences, then employers might reject other government regulations that should apply, such as OSHA and minimum wage standards—oh my!

There is little doubt that one of the lawsuits brought by private or religious employers will eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court—even our local federal judge stated as much. How that human court will rule remains to be seen but its track record on protecting unborn life and true religion is unsettling. Meanwhile, history repeats itself and will continue to do so, until that final apocalyptic Coming of Christ.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(From The Second Coming, by William Butler Yeats)

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