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When Does Religion Become Illegal?

The vehemence of the campaign against religious practice bespeaks a world in which our lives will be scientifically engineered by an all-encompassing state.

by
David P. Goldman

Bio

August 7, 2012 - 10:05 am

Is it illegal to be a Catholic in the United States? That’s kind of a grey area, after Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services Department issued an Aug. 1 order requiring all employers offering medical insurance to cover “reproductive services,” including contraception as well as abortion drugs (hat tip: www.politicaloutcast.com). Under the “required health plan coverage guidelines,” HHS lists:

All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.

That includes abortion-inducing drugs. If you manage a Catholic institution, you either violate your most basic religious principles or fail to comply. The correct answer, evidently, is that you can be a Catholic at home with closed shutters, but you can’t have Catholic institutions.

It’s still legal to be a Jew in the United States, but not in some parts of Europe. After a June 26 ruling by a Cologne court defining infant circumcision as “inflicting grievous bodily harm,” you can go to jail (at least in theory) for performing Jewish ritual circumcision. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other political leaders have promised to find a legislative way around the court and uphold religious freedom for Jews and Muslims, policies against circumcisions are proliferating. Two Swiss hospitals have stopped circumcisions (although they continue to offer euthanasia). One Austrian province banned circumcision before the Justice Ministry intervened. Now Norway’s ombudsman for children’s rights demands that circumcision be replaced with a “symbolic ritual.”

While a ban on kosher slaughter was narrowly averted in the Netherlands, European rabbis warn that a new wave of attacks on this basic Jewish practice is in the offing. Jews who stand by while America’s largest religious community, the Catholic Church, is persecuted should remember that we’re next. The Catholic Church is the only European institution that has consistently defended Jewish religious freedom in Europe. It would be hypocritical as well as self-damaging if we Jews failed to do everything in our power to support Catholics against this new persecution.

Make no mistake. These are revolutionary proposals, as revolutionary as Robespierre’s short-lived attempt to replace French Christianity with a new “Cult of the Supreme Being,” or the Bolsheviks’ effort to ban religion altogether, or the Nazis’ campaign to introduce “Aryan Christianity.” The vehemence and thoroughness of the campaign against religious practice bespeak a world in which our lives will be scientifically engineered by a benign and all-encompassing state.

Raising children, the Left believes, is too important to leave to families. The Left believes that the patriarchal family is the root of all evil. (I’m not exaggerating. I come from the Left. The witches’ brew of Freud and Marx and Frankfurt School and identity studies that the Left imbibes at our universities center on the evils inherent in the patriarchal family.)

And family structure is weakening of its own accord in a culture that makes personal gratification the highest good.

Household Size Shrinks in the United States

America used to be a land of families; increasingly we are a country of singles and elderly living alone in tiny cubicles. The natural constituency for religion — the traditional family — is weakening. Fifty-one percent of births to women aged 20 to 30 occur out of wedlock. If individuals abandon family responsibilities, they will fall to the state by default. It’s not surprising that the true believers in a utopian state believe that their moment has come and that it is time to toss the remnants of traditional society into the dust-bin of history.

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Cross-Posted from Spengler

David P. Goldman is the columnist “Spengler” for Asia Times Online; his latest book is How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too).
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