America’s abortion extremism

Hard to be the shining beacon of human rights and dignity with this record.

Somehow, Planned Parenthood has remained powerful, heavily funded and very influential among the power brokers of politics and culture: government, media, academia and Hollywood. Somehow, the abortion mentality has pervaded even believers in religion and absolute truth and moral order, convincing roughly half of them to accept the decades long, slick marketing slogans that it’s about empowering women and respecting women’s rights and protecting particularly their right to choose.

Choose what? Planned Parenthood gives women, particularly in minority neighborhoods, a lack of choice but easy access to abortion.

Having frequent conversations with expert guests on radio covering these issues –  especially lately with congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, the abortion giant’s social media campaign in reaction and response to the possibility of losing federal funds, the recent vote in Congress to ban abortions of five month old babies in the womb, and the administration’s move last week to roll back the HHS mandate requiring birth control pill coverage in health insurance plans for Christian and particularly Catholic groups like Little Sisters of the Poor – the point has come up more than once that the U.S. is among the seven countries in the world with the most lax and extreme abortion laws.

The Washington Post editors must have found that hard to believe, and so submitted it to their well known ‘fact checker‘. This is how it opened:

Seven out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”
statement of Trump administration policy, Oct. 2, 2017

 

The House approved a ban on 20-week abortions this week, and this dramatic statistic caught our attention…

It’s about time. What brought it to WaPo’s attention now? That House of Representatives ban on the ‘Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’, which prompted this response from the White House, which included the attention grabbing statistic contained in this fuller snip than WaPo led with:

The United States is currently out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Worse still, the United States is in the top (or worst) four:

Here’s a look at the seven countries. We sorted them from the most liberal on gestational limits to the least:

 

North Korea and Vietnam: No specified gestational limit, though regulatory mechanisms vary.

 

China: “Abortion is virtually freely available in China, and there are no defined time limits for access to the procedure,” according to Pew Research Center. China now has a “two-child” policy, and human-rights advocates have criticized China’s population and family planning laws.

 

United States: No federal ban on gestational limit, but 43 states have prohibitions on gestational limits, from 20 to 24 weeks, or the point of “viability,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group. There are some exceptions made, usually for the life or health of the mother.

Then come Canada, Netherlands and Singapore.

Only North Korea, Vietnam and China are ahead of the United States in abortion extremism.

“Our nation does not belong in that disgraceful club”, the Susan B. Anthony List declared in a statement after the House vote.

The 20 week abortion ban bill now goes to the Senate for a vote, and SBA List is running a grassroots campaign in states with vulnerable pro-abortion senators up for re-election in 2018 in states favorable to common sense restrictions to otherwise liberal abortion laws.

My home state of Illinois just got a major setback of unprecedented proportion when Governor Bruce Rauner broke his promise to pro-life leaders and voters, state clergy and even Chicago’s Cardinal Archbishop Blase Cupich and signed into law the first binding legislation passed by an elected state official, ensuring that abortion will remain legal in the state of Illinois even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and that state taxpayers’ dollars will pay for abortion, violating consciences, and religious and other deeply held beliefs of citizens who have no say now.

At least, until the next election.

The impact of Obama silencing military chaplains

Enough was already enough with this administration trampling conscience rights and religious liberties protected in the Constitution. Than he clamped down on speech rights of Army chaplains, for crying out loud.

And this man wrote a book about audacity.

Obama silenced chaplains last weekend.

In Catholic churches across the country, parishioners were read letters from the pulpit this weekend from bishops in their diocese about the mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services giving Catholics a year before they’ll be required to start violating their consciences on insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. But not in the Army.

A statement released this afternoon — which happens to be the 67th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Dorchester, on which four chaplains lost their lives – from the Archdiocese for Military Services explains:

On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels. The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution.

The Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop’s letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit.  The Chief’s office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel.

Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants.
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Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop’s letter.  Additionally, the line: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law” was removed by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.

The AMS did not receive any objections to the reading of Archbishop Broglio’s statement from the other branches of service.

So not only were chaplains told not to read the letter, but an Obama administration official edited a pastoral letter . . . with church buy-in?

Didn’t people flee across an ocean-sized pond to be free of this kind of thing?

The news got around a bit, though not widely, that the military was telling chaplains what they could and couldn’t say about the administration.

All the bishops in the country sent out a letter to be read in their parishes promising that the Church “cannot-and will not-comply with this unjust law.”

Even Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who is in charge of Catholic military chaplains sent out the same letter. 

But after he did, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains sent out another communication forbidding Catholic priests to read the letter, in part because it seemed to encourage civil disobedience, and could be read as seditious against the Commander-in-Chief.

More than one Catholic chaplain who spoke to us off the record confirmed that many chaplains disobeyed this instruction and read the letter anyway. Others sought further instructions from their Archbishop.

Now after much behind-the-scenes bureaucratic wrangling, a new version of the letter will be read, one that was edited of the language about “unjust laws.”

A new statement issued this afternoon from Archbishop Broglio’s office acknowledged the interference this way:

“Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants.

“Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop’s letter.  Additionally, the line: “We cannot-we will not-comply with this unjust law” was removed by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.

It’s an issue that Catholic chaplains are taking very seriously in private. We obtained a confidential letter sent to the chaplains that  prepares priests to contact the Military Archdiocesan lawyer in case of more interference or any punishment.

“The Archdiocese believes that any attempt to keep a chaplain from freely teaching and preaching the Catholic faith, for which you were endorsed, is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.”

This story reached a higher profile in the news on Tuesday.

The Obama administration has been accused of telling Catholic military chaplains what they can and cannot say from their pulpits after the Army ordered Catholic chaplains not to read a letter to parishioners from their archbishop.

The Secretary of the Army feared the letter could be viewed as a call for civil disobedience.

The letter called on Catholics to resist the policy the Obama Administration’s policy that would force institutions affiliated with religious groups to provide coverage for birth control, sterilization and “abortifacients.” The Catholic Church believes the mandate represents an unconstitutional violation of freedom of religion.

This is blowing up on the Obama adminsitration. It’s ‘a bridge too far.’

“Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants,” read a statement provided to Fox News from the Archdiocese of the Military Services.

According to the AMS, Archbishop Broglio had a telephone conversation with Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

The issue raises a question among critics: did administration official tell the Catholic Church what it could and could not say in the pulpit?

It follows suit, after telling the Catholic Church what it could no longer do in practice according to its moral beliefs.

There were late reports Tuesday that the administration was starting to think about walking this back, after the blowup. That has yet to be determined. But this is going to loom large in the elections. Obama is losing the friends he had in the Church, and he can’t afford that.

The president of the Catholic Health Association, a trade group representing Catholic hospitals that defied church bishops to provide critical support for Obama’s health care law and is now fighting the birth control requirement, said she thinks the administration is starting to feel the pressure.

“I do know many people who care about this administration and this president and the good works that Catholic organizations have done are raising this issue,” said Sister Carol Keehan. “I do know the administration is concerned. This was never done with the intent of creating a huge problem for the Catholic Church, but it certainly ended up doing that.”

Stay tuned.

Obama tests faith boundaries

He won election with a slim majority of Catholic voters because enough progressives believed his policies aligned with social justice mandates of the Gospel. He just lost them with a mandate of his own.

The case his Department of Justice took before the Supreme Court was an audacious opening salvo. Now, his administration has launched an all-out assault on the church and believers and sympathizers.

Of the barrage of columns and articles and blog posts and commentaries on this, there are a few that stand out starkly for saying Obama’s Left Catholics. They deserve attention.

Ross Douthat in the New York Times:

When government expands, it’s often at the expense of alternative expressions of community, alternative groups that seek to serve the common good. Unlike most communal organizations, the government has coercive power — the power to regulate, to mandate and to tax. These advantages make it all too easy for the state to gradually crowd out its rivals…

Sometimes this crowding out happens gradually, subtly, indirectly. Every tax dollar the government takes is a dollar that can’t go to charities and churches. Every program the government runs, from education to health care to the welfare office, can easily become a kind of taxpayer-backed monopoly.

But sometimes the state goes further. Not content with crowding out alternative forms of common effort, it presents its rivals an impossible choice: Play by our rules, even if it means violating the moral ideals that inspired your efforts in the first place, or get out of the community-building business entirely.

This is exactly the choice that the White House has decided to offer a host of religious institutions — hospitals, schools and charities — in the era of Obamacare. The new health care law requires that all employer-provided insurance plans cover contraception, sterilization and the morning-after (or week-after) pill known as ella, which can work as an abortifacient. A number of religious groups, led by the American Catholic bishops, had requested an exemption for plans purchased by their institutions. Instead, the White House has settled on an exemption that only covers religious institutions that primarily serve members of their own faith.

Which absolutely everyone except HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius knows is not an exemption at all, nor even a fig leaf. It’s a sham.

The regulations are a particularly cruel betrayal of Catholic Democrats, many of whom had defended the health care law as an admirable fulfillment of Catholicism’s emphasis on social justice. Now they find that their government’s communitarianism leaves no room for their church’s communitarianism, and threatens to regulate it out of existence.

Critics of the administration’s policy are framing this as a religious liberty issue, and rightly so. But what’s at stake here is bigger even than religious freedom. The Obama White House’s decision is a threat to any kind of voluntary community that doesn’t share the moral sensibilities of whichever party controls the health care bureaucracy.

The Catholic Church’s position on contraception is not widely appreciated, to put it mildly, and many liberals are inclined to see the White House’s decision as a blow for the progressive cause. They should think again. Once claimed, such powers tend to be used in ways that nobody quite anticipated, and the logic behind these regulations could be applied in equally punitive ways by administrations with very different values from this one.

This is exceptionally keen insight on this ominous affront to sensibilities. Not to mention constitutionally protected liberties.

Michael Gerson in the Washington Post.

Catholic leaders are still trying to process the implications of this ambush. The president had every opportunity to back down from confrontation. In the recent ­Hosanna-Tabor ruling, a unanimous Supreme Court reaffirmed a broad religious autonomy right rooted in the Constitution. Obama could have taken the decision as justification for retreat.

And it would have been a minor retreat. The administration was on the verge of mandating nearly universal contraceptive coverage through Obamacare without public notice. There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions.

Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere. The religious exemption granted by Obamacare is narrower than anywhere else in federal law — essentially covering the delivery of homilies and the distribution of sacraments. Serving the poor and healing the sick are regarded as secular pursuits — a determination that would have surprised Christianity’s founder.

That’s not at all a stretch. As many have pointed out, this so-called ‘exemption’ wouldn’t even apply to Jesus.

But Gerson gets even more scathing.

Both radicalism and maliciousness are at work in Obama’s decision — an edict delivered with a sneer. It is the most transparently anti-Catholic maneuver by the federal government since the Blaine Amendment was proposed in 1875…

The implications of Obama’s choice will take years to sort through. The immediate impact can be measured on three men:

Consider Catholicism’s most prominent academic leader, the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. Jenkins took a serious risk in sponsoring Obama’s 2009 honorary degree and commencement address — which promised a “sensible” approach to the conscience clause. Jenkins now complains, “This is not the kind of ‘sensible’ approach the president had in mind when he spoke here.” Obama has made Jenkins — and other progressive Catholic allies — look easily duped.

Consider Catholicism’s highest-ranking elected official, Vice President Biden. Biden had encouraged engagement with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on conscience rights. Now he will be remembered as the Catholic cover for the violation of Catholic conscience. Betrayal is always an inside job.

Consider Catholicism’s most prominent clerical leader, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan had pursued a policy of engagement with the administration. In November, he met face to face with Obama, who was earnestly reassuring on conscience protections. On Jan. 20, during a less-cordial phone conversation, Obama informed Dolan that no substantial concession had been made. How can Dolan make the argument for engagement now?

The implications of Obama’s power grab go further than contraception and will provoke opposition beyond Catholicism. Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.

It is a deservedly blistering analysis, in the end.

The administration’s ultimate motivation is uncertain. Has it adopted a radical secularism out of conviction, or is it cynically appealing to radical secularists? In either case, the war on religion is now formally declared.

But it has produced a perhaps-not-foreseen upshot. Already.

Elizabeth Scalia explains.

With the administration’s decision, the covert culture of death has finally made a truly overt move against the culture of life. On one side, there is cheering. “Women’s groups” are happy. Anti-religionists, particularly those with an animus toward the Catholic church, are nearly delirious. On the other side, there is a grimness that is interesting in its unity, particularly as it is playing out in Catholic media. The furor of more conservative Catholics is unremarkable, but the reactions of the so-called “progressive” church may surprise some for the intensity of their disappointment. At the National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Winters—furious on behalf of those Catholics who “took some punches” for the sake of President Obama—declares he cannot, in good conscience, cast another vote Obamaward. He now suggests that the bishops chain themselves to the White House fence in order to bring attention to the direct assault this administration is making against the church’s constitutional right to its own conscience—its right to be what it is.

Before anyone on the ‘right’ goes off blaming their left-leaning co-religionists who helped usher this administration into power, consider:

…the laity—divided for decades on issues ranging from felt-banners to dress to dogma—has found a line in the sand upon which they can come together; “conservative” Catholics are reassured to see their more “progressive” brethren defending the church’s right to be who and what she is; more “progressive” Catholics may be coming to realize that—as relentlessly single-minded as some of their opponents could be—had they not held the line all these years, much could be crumbling at this moment.

Now is the time for all good Catholics to come to the aid of providers—the schools, hospitals, charities, and soup kitchens who serve communities in need without asking affiliations. And, in coming together, perhaps now is the time to ponder their long-held presumptions, each about the other, and broaden our own outreach as well.

If nothing else, in declaring war against our consciences, the Obama administration has given American Catholics a great gift of clarification; a fractious family we may be, but—as the saying goes—we are church. And we have the right to be who we are.

By God.

Plan B for the ages

Funny, what relativism does to public tolerance for acceptable behavior.

In the relatively recent past, the “morning after pill” was controversial for use by women of any age. See

Emergency contraceptives prevent a pregnancy by preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus. They are intended for use within 72 hours after sex, but are most effective if taken within 24 hours. Proponents say requiring a prescription can delay access to the drug. 

But opponents point out the biological fact that “preventing a fertilized egg from embedding in the uterus” de facto constitutes an abortifacent that ends the nascent human life. Call it a fertilized egg, but it’s the beginning of a pregnancy when a woman becomes a mother and, as Barack Obama pointed out in a Father’s Day talk to men just a few years ago, responsibility does not end at conception.

So the proponents of Plan B who want no delay in accessing the drug want to end any human life that resulted from any sexual activity. This reporting plays on the misperception that pregnancy begins only at implantation of the fertilized egg. When it comes to human biology, you can’t move the goal posts.

But proponents keep defining standards down.

In July 2009, Plan B was approved for use without a prescription for females aged 17 and older, but girls under 17 needed a prescription.

Because of this aggressive campaign to aid and abet the sexualization of young girls, today’s announcement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was frankly surprising.

The secretary of Health and Human Services overruled Wednesday a Food and Drug Administration recommendation that would have made the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B One-Step available over the counter to girls younger than 17.

Which is the first time I recall Sebelius acting against the forces driving to liberalize health laws and mandates to provide contraceptives, abortifacents and sterilizations to all ‘girls.’

The move by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came as a surprise, controverting the advice of her own experts.

The FDA, which had lowered the minimum age of girls accessing Plan B over-the-counter to 17 in April 2009, was poised to make a decision Wednesday to make the drug available to girls of any age. FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg in a statement said she had decided the drug was safe for young girls, but that the decision had been overruled by Sebelius…

In a memorandum explaining her decision, Sebelius expressed concern that the “label comprehension and actual use studies submitted to FDA do not include data on all ages for which the drug would be approved and available over-the-counter.”

“Yet,” she continues, “it is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this determination as to the non-prescription availability of this product for all ages.”

Popular pro-life writer Jill Stanek called the decision by the pro-abortion Sebelius “a shocking dose of sanity.”

Accurate description.

Human Life International President Father Shenan J. Boquet said the Plan B decision was “welcome,” but that his group remained “very concerned” about the impending birth control mandate.

“If this decision by Secretary Sebelius is truly about protecting the health of young women, then she will reconsider the HHS rule forcing private insurers and employers to pay for services to which they are diametrically opposed,” said Boquet.

“But, if this move is intended as a pragmatic one to alleviate concerns of those, such as the Catholic bishops, who are rightly concerned with her department’s activist promotion of contraception, then it will fail in its objective. The mandate must be reversed, and soon.”

At the moment, I’m sufficiently shocked by Sebelius’ decision to give her the benefit of the doubt. For all the leaps forward, this is only one step back. But one step in the right direction.

Obama shuts out the church, again

When he closed down the ‘faith-based initiatives’ office in the beginning of his presidency, it was an early warning.

Whoever missed it then, can’t help but see it now. It’s getting worse, fast.

The Washington Post is reporting this morning about a “contentious battle” emerging between Catholic groups and the Obama administration over a multitude of issues ranging from Obamacare, abortion, contraception, and even human trafficking.

What brought the fracas tumbling out into the street was apparently a decision by the Department of Health and Human Services three weeks ago not to renew a grant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to aid victims of sex trafficking. A five-year, $19 million grant, which expired in March, was first awarded to the USCCB in 2006 via President Bush’s faith based initiatives program.

The decision to deny funding to the USCCB by HHS, which is headed by pro-abortion Catholic Kathleen Sebelius, appears to have been based purely on political and ideological hostility.

One of the ideas that stuck with me from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink is intuitive repulsion. That came to mind reading this report. Came to mind again, that is. There have been many occasions.

A bone of contention with the Obama administration, which it admitted, was the bishops’ refusal to refer sex trafficking victims for contraception or abortion. HHS went on to split a new $4.5 million grant between three organizations that all scored “significantly below the Catholic bishops’ application by the review panel,” according to WashPo. Their threads of similarity were support for contraception and abortion.

To be sure, the bishops haven’t declared war on the administration. It’s the other way around.

Protect conscience rights from government threat

Given the expressed intent of the Founding Fathers in establishing a free, just and virtuous society, the importance of morality as its foundation, and their recourse to God from the beginning through recent history…it’s remarkable that we are in this battle now.

But some of our fundamental rights are under an unprecedented wave of assaults by raw federal and judicial power, so the gravity of the moment is sinking in.

The stunning power grab by HHS in mandating health insurance coverage of contraceptives and controversial FDA approved ‘morning-after’ drugs that work on the same mechanism as RU-486 abortifacents…all covered with no co-pay under the category of ‘preventive health care for women’…pushed the debate that started with the Obama healthcare legislation into a confrontation. Some high-profile Catholic supporters of ‘Obamacare’ have become alarmed at its latest implementation.

Like CHA head Sr. Carol Keehan.

The Catholic Health Association, in comments dated Sept. 23, also criticized the HHS proposal.

“Requiring our members to cover contraceptive services, including sterilization and drugs with an abortifacient effect, would put them in an untenable situation,” said Sister Carole Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO.

The proposed exemptions, she added, raise “serious constitutional questions” by trying to define if an organization is “sufficiently religious” to warrant the exemption. “The government is unconstitutionally parsing a bona fide religious organization into ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ components solely to impose burdens on the secular portion,” Sister Carol said.

They are false exemptions, frankly, that fool no one, as Sr. Carol Keehan proves by her criticism. They’re so ridiculously written, not even Jesus would qualify, says Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.

Jesus himself would not qualify for the Department of Health and Human Services “religious employer exemption” from its abortifacient contraceptive mandate, according to the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The HHS’s “religious employer exemption” is “so extremely narrow that it protects almost no one,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. “Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify as ‘religious enough’ for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.”

DiNardo was objecting to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requirement, which will go into effect in 2012, that all insurance programs nationwide cover all forms of contraception – including abortifacient drugs such as Plan B and Ella – and sterilization as “preventive services for women.” Under the mandate only faith-based institutions that serve members of the same faith would be able to claim an exemption – thereby excluding the large number of religious organizations that offer their services to people of any or no faith.

The remarks, in which the cardinal accused the HHS of “a distorted view of sexuality and a disdain for the role of religion,” were made as part of the USCCB’s 40th annual October observance of Respect Life Month.

“The decision [by HHS] is wrong on many levels,” the cardinal said. “Preventive services are aimed at preventing diseases (e.g., by vaccinations) or detecting them early to aid prompt treatment (e.g., screening for diabetes or cancer). But pregnancy is not a disease…. Mandating such coverage shows neither respect for women’s health or freedom, nor respect for the consciences of those who do not want to take part in such problematic initiatives,” he said.

I spoke with Cardinal DiNardo on my radio show, and he expressed the bishops’ fundamental concern about the whole effort to redefine the truths of the human person and marginalize beliefs that hold the sanctity and dignity of human life as central to everything else. Here are just some of the resources he and the USCCB provide for the defense of life and liberty, and they are abundant.

We talked about the morphing of ‘freedom of religion’ into ‘freedom of worship’, which mean very different things. The difference means, to re-state the threat at hand, driving religiously informed voices from the public debate over social moral issues. It’s happening, and he emphasized the need to resist it, and that starts by recognizing that its happening in the first place.

After Cardinal DiNardo, I spoke with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, co-author of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act in Congress. He couldn’t stress public involvement in this effort enough, and I was struck by his fervent appeal and sobering outlook. HR 1179 isn’t gaining the attention it needs because short of alternative media, it’s being conveniently ignored. And calling or writing members of Congress is only one action, Fortenberry said. It’s going to require so much more, and I was struck by what he said. Startled, really.

Fortenberry said in the Capitol, he frequently sees great numbers of young, vibrant and attractive young people zealously engaged in a cause and filling the halls of congressional offices with their messages. This happens regularly, he said, and I’m picturing a positive image of those zealous young pro-lifers who fill the Mall of Washinton every year for the March for Life. Yes, he said, that’s a great event and yes, they come out in droves and hundreds of thousands and it’s so heartening to see that on that day each year.

But it’s one day a year, and then they disappear. The young people he’s so used to seeing engaged in activism in the halls of congressional offices are wearing pink with signs advocating for Planned Parenthood. They are turning out in great numbers on a regular basis, and the pro-life movement is not. This is tough love, but it’s true. The success of a movement is determined by its staying power in public activism, and it’s tough to see and to hear that the abortion supporters are present in far greater numbers on a regular basis than pro-life supporters.

I don’t know about the show’s listeners, but I was jarred into realizing this is going to take a whole new level of activism Congressman Fortenberry proposed. No…urged. Contact your elected representatives, yes. And then spread the message to your groups, networks, organizations, friends and associations. Put up links in your social networks. Spread information, rally people to gatherings and take some action to defend and protect human dignity and fundamental rights of conscience and religious liberty.

It’s not going to happen unless people of faith and moral conviction are all in. Not participating is not an option. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s un-American to say it’s not going to make a difference. That’s a self-fulfilling prohesy.

During the show today, I recalled Congressman Henry Hyde’s reference to the quote: ‘Not only for every idle threat, but for every idle silence will man be made to render an account.’ Silence is not an option.

(Here’s the radio interview for October 4th.)