by Quin Hillyer
While many differences exist in doctrine and/or points of emphasis among Christian denominations, some articles of faith remain consistent, and inviolable, for all Christians of traditionalist beliefs. Some of these points of agreement have important applications in the realm of public policy (and, by extension, in practical politics as well). Many of these points of agreement are firmly rooted in the sanctity of innocent human life. In today’s political realm, these commonalities certainly converge in the righteous battle against the “HHS mandate” that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, even against the tenets of those employers’ faiths.
Consider a document of great significance for Roman Catholics. Published in 2004, it is called the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Explaining that the compendium is offered “to all people of good will, as food for human and spiritual growth,” it continues: “The principles of the Church's social doctrine, which are based on the natural law, are then seen to be confirmed and strengthened, in the faith of the Church, by the Gospel of Christ.”
It is a lengthy document, hundreds of pages long. One section, however, bears special attention for the purposes of public policy. Called “The Specification of Rights,” this section is introduced by a passage that reminds us of the same truths the Declaration of Independence recognizes: “The ultimate source of human rights is not found in the mere will of human beings, in the reality of the State, in public powers, but in man himself and in God his Creator.” To repeat: Rights come not from government, but from God.
Now, here comes the absolutely essential element for purposes of debates in today’s United States. When it comes to actually listing those rights, a clear order of rank applies (with my emphases added):
“The first right presented in this list is the right to life, from conception to its natural end, which is the condition for the exercise of all other rights and, in particular, implies the illicitness of every form of procured abortion and of euthanasia. Emphasis is given to the paramount value of the right to religious freedom: “all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” The respect of this right is an indicative sign of “man's authentic progress in any regime, in any society, system or milieu’.”
The first and most important rights, therefore, are the right to life, without which no other right can exist, and the right to religious freedom, so we can give glory to God in celebration of this great gift of life.
The key thing to understand is that it is not only the Catholic Church that holds these priorities. In terms of rights, the primacy of life and religious liberty is also true for Baptists, Pentecostals, traditionalist-conservative Anglicans, and other Christian denominations. (For that matter, some strains of Judaism are like-minded as well, except that of course they don’t view these rights in the context of the overarching duty to recognize Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.)
Unfortunately, the HHS mandate is a direct assault against the very apex where these two great rights, to life and religious liberty, come together. The mandate forces financing for the destruction of the most innocent of all human life, depriving such life of the right even to exist – and it denies to the faithful the right to refuse to participate, according to the dictates of their faith, in this gravest of sins. Liberty and life are both seriously and directly undermined by the HHS mandate – and, despite some media accounts of the issue, it is not only Catholics whose rights are being trampled.
In fact, just this week, on Oct. 9, East Texas Baptist University (EBTU) and Houston Baptist University jointly filed a federal lawsuit to block the mandate. It is the 32nd such suit to have been filed. EBTU President Dub Oliver explained:
“As the famous Baptist preacher George W. Truett once remarked, ‘A Baptist would rise at midnight to plead for absolute religious liberty for his Catholic neighbor, and for his Jewish neighbor and for everybody else.’ We are rising today to ensure that religious liberty, the first freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, is protected and preserved.”
All American citizens should recognize the importance of this battle. All voters should take it into account as well. If this mandate is not overturned at the polls or in the courts, the essential nature of the entire American experiment could effectively be aborted.
About The Contributor
Quin Hillyer is a Senior Fellow for The Center for Individual Freedom, a Senior Editor for the American Spectator magazine, and a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mobile. He has won mainstream awards for journalistic excellence at the local, state, regional and national levels. He has been published professionally in well over 50 publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, Investors Business Daily, National Review, the Weekly Standard, Human Events, and The New Republic Online. He is a former editorial writer and columnist for the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, the Mobile Register, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and a former Managing Editor of Gambit Weekly in New Orleans. He has appeared dozens of times as a television analyst in Washington DC, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and as a guest many hundreds of times on national and local radio shows.