Wednesday, 12 November 2008
Will Obama Silence Criticism and Suppress the US Church?
Under the Obama administration, will Fr Pavone be able to speak out?
New President-Elect, Barack Obama, is still riding the crest of a wave of popularity in the United States, even worldwide. The Church in the US, however, is undoubtedly gearing up for mobilising countrywide opposition to Obamas plans for total liberalisation of abortion law and embryology bills. The US Bishops are meeting to discuss how the Church should confront the new administration on abortion.
When we talk of liberty, so often we think of the United States. The US, however, has always, because of its roots in Christianity been deeply uncomfortable with the notion that abortion is an act of 'liberty' or of 'freedom' because it always denies these inalienable rights to the unborn child. This is one case where the 'right' of the individual to have an abortion is totally at odds with the right of the individual in the womb who is utterly dependent on the mercy and love of the mother, the father and those with a duty of care to the unborn child.
It is worrying therefore that Obama is preparing (still, yet to assume his role in the White House) to hit the ground running on both abortion law, embryology and, interestingly, the right to free speech. Bit by bit, successive US administrations have been encroaching upon the liberty of US citizens, with phone-tapping scandals that emerged from the Bush administration, to the assumption of more and more executive powers to the President under the Patriot Act and now Obama will instigate a bill which is totally at odds with the US Constitution. While nobody of good will applauds the vitriol and nonsense that comes from racism, xenophobia or homophobia, the US, much like the UK has always had profound sense that free speech is a God-given gift. To enshrine in law the removal of a person's right to criticise anyone with whom one disagrees is anathema to the Constitution.
The following is from prisonplanet.com: 'President-elect Barack Obama prioritizes passage of the freedom-stealing Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. High-level Democrats are also eager to limit free speech in media with the Fairness Doctrine. Earlier liberals, especially during the 60s and 70s, championed unbridled freedom of speech and expression. But Obama and “new liberals” encourage the opposite: hate and bias laws which restrict and even criminalize criticism of federally protected groups such as Jews and homosexuals.'
If these laws were applied to those who speak out against abortion law and gay marriage, i.e the Church, the US Church would be in for trouble. It is true that the secular agenda is gaining more and more strength in the UK, Europe and the US and for that agenda to be enshrined in federal law, for all the Church, is deeply worrying. Persecution of the Church is at the moment very subtle in the West and often we think that the freedom of the Church to speak out is safe. Unlike in Iraq or India, churches are not being torched and Catholics are not being martyred in the West. However, one of the more sinister aspects of Government is the power to make proclaiming the Gospel illegal. I would posit that that is where both the US and the UK are headed. There is enough loose language in the Terrorist Act (the one we used against those frightening Icelanders) in the UK and the anti-terrorism leglislation already laid down in the US for groups that upset the status quo. At what point does someone speaking out against enforced secularism become an 'unlawful enemy combatant'.
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