President Obama’s mandate compelling Catholic institutions to provide contraception and abortion drugs is receiving shockingly high support from liberals. That being the case, I ask liberals: Do you really want to go down this road of banning conscience exemptions?
Think about it. How many liberals extolled the right of conscientious objection during the Vietnam War? During times of mandatory military service, this nation has mercifully granted conscientious objection. If you were convinced, based on your faith in particular, that war was wrong, you had the option to not participate. I could fill this page with Catholic monks and priests who publicly defended that right during Vietnam, from Thomas Merton to the Berrigan brothers. They were heroes of liberals for taking that stand.
In fact, here, too, the Catholic Church, as an institution, has a lot to say.
Forty years ago, the Second Vatican Council issued a Declaration on Religious Freedom affirming that Catholics are duty-bound to faithfully follow not the dictates of government but their conscience. The Church’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World states that governments cannot compel a citizen to engage in military service if that person is convinced that physical combat is sinful. The Church condemns “blind obedience” to unjust regimes that commit unjust actions.
Popes and bishops and theologians before and after have consistently reaffirmed these positions. The Catechism states that, “Citizens are obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order.” Quoting the New Testament, the Catechism states: “We must obey God rather than men.”
Importantly, though I’ve cited Catholic teaching, millions of non-Catholics follow these principles, from Quakers to the Amish to the Mennonites.
Conscientious objection is a precious right in this nation.
Have so-called “abortion rights” become so sacred to liberals that they are willing to sacrifice conscience exemptions at the altar of Roe v. Wade? Do they really want to head down this road? I suggest they stop and think hard about what they’re advocating.