The lesson of the scandals that are engulfing the Obama administration is simple: Leaders who don’t protect our most important rights can’t be trusted to protect our other rights, either.
Our rights go together, starting with the right to life:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Barack Obama probably started opposing the right to life in a seemingly harmless way, as so many people do. But the compassionate feelings behind “choice” mask an ugly reality: To be pro-choice is to say that the right to life is not the sacred possession of a human being, however helpless, but is a privilege that the powerful grant the weak at will.
It didn’t take long before legislator Obama had gone from “pro-choice” to spending years protecting the killing of babies who are born alive.
Once you have decided that you have power over the right to life, the other rights quickly fall.
The Obama administration went after conscience rights next, demanding that Catholic organizations violate their consciences and pay for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. It was an outrageous move that scared non-Catholics, too. But that wasn’t all: His administration also barred Catholic groups from serving refugee and human trafficking victims unless they violated their consciences and performed abortions.
Then he took a position on gay marriage that would declare believers of all four major religions bigots because their consciences tell them that the ages-old definition of marriage is true. Ironically, the first African-American president’s policies have the effect of declaring Martin Luther King Jr. a bigot because his conscience rejected the morality of homosexual sex acts.
After shunting aside the right to life and the right to conscience, the other rights fell quickly.
His Department of Justice has undermined the freedom of the press.
His Internal Revenue Service has attacked the right to political speech.
Then, completing the “Big Brother” picture, the same administration started a “Boundless” surveillance on just about everyone.
We should have known better. Our rights can never be something we can take for granted — not when slavery was the issue, not when women’s right to vote was the issue, not when civil rights protection was the issue.
In the year 2000 Pope John Paul II warned Washington leaders at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast that all of our rights would fall if the right to life fell: “I would go so far as to say that [our] task is to save democracy from self-destruction. Democracy is our best opportunity to promote the values that will make the world a better place for everyone, but a society which exalts individual choice as the ultimate source of truth undermines the very foundations of democracy.”
In the year 2008, Pope Benedict XVI told president Bush: “The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. … [F]reedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good.”
We can lose freedom easily and quickly.
A free society can’t survive a government that harasses its political enemies. Self-government can’t last if people are not allowed to govern themselves according to their consciences. And liberty becomes tyranny when the powerful give themselves the right to kill the weak.