Morning Musings for Sunday, April 7, 2012 – Easter and Freedom
I am a Catholic, but I practice my faith in my own way. I’m not a church-goer, nor do I wear my faith on my sleeve. Religion for me is private and personal. I’ve known too many people in my life who never miss Mass, and belong to every Church society, but when it comes to helping a neighbor, or waving a hand in a friendly hello, they’re nowhere to be found.
This year, I look at Easter Sunday differently. It has the same religious meaning for those of faith that it’s had for 2012 years. But, given this year’s Obamacare mandate on contraception, and this morning’s column, “What Would Jesus do at the Masters?“, by New York Time’s columnist, Maureen Dowd, I’m feeling more uneasy about not only individual religious freedom but individual freedom, in general.
I’m one of millions of Americans who believe our country is “exceptional.” When you consider that we are a nation of people, comprised of immigrants from every country and culture, in this world, and we live together, for the most part, peaceably, that’s truly remarkable.
But as much as we are a nation of inclusion, and some would like to achieve the utopian “one big happy family,” we instead are coming closer and closer to the “tyranny of the majority” as eloquently and presciently written in John Stuart Mill’s essay, “On Liberty.”
The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion.
Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them;
Easter Sunday is the greatest religious holiday in all of Catholicism and Christianity, because the Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith. And, the tenets of that faith, for Catholics, whether involving contraception, abortion, the sacraments, are interpreted by the Pope through 2000 years of religious faith and history, and implemented through the Church’s cardinals and priests. Many Catholics, including me, don’t always agree with the edicts. We selectively choose to obey those which our individual conscience and circumstances dictate, and we privately make peace with our God.
The Catholic Church and other Christian faiths are increasingly coming under the microscope and scorn of secularism, in the name of inclusion and political correctness. We must not offend anyone, and everyone must belong. But in this spirit of equality and “fairness”, that word that has invaded every day lexicon, we are in danger of losing our individual right to believe, to associate, and to the protections under our Constitution, of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Maureen Dowd is sarcastically vehement in her denunciation of Augusta National Golf Club, calling on companies who sponsor the Masters to cut ties until women are allowed membership. It’s not that women are denied golfing at Augusta, they’re probably on the course every day. But, it is club policy that women cannot hold individual memberships. Augusta is a private club, and its policy decisions are subject to its membership and its Board. If they choose to carry on that policy, it is their right to do so, without being held up to virulent public scorn and undue pressure as exhibited by Ms. Dowd.
We also are witness to the personal tragedy of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, both of whom have been tried in the court of media and public opinion. Their individual rights as human beings have been excoriated repeatedly, before all facts are known.
There is a reason why our currency, our courts, and our Capitol, bear the words In God We Trust. This Easter Sunday, hopefully brings a renewed effort to respect religion, because when you respect religion, you respect the rights and freedom of the individual.
So what would Jesus do at the Masters? Well, Maureen, He’s probably deciding whose prayers to answer for a hole in one.