The distinctive principle of Western social philosophy is individualism.
It aims at the creation of a sphere in which the individual is free to think, to choose, and to act without being restrained by the interference of the social apparatus of coercion and oppression, the State. All the spiritual and material achievements of Western civilization were the result of the operation of this idea of liberty.
– Ludwig von Mises
In order to strengthen democracy and restore freedom in America, it is imperative that every American have the liberty to contemplate, believe, associate, communicate, exchange, labor and own the fruits of his or her labor.
Catholics Sue for Freedom
An extremely powerful coalition of Catholic organizations have sued the federal government because ObamaCare mandates that Catholic institutions must provide contraceptive coverage to their employees. Invoking the freedom of religion and citing the First Amendment, a website representing the plaintiffs explains:
“This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference.”
The Archdiocese states the following on the site:
“It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to facilitate and fund services which violate their religious beliefs.”
The federal government has unleashed its oppressive power against these charities to enforce a political agenda. Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS (Health and Human Services) claimed, to protect women’s health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.
Prior to the ObamaCare mandates, Glendon cites two incidents where the government threatened to withhold financial grants from charities that did not abide by government’s political dictates.
Like most Americans, the bishops have long taken for granted the religious freedom that has enabled this nation’s diverse religions to flourish in relative harmony. But over the past year they have become increasingly concerned about the erosion of conscience protections for church-related individuals and institutions. Their top-rated program for assistance to human trafficking victims was denied funding for refusing to provide “the full range of reproductive services,” including abortion. For a time, Catholic Relief Services faced a similar threat to its international relief programs. The bishops fear religious liberty is becoming a second-class right.
Thus, the Catholic schools and charities are suing for “…the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference…” Realize, most if not all of these schools and charities continue to seek government money to support their missions. For the last couple of decades, these benevolent institutions have been increasingly relying on taxpayers’ money. At least indirectly, these institutions have encouraged the expansion of taxes to finance their missions.
Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian economist and one of the great thinkers of the 20th Century, understood the perils of coerced philanthropy.
Government is not, as some people like to say, a necessary evil; it is not an evil, but a means, the only means available to make peaceful human coexistence possible. But it is the opposite of liberty. It is beating, imprisoning, hanging. Whatever a government does it is ultimately supported by the actions of armed constables. If the government operates a school or a hospital, the funds required are collected by taxes, i.e., by payments exacted from the citizens.
Presently, the federal government is intentionally trampling on the freedoms of very powerful charities and schools. Simultaneously, the government taxes and mandates are restricting the freedom of every American. Without a doubt, the increased taxes extracted from the taxpayers reduces the freedom to choose and to act. Additionally, ObamaCare mandates forced on individuals and businesses restrict the freedom of every individual to think, to choose, and to act. These coercive taxes and mandates will greatly impact the culture and character of America. Again, von Mises:
The distinctive principle of Western social philosophy is individualism.It aims at the creation of a sphere in which the individual is free to think, to choose, and to act without being restrained by the interference of the social apparatus of coercion and oppression, the State. All the spiritual and material achievements of Western civilization were the result of the operation of this idea of liberty.
The lawsuit filed by these powerful Catholic institutions is a serious and extremely important challenge to imperious government. Initially, religious leaders of all faiths must realize that their advocating for more government programs and financial grants has expanded the power of government. These spiritual leaders must reflect, debate and articulate a means of controlling governments oppressive powers.
Hopefully, the leaders of faith-based institutions will recognize the importance of individualism – the individual is free to think, to choose, and to act without being restrained by the interference of the social apparatus of coercion and oppression of the State. Hopefully, many religious leaders will support a smaller, limited and community focused government, which is essential for personal freedom.