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The Church as Conscientious Objector?

In response to the religious and moral insensitivity of the recently publicized federal mandate requiring religious institutions to include life terminating and contraceptive procedures as part of employer provided healthcare the face of the conscientious objector has changed.

This change has resulted in many of the most charitable religious and social organizations such as Catholic Charities being morally forced to declare a conscientious objection defense that possibly puts them in defiance of federal law.

America’s most philanthropic organizations are being forced by this short sighted and insensitive mandate to face the unnecessary possibility of “political extinction” in order to observe their constitutionally protected religious rights.

The irony of this evolution is that one of the most moral and ethical bulwarks within American society “the Church” is being forced to defy the very laws and legal protections that most religious organizations rely upon for their constitutionally protected freedoms.

The Obama Administration’s actions in connection with the implementation of the “Affordable Care Act,” which unfortunately includes this contentious mandate is short sighted at best, and constitutionally worrisome in the broadest sense of the term.

Catholic-based religious organizations that include the various Orthodox rites and jurisdictions have a long and revered religious tradition that opposes non-life threatening extinction of human life by such means as abortion, sterilization and similar are understandably at odds with this approach to “affordable health care,” which supports providing life enhancing procedures for one human, while accelerating the demise of another.

This mandate leaves no alternative for the Church but to become a “Conscientious Objector” not just as individuals, but as a universal religious being composed of many colors and hues, as well as religious traditions of many fabrics and languages reminiscent of the Apostle Paul’s “one body” metaphor (Romans 12:5).

Consequently, this unfortunate act of our Federal Government has resulted in pitting those religious institutions against the legal authorities to which they look for constitutional protection against just such unfair and questionably ethical intrusion and violation.  Just as many patriotic Americans were forced to declare themselves as “conscientious objectors” in the recent past, sadly today this has also become necessary.

The question is whether it will prove to be politically expedient for the Obama Administration in its zeal to court political favor with a few well financed groups to bankrupt organizations who have so faithfully served those in need?  Will American history record the deliberate assault against one of the most celebrated constitutional protections as the seminal act of President Obama’s presidency that also ushered in the extinction of American religious freedom?

About Scholarios Gennadius

Scholarios Gennadius
+Metropolitan Scholarios-Gennadius III, OSB Protohierarch Œcumenical Canonical Orthodox Church Worldwide Archbishop New York & East Coast of America Metropolitan-Archbishop, The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church San Rafael, California/Washington, DC

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