Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Government to Arrest Eucharistic Ministers?

A friend writes:

A recent discussion I was having with a friend who couldn’t understand why Catholics are so mad at Obama.   He Writes:

 On contraception mandate:

Antonin Scalia said himself in "Employment Division vs Smith, 1990" that religious liberty is insufficient grounds for being exempt from laws.

 If so, there would be nothing to stop me from forming my own religion that requires me to on peyote at all hours of the day. Scalia says that putting religious liberty over universal laws, "would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself."

Do you have a response?  Maybe about the case--maybe not--but even better the reductio argument he presented.....   he raised a good point, I think.  What is a good response ( I am struggling with this myself)

Any help you can offer would be appreciated,

Putting it into context helps. Also your friend's information is a little misleading. For one, there is no mention as to whether this is the majority or minority opinion.  However, let us assume it is the majority opinion.

Peyote, a kind of hallucinogenic, is an illegal substance; however, it is usable to a limited degree in the Native American Church for non-recreational religious purposes.  This was decided in 1991 by the 5th circuit court in the case "Peyote Way Church of God v. Thornburgh."

The Native American use of peyote in religious rituals predates the founding of the United States and America.  Likewise, the Catholic Church has had a consistent ethic on its teaching prohibiting the use of birth control and abortion.  A late first or early second century document know as the Didache -- but whose full title is The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations -- states, "You shall not practice birth control, you shall not murder a child by abortion, nor kill what is begotten” What the government seems to ignore is the Catholic Church's prohibition is not a mere idea coined in the 1960 by "Humane Vitae."  It is a long deeply held belief that human life at any stage of development is valuable.

The fact of the matter is that the government has a historical precedence of making exceptions for religions.   For instance, even during prohibition the government allowed certain amounts of wine to be made, distributed, and consumed specifically for religious purposes.  Another example can be likened to Catholics who administer to minors the Body or Christ under the species of wine. The Catholic Church is except from the law that forbids providing alcohol to minors when done in the context of the Mass.  The real question is will the current government be consistent in what has been allowed in the past?  Will the federal government continue to allow of Churches to be exempt from certain laws?

If they are going to not allow this HHS-contraception-abortion mandate exemption then the government should not allow any exemptions for religion for any reason, and the government should begin arresting Eucharistic ministers who administer wine to minors.

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