Big Brother tells Church to pay up — or get buried in fines

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Years ago when our five children were small, my husband and I managed to keep them insulated from the corrupting influence of the pagan society in which we live. They had never heard the word “stupid” and no one had ever uttered the words “shut up” in their presence.

This led to some amusing instances in which they attempted to insult each other when annoyed. “You door!” one brother wailed to his elder brother once during a quarrel. “You window!” his brother responded crossly. Years later, I still laugh about it. Their family, their faith and their friends were all they knew. The kids had grown up in pristine Catholicity, lived out in nightly prayers, hymns and Bible stories.

Then came school, albeit Catholic school. They began to hear some of the other voices in our culture, some of them not so Catholic. The older ones heard their classmates listening to rap music.

My husband and I checked the lyrics for some of this so-called music on the Internet and found less-than-wholesome fare. We were not amused.

“But it’s only a couple bad words,” one son whined. “Not all the words are bad!”

My husband had a clever response. “Suppose someone gives you a warm pan of brownies, fresh from the oven. You’re all set to have your delicious brownie when the baker informs you that there is a drop — just a drop, mind you — of poison in the mix. Would you still eat the brownies?”

Came the response: Of course not.

Unjust law

So it is with the enormous controversy over Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is 2,500 pages long, and while Catholics can argue over the best way to deliver health care in this country — as in who should pay for it and how — that’s not the issue under the microscope.

The primary problem the Church has with the Affordable Care Act is what’s buried inside: abortion funding via “contributions” and the HHS contraceptive mandate.

But it’s only a small portion of the law — right? There’s so much good in there — right? Again, we could enter into legitimate debate about the nuts and bolts of health care.

Beware the drop of poison.

I spent almost a week interviewing lawyers, businessmen and Church leaders about the fines that will be imposed on those who refuse to cooperate with the HHS contraceptive mandate. You can read about it on page 1.

What is stunning to me is that while there’s been outrage in Catholic circles over the mandate, there hasn’t been much light shed on the devastating fines which will be imposed on the businesses and institutions that refuse to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

The world takes notice and scores are killed when certain members of a non-Christian religion (I’m almost afraid to name names) take offense at an Internet video or cartoon. Heads roll, literally.

But an unjust law that will destroy businesses and cripple Catholic institutions gets scant ink. A couple lawyers I spoke with agree that the word “fine” doesn’t begin to describe the financial implications of the refusal to comply with Big Brother’s demands. EWTN predicts it could face $12 million annually in fines; Notre Dame University, $9 million. Think there’s room in the budget for that?

Here’s an analogy: If you get a speeding ticket for $150, you’ll think twice before you engage your lead foot. But if speeding results in a fine of $15,000, the government has basically confiscated your car and your ability to get to work. Most people I know don’t have an extra $15,000 lying about for the payment of draconian fines. I’ve heard of “convert or die,” but this policy is more like “comply or die.”

Let us all pray that this unjust law will be found unconstitutional and that the American people will elect leaders who zealously guard our right to practice our faith without harassment and persecution from government.

I fear for my children, now nearly grown, who must live in a country where Catholics will no longer be free to practice our faith.

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