Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty
Priest Director, Prayer, and Adoration
TRUMP WHITE HOUSE
I don’t get political in my columns, and this will be no exception. This isn’t about politics; it’s about the Catholic faith. This month’s election of Donald J. Trump to the Office of the President of the United States calls for a refresher in how that office can affect the Catholic Church in America. Eight years ago, when Barak Obama was elected President, one could hardly imagine a scenario where the Little Sisters of the Poor would be forced to argue at the Supreme Court of the United States that their religious beliefs precluded their providing abortifacients and birth control to their employees, but that is what happened in May of this year, and the case is still pending. Over the last 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has protected Americans from paying for abortions as a form of healthcare, but the platform of Hillary Clinton called for it to be overturned. In fact, at a women’s conference last year Secretary Clinton stated that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” Imagine that. Catholics have to change our belief in the sanctity of life and the immorality of birth control?
How do we, as Catholics respond to such assaults on our faith? Initially, let’s recall that the First Amendment to the Constitution doesn’t give us “freedom to worship” as Secretary Clinton stated in her concession speech after the November 8 election. No, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Calling the free exercise of religion “freedom to worship” is telling Catholics that they are free to exercise their beliefs within the confines of their churches, but not in the Public Square. Beginning with Roe vs. Wade, and more recently with Obama’s Transgender Mandate, many of the actions of our government have eroded our ability to exercise our faith.
As Catholics, we recognize that certain rights are given to us by the government, and certain rights are given to us by God. The government has given us the right to a free education in public schools, the right to have a lawyer to protect us in court, and the right to petition the government, among others. But God himself gave us life and the right to act according to our conscience.
So in the current environment, what can President Trump do to protect the Catholic Church?
(1) President Trump can appoint a Supreme Court Justice who believes in a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and doesn’t treat it as a “living, breathing document that can ‘evolve’ over time.” The Declaration of Independence recognized that certain rights come from God, and are inalienable. One of those is life, and life, as any biology textbook can tell you, begins at conception.
(2) President Trump can work to repeal the mandate in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that requires employers to provide contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees. Although “church organizations” have been exempt, no one who is morally opposed to contraception and abortion should be forced to violate their conscience.
(3) President Trump can appoint cabinet officials who truly believe in the “free exercise of religion.” This right has been reviewed in the Supreme Court many times, however, in September of this year the Obama Administration’s head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights shockingly stated that: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”
(4) President Trump can call for a national law prohibiting euthanasia. As a priest, I am frequently involved in the hospice process whereby a person is allowed to die with dignity and without pain. Oregon passed a law on assisted suicide in 1997, and Colorado did the same thing this election day. This “movement” denigrates the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, and has resulted in tragic consequences in other countries, even pressuring senior citizens to assisted suicide so that they won’t be a “burden.”
(5) President Trump can immediately reverse Obama’s mandates making “gender identity” a protected class. The effect of this mandate is that people claiming to “identify” as a gender different from their biological gender can claim the right to use public bathrooms of the opposite gender. Even further, they can force doctors to perform “gender transition” surgery against the doctor’s medical opinion. It is an accepted fact, and confirmed by the latest psychiatric research at Johns Hopkins University, that “transgenderism” is a mental illness, not a “class” that needs protection.
(6) President Trump can create a national religious exemption to state and local anti-discrimination laws that require Catholic adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples.
(7) And finally, President Trump can work with Congress to redirect educational dollars to parents and gives them the right to send their children to the school of their choice, even if the school is Catholic. Due to the budgetary realities of Catholic parochial schools, many parents cannot afford them, and their only alternative is a public school devoid of the mention of God and traditional morality.
Although every form of government will present challenges to Catholics who live their faith in an honest way, the Obama administrations actions have been especially challenging. And that’s why, we, as Catholics are called to work in the Public Square to protect our rights, and the rights that God has given to each of His children.