Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
On May 13, the Obama administration imposed its secular ideology by mandating access to restrooms, not on the basis of biological sex, but on the basis of gender identity. Men who define themselves as women may now use women’s restrooms and women who consider themselves men may make use of the men’s restrooms. This presidential intrusion into the common sense decency norms of American society was not enough. The government decided to change our society even more radically.
On the very same day as the president was trumpeting his view that sexual identity is merely a social construct, thus granting each individual the right to make his or her own choice of what sex they wish to be, the president’s administration enacted a draconian measure that, in effect, strips individuals of their right to act according to their conscience. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued the final rule implementing of Section 1557 of the Affordable Health Care Act.
The new rule states that a person can claim to be male or female, or both, or neither or anything in between. In every case, a doctor must treat the patient according to the patient’s own definition of his or her sexuality. Otherwise, the doctor or institution faces the charge of discrimination.
The consequences of this new ruling are devastating for health care providers at every level. Individuals whose religious beliefs are at variance with the new ruling have no legal option. They must comply. As a result, a Catholic hospital or a hospital sponsored by a particular Christian denomination that holds to the teaching of Sacred Scripture on human sexuality will find itself embroiled in lawsuits when it refuses to operate on a woman to turn her into a man. Such a refusal will be judged in violation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Health Care Act. And, the doctors who refuse to take part in the operation will face discrimination charges as well.
In line with the government’s ever-increasing encroachment of the rights of the individual, on June 21, the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights made another ill-conceived and sinister decision. It ruled that, in the State of California, previously existing plans that exclude abortion are a form of discrimination. As a result, churches in California must pay for abortions. Religious freedom trampled beneath the feet of secularistic ideologues!
In reality, when most people quietly go about their lives, earning a living and caring for their families, there continues the ruthless campaign to re-engineer the values upon which America was founded. The Obama administration would not exempt the Little Sisters of the Poor from providing abortifacients to those whom they serve. The sisters had to appeal to the Supreme Court to guarantee their religious freedom. That a politician belonging to any political party can publicly advocate for taking the life of the child in the womb up until the day of the child’s birth and be applauded signals the tragic success of those who reject the sanctity of life and the design of God for his creation.
Society has made major advances in non-discrimination, equal rights and tolerance. Unfortunately, the very language that guarantees some people the acceptance that they deserve has become the weapon to eradicate from our society a basic Christian morality on the sanctity of life, the Creator’s gift of human sexuality and marriage. The recent rulings of government agencies have moved society away from accepting diversity. These mandates enshrined the current ideology of the secularistic state. There is no room for any objection based on one’s religious beliefs or one’s own conscience. One can only wonder what will happen to a country that allows the tyranny of the state to displace its Christian morality.