J.R. Dunn tries putting Barack Obama’s initiation of war against the Catholic Church into the proper large-scale perspective.
It seems that Obama, in a classic act of hubris, has created the means of his own destruction. Through his great historical contribution, his health care bill, he has struck what was surely intended to be a lethal blow against the oldest organization on earth — an organization with something on the order of a billion members, with a cadre of hundreds of thousands of highly trained and dedicated personnel, and a history of overcoming political threats that make Obama look like a kindergartner.
I’m referring, of course, to the Catholic Church. Now, I don’t mean that the Archangel Gabriel will appear out of the East to scourge the administration with a blazing sword, though I would pay to see that. What I’m saying is that Obama has at last taken the step that we all knew he had in him, the ultimate act of arrogance and contempt that will bring the forces of history down upon him.
The left has always underestimated the Catholic Church. “How many divisions has the pope?” Stalin once asked Molotov, mocking the Church’s powerlessness in the modern era. He was not around to see John Paul II rend the Bolshevik kingdom in twain at the climax of the Cold War, utilizing the only forces he required: moral certainty and absolute faith in the divine mission. Most American leftists are a little different, viewing the Church as an anachronism, obsessed with medieval ideas having no place in the third millennium and populated with strange figures in outmoded clothing, if not with an endless parade of child-molesters.
What they overlook is two thousand years of history. An organization does not survive for that length of time — and no other organization has — without internalizing things not completely understood by even the deepest thinkers among us. The Church survived the fall of Rome, the barbarians, the first Muslim upsurge, several schisms, the Renaissance princes, the 20th-century totalitarians, and its own plunges into decadence, and it will also survive modernism. Which is in fact what it confronts in Obama: a man of vast though superficial sophistication and little insight who has punched all the tickets available to him in his epoch and culture and truly believes there is nothing else. And now this man, afraid of revealing his own college transcripts, thinks he can take on the Church of Peter, founded a millennium before the appearance of any nation now existing on this earth.
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Mr. Dunn is right. The Catholic Church and the general community of American Catholics represent a formidable political adversary. But I think that, in attacking the basic principle of Freedom of Religion, in striking at the authentic principle of separation of church and state, Barack Obama has additionally declared war on the Constitution and the core founding principles of the American Republic.
The left can spin and quibble and manipulate, but this particular issue, this particular test of political principle, is not, in the end, spinnable or winnable.
Obama’s policy decision clearly identifies him as a radical extremist, perfectly willing to tear up the most basic tenets of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights when they come into conflict with the cultural agenda of the left. He won in 2008 by successfully posing as a moderate. He cannot compel institutions of the Catholic Church to violate that church’s teachings and still pretend to moderation.