Wants the government to respect matters of conscience

Reader Opinion

By Jill Lagergren

I tire of people accusing the Catholic Church of dictating morality by objecting to losing the previously long-standing rights of conscience. Please Americans, this affects all of us.

My fellow American, I am not asking you to agree with what I believe as a Catholic Christian. I am asking you to defend my right to believe. Our forefathers unified and fought for this freedom.

My fellow American, I am not asking you to ignore your beliefs or hold mine in higher esteem. I implore you to stand alongside me to defend our rights to freedom of religion and freedom to act according to our moral conscience, both privately and publicly.

Let’s talk about conscience. We may have different formulations, but the good of society comes into play along with protection of We, the People. (However, not at the cost of religious freedom) A conscience is formulated using a person’s religious principles. We belong to different religions, but we each have a conscience, formed to steer us to act upon what we uphold as right or reject as morally wrong. Laws help to define this. Some recent laws have attempted to remove these rights.

Right now, conscience rights are being trampled on. Will you help? Our government is saying we must pay money, as taxpayers, toward morally objectionable things. Most of these mandates were inserted within the Healthcare Act, or added in a way to bypass the money flow through normal appropriations bills. Deliberate new pathways were created to circumvent our laws forbidding use of taxpayer money for abortion funding.

Our government is going to force us to fund insurance (with tax dollars) and pay insurance premiums. They will not just provide needed healthcare for all Americans, but pay for abortion, contraception, sterilization and such. Religious agencies and hospitals and healthcare workers deserve to continue to be allowed to exercise their religious principles. These hospitals do not tend to only Catholics. They do not turn people away who need help. Catholic Charities do more for the poor than our government, without any consideration to a person’s religious affiliation. Our government says they must comply or be penalized. They require the agency to only be excluded if they serve only their own denomination.

Our government has formed commissions to ration healthcare and exclude a person based only on age. Doctors are told how to consult with patients, and to lengthen or eliminate certain screenings for people simply based on age. (Cancer screenings, prostate, colonoscopy, etc.) This is already happening. Medicare is refusing to fund certain treatments. Doctors are threatened if they will not comply.

If you scrutinized the healthcare bill, you most likely would find moral objection to other parts. Should the commerce clause be ignored and we be forced to buy something we do not want? What other mandates will be imposed on us all, as time goes on?

If a conscientious objector makes a case that war is a moral evil according to his/her belief, our government has a provision allowing this person to serve in a noncombat position or be excluded, altogether.

This is how I feel about abortion, euthanasia and contraceptives. I deserve the same consideration for my religious beliefs. Our government must retain overall conscience clause and recognition of religious rights for all Americans. Will you respect my belief and defend my right to that belief? My fellow Americans, if we ignore this erasure of the Bill of Rights, there will be more to come. This is why not just Catholics are standing up against the healthcare law and its mandates. Please join the fight. “If you wish peace, seek justice:” Pope Paul VI.

Jill Lagergren lives in Elma