Facing the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War in January 1961, President Kennedy stated the following at his inauguration:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
These words referencing a communist enemy in Kennedy’s day find their clearest, most compelling modern day application, not to hostile forces outside our nation, but to those currently leading our own government.
The assault on the survival and the success of liberty today is not from Soviet Communism. It is from the soft despotism referenced by de Tocqueville being incrementally advanced by our own leaders, now most notably in the guise of healthcare legislation, better known as “Obamacare.”
The requirement under the federal government that people of faith who own businesses or run hospitals and schools obey the government instead of their own consciences and their God by providing birth control and abortifacients through their health care is the greatest assault on religious liberty in the history of this nation. This, a nation founded on and for religious liberty. Make no mistake, not only do people of faith lose liberty with these actions, but every person in this country.
The government is attempting to remove that most basic of all liberties, the freedom of conscience. In doing so, it places itself in the same camp as the communist party of the Soviet Union of Kennedy’s era. That party proclaimed to the west that there was freedom to worship in the USSR, while simultaneously fining, harassing, and imprisoning people of faith within its borders who refused to bow to Caesar/Premier by exercising their faith only within state approved church buildings.
Obamacare and it’s assault on liberty may eventually be overturned by the courts, but to place confidence in our current court system for our liberty, especially in light of it’s affirmation of the constitutionality of this legislation last year, is an ill advised hope at best.
The best hope for the restoration of liberty this side of heaven lies in people of faith and good will to band together to oppose this gross usurpation of power.
It’s my hope that those who run businesses, schools, health care facilities, et al., will band together to protest this legislation. Further, that those groups and their supporters will take on Kennedy’s mantle and determination to, “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” For if the businesses, hospitals, clinics, and schools adversely affected by this law capitulate and simply concede and go along with this federal mandate, liberty, religious and otherwise, in this country is essentially a thing of the past.
On the other hand, if for instance, every Hobby Lobby in America, and every Roman Catholic and religious hospital, clinic, and school closed their doors in protest of this mandate on the same day, for a week, or a month, there would be tens of thousands immediately without jobs, healthcare, and education. (Obviously, affected hospitals, which were the only source for emergency services in a given area would need to continue to provide life saving treatment.)
Such a protest might cause the voices of those disaffected by a boycott to be raised against the government that has mandated this unconstitutional, anti-religious, and anti-liberty law. (Conversely, they might simply blame those institutions that have acted in accord with their conscience by protesting through boycott.)
Colonial Americans boycotted British-made goods in protest of British taxation, a hardship on both Americans and their British brethren, whose goods sat on ships and in warehouses unsold. Business owners pled their case to King George to remove the offending taxes, not so their American brothers might have liberty, but because they needed to make a living. That same type of dynamic might be possible today if those harmed by a boycott took their case to their representatives and senators, and the man who would be king, President Obama.
Clearly, there would be a significant cost to business owners, employees, patients, and students by such a radical, closed-door boycott in response to the Obamacare requirements. However, the cost to the nation long term if the most basic of liberties is lost becomes incalculable, for soft despotism always leads to serfdom.
Patrick Henry understood that the British usurpation of power in colonial America would only worsen over time, under the proud and unreasonable rule of George III. A year before the Declaration of Independence, he called a nation to its senses, as Kennedy would later, when he spoke of the value of liberty:
Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
The chains Henry spoke of were hardened steel; the ones we face today remain political, financial and metaphorical, but one surely leads to the other, as certain as “soft despotism” leads to more rigid forms.
The American Revolutionary War was engaged, in part, because the Stamp Act effectively made the King of England the official head of every church in America, since all official documentation had to carry the King’s stamp, even in the churches. People of faith were willing to rise up against King George because they understood he was usurping authority only God could legitimately claim. Our government is claiming similar authority today when it requires people of faith to act contrary to their religiously held beliefs.
A government that presumes to take the place of God in the conscience has lost its moral authority for governance.
The Cuban missile crisis proved Kennedy a man of his word, a leader prepared to pay any price to ensure liberty. I hope and pray that business owners and leaders of religious institutions prove as courageous, and their patrons prove as faithful in this day, as he did in his.
The nation again needs a liberty-at-any-price kind of conviction and resolve. It’s time for people of faith and those who believe in the necessary limitations of government to take a stand. It’s time for political action. It’s time for peaceful protest and civil disobedience. It’s time to pray.
God grant moral resolve throughout this nation adequate to lift again the banner of liberty against government encroachment and overreach and the removal of God-given liberty.