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It’s right up there with kicking puppies for fun and feeding kittens into wood chippers. Leftists have again dragged a hapless group of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor (shown), into court to try to strong-arm them into violating their religious beliefs.
The Sisters, who should be left to devote themselves to their calling of helping poor elderly, had already won a great victory in the Supreme Court in 2016 that protected them from ruinous fines. But this hasn’t deterred sexual devolutionaries bent on coercing them into providing contraception and even the “week-after pill” — which induces abortion — to their employees. As the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports:
The Little Sisters of the Poor are back in court this week, as two states are challenging their religious exemption from the HHS contraception mandate.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra have each filed lawsuits saying that the sisters should not receive a religious exemption from the mandate. Other states have joined onto these lawsuits as well.
“The Little Sisters are looking forward to a final victory in this case, so they can put this whole lawsuit behind them. It’s been a long fight,” Becket Fund for Religious Liberty senior counsel Lori Windham told CNA. The Becket Fund is representing the Little Sisters in these cases.
It’s clear why the government targets the sisters, given the mischief they’re up to. “In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Little Sisters of the Poor also take a vow of hospitality,” reports CNA. “The order operates nursing homes to care for the elderly poor, and are present in communities around the world.”
So what’s their sin? CNA explains: “The Little Sisters were not eligible for the initial religious exemption from the mandate because they serve and employ those of all faiths.”
Got that? If they’d discriminated in a way leftists detest but which is lawful for religious organizations, and only employed and served other Catholics, they’d be fine. But being open to all puts a target on their backs.
Yet it gets worse. The sisters had initially appealed for a contraception-mandate exemption to HHS, which had “already exempted thousands of other secular employers whose plans were ‘grandfathered’ in under the new rule — including Exxon, Pepsi Bottling, and Visa — and even exempted the healthcare programs for the U.S. military,” related Becket.
Nonetheless, the “HHS doubled down, continued to refuse to exempt the Little Sisters, and threatened them with ruinous fines of tens of millions of dollars if they did not comply with the mandate,” Becket continued.
And since 2011, the government has put the sisters through a meat grinder of litigation, the gory details of which can be read here.
So what drives this? There’s obviously no great public interest at stake. Women can obtain contraception in a multitude of ways. Despite this, a “group of selfless nuns must defend themselves in court from the omnipotent authoritarian reach of the government, which lives and breathes to ensure not that every person has access to solid infrastructure or safety in their neighborhood, but that every person who wants to receive birth control can do so from nuns — women who devote their lives to God and the poor, shun premarital sex, rescue babies and the lost, and must be forced to deny their religious beliefs to provide said materials,” laments the Washington Examiner’s Nicole Russell.
Russell suggests that this case is driven by government offices “hell-bent on forcing religious people to violate their conscience” — and, actually, this is becoming a pattern.
Just consider the many cases in which government has sought to force Christian businessmen to service faux (same-sex) weddings. Most notably, Christian baker Jack Phillips is again being persecuted by Coloradan sexual devolutionaries, even after winning a case in the SCOTUS in which Justice Anthony Kennedy, quite a liberal himself, scored the state officials for exhibiting “clear and impermissible hostility toward [Phillips’] sincere religious beliefs.”
Yet such hostility is nothing new. In fact, it’s reminiscent of a government very old, that of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire between 175 and 164 B.C. and a persecutor of the Jews. Among other things, as the second book of Maccabees relates, he sought to force some Jews to eat pork, torturing and killing those who defied him, even though there was no Seleucid commandment stating “Thou shalt compel others to dine on swine.”
Why would a person do this? As I wrote in 2013:
It would be for one — or, more likely, a combination — of the following reasons:
• He hates the people in question and simply wants to torment them. Or, perhaps more precisely, he hates what they are and wants to destroy what makes them what they are.
• His ego cannot tolerate being defied.
• He views the beliefs at issue as stupid and takes pleasure in punishing those who dare be so “wrong.” This is a common human motivation.
• He wants to break the cohesiveness — and therefore the resistance — of the target people by forcing them to relinquish the beliefs binding them together.
Of course, while a different factor may be dominant in different situations, and while there is tremendous overlap among them, what’s obvious is that an Antiochan desire is one of hostility.
So many legal and moral arguments could be made regarding the state governments’ actions against the Little Sisters of the Poor, and I and others have often done so. But reason is motivating the anti-Christian government tyrants as much as it does a sadist who tortures animals for fun.
Ideally, nuns are supposed to be “in this world, but not of it,” as the faithful say. Dragging them into court is a bit like forcing a kindly, pacifistic Amish grandmother into the mixed-martial-arts octagon because, well … why? Because you hate. Because you love wielding power. Because you can.
The ant-Christian tyrants are tormenting the poor nuns via the law for a simple reason: Unlike the ancient Romans, they can’t yet throw them to the lions.
Photo: AP Images