“It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.” — James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance — 1785
With the Obama administration’s forcing the Catholic Church to pay for birth control and the morning after pill for employees last year you might have thought this was the last straw. When the bishops and the clergy fought back and Kathleen Sebelius, the director of HHS, did not rescind on the decision you might have thought Obama would scale back his war on the Catholic Church. But this is not the case.
While in Ireland this week he dropped a bombshell that has gone pretty much ignored by the mainstream media when he said religious schools encourage division. Barack Obama actually made this claim at a speech in Belfast on Monday, but it seems to be gaining traction overnight. His claim, aimed at both Catholic and Protestant “schools and buildings,” came in prepared remarks rather than an extemporaneous response to a question. The Scottish Catholic Observer quotes the argument accurately:
“The US President has made an alarming call for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland in spite of the fact that Archbishop Gerhard Müller told Scots that Catholic education was ‘a critical component of the Church.’
President Barack Obama (above), repeated the oft disproved claim that Catholic education increases division in front of an audience of 2000 young people, including many Catholics, at Belfast’s Waterfront hall when he arrived in the country this morning.
“If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” the US president said.
The US politician made the unfounded claim despite a top Vatican official spelling out the undeniable good done by Catholic education in a speech in Glasgow on Saturday and in his homily at Mass on Friday.”
I’ll quote the passage from Obama’s speech in its full context:
“We need you to get this right. And what’s more, you set an example for those who seek a peace of their own. Because beyond these shores, right now, in scattered corners of the world, there are people living in the grip of conflict -- ethnic conflict, religious conflict, tribal conflicts -- and they know something better is out there. And they’re groping to find a way to discover how to move beyond the heavy hand of history, to put aside the violence. They’re studying what you’re doing. And they’re wondering, perhaps if Northern Ireland can achieve peace, we can, too. You’re their blueprint to follow. You’re their proof of what is possible -- because hope is contagious. They’re watching to see what you do next.
Now, some of that is up to your leaders. As someone who knows firsthand how politics can encourage division and discourage cooperation, I admire the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly all the more for making power-sharing work. That’s not easy to do. It requires compromise, and it requires absorbing some pain from your own side. I applaud them for taking responsibility for law enforcement and for justice, and I commend their effort to “Building a United Community” — important next steps along your transformational journey.
Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity — symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others — these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it. If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.
Ultimately, peace is just not about politics. It’s about attitudes; about a sense of empathy; about breaking down the divisions that we create for ourselves in our own minds and our own hearts that don’t exist in any objective reality, but that we carry with us generation after generation.”
Does that make the context any better? Not really. He’s speaking in terms of Northern Ireland, but pretty explicitly calling for that to be a model for the rest of the world. His argument makes two very large assumptions, which is that the conflict in Northern Ireland was about religion, and that parochial schools make people inclined to violence. The first is a gross oversimplification; the conflict in recent times was political, dealing with ethnic conflict and sovereignty issues, with religion used more for tribal identification than a core of the conflict.
The second is just absurd. Catholics and Protestants have thousands of schools in the US, and we don’t have warfare in the streets in the US between the sects. The issue wasn’t the schools, or the belief systems of Catholics and Protestants that such schools teach. However, this makes a handy mechanism to call for the displacement of private education and religious instruction from education, with nothing left except state-controlled schools that indoctrinate children into whatever norms the governing/ruling class deem acceptable.
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a foreign visit to an Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn’t have madrasas. Can you?
Did he say when visiting Israel, say “You Jews shouldn’t have synagogue schools and you Muslims shouldn’t have mosque schools.” I can’t remember. Did he?
If Obama wants to talk about religions causing division, hate, and war I suggest he take a look at his beloved Islam where Shia’s and Sunnis have been killing Christians, Jews, and themselves since the seventh century.
Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, told an audience in Scotland that Catholic education provided a rare place where ‘intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together’ while giving the prestigious Cardinal Winning Lecture on Saturday to officially launch the St Andrews Foundation for Catholic teacher education at Glasgow University. During Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, on Friday night he said that ‘the Catholic school is vitally important a critical component of the Church,’ adding that Catholic education provides young people with a wonderful opportunity to ‘grow up with Jesus.’
Obama is now insisting on enforcing an ObamaCare regulation that would force Catholic individuals, business owners and institutions to provide health care plans that cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The Catholic bishops of the United States have unanimously declared this regulation an "unjust and illegal mandate" that violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to free exercise of religion.
Dozens of Catholic business owners and institutions are now suing the Obama administration over this regulation. The University of Notre Dame and Catholic University of America are among those who have filed suit. A number of Protestant business owners and institutions have also sued the administration over this regulation because it forces them to provide abortion-inducing drugs and IUDs in contradiction to their moral and religious beliefs.
The Catholic Church and Catholic religious orders run schools in the United States and elsewhere that are designed not only to teach children reading, writing, arithmetic, history and other academic subjects, but also to teach them the theology and moral views of the faith, and to train their characters in keeping with those moral views.
As a product of a Catholic school education through the 8th grade I can say that it taught me much more than the reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, and civics. It also taught me morals, love of God and family, and living by the Ten Commandments — something we direly need in our schools today.
In a fit of ignorance I enrolled my three children in government schools in the early 1970s. By the time my youngest reached fifth grade all were enrolled in Catholic school where they graduated high school from. All received a fine college preparatory education allowing them to continue on to college with no problems.
Millions of children have matriculated through their K-12 education in Catholic and Christian schools. Not only has this been good for the kids it has saved the taxpayers billions in school costs if all of those children had been enrolled in our failing public school system. Just think of all of those teachers union pensions we would be on the hook for.
Obama never fails to enlist children in his secularist crusades, whether at home or abroad. Last week he trotted out two nine-year-old girls to introduce him at a White House event celebrating “LGBT Pride Month.”
“We could not be prouder of Zea and Luna for the introduction,” he said. “Zea and Luna are here with their moms, and also I think with Grandma and Grandpa — correct? And so feel free to congratulate them afterwards for their outstanding introduction.”
Zea and Luna proved useful to Obama not only as props for LGBT rights but also as mouthpieces for his gun-control agenda: “When Zea and Luna wrote me last December, they told me they would have voted for me if they could have — thanks, guys. They also laid out quite an agenda. I hope Congress is listening to them. But I want them and all of you to know that I’m not giving up the fight to keep our kids safe from gun violence.”
It just so happens that Zea and Luna also support additional funding for Arne Duncan’s Department of Education. According to Obama, Duncan has lots of innovative ideas on how to jumpstart America’s sluggish schools and needs more money to enact them. Chicagoans may remember one of them: his thwarted plan to start a “gay high school” in the Windy City that he hoped to call “Social Justice Solidarity High School.”
This week Obama took his Brave New World propaganda to the youth of Northern Ireland. He has visions of a secularist utopia for them too. With uniformed school children arrayed behind him, he in effect called for the elimination of religious education in Northern Ireland:
“If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”
Obama’s presumption knows no bounds. The Northern Irish, already enjoying a “chic” culture, as he put it, are evidently capable of his level of enlightenment, provided that they listen to their youth. Apparently referencing his own claimed evolution on gay marriage — recall that he credited his daughters with stimulating his moral imagination by bringing over to the house the adopted children of homosexual couples — he urged Northern Irish youth to keep liberalizing their elders:
“Politicians oftentimes follow rather than lead. And so, especially young people helped to push and to prod and to protest, and to make common cause with those who did not look like them. And that transformed America — so that Malia and Sasha’s generation, they have different attitudes about differences and race than mine and certainly different from the generation before that. And each successive generation creates a new space for peace and tolerance and justice and fairness. And while we have work to do in many ways, we have surely become more tolerant and more just, more accepting, more willing to see our diversity in America not as something to fear, but as something to welcome because it’s a source of our national strength.”
If the point wasn’t clear enough, Obama said that he hoped that one day they could “fall in love with whomever” they want.
Gay marriage, abortion on demand, free contraceptives, Plan B at the local drug store, an all-pervasive secular culture — this is the glorious future Obama implied for the Northern Irish. But he sternly warned the teens that the choice is theirs: “Whether you let your kids play with kids who attend a different church — that’s your decision.”
For Obama, “peace” and secularism are always one and the same, and if you don’t choose the latter you are a violent bigot. The arrogant Brave New World babble he dumped on these children is impossible to comprehend apart from that assumption. Never mind that plenty of blood, flowing from “chic” addresses like those of his friends at Planned Parenthood, gushes in secularist countries too.
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, once remarked, “In order for Israel to be counted among the nations of the world, it has to have its own burglars and prostitutes.” In Northern Ireland’s case, pace Obama, it can’t be considered civilized until it has fewer religious schools and more abortionists.
However, Obama’s arrogance did not go unnoticed by the Irish. Far-left Irish politician Clare Daly, formerly a leader in the country’s Socialist Party, is being called “disgraceful” by her compatriots after lashing out against President Obama in the wake of his visit to Ireland for the G-8 Summit.
A member of Parliament of Dublin North, Daly mocked the Obama family for repeatedly referring to Ireland as “home” before ripping into the U.S. president’s foreign policy.
“It’s hard to know which is worse,” she added, “the outpourings of the Obamas themselves, or the sycophantic fawning over them by sections of the media and political establishment.”
She called Obama the “hypocrite of the century” for telling Irish youths the United States supports those who choose peace, while providing arms to Syrian rebels and increasing drone strikes by 200 percent.
“The reality is, by any serious examination, this man is a war criminal,” Daly declared. “He has just announced his decision to supply arms to the Syrian opposition, including the jihadists, fueling the destabilization of that region, and continuing to undermine secularism and knock-back conditions for women.”
She proceeded to excoriate the country’s Prime Minister Edna Kenny, for making Ireland “a nation of pimps, prostituting ourselves for a pat on the head” and a “lapdog of U.S. imperialism.”
We cannot hear him liken Catholic and Protestant schools to racial segregation in America without a sense of alarm. Clearly, President Obama dismisses religious freedom as a basis for parents' choosing different schools for their own children.
Mr. Obama's own grandparents exercised their choice in sending him to Honolulu's prestigious Punahou Academy. This pricey ($20,000/year) prep school was founded by Congregationalist missionaries. With roots in the faith-based community, it hardly qualifies as a segregation academy. Similarly, the president and Mrs. Obama have chosen Washington, D.C.'s very posh Sidwell Friends School for their daughters. They have every right to do so, but no one would credit this Quaker-founded school as part of a segregation system.
Mr. Obama has been zealous in trying to block other parents' exercise of education choice. His administration has been eager to shut down Washington, D.C.'s Opportunity Scholarships. This program permits low-income parents of area students to choose a private or parochial school for their kids. Most of these scholarships go to minority students and many of them choose Catholic schools where a majority of their classmates are non-Catholic.
It is a shocking thing for the President of the United States to show such open hostility to faith-based schooling. As their motto goes, these are "schools you can believe in." And the record of religious schools in America is a great one.
We need to view Mr. Obama's comments in the context of his other policies. His administration is pushing for ever more pre-K programs nationwide. Despite the documented failure of Head Start, he wants to enlist more very young children in school programs that will replace church-based child care and care in the home.
This is what secularists have wanted in our country, too: All children under the guise of the all-powerful state. This has always been a goal of Marxists.
We should not be surprised that President Obama, who attended Marxist scholar’s conferences in New York City when he was a student at Columbia University in 1983, is so openly hostile to schools you can believe in.
The fact is that in Northern Ireland, the religious schools have been leaders in reconciling historic antagonisms. And this is true in America, too. Here, for example, Evangelicals, Lutherans, Orthodox Christians, and Orthodox Jews have joined with Catholics in resisting the menacing HHS Mandate. That mandate is the gravest threat to religious freedom in this country since 1786.
Mr. Obama should reread his Constitutional Law texts. There, he would find the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court in 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters. The KKK had pushed through an Oregon referendum that outlawed private and religious schools.
Unconstitutional, said the high Court:
“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments of this Union rest excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”
President Obama continues his relentless drive to "fundamentally transform America." He does not appreciate the historic fact that religious freedom was the foundation for civil liberty in our country. Washington, Jefferson, and Madison all believed this. So did Protestants, Catholics, and Jews of the Founding Era. Respect for the convictions of others does not breed hostility. It is the beginning of civility.
The Pierce Court decision concluded with this ringing affirmation of parental rights and religious freedom:
“The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations. Those "obligations" included then, and continue to include, our obligations to our Creator.”
President Obama continued his War on Christianity Monday and the broadcast networks continued to ignore it. Obama used a town hall meeting for youth in Belfast to show his contempt for religious education. The president criticized separate religious schools for promoting “division.”
The story drew attention in conservative media outlets and was linked on the Drudge Report. But no major network news show covered the event in the two days that followed. ABC, CBS and NBC all skipped the story, even though it made the rounds in conservative media especially on Wednesday.
Some of the news Wednesday night wasn’t particularly compelling. ABC “World News with Diane Sawyer” took two minutes to devote to “flash mobs for hire.” NBC “Nightly News” found 36 seconds to devote to the decline of the Houston Astrodome, the “cathedral of sports once known as the eighth wonder of the world.”
The Obama administration has angered people of faith on several issues from gay marriage and abortion to birth control mandates and hiding a cross when Obama was speaking at Georgetown. This time, his attack was directed at Catholic and Protestant education.