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Freedom of Conscience Under Attack by EU “Equalities” Initiatives

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By Hilary White

ROME, September 29, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The European Union’s proposed Equal Treatment Directive overturns centuries of legal philosophy of justice and will restrict legally guaranteed rights of freedom of conscience, says Sophia Kuby of European Dignity Watch, a pro-life and pro-family NGO working at the European level. Kuby told LifeSiteNews.com at a conference in Rome last week, that, if adopted, upcoming EU initiatives will severely restrict basic democratic freedoms for Christians, all under the rubric of “equalities.”

Major European legislative bodies, Kuby said, are working to create legislation that will ultimately result in Christian doctors being pushed out of the medical professions across Europe. In general, she said, legal tendencies are growing to limit freedoms of expression and conscience and constitute a direct threat to religious individuals and institutions.

The crackdown on conscience comes, she said, as a response to “more and more doctors objecting” to abortion and other legal but morally offensive practices. She cited statistics from the Lazio region of central Italy that includes Rome, where 86 percent of doctors refuse to commit abortions.

Pro-abortion forces in European institutions are reacting now because, the situation “is kind of new. Ten years ago, much fewer doctors were objecting.”

“So now they face a situation where it really becomes a contradiction. Yes, they say, you have to balance rights, but then you have to ‘balance’ the right of freedom of conscience, which is one of the pillars of a democratic society, with a ‘right’ that is actually the killing of an unborn child.”

Kuby highlighted two main initiatives, the McCafferty Report from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, (PACE) and the Equal Treatment draft Directive of the European Commission, that she said combine to create a legal situation opposed to religious freedom and freedom of conscience in Europe.

The EU’s Equal Treatment Directive, now before the Council of Ministers of the EU, proposes to “prohibit discrimination” but in reality, Kuby said, it will attempt to “control the relationships between individuals.” It means that if there is a “socially undesired behaviour,” such as public criticism of homosexuality, feminism, or abortion, it would create mechanisms to sue a person who offends.

The head of the English Catholic Bishops’ Conference political affairs office, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, said that the Catholic Church supports the “underlying moral principle” of the Directive. He warned only of “possible unintended consequences” for Christian believers. But Kuby refuted this, saying that the Directive “turns upside down traditional concepts of justice.”

Its foundation, she said, opposes the ancient legal principle, elucidated by Aristotle, that “like things should be treated alike, unlike things should be treated differently, and everything should be treated appropriately.”

“The antidiscrimination Directive and the philosophy underpinning it go into the radical opposite direction,” Kuby told LSN. “Like things are treated differently, unlike things are treated alike, and nothing is treated appropriately.”

“Indeed, the use of appropriate criteria is simply given up, and replaced by a perpetual cycle of (mostly inappropriate and badly reasoned) comparisons: Because X has got some goodie, Y must also get it, irrespective of any real merit or justification.

“This, in short, is the ideology underlying this whole new compound of political initiatives, and the Church would be well advised to analyse it more systematically and less superficially.”

The Directive leaves open the definitions of behaviour that constitute “discrimination” in this sense. Kuby said that the result is that instances of illegal discrimination are “completely left to a subjective perception of how I feel treated by another.”

The directive says that behaviour shall be deemed discriminatory if it “creates an offensive or humiliating environment.”

“That can mean anything,” she said. “Anything.” 

If adopted, the McCafferty Report, she said, “would close the medical community to people, solely on the basis of a well-founded moral conviction,” which, she pointed out, is well-protected by numerous European international agreements, including Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights that guarantees freedom of conscience.

“Formally, freedom of conscience is protected legally,” but the McCafferty Report “would make it basically impossible for a Catholic or Christian to become a doctor.”

Pro-life advocates in Europe have identified the McCafferty Report as the latest in a string of EU and PACE efforts to establish abortion as a universal human right. The report, is set to be debated in the PACE on October 7 and claims to leave doctors the right to refuse to participate in abortion, but would force them to provide the service by referring to other physicians and, if that fails, to provide it themselves.

Kuby said that the McCafferty Report also turns traditional jurisprudence on its head, obliging doctors to prove that their objection is grounded in their conscience or religious belief. “This might sound not very critical, but what it means is that the burden of proof is on the one who is objecting. So a doctor who says ‘I don’t do those because of my conscience,’ has to prove that he did it in good faith.”

The other goal of such legislation, she said, “is to deprive public and state institutions, such as public hospitals and clinics as a whole from the guarantee of the right to conscientious objection.”

The report’s drafters have also proposed the creation of a public registry of conscientious objectors. “It’s basically a blacklist. And you can imagine the consequences that such a thing could have.” The drafters also propose to create “complaint mechanisms” to allow authorities to keep track of those who object to a procedure on conscientious grounds.

Kuby also spoke of an increasingly ominous public atmosphere in Europe, in which Christian symbols and church buildings are frequently vandalised and desecrated and Christians themselves have reported being attacked in the streets both physically and verbally.


Read related LSN coverage:

Council of Europe Declares Unlimited Abortion an Unconditional Right for all of Europe
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08041611.html

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

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Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

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