In 1776, a struggle broke out between the mighty British Empire and the upstart American colonies.
The colonies rebelled for many reasons, including freedom from excessive taxes, freedom from unreasonable government intervention and infringement on religious freedom. But at the heart of the matter was something more fundamental, something that continues to be at the heart of left and right debate in the great American experiment.
- Government holds the rights and power of society and determines what will be granted to people based on what it believes is best for them and to preserve the control of the government
- God grants inalienable rights to people, who form a government to protect those rights.
Just to remove any mystery from this discussion, I am a total proponent of choice B. Choice A leads to enslavement. Read Orwell’s “1984” to understand where choice A leads. If you don’t want to read the book, watch the movie. It is nearly as terrifying.
Read any newspaper or watch any television news program on any day of the week and you will see this struggle between government control and freedom playing out in the public square. We often forget that what is at stake – no matter the good intentions of the people promoting choice A – is the life or death of God in our society.
Alfie Evans, the British toddler who died a few days ago, became an unintended symbol of the struggle. His parents had the very Catholic, Christian idea that they should let God determine the child’s fate, a viewpoint strongly endorsed by Pope Francis.
Somehow it came to the hospital, backed by the British courts, to make the life or death call. And what especially caught my attention was the remark by a senior Catholic cleric: “It’s very hard to act in a child’s best interest when this isn’t always as the parents would wish – and this is why a court must decide what’s best not for the parents, but for the child.”
I’m going to give the Cardinal the benefit of the doubt. I assume he means well and thinks the well-intentioned and caring folks at the hospital did their best.
Unfortunately, in the battle between Godly people and Godless government he likely is playing the role of useful idiot. He accepts the court as England’s God.
Perhaps if the courts were staffed by God-fearing souls of strong Christian formation, they could make informed decisions about matters of morality. But today’s courts are staffed by moral relativists who worship at the high altar of tolerance. I doubt the court that decided the fate of Alfie Evans has a better grasp on truth than Pontius Pilot.
These are intellectuals who are certain they know better than parents, the Church, and God when a child should be killed. And if we Catholic – cleric and lay – don’t present an alternative with strength and vigor we will soon have little ability to evangelize. We may have no reason to evangelize.
If we cede God’s authority to Godless courts, what do we stand for? We must all be soldiers in Alfie’s Army.
I doubt those brave and rebellious Americans of 1776 had much faith in the wisdom of the English courts. I doubt children or parents in England have much faith in those courts today. Sadly, I have little confidence American courts would do much better.