Sunday, May 13, 2012

George Wiegel on Faith and Public LIfe

George Wiegel delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College yesterday.  Read it at National Review Online.  An excerpt:

Appeals to the natural moral law we can know by reason underwrote the American civil rights revolution. Appeals to that same natural moral law underwrite the pro-life movement, the successor to the civil rights movement. And appeals to the natural moral law have underwritten U.S. international human rights policy for the past thirty years. Until, that is, December 2009, when the Secretary of State of the United States, in a speech at Georgetown University, emptied the concept of religious freedom of everything save the “freedom to worship” while asserting, in a catalogue of what she claimed were fundamental international human rights, that people “must be free…to love in the way they choose” — which “choice” must, presumably, be protected by international human rights covenants and national and local civil rights laws.

This speech, as things turned out, was one harbinger of an assault on religious freedom that continues to this day — an assault that imagines “religious freedom” to be a kind of “privacy right” to certain leisure-time activities, but nothing more than that. This dramatic misconception of religious freedom was evident in the present administration’s attempt to re-write federal employment law by dissolving the “ministerial exemption” that had long protected the integrity of religious institutions. It was evident in the administration’s refusal to continue funding the U.S. bishops’ efforts to help women who had been victims of sex-trafficking (because the Church refused to provide abortion as part of that work). And it has been most dramatically evident in the January HHS mandate that requires all employers (including religious institutions with moral objections and private-sector employers with religiously-informed moral objections) to facilitate the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs like Plan B and Ella to their employees.              

All of this suggests that one of the great challenges of your generation, my fellow-members of the Class of 2012 of Benedictine College, will be to rise to the defense of religious freedom in full.


  1. Now if only he were giving the address at Georgetown instead of that heretical Sibelius.
    BTW, had the pleasure of meeting Weigel quite a few years ago after his 1st bio on Blessed John Paul came out.

    1. Cool! Did you got Witness to Hope autographed?