Government Gone Mad

Forcing the Faithful Out of Adoption Services?

By Stu Nolan

The following comments were submitted by LegalWorks Apostolate earlier today.

Members of the public may submit comments through Friday, April 1, 2011, here.

Government Gone Mad

The proposed regulation, 22 VAC 40-131-170, Part B, surely demonstrates nothing else so much as the madness which, at the national level, has undermined severely all popular faith in the federal government. This same madness now appears poised to infect and infiltrate our Commonwealth. If this sort of madness can carry the day in Virginia, a relative refuge of freedom, where are our liberties safe?

If promulgated, the proposed regulation would prohibit nearly any form of screening, regardless of its proven relationship to the welfare of the child. In particular, it would make it illegal to favor traditional married couples -- i.e., a husband and wife married to each other and to no one else -- over non-traditional "arrangements". That means no favoring a married couple who have simply not been able to conceive but who for years have been preparing to welcome a child into this world. No, because to do so could possibly disfavor combinations who by their nature can never serve as parents. That is, we must not disfavor two men or two women seeking to adopt. Indeed, we may not disfavor four men or four women -- or even 2 women and three goats -- seeking to adopt, if this proposed rule becomes law.

Forget, if for just a moment, that this ignores the welfare of the child as the centermost focus of adoption law. It is an intolerable intrusion into the private operation of charities with religious components to their missions.

America's First Amendment was modeled after Virginia's own declaration of rights, crafted by none other than Thomas Jefferson. It is ludicrous to pretend that a person or faith community enjoys religious liberty while restricting the exercise of that liberty to environments where the public -- and most especially those members of the public most in need of charitable services -- may never benefit from the virtuous acts of the faithful.

True religious freedom requires an ability to exercise the dictates of conscience in interaction with the world and not just behind closed doors. That means religious organizations such as the Catholic Church have a right to provide charitable services, such as adoption services, informed by the teachings of the Magisterium. It is not just something that they are "free" to do to the extent they may reflect on it privately in their homes, or pray about it in Church. There are a lot of closed societies that would allow this much. The Free Exercise provisions of the First Amendment require that the state mind its own business, and not the business that the faithful have handled quite nicely for centuries, if it cannot get involved without killing the charitable impulse entirely.

Let us get this straight (or are we still allowed to use that word?). We are to believe that the government's interest in protecting life for the unborn is not so compelling as to allow the state to intervene and prevent the murdering of children in the womb, as well as the victimization of mothers in crisis at the hands of a profiteering abortionist industry. After all, hasn't society essentially decided -- or at least 5 persons in black robes have decided for us -- that certain lives are not worth living, or that when a single woman under duress decides she cannot raise a baby along, she is essentially correct? Under such circumstances, who is the government to sop the abortionist from earning his fee?

At the same time, it seems that when children lack parents, a state's interest in protecting those children is so compelling as to allow the it to prevent the charitable activity of religiously motivated adoption service providers. Just as long as we as a society do not disadvantage anyone in the process of earning legal title to a child, the killing of children in the womb may continue unabated.

To summarize, the state interest in protecting children is compelling enough to allow it to discriminate against religious charities and prevent services from finding children the best candidates for parenthood, but the state interest is not compelling enough to intervene when an abortionist is profiteering from killing children outright. This is indeed madness.

If this is the cost of society's supposed need to demonstrate that it loves the sinner even if it still is repulsed by the sin, the proposed cost is intolerably high. It would leave our religious liberty as buried and dead, rendering that which made this nation exceptional and great as a mere chapter in history books.

The Virginia, the America, in which I live could not abide this outcome, even if it takes appellate litigation to preserve religious liberty that the legislators and agencies have left for dead.

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