How ironic that on the same day the WSJ published Charlotte Allen’s call for Catholic activism (Opinion, Jan. 14), Massachusetts Attorney General – and Senate hopeful — Martha Coakley declared that “You can have religious freedom, but you probably shouldn’t work in an emergency room.”
Allen and Coakley both support the separation of church and state. Both likely value the freedom of conscience. But while Allen’s edict celebrates religious freedom, Coakley’s controversial statement suggests an important application: Religious freedom is a latent right that will fall to the wayside without staunch, active protection.
America’s Constitution rests on the principle that people are born imbued with innumerate natural rights. We cede some rights to government in exchange for protection, community, and organized trade. Rights like free speech and worship do not come from government; they belong naturally to individuals, latent and subject to our decision to protect them.
Ms. Allen asks Catholics to engage with their religion. Only through active, deliberate practice can Catholics protect the tenets of their faith from unraveling – or, indeed, from falling victim to government bent on encroaching further into that critical natural right to worship.
Even while AG Coakley agrees that “the law says that people are allowed to have [religious freedom],” her statements reflect just the kind of encroachment that should light a fire under every religious American.
When it comes to faith, use it or lose it. If religious individuals do not actively protect their beliefs, government will actively infringe on their religious freedom in the future.
If we do not take Ms. Allen’s advice to engage our latent freedoms, we will all become victims to politicians’ determination to usurp them.