State Orthodoxy and the Conscience

FRCBlog.comby Rob Schwarzwalder August 22, 2012

Law professor John Inazu writes in USA Today that when it comes to the Obama contraception mandate, “The legal challenges implicate an interest that all of us — Catholics and evangelicals, religious and non-religious — should value and safeguard: the right of private groups to dissent from the prevailing state orthodoxy.”

His wonderfully descriptive phrase – “prevailing state orthodoxy” – is saddening. In a republic where personal virtue is the foundation of our political order, and which rests, in Michael Novak’s wonderful phrase, “on two wings” – biblical revelation and natural law, law that is self-evident and accessible to everyone – the idea of there being a “state orthodoxy” is jarring. Yet such orthodoxy exists, which is why the Obama Administration is insisting that Evangelicals and Catholics cast away their consciences (we won’t, by the way).

When the federal government steps in to mandate that persons with reasonable, historic, and deeply held moral convictions must violate them in order to comply with a state dictate, Christians must echo the words of Peter in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.” Read More: