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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Claire Wolfe

Against conscience

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

One of the most personal reasons for contempt of government is that government forces people to act against their own consciences.

As you know, I’m not a believer, but I think what Obamacare is about to force on the people who own Hobby Lobby is beastly.

When Catholic institutions objected to provisions of Obamacare that went against their principles, the fedgov carved out a feeble and bureaucratic “religious exemption.” However, Hobby Lobby — being a business run on religious principles but not being a specifically religious institution — doesn’t fit into the loophole. So government inflicts pain to get “compliance.” (Hobby Lobby has appealed. This could get interesting — though most likely it’ll just result in either another wimpy loophole or an order to comply.)

And all this over employer-supplied insurance — a dumb idea that originated in the first place from federal mangling of the economy. It would simply not be an issue if individuals were free to make their own health care and health insurance choices.

Nothing’s new in this, of course. Not in forcing people to act against conscience. Not in punishing those who refuse. And especially not in bureaucratizing the process.

When the U.S. had the draft, for instance, if you objected to military service on religious grounds and you belonged to certain recognized religious denominations, you might be treated lightly while still being forced to serve the state. But if you objected on grounds of your own private morality, or if you individually refused cooperation with the entire system … then you could be hit with any sort of punishment, even to the point of absurdity.

And for a long time now, the fedgov has “allowed” bureaucratic religious exemptions to Social Security. But try being Joe Singleton and telling them you neither want to pay for nor receive SS benefits on the grounds of conscience. Different story.

And when Vivien Kellems refused to be a tax collector for the state, the IRS did everything it could to bankrupt her.

Speaking of that, on the entire subject of taxes, millions are forced every day, right now, to pay for things they don’t believe in. Or to pay for things they know can be done better without the coercion. Because there’s an impersonal layer of bureaucracy standing between us and what our labor finances, most people find ways to accept this. And naturally, if we hold 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status — that is, if we get bureaucratic approval to pursue things we believe in — the government will tolerate small acts of conscience on our part at reduced tax rates. Hooray for loopholes, eh?

Of course, the fedgov isn’t the only government that tries to force people to surrender their own beliefs to the state. Kentucky has recently made some interesting news for attempting to compel non-theists to worship Their Almighty for the sake of “homeland security.” (The claim that they’d put anybody in jail for a year is probably misleading, but the law is still crazy outrageous.)

How can you claim freedom when government routinely suppresses or punishes individual conscience?

Voltaire famously said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Well, what’s absurd to me might make perfect sense to thee, and vice versa. But when government routinely forces us to act against our own beliefs — or else — it creates cognitive dissonance. And cognitive dissonance creates such internal discomfort that, faced with the conflict between belief and action, claim and reality, most people will take the path of least resistance to restore balance. “The government must be obeyed” is the path of least resistance. And from that philosophical atrocity arises all the other atrocities governments are so fond of committing.

28 Responses to “Against conscience”

  1. Woody Says:

    What I find interesting in the conscience versus the state issue is how many believers will argue that the state should not only respect their beliefs, but force everyone else to do so as well. Conscientious objectors (speaking here mostly about mainstream religionists) would be a lot more credible if they believed everyone had the same rights as they do.

  2. Water Lily Says:

    Great post. I’m a Christian and one of the many reasons why I can no longer find a church is the attitude that “their” rights are being trampled by the state, yet they support the state, yet they don’t want the “others” to have the same rights. The sad thing is that many who claim to follow Christ are clueless. Christianity has turned into a club and politic party, and it WILL come back and bite them where the sun don’t shine someday. The book, HITLER’S CROSS was an eye-opener. When the state is okay with institutional religious exemptions, but not okay with individual conscientious exemptions, the true believers should be very wary of those institutions. And btw, that Kentucky law is insane, as are most laws.

    And regarding that link about the law in Kentucky, – that’s just insane.

  3. David Says:

    I ran into this issue (the “institutional” vs. “individual” exemption bit) a couple of weeks ago, and we were prepared to quickly relocate across state lines. Didn’t have to this time. But we’re always ready.

    Great post.

  4. just waiting Says:

    Wow Claire, this one really touches a nerve.

    My conscience tells me to try to save my father’s property, and the gov is preventing me from doing so.

    In everything I’ve ever learned, both about gov and about freedom, an individual’s right of access to and use of their own private property is paramount. Many people put their very heart and soul into their property, and are willing to defend it with their lives.

    Like thousands of other Sandy vics, I’m in a condition where access to my father’s property is now, and for the forseeable future, controlled by armed police checkpoints and armed patrols. Armed forces on boats prevent access by water. Because of the location of some arbitrary township line and a dispute between the powers of the 2 twps, a military blockade seperates neighbors and prevents me from visiting people who live 5 houses away.

    Ask when martial law is going to be lifted, and the denials fly, “We’re not under martial law” “Well”, I asked “when you can only access your property every 4th day, when you have to show special papers at armed checkpoints to get passed, when there is a 3pm to 8 am curfew for all citizens, when citizens are not allowed to pass military blockades to visit their neighbors, if that’s not martial law, could you please tell me what is?” chirp chirp chirp

    My conscience tells me to bring my neighbor a cup of coffee, but no one in power took C seriously or would give her an answer when she asked if we would get arrested or shot if we tried to cross the blockade.

    And paying taxes for something you may not believe in? How about paying over $15k a year in property taxes (welcome to NJ), and still be expected to pay, even though your property molds and rots while you are denied access to get in and save it? Damage that you could have prevented with reasonable access is compounding daily by the delay.

    Contempt for gov? Naw, not me!

  5. IndividualAudienceMember Says:

    What a start to the day, first this viewpoint:

    It’s Happening Faster Than Even I Thought
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig11/rosenberg-p9.1.1.html

    and then this viewpoint:

    just waiting wrote, “Ask when martial law is going to be lifted, and the denials fly, “We’re not under martial law” “Well”, I asked “when you can only access your property every 4th day, when you have to show special papers at armed checkpoints to get passed, when there is a 3pm to 8 am curfew for all citizens, when citizens are not allowed to pass military blockades to visit their neighbors, if that’s not martial law, could you please tell me what is?” chirp chirp chirp”

    The Blob meets The Matrix? And just waiting got slime’d. Who’s next? Faster and faster it gets…

  6. Kent McManigal Says:

    I don’t see how any person with a shred of decency or ethics could have anything but contempt for government. Not anymore.

  7. kycolonel Says:

    I am very suspicious of the Kentucky story. I nor any of my friends have ever heard of this law. I will do some checking but, Claire, I think you were “had” on this one.

    The Human Rights Commission in Lexington is suing a tee shirt company for refusing to fill an order for Gay Pride Day due to the owners religious beliefs. Whatever one’s opinions on gays or religion, I find it chilling that a private business is being legally harassed and excoriated in the local newspaper. However laudable the idea of a Human Rights Commission may have been, my personal experience with that organization is that they must find discrimination under every rock in order to justify their existence.

  8. Mike Says:

    Excellent, Claire.

    KYcolonel – could be. The Wikipedia article on Riner references articles that reference each other, and nothing I could frind from ’06 or ’08 (both referenced as the year the law was supposedly passed) had any info. I did find these Kentucky Revised Statutes, though:
    http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/039g00/010.pdf
    http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/039a00/285.pdf

    There’s quite a bit more if you search for “almighty” at either http://www.lrc.ky.gov/ or http://www.lrc.ky.gov/search.htm (the latter of which provides for selection of more search restriction options).

  9. Claire Says:

    Thanks for the research, Mike. kycolonel, Mike’s links are very worth checking. The Alternet article has definitely blown some things out of proportion, but it is absolutely a fact that one of the duties of the Kentucky Director of Homeland (Achtung!) Security is to publicize and promote the role of The Almighty in keeping the state safe from terrorism and other threats.

    Constitutionally highly dubious, that. And it is at least theoretically possible — though hardly likely — that a citizen of Kentucky could go to jail for being a non-believer.

  10. Claire Says:

    kycolonel — That is sad that a private business should be forced to go against its owners’ consciences. Now a boycott, OTOH …

    Good observation (and also not a new thing) that institutions have to keep on finding things to justify their existence.

  11. M Says:

    KY : Seems this is a long and protracted battle over what “is” is.

    http://kysecurity.wordpress.com/

    Interestingly enough, the more “Briefs” are filed, the farther the conversation gets from the real issue :

    Why is the Department of Homeland Security needed much less to get involved in the following:

    Some other guys god is telling me that my god (or not god) is wrong and all followers should be wiped from the face of the earth. Unless of course you follow the “true god” in which case the original guys god is the right one.

  12. Scott Says:

    I agree with Ky Colonel-I haven’t heard anything about such a law. It could be sort of like the old “blue laws”-technically, you could be thrown in jail, but it never happens.
    A great many things in history are the result of finding loopholes-squeeze hard, and it comes out somewhere-unpredictably.
    I live within walking distance of the t-shirt company Ky Colonel mentions. There was a huge stink made over thier refusal to print something they felt was against their beliefs. I’m not sure how that turned out. Too many groups fighting for “freedom” simply want things done their way.. Don’t like a business’ methods or beliefs? Go somewhere else! It’s a rare thing to find just one company providing a particualr service.

  13. A.G. Says:

    The last paragraph of today’s post is really, really good. Thanks.

  14. Jim Bovard Says:

    The religious exemption to Social Security may have originated after the IRS got such horrible news coverage – such as photos & videos of federal agents dragging Amish people out of their homes or carts to arrest them for not paying taxes. (I might be mistaken on this one.)

  15. LarryA Says:

    “one of the duties of the Kentucky Director of Homeland (Achtung!) Security is to publicize and promote the role of The Almighty in keeping the state safe from terrorism and other threats.”

    Don’t know why you would object to that, Claire. If the Almighty’s on the job we can shut down Homeland Security, right?

  16. Mike Says:

    M – GREAT link. Still, I can’t find exactly how this can result in a year in jail. Haven’t been able to dig up FULL, full text.

  17. Claire Says:

    Mike — According to something I read elsewhere, the twelve months in prison comes from subsection KRS 39A.990, which says anyone violating any “chapter or any administrative regulation or order promulgated pursuant to this chapter for which another penalty is not specified shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.” It’s pretty iffy whether anyone could actually be sent to jail because the subsection about The Almighty (39A.285(3)) is a “finding” and may not count as law.

    The threat is there, but might be meaningless. Don’t ask me, though. I don’t even play a lawyer on TV.

    Hobbit? Oregon LawHobbit? You out there?

    I agree with M and LarryA, though. If Kentucky’s Almighty is in charge of homeland security, the bureaucrats and enforcers should just be able to go home and not worry about it.

  18. Matt, another Says:

    Kentucky’s Almighty sounds like a race horse. Although I am sure many horses ass are in homeland security, I don’t think running it a fit calling for a race horse.

  19. M Says:

    Find a little more here:

    http://fr.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/13t1qn/til_as_a_kentucky_citizen_you_can_get_jailed_for/

    “TL:DR – The law is dumb and should and probably will be overturned, but Kentucky atheists don’t have to worry about being jailed for their nonebelief (unless they happen to work for the Executive Director of Homeland Security and an unlikely series of events occur).”

    See – the answer is simple. Don’t work for the DHS – no problem!

  20. Mark Call Says:

    Right on, Claire…but especially the part about worshiping “their Almighty [sic]“.

    That is the whole point of a Caesar-chartered State-created Licensed Official Church (of any denomination – it doesn’t really matter since they ALL have the same creator: just read their incorporation documents!).

    The State CAN (in its benevolence and grace) give an “exemption” to its taxes, fees, burdens, and regulations. After all, it gives those “blessings” to its own creation. (As a ‘theist’ myself — but not the licensed kind — I observe that Yahushua even made the same point in a discussion [the end of Matthew chapter 17; I suggest most licensed 'churches' don't have a CLUE what the real point is there], when He asked “Of whom do the kings of the earth require tribute?” and then observed that they treated their OWN as “free”. So long as the ‘sons’ OBEY, of course.)

    Back when we had a “First Amendment,” and when most of the Founders KNEW about the evils of “incorporated churches,” the distinction was “bright line”:

    the State had no right to argue with “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” when it came to conscience (or even “religion”) — UNLESS there was a CONTRACT in place. (Think of it as a “deal with the devil”. Those who “take the king’s money, play the king’s tune.”)

    Incorporated “faith-based institutions” (read “501c(3) churches”) get a blessing from Big Brother (their special tax-preferred “status”) but there are, as always, major strings attached. Now, they include “Obamacare” (since Big Daddy CARES, doncha know!)

    I lead a NON-501c(3) fellowship. We know Who our Creator is, and it is “Him alone”. We ask for nothing from any other false master.

    But the problem today is the legal concept called “presumption,” and the claim that “failure to object in a timely fashion” constitutes acceptance.

    Big Brother just PRESUMES that you – and I – and EVERYONE “He” surveys – are “His”. And as such his servants must worship him, at his altar, in the absence of “proof beyond any doubt” otherwise. The burden of proof has been shifted. And just ask – his courts will back him up. (Read Chief Just-us Roberts’ “opinion” very carefully. It’s a masterpiece of obfuscation.)

    Conscience? He seeks to TELL US what that means. And, of course, it will soon be a “thought crime” to even imply otherwise.

  21. Claire Says:

    Well said, Mark Call. Well said. You and Water Lily touched on an aspect of this that I didn’t really delve into.

    How churches (and do-gooding groups) sell their souls to the state. Somebody needs to write more about that.

  22. Claire Says:

    M — Thanks for the addl link. Some good comments there.

  23. Mark Call Says:

    Thanks, Claire. And, actually, I have, particularly when it comes to issues of “choice of Law” (which is why Amerikans ultimately are shocked to learn that the Bill of Rights no longer applies to slaves, because they CHOSE an alternative system) and how that is reflected in everything from Transport Sexual Abuse to gun ‘privileges’, and even how those who fail to understand the distinction confuse State definitions of “marriage” with Scripture (and then find themselves COMPELLED to accept what THEIR ‘creator’ says):

    “Choice of Law” http://markniwot.com/?p=554

    And if the State-created Caesar-approved “Church” has been teaching for centuries that “the Law is done away with” and (Romans 13, as twisted for IRS-compliance) “when Big Brother says ‘jump’ – we say, “how high?”) — why are we surprised that the Constitution is, too?

    “Coming out” of the corporate ‘churches’

    http://markniwot.com/?p=348
    http://markniwot.com/?p=401
    http://markniwot.com/?p=326
    http://markniwot.com/?p=790
    http://markniwot.com/?p=745
    http://markniwot.com/?p=303
    http://markniwot.com/?p=293

    and so on.

    The issue boils down to ‘jurisdiction':

    IFF there is such a thing as a church (or ‘cahal’, in Hebrew) which belongs to the Creator — then the State has no jurisdiction over it, or His people. The First Amendment just confirms what was already obvious; the State has no power or authority over something that “is not Caesar’s”. BUT – if you take a license, or ask permission, accept Big Brother’s benevolence, or even fail to OBJECT to his gifts – it’s a Whole ‘Nuther Thang.

    (And I’m not alone, of course, on the 501c(3) issue. There are a number of organizations, including especially “Heal Our Land Ministries” of Peter Kershaw — http://hushmoney.org/ — who have been doing so for a long time.)

  24. Mark Call Says:

    Oh, and a quick follow-up to excellent Claire’s point about “cognitive dissonance” and believing absurdities (I like Alice’s discussion with the aptly-named ‘Red Queen’ on that score; they can “believe six impossible things before breakfast):

    While I might initially have called it “self-contradiction” and “hypocrisy” – that was precisely why I left Churchianity so many years ago. SO MUCH of what I saw, and what “they” claimed the Bible said, was so contradictory that I didn’t want anything to do with it — or a “God” that couldn’t keep His story straight, or His promises. But I came to find out it wasn’t what was actually Written that was the problem. Now I enjoy teaching others (to paraphrase the “Sermon on the mount”) why “what we have heard it said He said” is NOT “what is Written”.

    It’s funny to me that so many who claim to “follow Jesus” ignore what He said (and that includes, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and NOT DO what I say?” as well as the fact that He didn’t come to change the ‘smallest part’ of His own Word, either).

    While I clearly have a “Torah-observant mindset” on my own website and radio teachings, the point here is two-fold:

    – We all have a “choice”. It’s just that Big Brother is willing to lie in order to subvert his own written law, and that includes, but is not limited to, the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Most folks just don’t recognize how craftily it is done! (And, yes, we’re at the point now where “the velvet glove” has been removed from the “iron fist” once hidden within. What were once “God-given Rights” have been converted first to ‘privileges’, and then ‘loopholes’ — which are now being CLOSED. The Bill of Rights has been replaced by “private law”, which really just means people have contracted (via ‘commerce’ typically) into a “jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws,” just as Jefferson once observed.

    – “Churches” which ultimately just represent different denominations of the same State-worshiping Religion are a BIG part of the problem, and the deception. Those who CLAIM to “follow Him” ought to actually read what He says, for themselves. (And Scripture makes that point over and over again, too.) We CAN “come out of” THAT religion, too.

    “Religion” shouldn’t be forced on anybody. Sadly, however, that is the “de facto” situation when people are presumed to be unable to choose for themselves, and deceived by what only APPEARS to be an alternative.

  25. Mark Call Says:

    [perhaps the links caused a problem with this reply earlier...]

    Thanks, Claire. And, actually, I have, particularly when it comes to issues of “choice of Law” (which is why Amerikans ultimately are shocked to learn that the Bill of Rights no longer applies to slaves, because they CHOSE an alternative system) and how that is reflected in everything from Transport Sexual Abuse to gun ‘privileges’, and even how those who fail to understand the distinction confuse State definitions of “marriage” with Scripture (and then find themselves COMPELLED to accept what THEIR ‘creator’ says):

    “Choice of Law” www . markniwot.com/?p=554

    And if the State-created Caesar-approved “Church” has been teaching for centuries that “the Law is done away with” and (Romans 13, as twisted for IRS-compliance) “when Big Brother says ‘jump’ – we say, “how high?”) — why are we surprised that the Constitution is, too?

    “Coming out” of the corporate ‘churches’

    …markniwot.com/?p=348
    …markniwot.com/?p=401
    …markniwot.com/?p=326
    …markniwot.com/?p=790
    …markniwot.com/?p=745
    …markniwot.com/?p=303
    …markniwot.com/?p=293

    and so on.

    The issue boils down to ‘jurisdiction’:

    IFF there is such a thing as a church (or ‘cahal’, in Hebrew) which belongs to the Creator — then the State has no jurisdiction over it, or His people. The First Amendment just confirms what was already obvious; the State has no power or authority over something that “is not Caesar’s”. BUT – if you take a license, or ask permission, accept Big Brother’s benevolence, or even fail to OBJECT to his gifts – it’s a Whole ‘Nuther Thang.

    (And I’m not alone, of course, on the 501c(3) issue. There are a number of organizations, including especially “Heal Our Land Ministries” of Peter Kershaw — hushmoney.org — who have been doing so for a long time.)

  26. Jacob Morgan Says:

    Issue is that the government is using a so-called health care law to violate the freedom of religion. This is in line with Barry’s “freedom of worship” scheme, where there is freedom of religion so long as it is confined exclusively to what goes on within 4 walls once a week. Even under the “exemption” Mother Teressa’s organization would not be exempt. Violate one’s own beliefs or face crushing fines. The government is now lord and master, and does not like competition.

    The news media is now nothing but drooling Obama worshiping zombies, they have voluntarily given up the freedom of the press by voluntarily submitting to one-party control. So long first amendment.

    In regards to “Hitler’s Pope” be warned that that revisionist history was the product of Soviet agit-prop from the 1960’s. Wm Shrier’s definitive “Rise and Fall of the Third Riech” had no mention of it, quite the opposite. The Soviets were totalitarians and did not want anyone to hold on to absolutes, thus the libels against the primary Church in Eastern and Western Europe at the time. The KGB’s animosity was well placed as it was that Church, teamed up with the Solidarity movement, that started the crack in communism in Poland.

    Totalitarians will allow no other absolutes, be it Gods, Churches, the family, individual rights due all humans, individual convictions, etc.

  27. JS Says:

    So much confusion within the hallways of “religion.” It’s all too much for me. Too much. All I know is I am a Child of God without my full comprehension and my “religion” is my personal relationship with Jesus.

    “Jesus is peace, just like calm water. But anyone can drop a stone into water and make it muddy.” – Akiane

    Abortion and birth control are currently legal. Thousands of times a day across the country, citizens willfully choose these practices at hospitals and doctor’s offices. Nobody is stopping them. CLEARLY, it is the state forcing it’s agenda onto the Church and not the Church demanding others adhere to their beliefs. If you work at a Catholic or other religious-based institution and do not follow the Catholic faith, you are free to obtain either of these practices from a number a various sources. It could not be more accessible.

  28. JS Says:

    I even wrote a little poem about my relationship:

    “The rainbow exists, without the blind man’s sight. The musical score is real, without the deaf man’s hearing. I am a Child of God, without my understanding.” — Me

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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