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Diocesan Seminar Reflecting On Midterms… Takes Note Of What A Difference 2016 Election Made

October 24, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN

PHOENIX — Moral traditionalists are “in a few moments” of relief from federal governmental pressures against their principles, thanks to the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton two Novembers ago, a leading legal defender of traditional values told a legislative seminar at the headquarters of the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.
Alan Sears, founder of the Arizona-based, internationally active Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), told more than 200 activists at the October 13 seminar, “It’s truly a shocking turn of events” being brought about by the Trump administration, instead of what was expected from a Hillary Clinton victory.
The diocese’s legislative seminar has been held every election year since 2004, Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, told the gathering.
U.S. midterm elections are scheduled for November 6, less than a month after the seminar.
Sears and the seminar’s other major speaker, Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., an outspoken defender of traditional marriage with the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, didn’t focus on partisanship, but the audience was well aware of the sharply contrasting approaches to morality taken by the Republican and Democratic parties.
And while the situation has improved, listeners were told, their activity must continue so events don’t go backward.
How different things are from two years ago, Sears said, when the results of the 2016 presidential election could have meant another four years of pursuing the departing president’s policies of pressing for tax funding for abortion, sterilization, and contraception.
One of the major presidential candidates in 2016, he said, “was the most unapologetically pro-abortion” and had called for people’s religious beliefs to be changed to favor her agenda.
Thanks to the Trump victory, Sears said, “Scores of regulations on front after front after front . . . have been stopped in their tracks, reversed, or eliminated.”
But, he said, “all of the gains that we’ve had on the federal level” can be wiped away with the stroke of a pen unless Catholic laity remain engaged in the public square.
Two more years could make just as much of a difference going in the other direction, Sears said, because those who oppose the freedom to practice one’s faith are planning to take action against it.
People must be active if they want to see their prayers answered for maintaining religious freedom, he said.
“Religious freedom is ingrained in our inherent human dignity,” Sears said, although there are many threats to it across the globe.
Commending the words of St. John Paul II, “Do not be afraid,” Sears said that if Christ told His followers not to fear, that must be something they’re able to do.
The other main speaker, Anderson, is a senior research fellow at Heritage.
After the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage in 2015, Anderson said, “there’s no stopping” the “train of bad logic” that followed.
Like Sears, Anderson said that if the 2016 federal election had gone the other way, there would be greater problems for religious traditionalists today.
Anderson asked whether those who follow the traditional definition of marriage — including Orthodox Jews, Catholics, evangelicals, and Muslims — would be treated as racists, except their practice of alleged unjust discrimination would be based on sexual orientation.
Recalling that conservative High Court Justice Samuel Alito had asked what would happen to Christian schools that follow the historic definition of marriage, Anderson said, “Your school might go out of existence” if donations made to it weren’t tax-deductible, and it might lose its status as an accredited degree-granting institution.
Already, Anderson said, some liberal cities don’t recognize Catholic Charities to provide foster-care and adoption services because they don’t accept “gay marriage.”
“We’re not preventing same-sex couples” from following their own way, Anderson said, but government is going after traditionalist agencies that observe their own beliefs.
“If my wife and I were to die, we would want our child to be adopted by a mother and a father” instead of some other arrangement, Anderson said, explaining they have a two-month-old son.
In addition, he said, professional associations are revising their ethics codes to exclude traditional religious believers from holding jobs in their areas.
Even when the Supreme Court legalized permissive abortion in 1973, he said, the court didn’t rule that all doctors and nurses had to perform abortions, but a more sweeping social change is being attempted now with the redefinition of marriage.
Another radical change was attempted in the last year of the Obama administration, Anderson said, when a government directive said that access to bathrooms was dictated by a person’s feelings about sexual identity, not biology, and that specialists like endocrinologists mustn’t discriminate in providing services.
“We never had a discussion about that” — access to bathrooms, dormitories, how to practice medicine — but the federal government just imposed an order, he said.
Earlier in his talk, Anderson said the first thing every child needs is a right to life, and the second thing is a mother and father.
In recognizing the importance of a mother and father, “We’re not asking the government to take a side on sacramental theology,” but to acknowledge the natural law and social realities, Anderson said.
More than a half-century ago, Anderson recalled, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist and national Democratic Party politician, had warned that blacks were headed for trouble because 25 percent of their families didn’t have a father in the household, while only five percent of all Americans were in the same situation.
However, Anderson said, today 40 percent of all Americans lack a father in the household.
Anderson spoke for 53 minutes, Sears for 47 minutes.

To Whom Much
Has Been Given

Sears said there is no Catholic conference more successful than the Arizona Catholic Conference, not only in having good legislation passed but also in stopping bad legislation.
Because he works across the globe, Sears said, he knows that practicing Catholics anywhere are aware of the works of the Diocese of Phoenix.
Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted watched the proceedings from the front row.
The morning began with 8 o’clock Mass lasting nearly an hour at nearby St. Mary’s Basilica, during which Olmsted said in his homily that Catholics should come to the public square without “pride or arrogance…but we should come with a keen sense of duty,” to whom much has been given.
Mass was followed by a light breakfast in the diocesan cafeteria and then the seminar, ending promptly at noon.

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