Recently I wrote how glad I was people involved with the internet were standing up against the federal government's ill-advised Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Now another entity -- the Catholic Church -- is showing some backbone.
I'm told Catholic bishops have addressed all U. S. parishes regarding the federal government's demand that Catholic hospitals and other agencies fund abortion and contraceptives in their health care policies.
The new federal policy begins in a year; Catholics have twelve months to get their consciences in order.
The bishops say no.
Good for them.
Whatever one believes about abortion or contraception is not as relevant to this issue as is the question of conscience. Beginning with the First Amendment, we as a nation have respected conscience.
Over time, we made exemptions for people like the Amish regarding school attendance and military service; indeed, in the era of the military draft we allowed for alternative service for conscientous objectors.
Conscience, we knew, was sacred. It was a major component of the essence of the individual.
Respecting it has been basic to being American.
Even in the secular realm, we have respected conscience. Advertising agency executives, for instance, could decline to work on a specific account -- for tobacco, for instance, or a specific politician -- if they could not do so in good conscience. Of course, abstain from too many accounts and an executive would be invited to work elsewhere. But at least there has been a provision for respecting that person's conscience.
In journalism, reporters writing stories could, for whatever reason (maybe they opposed how their story had been edited), ask that their bylines be omitted from the story. In other words, they would do their job, but not sign their names to it.
It is important.
But now we're told the Catholic Church must adjust its beliefs to fit the ideas of Those Who Know Best.
And they're saying no.
I'm with them on this.
For conscience' sake.