I'm bringing disparate elements together in this post, but what they all have in common is that they are cases where civil disobedience is going to be necessary. Very often Christians and moral people in the west have hoped that if we just keep our heads down we aren't actually going to have to engage in civil disobedience. In the abortion culture wars, for example, what has often been brought up is that nobody is ordering you to have an abortion, so civil disobedience like blocking a clinic entrance is morally optional. Laws requiring doctors to give referrals, though, call that diagnosis into question. The left is seldom willing to leave it at live and let live.
The latest such case concerning abortion is in California, where alternative crisis pregnancy centers are being required to advertise abortion services to women who consult them. Some in Sacramento are refusing, while meanwhile a first amendment lawsuit moves forward. A similar bill in New York State was defeated on first amendment grounds as requiring "forced speech" by the pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, but whether that will be done in the California case or not remains to be seen. Meanwhile, a federal judge has refused to put a stay on the enforcement of the law, which does not bode well. The centers are right to refuse to comply with this law.
The second case for civil disobedience comes from Canada, where doctors, nurses, and institutions are going to be required to offer euthanasia or "effective referral" for being made dead. As Wesley J. Smith points out, nurses will apparently have no conscience protections at all. Physicians assistants will also (likely) be required to participate, at least by "effective referral."
Medical professionals in Canada need to refuse to cooperate. They may do so quietly. I'm not saying they should hold press conferences saying, "Come and get me." But they should stand fast and not cooperate in killing their patients.
And finally, the Walders, who own a B & B in Illinois, have been not just fined but ordered by a judge to hold a celebration for a homosexual couple. I am unable to find again one story that stated that the Walders now no longer offer wedding reception services at their facility, but it looks like even getting out of the wedding business isn't enough. The administrative judge has told them they must actually offer to host a celebration within one year for the couple they "harmed" by previously refusing. This is terrifying. I think they should resist--certainly by legal objections and responses to the extent that this is possible, but in the end being willing to be jailed rather than actively celebrate a homosexual union.
It is not intrinsically wrong to take the path of silence illustrated by Thomas More (at least as portrayed in A Man for All Seasons). We aren't obligated to rush upon martyrdom. But increasingly, like More, we are being flushed out of our silence. We are being required to affirm something we think false and to abet actions that we think are wrong.
The worst effect of this will be the corruption of individuals, and this is one reason why I have to some extent resisted making as much of a deal about religious exceptions. I mean, if that's the best we can get, I'll take it. But what about all the non-religious doctors in Canada who feel squeamish about assisting their patients in dying? I think we should care about the corruption of their hearts and souls as well. What about people who don't have clearly articulated principles against some wrong action but find their consciences crying out inarticulately against it nonetheless? No policy of conscience protection is going to help them, because such protections require the person to have a clear enough mind about the matter to be able to speak up, and the burden of proof is on him to show that he has a "bona fide" conscientious objection to the action--whether referring for abortion, euthanasia, or celebrating homosexuality.
In the homosexual "marriage" area, this is one reason why I do not like it when conservative activists (even those I otherwise support) use a phrase like "win-win situation" for cases where conscience or religious protections are put in place in law. Oh, by the way, Illinois has a state RFRA (one of those terrible, homophobic laws, y'know, that allow discrimination), but that did not protect the B & B owners. So much for a win-win situation.
And the same point can be applied to other areas like participation in abortion and euthanasia. It is not (repeat not) a win-win situation for society as a whole to promote and celebrate something gravely evil, even requiring its endorsement in law, just because a few brave people with well-articulated objections might or even will get out of participating. That's a terrible situation. It's just marginally less terrible than a situation where everybody is required to participate!
This is why I think that everybody who talks about these issues needs to talk about more than religious liberty. Don't get me wrong. I'm not bitterly dissing people who talk about and fight for religious liberty. It may be one of the last things we have to fight for, practically speaking. I applaud those who are fighting in this last ditch, and I wouldn't for the world want to sound like I'm tearing them down. But we as citizens, politicians, and policy wannabe wonks and pundits need to talk about more than that. We need to keep on talking about why abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality are wrong and why their promotion in a society as a whole is a very bad thing.
Are we going to lose for now? Yes, probably in the foreseeable future. But we can teach as we lose, especially teach our own children, and some will listen and learn and thus keep the seeds of knowledge of the good and the true alive for the future.