Robert Knight

A 10-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis has given us a snapshot into the brave new world of big government and why we should fear it.

The parents of Sarah Murnaghan asked to put her on an adult waiting list for a lung transplant, but health authorities said she wasn’t 12, the minimum age. It took a court order amid public outrage to reverse what amounted to a death sentence.

Contrast this with the government’s waiving all rules when a major Democratic donor with cancer wanted access to a new drug that the Federal Drug Administration was years away from approving.

Discrepancies happen when power is concentrated, especially the power over life and death.

Last year, Catholic bishops were shocked that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s gargantuan agency ordered faith-based hospitals and other institutions under Obamacare to violate their conscience and provide abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilizations. Perhaps the bishops thought their crucial support for passage of the Affordable Care Act would buy them consideration.

George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The following is drawn from William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It’s meant only as a cautionary tale with some disturbing parallels. I am well aware of the latter-day maxim that the first person to bring up Nazis loses the argument. But I’ll risk that.

On July 20, 1933, the Vatican signed a deal with the newly elected Nazi government in Germany that guaranteed the “right of the church to regulate her own affairs.” Article 24 of the party’s platform had promised “liberty for all religious denominations in the State so far as they are not a danger to … the moral feelings of the German race.” But “moral feelings” can change.

Only five days later, Adolf Hitler’s government enacted a sterilization law that the church expressly opposed. Hospitals began killing the weak and defenseless. Five days after that, as related by Mr. Shirer, “the first steps were taken to dissolve the Catholic Youth League.” Young people would no longer be instructed in views that might clash with those of the government.

“During the next year, thousands of Catholic priests, nuns and lay leaders were arrested, many of them on trumped up charges….” In the spring of 1937, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical condemning the Nazi regime. By then, Germany’s Jews were being openly persecuted.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.