My wife and I recently started browsing through classic Twilight Zone episodes. Seems like a reasonable thing for religious conservatives to do in the Obama administration’s America. But I wasn’t prepared for just how relevant it would be.
The eeriness started when we turned on the 1961 episode, “The Obsolete Man,” the Saturday after the Nov. 6 election. In it, an all-powerful state has assumed control: people’s lives are monitored, religion is marginalized, and believers are persecuted by the government.
The government’s latest target for systematic destruction, to take place on national television, is played by Burgess Meredith (Rocky's “Mickey” for those who may better remember that character). And the character's name--cue the theme song--is “Romney.”
But that is not this episode’s last parallel to current events. Rod Serling's prophetic quality reaches out to new heights.
There is a bureaucrat tasked with enforcing the state’s all-controlling agenda, a character prefiguring “Smith” from The Matrix. He tries to explain to Romney, the defendant, why Romney's job up until now cannot have been as a “librarian,” since the state has banned all books. To further explain how the state excises such dictatorial power, the bureaucrat adds this example: “A minister would tell us that his function is that of preaching the Word of God. And of course it follows that since the state has proven that there is no God, that would make the function of a minister somewhat academic as well.”
When Romney objects that government “cannot erase God with an edict,” the bureaucrat simply yells louder: “The state has proven that there is no God! . . . You are obsolete.”
At this point I realized I had heard something like this recently, and then I remembered—it was in U.S. District Court, from President Obama’s attorneys at the Department of Justice, in arguments they filed against my clients just a few weeks ago.
In the administration's attempt to force a Catholic family in western Pennsylvania to provide employees of their small business with abortion pills and contraception under ObamaCare, the president’s bureaucrats insisted that a family business “is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion.” Thus sayeth the state.
To further support this idea that devoutly religious cannot, categorically, exercise religion in business, DOJ attorneys cited (or, rather, imposed) their view of the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “The terms ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ are antonyms . . . There is no such thing as a ‘secular religious’ company.”
The Obama administration’s attorneys then argued against us in D.C. federal court on Nov. 9 that Tyndale House Publishers, a devout company that publishes the Bible and gives its money to charity, is also incapable of exercising religion. When pressed by the judge, the attorneys admitted in open court that even the Catholic Church itself would lose a free-exercise-of -religion claim against ObamaCare’s abortion pill mandate.
In other words, to paraphrase Rod Serling’s bureaucrat, “The State has proven that religion cannot exist in a company because companies are, according to us, ‘secular.’ That would make the function of a religious company somewhat academic.”
This isn’t the Obama administration’s first attempt to declare by fiat that an activity is “secular” and therefore that the government can trump religious exercise. In the Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court case, the president’s attorneys insisted that “religious schools” themselves must bow to government control because they “perform a public function,” that is, “secular education.”
So whatever the Obama administration declares is secular is secular, because they said so. The areas of human life where people spend most of their waking hours—education, business, and healthcare—are, by edict, “secular.” And whatever is secular, the government controls.
The Obama administration lost that argument unanimously at the Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor. Let’s hope they lose it again when the abortion pill mandate cases reach the high court.
As for “The Obsolete Man,” I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s definitely worth watching, especially since we will all be spending at least four more years in…the Twilight Zone.