In 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by the English because she refused to renounce that the visions she saw and voices she heard came from heaven.
In 1535, Thomas More was beheaded because he refused to accept King Henry VIII as leader of the English church.
Both saints chose death over denying their faith. Although not facing death, the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious orders are being pressured by the U.S. government to renounce tenets of their faith. But, writes Slate blogger Amanda Marcotte, they are merely “trying to weasel out of nothing more onerous than signing a piece of paper” (“Contraception vs. Freedom: The Nuns’ Court Case Is All About Signing a Piece of Paper,” Jan. 3 Perspectives).
That signature, however, allows government to pay for contraception and abortion for employers of the religious order with taxpayers’ money, including the sisters’ funds. And their refusal to sign may cost millions in fines.
Simply sign a piece of paper, simply renounce your heavenly messengers, simply accept the king as head of the English church. Refusal in each instance did not signify defiance of the government. Like their predecessors, the nuns — regardless of the consequences — chose faith in the face of force.
ARTHUR J. MARINO JR.