In Tudor times England liked to flatter itself that it was an enlightened nation ruled by law, and to contrast itself with Spain, which it understood to be a benighted land of autocratic brutality. So, in "A Man for All Seasons," when Thomas More confesses to the Duke of Norfolk that he is afraid, Norfolk replies "This isn't Spain, you know. This is England." In fact, it would be in England where the rights of the vibrant and popular Church would be trampled, its property seized, its priests and other faithful put to death (Thomas More among them), and where crushing fines would be levied upon Catholics, and their rights restricted in other ways. The Duke of Norfolk himself barely escaped execution. That legal formalities were often observed doesn't obscure the autocratic brutality of these acts.
America, like Tudor England, flatters itself that it's the land of the free, with a government of laws, not men. In California, at least, this is no longer the case. There, in August, the Department of Managed Healthcare (!) ordered all elective health plans in the state to cover elective abortion. "All" of course includes health plans administered by religious institutions, even those with objections to elective abortions based upon their religious beliefs. In other words, California permits a mere bureaucratic body, not even its legislature, to trample on rights guaranteed to its citizens and churches by the first amendment to the US Constitution. Six churches have filed lawsuits.
Meanwhile, the shadows lengthen and deepen.