As concerns the Obamacare HHS Mandate forcing religious entities to pay for insurances covering employee sterilization, contraception and abortifacients, the more worn-out and tired non-thinking, knee-jerk phrase I’ve encountered this week in my email or in various comboxes and more than a few op-ed pieces or columns is “it’s just birth control.”
As Kathleen Parker neatly informs: No, it ain’t
Actually there may be a tie between that and “you neanderthals just have it in for Obama.”
I mean, it’s like they use a template.
These folks should realize that among the neanderthal Catholic voices crying out against this ruling are so-called “progressive” Catholics with sterling credentials as Obama supporters, including Michael Sean Winters, former Ambassador Doug Kmiec, Bob Casey, Sister Carol Keehan, former Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, Timothy Kaine and many others. These are the Catholics who helped deliver 54% of the Catholic vote to Obama and one can hardly lump them in with your ordinary despised reactionary.
And in “doubling down” on his decision, Obama has managed to do what no bishops or popes could: it has united the Catholic “left” and “right” (how I hate these labels) in opposition to the mandate. He’s even brought in the Protestants, and the Orthodox, both Christians and Jews!
Well, he did tell us he would be a uniter of a president.
So, to be clear, as of right now if church-related entities (hospitals, schools and charities — many of which were serving the poor in their community before local or state governments had anything in place or had even thought to do so) do not comply, their choices are to either offer NO insurance at all, which violates Catholic social teaching, or to close up shop, altogether, which goes against the mission of the church since the time of the Apostles.
This is the government telling the church to knuckle under or cease to be who and what she has been for 2,000 years, as mandated by Christ himself.
A few people have said, either in conversation or via cyberchat that they feel the language of war — “Obama declares war on religion” — is too extreme.
You bet it’s war, and the reason you know it’s war is because this HHS mandate and this fight was entirely unnecessary. If the government really wants to make tubal-ligations, vasectomies and pills and condoms available for everyone, they did not need to go after the churches to do it. Or, they could have extended an exemption (God knows, over a thousand have been extended to businesses via Mrs. Pelosi when she was speaker), or self-insuranced entities could have been excused (because it’s not only churches who have consciences, as Julie has pointed out). That the administration refused to do so tells me this isn’t about “women’s health and equality” or (to quote Jay Carney) “striking a balance between a church’s rights and a woman’s” but a direct push against the church, her conscience and her right to the free exercise of religion in the public square. It is, as Michael Gerson has written, the government deciding what the mission of the church is, and is not.
The mandate is also a naked power grab; if the church-related entities follow the examples of Catholic child-placement services in Illinois, Massachusetts and elsewhere, and decide to close up shop, the government will likely acquire the hospitals, schools, charities and so forth.
Just as Christ wishes to gather us all unto himself (Ephesians 1:10), the Obama government wishes to gather all things unto itself.
It’s war if you bother to remember that this same administration, through its EEOC, recently argued before the SCOTUS that the Lutheran Church had no right to decide who it could or could not name and employ as a minister (Hosanna-Tabor vs EEOC) – it was an argument so broadly intrusive, and so clearly meant to set a precedent by which the government would control the ministry of the churches that Obama’s own recently appointed Justices voted against it, as did the entire court, 9-0.
For those who are wincing at issues of “language” or who would prefer to remain in denial and call this “a controversy of the week” or “typical reactionaryism” while still making excuses for this administration, it’s time to take off the self-imposed blinders and look at how committed this administration is to telling the churches what to do, in direct contradiction to the first amendment.
Rights lost are rarely if ever restored. I know there is a huge divide between “left” and “right” in this country, and I write all of this as someone who was raised in a blue-collar, union-loving home and who spent the first forty years of her life as a politically involved “liberal Democrat”. I was raised as a “classical liberal” and it stuns me to see people who call themselves “liberal” today endorsing this most illiberal of ideas simply because they are impulsive ideological tribalists or, and this is much worse, pure emotionalists.
Oh, and do you know what the third most tiresome meme in my email box is? This: “oh, and a majority of Catholics support birth control”!
No, really? You know what else? It doesn’t matter if every Catholic in the world “supports birth control” — the church teaches against it. This is not about whether or not Catholics dissent; many of the “progressive” Catholics who are decrying this mandate openly dissent from the teaching.
They are liberal-minded enough, however, to understand that whether they agree or not, the church has the right to its teaching; it has the right to be who she is.
And keep your polls to yourself, okay? Because for every poll you shove in my face saying “see? See?” I can shove one back in yours. Polls are the easiest thing in the world to manipulate. Its why you rarely if ever see them featured on this blog.
And by the way, no, I don’t think Obama is going to reverse himself on this. His ego is too big to do it and even if he wants to, his substitute mom Valerie Jarrett won’t let him.
Meanwhile, in describing the shark-jumping of the ACLU, Ed Morrissey writes:
The First Amendment is pretty clear on what the government can and cannot do in dictating the actions of religious organizations. Heck, this should be so clear that even the ACLU should figure it out: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Dictating to Catholics that they have to fund contraception for their employees when our religion specifically prohibits it — including the use of abortifacients, which is equivalent to killing children in our faith — is prohibiting the free exercise of a core doctrine for Catholics (and many other Christian denominations as well), which is to defend the sanctity of human life.
Is that a “view” of Christians in general, and Catholics specifically? Yes. Are we “imposing” it by practicing our religion, including our outreach to the community through the provision of health care to the indigent and charitable works? Not at all. Those are voluntary associations, not mandated, unlike ObamaCare, which makes it impossible for the Catholic Church to avoid this mandate by simply ending employer-provided health insurance coverage. If a religion cannot express its views and live by its tenets because “views” are not protected, then the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment doesn’t exist at all.
Some have tried to claim that because the Catholic Church gets government funding through Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, their First Amendment rights are no longer applicable. Really? Does the government have the right to censor AARP because it participates in Medicare Advantage? How about Social Security recipients? I’d love to see the ACLU brief supporting those arguments, although that may become a reality if Obama remains in office for a second term, based on the ACLU’s statements. Do government contractors lose their First Amendment rights to petition their government? Considering the activities surrounding Solyndra investor George Kaiser and his frequent visits to the White House, the Obama administration doesn’t appear to think so, and the ACLU was curiously quiet if it believes that.
Here is the latest from Cardinal-Designate Dolan — it’s a video I wasn’t able to embed
A Look Back: What Democrats were saying in November of 2011
Kathryn Jean Lopez: The Abortion-Rights Advocates who Complied this Mandate
Kathryn Lopez and Me: Talking about it here (two minute preview here)
Obama’s Compromise: could make things worse. Why do compromise? It’s not the government’s place to dole out constitutional freedoms.
Max Lindenman: We’re facing a Trojan War
Optimistic NY Post: This may be O’s Undoing
Deacon Greg: Most people are both, not either-or
Bishop Lori: Referral is not the answer; rescinding is
Politico Op-Ed: Obama’s Assault on Religious Freedom
Nashville Dominican Nuns: Doing a Novena!
She the People: Two good pieces
Mark Shea: Obama Loses Catholics for the Common Good
WSJ: The Real Trouble with the Mandate
Janet Daley: Obama moves Closer to Post-Religion Europe
First Things: The Feminist Shaming of Fertility
The Hill: Obama admin struggles to contain uproar, yeah, right.