WH “Accommodation” Trustworthy? UPDATED

UPDATE::: Read Bishops first and second responses:::

From Jake Tapper at ABC News, Obama to Announce Contraception Rule ‘Accommodation’ for Religious Organizations:

With the White House under fire for its new rule requiring employers including religious organizations to offer health insurance that fully covers birth control coverage, at 12:15 p.m. ET, President Obama will announce an attempt to accommodate these religious groups.

The move, based on state models, will almost certainly not satisfy bishops and other religious leaders since it will preserve the goal of women employees having their birth control fully covered by health insurance.

Sources say it will be respectful of religious beliefs but will not back off from that goal, which many religious leaders oppose since birth control is in violation of their religious beliefs.

One source familiar with the decision described the accommodation as “Hawaii-plus,” insisting that it’s better than the Hawaii plan — for both sides.

If memory serves, the Obama team were advised to use the Hawaii plan as some sort of model by which to exempt the churches ‘way back in October of last year. It was rejected, then.

Glenn Reynolds, noting the headline, writes:

My advice to the bishops: He’s on the run — don’t settle for his opening bid.

I agree with “don’t settle for the opening bid” but am not sure I agree that he is on the run.

Take no first offers, and I’m not sure about second offers, either. The thing is, no matter what Obama says, he has proved himself to be untrustworthy where the rights of the churches are concerned.

The fact that this episode ever developed at all, when it absolutely did not need to, and the fact of Hosanna-Tabor, suggests to me that this administration will continue to assault the rights of churches to be who and what they are, and to freely exercise their religion beyond the doors of the church. Freedom of Religion does not limit us to the confines of the church, but Obama’s stated commitment to “Freedom of Worship” absolutely does; “Freedom of Worship” is a mischaracterization of what the constitution says.

I expect President Obama will come out and say something that sounds wonderful and conciliatory and that seems reasonable to people who are eager to reconcile with the president and give themselves permission to vote for him again in November. I also expect that beyond the words, what the President offers will be too little — the government miserly granting to us pieces of freedom we are utterly entitled to own outright — but it will be “enough” for some.

And with that, Obama will have done the thing he needs to do, here, which is re-divide the Catholics who have apparently surprised him with their nearly unanimous condemnation of his HHS Mandate.

Re-divide and conquer. If he can get the Catholics who have loved and trusted him until now back under his wing, the bishops and the rest of the Catholics go back to being “reactionary neanderthals” who are simply too stubborn to give in to his benevolence.

If that’s what happens — if Obama comes out and throws a sop to the Catholics he has recently stabbed in the back, and they jump at the chance to reboard his ship — then everything immediately gets much, much uglier, everywhere.

But the thing to remember is this: Obama has now demonstrated that he cannot be trusted to deal in good faith with the churches. Even if he gives a “full exemption”, one needs to worry whether he can be trusted if he wins re-election, and is no longer constrained by the need to please anyone.

Then, I suspect Brad Miner’s Facebrook remarks from yesterday will be proved right. He wrote:

I expect the president to back down — to offer full exemptions to religious organizations. Then, if he wins reelection, we will get a screwing the like of which Catholicism hasn’t seen since the 16th century.

Remember Lucy and the football

UPDATED: My friend Thomas L. McDonald, on Facebook with the WH Fact Sheet:

I just got the WH press briefing. Money line:

“The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.”


Well, Ed Morrissey spells that out:

“. . .so the administration response will be tell insurers for religious organizations to take on the costs themselves without passing it along to the religious organizations that pay for the policies? I’m not sure that even Chris Matthews will buy that as a “compromise.” Religious organizations whose doctrines oppose birth control are not going to buy insurance policies that cover it — nor should the government be forcing them to do so.

This is not a “direct” co-operation with evil, but an “indirect” one, and now we’ll have to go to Aquinas (I think? I need to brush up) but I’m pretty sure it was Aquinas who reasoned that an “indirect” co-operation with evil was sometimes unavoidable in the world.

I expect it will be “enough” for those whose worldview was shaken over the past week and who want and need to be back on Obama’s side, where it all makes sense again. Their concerns having been “accommodated”, they’ll start offering much deeper theological musing than I can between direct and indirect co-operation with evil, and for most things will become very muddled, and everyone else will go back to watching American Idol.

Missing in their musings, I fear, will be the basic, fundamental truth that — “accommodated” in this way or not — the government does not give us our rights, piecemeal; they come from God.

An “accommodation” that puts us in “indirect” co-operation with evil when our rights say we ought not be forced into any co-operation, direct or not, is a game. It’s the football; it is the willful division.

UPDATE II: And yes, as I suspected, the Catholic Health Association is “very pleased” and back on board the bus, after having been so deftly thrown under it. As he did during the Obamacare debate, the Obama team is once again using a sister to soften the breakers and give the progressive imprimatur:

The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.

We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance.

Planned Parenthood, by the way is also very pleased.

That really tells me what this “accommodation” is worth.

And the narrative now becomes: “look at what a great conciliator Obama is, and how obnoxious these church-hardliners are.”

People get played, every day. No one is asking, “why did this president have to make this “accommodation” at all? If he was committed to religious liberty, this controversy would never have occurred at all.

Still waiting for the response of the Bishops, who are now finding themselves squeezed between the bus and the press.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: The folks who gave us Obamacare are back

The Obama administration strategy is consistently to confuse people. That is how the bill we had to pass to find out what was in it came to be law.
There will be a lot of confusion. But don’t be confused, and don’t let people around you be confused. These last days have been instructive [. . .] This new mandate moves us closer to what Pope Benedict XVI warned against in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”): “The state which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself . . [is]. a state which regulates and controls everything.”

Religious liberty is not an “accommodation.” This fight is not over today. It has only just begun.

Father Robert Barron: writing at NRO
Krauthammer: Gospel According to Obama

Brutally Honest: Not a cave
Shea: A head fake
CMR: This Accommodation does not

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About Elizabeth Scalia