The vacationing Deacon Greg Kandra has still managed, between spending time with Mickey and Minnie to post this interesting piece by Dave Gibson, who has written an informative article about what I called my First Things piece, yesterday, the “nuances between direct and indirect co-operation with evil”.
Gibson does his usual brilliant job in expanding on it, but he does so from a place accepting that President Obama’s recent “accommodation” did actually accommodate the churches. Completely ignored here is that the administration has already codified their decision in precisely the language — the original language — that gave most Catholics such agida to begin with.
How does this work? How does the illiberal language of the HHS Mandate — proposing unprecedented intrusion by the government into church matters — language that, pretty much all Catholics agreed in the first week could not stand, become codified in the next week with the approval of some of those same Catholics? Is this president’s word so trustworthy that it was enough for him to merely say he would change something he did not change and clearly has no intention of codifying?
Were some Catholics simply looking for a face-saving cover? Why, then? Because unity with their party was worth helping to set a bad precedent? What, specifically, in the codified language (or in Obama’s subsequent statement) has assuaged any conscience sufficiently to bring about an endorsement?
Much more importantly, with some Catholics now on board and making a variety of arguments supporting the administration, they are — intentionally or not — helping to distract people from the crux of the matter, which is simply this: when the CDC itself admits (as it did in 2009 [pdf]) that contraception is so widely available that fully 99% of women report using it at some point (so much so that, as Shea notes traces of birth control residue are found in our water supply), why did the administration find it necessary to even go where it went on the issue of contraception; why is it intruding on the churches own rights and abilities to own their conscience and define their missions?
That’s the question; it’s the ball we must keep our eyes on, and some are happy to get distracted, swing and miss.
It’s a political wedge issue, I get that, meant to divide and conquer, and the administration has clearly managed to do that, but this is also a genuinely bad precedent — so bad that I just cannot understand anyone’s willingness to support it, when this administration has demonstrated more than once that it means to put the churches in their places, and that their places are to be within the government’s mandates (hello Hosanna Tabor), or outside the public arena, altogether.
That anyone is willing to overlook the question of constitutionality for the sake of political expediency, I just don’t get.
But then, I was raised a classical liberal and I still actually believe that the press should be detached, people should be entitled to their differences and that (unlike monastic models, which are voluntary) government-enforced sameness is a tyranny, albeit a “soft” one, and I believe that the Bill of Rights is the thing you go to the mat for, no matter how much you like a candidate or (and, not without reason, are aghast at your other choices).
My parents adored Adlai Stevenson, but they voted for Ike because sometimes, no matter how much you like a guy, you have to know when you can’t trust him.
And to that point, here’s a good related question: Do employees of religious schools and other organizations get to make claims on employers that violate the tenets of the organization’s faith, but not on government on the basis of that same faith?
Gibson’s piece is undoubtedly smart and it will, undoubtedly, be effective in swaying many, but its efficacy depends upon ignoring a crucial reality, and it is a reality that we simply cannot afford to push aside.
And btw, no one has asked me, and really, my opinion doesn’t matter except in my own little World of Lizzie, but I think the Blunt rule is an overreach that will backfire. Again, it’s taking the eyes off the ball, and playing into the administration’s hands. Which is precisely why Reid is allowing the vote. The GOP are such suckers.
More: Rivkin and Whelan say the Mandate is Unconstitutional
Max Lindenman is taking it all down for posterity
A thoughtful and worth pondering comment from “jkm” at Greg’s — it well-notes the validity of two sides of the argument but, to my way of thinking, too quickly shrugs off the constitutional issues. DOES the larger society want the government to insert itself into church affairs? Up until a few weeks ago, I think that answer was a resounding “no”. Now, suddenly, freedom of religion is a shrug-off? And if it IS something the larger society wants, is this something we do by presidential fiat or by constitutional amendment?
“. . .in what way is the Catholic Church supposed to be depriving women of birth control? Is the Church picketing Walgreen’s? Is it highjacking shipments of Depro-Vira? Are they calling for the ban of condoms because they pose a danger to seagulls? No. They simply don’t believe that they should be forced to pay for their employees’ subsidized access to those things, accounting trick or no accounting trick.”