It is bad for policy, bad for liberty, and today the Senate faces a crucial vote.
(Page 3 of 4)
While the Obama administration is an unlikely stand-in for the Nazis, the principle behind its regulation has far-reaching application. Faith-based groups would be punished for their good work. They would have no reasonable “out.”
One option would be to violate their beliefs, but those are what impel them to serve others. Other alternatives would be to stop serving people of other faiths or to simply close down.
More likely, religious employers would drop coverage, leaving their workers, estimated at between one and two million nationwide, to scramble for policies in the individual marketplace — where costs are rising sharply because of Obamacare’s other new mandates. Of course, individual employees who object to contraception would have no exemption. Moreover, organizations would face a $2000 per worker penalty for dropping coverage.
Nevertheless, this is the likeliest option for groups serious about their beliefs. Catholic Charities dropped spousal coverage when the District of Columbia mandated coverage for gay partners. Boston’s Catholic Charities closed its adoption program after Massachusetts required placement in same-sex homes.
President Barack Obama spoke eloquently about his Christian faith and urged Americans to “honor the conscience of those who disagree” on issues like abortion. Yet all his administration at first was willing to offer was a year delay in the effectiveness date of the regulation, to August 2013. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed to have struck “the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.” In fact, the rule struck no balance at all. Explained Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”
Even some of the administration’s religious allies criticized its insensitivity. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne complained that the president tossed “his progressive Catholic allies under the bus.” Separately, the Post editorialized that the administration failed to “make an adequate accommodation for those deeply held views.”
The president then declared that he had found “a solution that works for everyone.” Explained the administration, “Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraction coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.”
The president has prepared the perfect free lunch: everyone will have coverage and no one will have to pay for it. It’s a miracle!
If this really is “a solution that works for everyone,” then why not expand it? Let companies offer health insurance policies which cover, well, no medical treatments. But force insurance companies nevertheless to cover every malady. Voila: Americans would enjoy comprehensive health care insurance at no cost!
Even under the administration’s latest plan someone has to pay. Insurance companies might automatically charge religious organizations a higher premium to cover the added contraception cost for their employees. Or insurers might treat the expense as overhead, spreading it over every insured person, even if they already are paying for policies with contraception coverage. Religious people would still be paying for benefits which they found to be offensive.
Even as the administration turns health care reform into a political tool, its allies are treating religious organizations as the offenders. Robert Boston criticized any definition of religious liberty which “allows your boss to impose his religion on you.” Louise Melling of the American Civil Liberties Union announced that the First Amendment “does not give religious groups the right to impose their beliefs on others.” University professor Judy Bachrach wailed that she was no longer “living in a free country” because the Catholic Church did not want to have to pay for contraceptives.
Defend yourself from ideological imperialists and you are a theocrat. Where is George Orwell when we need him?
Some administration critics are talking of a war on religion. That may be an exaggeration, but Secretary Sebelius also claimed that “we are in a war,” only over women’s health. Many of the president’s supporters exhibit unbridled hostility to religion. Moreover, the president is using the issue to appeal to his base. He criticized his opponents for treating “this as another political wedge issue,” but he made it a political issue.
Government hostility to religion will grow ever more dangerous as the welfare state expands. We live in a diverse society in which Americans have increasingly divergent views of the transcendent. Minimizing social conflict requires compromise, humility, tolerance, and good will on the part of everyone. In a liberal society people need to be able to live out their religious beliefs — even when those beliefs are unpopular. Yet the more the state seizes control of traditionally private responsibilities, the more the state imposes the beliefs of those in control of the state.
At times religious conservatives have attempted to use government to impose their views, but these days the state is far more likely to be a tool of the Left, with a secularist and paternalist orientation. The government cannot be trusted with issues of faith, whatever the ideological preferences of those in control.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?