As a follow-up to my column last week about the logical and legal cul-de-sac into which Barack Obama has driven (not that The One cares about this: a path free will surely part for him when he lifts his staff) with regard to the HHS mandate, I have a new column about how the mandate to provide insurance for abortion-inducing drugs violates the deepest, most sacred traditions of American history, and indeed is antithetical to the Judeo-Christian tradition writ large.
Here are some of the key paragraphs:
The particularly American emphasis on this liberty has been evident from the start of English settlements of the New World – first with the Pilgrims, who came explicitly to find religious freedom, and subsequently in Pennsylvania (founded for equivalent liberty for Quakers) and Rhode Island (for Baptists).
In 1776, as the Continental Congress wrestled with calls for a Declaration of Independence, a Virginia assembly was debating that state’s own “Declaration of Rights.” In it, primary author George Mason proposed to generously recognize religious liberty by writing that all sorts of religious practice, not just official Anglicanism, should be “tolerated” by the state. But delegate James Madison, all of 25 years old, objected that this wording wasn’t a strong enough protection for free religious exercise. He argued that a state that could “tolerate” all religions was still a state that considered itself the font of rights, to be doled out (or “tolerated”) at the state’s own discretion. Madison argued that this was a misunderstanding of religious rights. He said the rights were not granted by government, but existedindependently of government. Free religious practice therefore was not something to be tolerated, but something to which individuals were “entitled” as a human right that superseded the power of government itself.
Mason and his colleagues recognized that Madison was right, and changed the language accordingly: “….all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience….”
It was this same understanding – a pre-existing entitlement or right, not a mere toleration – that Madison applied 13 years later when drafting what became our First Amendment, including the clause that no law should be made “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
But this is just part of it. There are also important references to Magna Carta, to the great conservative journalist M. Stanton Evans, and to Thomas Jefferson — all in support of the near-incontrovertible assertion that “[t]he problem with the HHS mandate is that the proposed rule puts the government in the business of deciding what does and doesn’t qualify as being ‘religious’ enough.”
Again, the whole thing is here.