Far from a compromise, President Obama’s Health & Human Services is doubling down on its edict that religious organizations be compelled to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs through their health care plans.
Americans rightly recoil at the prospect of a government telling them what can and cannot be covered under their plans, but this issue has never been about “health care” or “birth control.” It has always been about controlling religious freedom and the charity sector.
In 2010, Obama promised Americans and Muslims in particular that their rights to worship as they see fit would not be infringed by his government. In 2012, he has told Catholic Americans–25% of America–that their freedom of association will be infringed by his government.
“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said. “That includes the right to build a place of worship in a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable.”
“I can’t impose my religious views on another,” Candidate Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope. (251)
That is, unless you are Catholic.
We have already seen how the political left uses the state to compel churches in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and Illinois, among others to abandon their state-supported adoption agencies because they will not accept placing children with homosexual couples. Many thousands of children will not be adopted at all now. They will languish in the “care” of child services.
Obama knows well that Catholic charities provide the lion share of social services in the United States. Indeed, nationally, Catholic Charities, with 1,700 agencies, is the country’s second-largest provider of social services after the federal government. And unlike the federal government’s “services,” the Catholic ones actually serve. When I was a boy living in Dorchester, MA, I used to watch the little Vietnamese girls go to the Catholic church near my grandparents’ home. Their non-English speaking, non-Catholic practicing parents explained to me and a Vietnamese friend that the Catholic schools, for all their problems, were infinitely better than the Boston public schools. My parents thought long and hard about sending me to such a school when I was young, though we were irreligious.
Obama must know all of this. He writes on page 242 of The Audacity of Hope that his own mother was irreligious, too, and yet that didn’t prevent her from sending Barry to catholic school. “My mother was less concerned with me learning the catechism… than she was with whether I was properly learning my multiplication tables,” Obama writes. Lest we dismiss that by concluding that Obama’s objections were simply to Indonesian publics schools, it’s worth recalling that he attended Punahou, a private school in Hawaii, from the 5th grade onward.
He knows Catholic charities run schools, adoption agencies, hospitals, and, of course, churches. He knows this because when he was a community organizer he worked for Jerry Kellman, a Catholic convert, dedicated to liberation theology. This brand of radical politics is about “trying to change the hearts of the masses.” Kellman, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, was to be Obama’s Catholic face. Recall that it was only after Father Michael Pfleger’s incendiary comments that Obama left Trinity United Church. Yes, Obama knows the radical Catholic left very well. He writes about how the Catholic and Protestant churches need to change. “To survive, [the Churches] would have to make themselves ‘relevant’ to changing times–by accommodating church doctrine to science and by articulating a social gospel that addressed the material issues of economic inequality, racism, sexism, and American militarism,” Candidate Obama wrote in Audacity. (236) In other words, churches can only really be righteous by giving up their beliefs and subordinating them to progressivisms.
So why is Obama really picking a fight with the Catholics?
Because he understand that this fight of his choosing will put him one step closer to total control.
He must know that Catholics cannot and will not participate in such a regime. They will be forced by their conscience to dump their now uninsured onto the government-run health care exchanges. The ranks of the uninsured will swell and the cost to the federal government will increase as well. The public option will return, only this time it won’t be much of an option. It’ll be yet another mandate.
This is how mandates work. This is always how mandates will work. In a population as diverse as our own, there will always be some group that objects to something that the federal government does on religious grounds.
For example, God seems to have invented Jehovah’s Witnesses to test the bounds of religious freedom. Mormons and other teetotalers bristle at mandates, like those in Massachusetts, that require them to buy health insurance policies that cover alcohol-related ailments, while Christian Scientists reject modern medicine. Numerous religious faiths oppose vaccination and blood donations.
Americans of all religious faiths are coming to understand that the power to mandate, like the power to tax, is the power to destroy. If the largest faith in the country can be broken by government edict, what will stop the smaller ones from being similarly compelled?
President Obama could solve all of this by granting those with religious exemptions waivers from compulsion. His HHS has issued thousands of waivers to different companies and organizations. Why won’t it give a waiver to the Catholic church? Because this has never been about health care. This has always been about control. When it comes to the faith wars, it is always the Left that is the real aggressor.