President Obama has accomplished what many thought impossible. As a result of his recent healthcare mandate, the Catholic leadership in America has managed to grow a spine.
On Jan. 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that most health insurance plans must cover birth control, including sterilization and abortifacients. This galvanized religious leaders from across the country to resist the edict. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops associate general secretary Anthony R. Picarello Jr. said they are, “working by every means legally available to us” to get the mandate overturned. They are joined by prominent religious figures, including Bishop William E. Lori, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, and Reverend Richard Land. Even Pastor Rick Warren, who led the presidential inauguration prayer, is on record as stating he would, “go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do.”
These are all healthy signs, but where was the Catholic leadership when a majority of American citizens were voicing their objections to Obamacare? The birth control mandate shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone; after all, this is what progressivism looks like. What we’re witnessing isn’t some aberration, but the very nature of the administrative welfare state. The enlightened ones in Washington believe they know what is best for us, and have accordingly granted authority to unelected bureaucrats who will decide these highly personal matters on our behalf.
Despite the overtly unconstitutional nature of forcing religious institutions to pay for something that violates their consience, the President has no shortage of apologists. Their strategy has been to make this an issue of contraceptives. Nancy Pelosi has said time and time again that “98 percent of American Catholic women have used contraception in their lifetimes.” Never mind the fact that the mandate isn’t limited to contraceptives, but includes sterilization and abortifacients , as well. There are others, including John Stewart of The Daily Show, that have also bought into the President’s “compromise” hook, line, and sinker.
Clearly this is not an issue of contraceptives, but one of religious liberty. In order to communicate the absurdity of Nanci Pelosi’s logic, it is best to reflect on Glenn Reynold’s apt analogy: “It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying ‘What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!’”
As for the so-called compromise, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people. According to the President, if religiously-affiliated employers have moral objections to contraceptives, sterilization, or abortifacients then insurance companies pay for them free of charge. This is, as Paul Ryan says, merely an “accounting trick.” Insurance companies will have to increase premiums in order to pay for the “free” birth control. The old adage, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” is as relevant as it has ever been. More importantly, many religious organizations are self-insured, meaning they have no exemption.
This turn of events has been a long time coming. The tentacles of progressivism are so entrenched within the government that its advocates have finally become bold enough to take America’s most sacred institutions head-on. It is, however, not too late to turn course, but a real decision has to be made. Do we still hold these truths to be evident? Or do we fully embrace Hegelian Progressivism and mold ourselves after the European model. We cannot have it both ways. Progressivism is a jealous god, and it suffers no rival.