While many people were distracted by the GOP primary in South Carolina and by the death of Joe Paterno, President Obama issued an order that in effect declares war on religious liberty in the United States. The President rolled out a regulation that will force religious organizations to pay for abortions.
The regulation is all a part of Obamacare, and it requires faith-based hospitals and universities to provide birth-control without a co-pay. Many Christian groups (especially Roman Catholics) have religious objections to birth control, but those groups will now have to pay for it. What is worse is that some of the birth control methods that will be covered are abortifacients. Nearly all conservative Christian groups (both Protestant and Catholic) oppose abortifacients because they are medicines that cause abortions. In effect, Obamacare now requires these Christian groups to pay for the killing of unborn human life.
Responses from religious leaders and even some secular voices have been virulent:
Last week, Albert Mohler addressed the decision in terms that are as strong as I have ever heard from him. Mohler said that he holds President Obama personally responsible for what is truly a “reprehensible policy” and is a “violent attack on the idea of religious liberty.” He also called it a “slap in the face to religious employers.”
Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, decries the decision saying,
In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences… To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.
Michael Gerson rails against the new law as an outright assault on religious freedom:
Christian colleges and universities of various denominations will resist providing insurance coverage for abortifacients. And the astounding ambition of this federal precedent will soon be apparent to every religious institution. Obama is claiming the executive authority to determine which missions of believers are religious and which are not — and then to aggressively regulate institutions the government declares to be secular. It is a view of religious liberty so narrow and privatized that it barely covers the space between a believer’s ears.
Obama’s decision also reflects a certain view of liberalism. Classical liberalism was concerned with the freedom to hold and practice beliefs at odds with a public consensus. Modern liberalism uses the power of the state to impose liberal values on institutions it regards as backward. It is the difference between pluralism and anti-clericalism.
The administration’s ultimate motivation is uncertain. Has it adopted a radical secularism out of conviction, or is it cynically appealing to radical secularists? In either case, the war on religion is now formally declared.
We should note that dissent is not just coming from conservatives. E. J. Dionne, one of the most liberal columnists in the country, has argued against the ruling. Even The Washington Post editorialized against the move saying that President Obama is “requiring religiously affiliated entities to spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith.”
Elections do have consequences. And all those who were arguing in 2008 that candidate Obama would favor policies that reduce abortions have been proven tragically wrong. Not only has he adopted policies that will expand abortions, he is favoring laws that coerce Christians into funding abortions. President Obama’s latest actions are an appalling overreach that will have sad implications for pro-life Christians. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a President open up a more radical and intrusive attack on religious liberty and on unborn human life than what we are witnessing right now.