Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Obama Administration Hell Bent On Removing Freedom of Religion

Writer, editor and blogger Elizabeth Scalia has an excellent wake-up call for any American who cares about (or has benefited from -- which means everyone) religious freedom. It's right here at First Things.

A big story getting barely any press outside of Catholic media is that the government is getting ready to press ahead with policies intended—note the word, intended—to intrude upon one of the fundamental rights on which the nation was built: the freedom of religion.

Under the 2010 health care law colloquially known as “Obamacare,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human services is determinedly plowing forward with its so-called “contraceptive mandate”—all private health plans are to cover contraception and sterilization as “preventive services” for women, and the mandate includes individuals and groups with moral or religious objections.

This is a policy so clumsily intrusive that even the University of Notre Dame is complaining about it...

This is how America will fade away, not with bursting bombs or tidal waves, but with legislators and courts reshaping the notion of rights and entitlements until they become difficult to tell apart, and then deciding who gets to be who they are, and who must change or be ostracized. “Live and let live” which is a dandy and peaceable philosophy acknowledging differences of opinion and perspective, is being supplanted by “think one way, or else.”

Look, if the government desires to provide women with free contraception and sterilization, it is quite free to codify that dubious benefit under existing medical programs, without mandating participation by any entity at all. Likewise, any legislation concerning any “entitlement” can be written with built-in protections and exemptions for religious service-providers. That so many politicians choose not to include such stated protections -- or to write them so narrowly that they are easily unraveled -- says a great deal about their commitment to the Bill of Rights, and it portends poorly for our constitutional future.

It seems that believers -- particularly Catholics, Evangelical Christians and the Eastern Orthodox -- are entitled to enjoy their freedom of religion, but only so far as advancing policies will allow. Thus is a precedent set that may chip away at one right after another -- the right to freely assemble; the right to arm oneself; the right to speak one’s mind...

If the government wishes to redefine the enumerated freedoms within our constitution, it demands more than a piece of legislation—even one supported by the growing tyranny of our sentimentalism. Upending fundamental liberties should require an amendment to the constitution. If our politicians are able to erode rights simply by writing policy, and if they can declare “outside the law” those who had previously worked under the protections of the constitution, then the nation is in grave danger of losing its heart, mind and soul...