The news is once again filled with discussions of Catholics and their stand against birth control. Yesterday, Senate Democrats blocked an amendment to a bill which would have provided an opportunity for faith-based organizations to opt out of providing contraceptive coverages that are against their beliefs.
The New York Times explains it is simply "The Freedom to Choose Birth Control" and a "phony crisis over 'religious liberty'":
Churches are given complete freedom by the Constitution to preach that birth control is immoral, but they have not been given the right to laws that would deprive their followers or employees of the right to disagree with that teaching.
In other words, feel free to believe what you want, but just don't live out its implications. You may not believe in birth control, but you will be forced to pay for it.
The collectivist mindset behind the required contraceptive provision steps on actual right encoded in the constitution to impose supposed rights that were nowhere in the minds of the founders.
Soon to follow this will be:
• You may not believe in abortion, but you must pay for it (through government-mandated insurance), and
• You may not believe in gay marriage, but you will lose your tax exemption if your university lives by its belief (because the government can remove your tax exemption, just ask Bob Jones University)
Supporters of this mandate argue that as long as a non-profit or religious organization is not directly paying for contraceptives or abortifacients (abortion-causing drugs), then they should have no issue with it. President Obama resorted to this approach recently by stating "No religious institution will have to provide these services directly."
Economist John Lott quickly showed the fault in this logic:
This cynical ploy can only work if women and the Catholic Bishops don't understand really basic economics. Catholic organizations are upset that they might be forced to pay for abortions and contraception. Obama's solution?
The president originally wanted to mandate that Catholic organizations buy insurance policies with those services offered. Now he instead proposes that health insurance plans must always cover abortions and contraception, and that these services must be provided for free.
By Obama's reasoning, if insurance companies are banned from charging for abortions and contraception, Catholic organizations aren't really going to be forced to pay for their costs.
Bad economics? Yes. Bad policy? By far.
We are headed to a day when the forces of tolerance will sniff out the intolerant and force them to comply. We already see it happening in England.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said it was the wrong decision. As she sees it, a number of judgments have now elevated sexual orientation rights above historic freedom of belief--a move she insists was never the intention of Parliament and has no democratic mandate.
"Bed and breakfast owners have now become another category of people in the U.K. who will be penalized if they try to serve the public without compromising their religious beliefs," Williams says.
"We are heading towards a two-tier society where only those who subscribe to this new state morality will be able to operate in the public sphere. With full homosexual marriage now on the horizon, protecting conscience will become more important than ever."
The key here is simple. I get that the view of most people of faith (Christians and others) are increasingly antithetical to our society. However, we have said that freedom of religion is the most important. It is not without reason the very first amendment to the United States Constitution begins with both the existence and exercise of religious freedom: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Believers are becoming increasingly in need of conscience clauses to retain and protect rights from the encroachment of government coercion. This is why things like the Manhattan Declaration even exist-- and you should read it.
So, to my Catholic friends, I stand with you even though I do not share all your views on birth control. No one should not be coerced by government force to fund or affirm things they do not believe in. Yes, those who will not tolerate religious liberty came first for the Catholics, but it will not end there...