Obama’s Catholic compromise will satisfy only the gullible and those in on the scam. But that Obama even made it is a win for the clergy. The clergy can still rally one another, and their flocks, against an obvious threat to religious freedom. Now they must guard against letting a politician fool them.
What the Catholic compromise does
The Catholic compromise was a hasty answer from the man now holding office as President, to hundreds of angry voters of all faiths. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the new health care reform law would force any Catholic hospital, school, college, or university to give its women employees contraceptives if they asked, free of charge. Contraceptives include “birth control pills,” condoms, and anything else that stops a woman from falling pregnant. But it also includes drugs that stop a human egg, once fertile, from implanting in the womb. In other words, some of these drugs cause abortion, and the woman taking them doesn’t even know it.
The Roman Catholic Church has long held that contraception is a sin. Everyone knows this. When Sebelius said the above, Archbishop (and Cardinal-designate) Timothy Dolan wrote an open letter of protest and asked every bishop to have every priest read this out loud to their congregants. (He also tried to have Catholic chaplains in the Army read this letter, but the Army stopped that. It was the first time that the Army had ever interfered with what a chaplain said during a divine service.)
Archbishop Dolan was not the only one. Patrick J. Buchanan spoke of a “war against religious freedom.” Then several Democratic Representatives and Senators raised their own voices. That convinced Obama that people of faith would not roll over. So today he told the country that women employees of Catholic hospitals, universities, and other charities would still get their contraceptives, but the insurers, and not the charities themselves, would pay for it.
This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy. It is certainly no compromise. The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust. Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.
“An accounting trick!” cried Michael Brendan Dougherty at Business Insider. Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ-4) agreed. So do other analysts. The problem: if insurers have to pay for these goods and services, they will charge higher premiums. So the charities will have to pay for it anyway, and will not see a line item for it on their bill.
Why Obama had to act
Obama’s Catholic compromise thus satisfied no one who stopped to look at it. But because Obama offered it at all, the clergy are not totally weak. If Obama had nothing to fear from Catholic and other clergy, he would have said nothing today. In fact he might have said something far more dire.
He might, for instance, have said something along the lines of what Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said: that religious freedom is an “excuse” to “take something away” from women. Or perhaps something like what Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said:
Now, sadly, there is an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women. It is being waged in the name of religious liberty.
Note: this same Barbara Boxer once said that a newborn child is not a person until the mother brings it home.
Obama would like to do more than that. He would like to amend the Constitution and edit out many of our liberties. The right to keep and bear arms is one. Religious liberty is another. But Obama cannot be so brazen. Hence the Catholic compromise.
The Catholic compromise should fool no one, and likely will fool no one. But it shows that the clergy can still act for good in this country. They should act even more forcefully in this election. This contraceptive controversy should put all clergymen on their guard.ARVE Error: need id and provider
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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