Obama’s Separation of Church and State
According to Bloomberg, Catholics Joe Biden and ex-Chief of Staff Richard Daley tried to warn President Obama off this latest debacle, that
the [contraception] mandate would be seen as a government intrusion on religious institutions. Even moderate Catholic voters in battleground states might be alienated, they warned, according to the people familiar with the discussions.
So far, a Rasmussen poll of 1000 likely voters bears that out, that only
39% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should require a church or religious organization to provide contraceptives for women even if it violates their deeply held beliefs. Fifty percent (50%) disagree and oppose such a requirement that runs contrary to strong beliefs, while 10% more are undecided.
What Obama and his female advisors like ringleader HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius [also a Catholic] misunderestimated was that although most US voters—including Catholics—have no problem with contraceptives on any level, they still have an appreciation for religious liberty. They disagree with the Roman church’s position on contraception, but via American religious pluralism and the First Amendment, believe that the church has a right to its religious belief and that it should not be molested by the government.
The irony is that although most folks these days think of the “separation of church and state” as a defense against theocracy, for much of Christendom’s history in the past millennium, it was the state that tried to hijack the church at least as often.
Somehow, the American people, or at least a strong half of them, get this founding American principle, that the churches must be kept safe from the government as well. From the earliest days of the American republic, the Quakers and Anabaptists were granted immunity from the obligations of military service. Even from swearing oaths! In her best moments, America has been proud of her pluralism, her accommodations for our religious diversity. The Obama administration’s attempt to impose financing contraception on the Roman Catholic Church has been on the order of parking a howitzer in the middle of a Quaker Meeting House and setting up cots in the kitchen.
Why the Obama Administration has chosen the present moment for this is hard to say, especially after the Supreme Court unanimously [9-0!] laughed it out of court in the recent Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where the D0J tried to apply secular employment laws to the Lutheran Church. The Bloomberg story speculates that
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic and a two-term governor of Kansas, was joined by several female Obama advisers in urging against a broad exemption for religious organizations. To do so would leave too many women without coverage and sap the enthusiasm for Obama among women’s rights advocates, they said, according to the people, who spoke about the deliberations on condition of anonymity.
and this may be so, that BHO doubled down on the Hosanna-Tabor debacle for election reasons. It certainly made people forget Hosanna-Tabor, that’s fer sure, although I doubt there were very many who were aware of it to forget it in the first place.
Even The Economist is puzzled: Barack Obama has been accused—perhaps unfairly— of conducting a “war on religion.” But this latest chapter of Obama’s putative war could have been avoided. He sought this one out, not vice versa.