Now it’s turned on them
The Obama administration is way wrong to impose their birth control mandate on Catholic institutions. An unconstitutional limitation on religious liberty, it’s a threat not only to the Catholic Church but to all Christians; to all people of faith; ultimately to all Americans. If the mandate survives a precedent will be set, and it will be used again. This being so, I’ve been reluctant to do more than hint at the problems with the US Catholic Bishops’ opposition to the mandate. Because as Doc Rampage says, they’re brought this on themselves, and on the rest of us:
“I’ve been reading all over the blogosphere about Catholic bishops being upset at a mandate in Obamacare that would force almost all employers, including Catholic hospitals and schools to provide contraception as part of their health insurance. I would be more sympathetic, but, … weren’t these the same bishops that gave cover to Obamacare as long as they were getting their special exception? Aren’t these the same bishops that have always supported the welfare state?” — the bishops get theirs
Since the 1930s the bishops have worked hard to give the US federal government the power it’s been using against others, and is now using against their Church. The Bishops still don’t seem to care if HHS makes an American businessman pay for his employees’ birth control, or any number of other things, as long as HHS doesn’t make the Bishops pay for their employees’ birth control. They’re fighting now for freedom of religion (for themselves anyway) because they didn’t fight for everyone’s individual freedom seventy years ago – in fact, they mostly fought against it.
Obama’s killing us; let’s vote for him again
In a related post, Doc links American Catholicism’s Pact With the Devil, by Paul A. Rahe:
“In my lifetime, to my increasing regret, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has lost much of its moral authority. It has done so largely because it has subordinated its teaching of Catholic moral doctrine to its ambitions regarding an expansion of the administrative entitlements state. In 1973, when the Supreme Court made its decision in Roe v. Wade, had the bishops, priests, and nuns screamed bloody murder and declared war, as they have recently done, the decision would have been reversed. Instead, under the leadership of Joseph Bernardin, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago, they asserted that the social teaching of the Church was a “seamless garment,” and they treated abortion as one concern among many.”
My guess, and I hope I’m wrong, is that something similar will happen. President Obama, having taken two steps forward, will step back one or maybe one-and-a-half. The Bishops will somehow accommodate themselves to these and other mandates. Going into the next election, they may nominally oppose them, but will support the people and policies that make mandates like this inevitable.
The Bishops deserve the support of all Americans as they fight against President Obama’s attempt to limit their freedom of religion. But we deserve the support of the US Catholic Bishops as the State tries to curtail our individual liberties. If past actions are any guide, the Bishops aren’t going to support individual liberty, and indeed will work hard to make the US Federal government bigger yet.
UPDATE: President Obama may not need to step back at all. It may be enough to reword the mandate so it provides some rhetorical cover. “Because it speaks the language of compromise and conscience, [the reworded mandate] provides grounds for anyone who desperately wants to believe in it to believe in it, even as it leaves the underlying policy more or less unchanged…And by winning back the Catholics who wanted to be won back, the White House may have successfully defused the immediate crisis…” — Divide and Conquer, by Ross Douthat, via The Anchoress, The Stranding of the Catholic Left