Bench Memos

More on the Obama Administration’s Attack on Religious Liberty

For anyone out there who genuinely doesn’t understand how the HHS mandate on contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization is a dangerous assault on religious liberty, I’d recommend reading these three items:

1. In his Public Discourse essay today, “Obama’s Contraception Cram-down: The Pork Precedent,” law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen finds precedent for the Obama administration’s “insist[ence] on vindicating its authority and overriding religious conscience for its own sake” in the tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s second-century B.C. decree that all Jews should be forced to violated their religious consciences by publicly eating pork. As Paulsen puts it, the “whole point” of the HHS mandate “is to override religious objections … to the maximum extent politically possible” in order to “vindicate the power of government to impose such policies on everyone.”

Given the widespread and easy access to contraceptive services and the many available means of increasing the direct provision of free contraceptives, there is no other plausible reason for the Obama administration to be dragooning religious objectors to violate their consciences.

2. In his testimony last week before a House committee, Bishop William E. Lori presented a parable of the kosher deli that ought to make the principle of religious liberty clear to those whose ideological commitment to contraceptives and abortifacients has blinded them so far.

3. In “The Catholic Betrayal of Religious Freedom,” my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague George Weigel ponders the tragedy ofs how “liberal Catholics” who have chosen to “play court chaplain to overweening and harshly secularist state power” have “betray[ed] their own noblest heritage.”


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