Sunday, February 12, 2012

The President's Non-Accomodating Accomodation

On Friday, February 10th President Obama, in an attempt to quell the nationwide uproar over the newly issued health care mandate requiring faith-based entities to carry insurance policies giving “free” coverage for their employees for birth control pills, abortion inducing drugs, and sterilization procedures, offered an “accommodation” that supposedly freed religious institutions from having to pay for such things. But what changed?

Actually, not much. The only change was that on the surface religious institutions no longer had to purchase those provisions which they considered to be immoral. Their insurance companies would pay them instead. I say “on the surface” because all that was only a matter of appearances. What remained was the basic thrust requiring religious entities to purchase government approved insurance policies. The so-called Wall of Separation between Church and State remained breached, this time by the government’s interference with the management and control of religious bodies.

Much was made about who has to pay for what services, in particular who has to pay for the “free” coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion inducing drugs? We can be certain that the insurance companies are not going to pay for these things out of their profits! Their accountants will enter a few credits here and a few debits there and voila! these free (wink, wink) items are paid for out of the sum total of their premium receipts. Magic, isn’t it? Whee!

All that being said, the question about who pays for these insurance policies serves only to divert our attention from the fundamental question which deals with the governments attempt to control the policies and practices of faith based entities. Is there a really a "wall of separation" between Church and State?

What remains now is that some dozen or more state attorneys general have joined in a lawsuit against the government for the entire HHS mandate claiming that it violates our U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Clearly, then, this isn’t a “Catholic problem” as some would like to allege, it’s a constitutional issue.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… Just how free is free? And I’m not talking here about money, as Obama's proposed accommodation does. I’m talking about one of our fundamental freedoms.

It’s not by accident that the First Amendment was the first enumerated in our nation’s Bill of Rights.

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