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Isn't Merely an Affront to Religious Liberty

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And the beat goes on! The blink by Obama, didn't touch the core of his over reach and its attach on First Amendment. There is a law suit forming by States Attorney Generals that will question the full spectrum of the Obama attempt at ignoring the freedoms guarnteed by the First Admendment.

 

The Obamacare Decree Isn’t Merely an Affront to Religious Liberty

 

9:01 AM, Feb 10, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON

 

There has been an extraordinary backlash to the Obama administration’s recent decree that, under Obamacare, all new private health plans must cover (among many other things) the birth control pill, the morning-after pill, and the abortion drug ella — and must cover them “free of charge” (thereby ensuring higher premiums). But the response has largely been to view this as an unfortunate side effect of Obamacare, as one instance in which Obamacare — or the decrees issued under its authority — may need to be tweaked. In truth, however, this is the essence of Obamacare: centralized power, politicized medicine, and senseless mandates that micromanage the lives of free citizens.

 

Likewise, the focus has been on Catholic organizations, whose teachings against the use of contraception and abortifacients would have to yield in practice to the teachings of the Obama administration. Such organizations would be banned from even offering — and their employees therefore prevented from freely choosing — health plans that don’t include “complimentary” coverage of birth control pills, morning-after pills, and ella. So much for the Obama administration’s alleged commitment to “choice” in this realm.

 

But this issue isn’t confined to the liberty of the Catholic Church or even to religious liberty more broadly; it affects the liberty of every American. It isn’t about the freedom to worship; it’s about the freedom to follow one’s own moral convictions, whether those convictions are religiously rooted or not.

 

It’s about whether every American should be at liberty to decide what sort of health insurance he or she wants to buy, or whether Kathleen Sebelius — and hence Obama — should be empowered to decide what sort of health insurance 300 million citizens will be forced to buy.

 

Not only is the decree issued by Sebelius (Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services) wrong on at least seven levels, but if the Obama administration were to reverse course and subsequently decree that Catholic and other religious organizations will henceforth be granted an exception, this would merely confirm the politicized nature of the process. It would merely show that such groups have enough clout to secure an exception to the rule.

 

And the rule is appalling. Why is the federal government telling us what items our health plans have to cover and which of those items should or shouldn’t involve copays? It’s a ludicrous and almost comical overreach of centralized power. The next thing you know, the federal government will be telling us what kinds of light bulbs we have to buy. (You laugh, but it could happen.)

 

In truth, the problem isn’t really (or at least centrally) that the Obamacare decree would prohibit religious organizations from offering health plans that don’t provide free access to the birth control pill, the morning-after pill, and ella. The problem is that the decree would prohibit all civil associations and private businesses from offering — and therefore all Americans from freely choosing — plans that don’t provide “free” access to such “preventive medicine.” Otherwise stated, it would preclude Americans from choosing plans that are different from those that Sebelius and Obama would choose on their behalf.

 

As the decree indicates, the Obama administration considers civil associations and private businesses (whether religious or not) to be entities that can, and should, be made to do its bidding. As Yuval Levin writes at National Review Online,

 

“[W]hat is at issue…is not just the question of religious liberty but the question of non-governmental institutions in a free society. Does civil society consist of a set of institutions that help the government achieve its purposes as [the government] defines them…or does civil society consist of an assortment of efforts by citizens to band together in pursuit of mutual aims and goods as they understand them? Is [civil society] an extension of the state or of the community? In this arena, as in a great many others, the administration is clearly determined to see civil society as merely an extension of the state.”

 

Levin concludes that “the question on the table is really [about] the basic character of our society.”

Some 175 years before Obamacare, Alexis de Tocqueville expressed the view that freely formed private associations are crucial extensions of the community (not of the state). Perhaps the keenest observer of American society, Tocqueville wrote,

 

“Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious….

 

“…If men living in democratic countries…never acquired the habit of forming associations in ordinary life, civilization itself would be endangered….

 

“…No sooner does a government attempt to go beyond its political sphere…than it exercises, even unintentionally, an insupportable tyranny….t is never easy to discriminate between its advice and its commands....Governments, therefore, should not be the only active powers; associations ought, in democratic nations, to stand in lieu of those powerful private [aristocratic] individuals whom the equality of conditions has swept away….

 

“…In democratic countries the science of association is the mother of science; the progress of all the rest depends upon the progress it has made.”

 

In other words, Obamacare is not only undermining Americans’ liberty directly. It is also endangering the independence of the freely formed associations that unite Americans and serve as the backbone of a vibrant republic — and which also form barriers against excessive governmental power.

 

We need to repeal Obamacare.

 

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I think everybody is missing the big picture with this.

 

First they want to see if they can do this, absolutely wipe their asses with the constitution, and require "women's health" to supersede frredom of speech/religion, because after all, in thier polling most Roman Catholics aren't good Catholics anyway, ........

 

 

and next after they green light abortions etc even by religious groups that can never sanction it,

 

 

 

.....now they have cleared the way for youth in asia.....aka death panels etc etc....

 

 

that is the big picture

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Yes and another part of the big picture is also being missed... even if PBO truly caves and gives exceptions on this issue, who really thinks those will last beyond the election? Those waivers, should they happen, will vanish month 1 of a second Barry O term.

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speaking of C&P'd Krauthammer enters from stage right

 

At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, seeking theological underpinning for his drive to raise taxes on the rich, President Obama invoked the highest possible authority. His policy, he testified “as a Christian,” “coincides with Jesus’ teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’

 

Now, I’m no theologian, but I’m fairly certain that neither Jesus nor his rabbinic forebears, when speaking of giving, meant some obligation to the state. You tithe the priest, not the tax man. The Judeo-Christian tradition commands personal generosity.

 

But no matter. Let’s assume that Obama has biblical authority for hiking the marginal tax rate exactly 4.6 points for couples making more than $250,000 (depending, of course, on the prevailing shekel-to-dollar exchange rate). Let’s stipulate that Obama’s prayer-breakfast invocation of religion as vindicating his politics was not, God forbid, crass, hypocritical, self-serving electioneering, but a sincere expression of a social-gospel Christianity that sees good works as central to the very concept of religiosity.

 

Fine. But this Gospel according to Obama has a rival — the newly revealed Gospel according to Sebelius, over which has erupted quite a contretemps. By some peculiar logic, it falls to the health and human services secretary to promulgate the definition of “religious” — for the purposes, for example, of exempting religious institutions from certain regulatory dictates.

 

Such exemptions are granted in grudging recognition that, whereas the rest of civil society may be broken to the will of the state’s regulators, our quaint Constitution grants special autonomy to religious institutions.

 

Accordingly, it would be a mockery of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment if, for example, the Catholic Church were required by law to freely provide such “health care services” (in secularist parlance) as contraception, sterilization and pharmacological abortion — to which Catholicism is doctrinally opposed as a grave contravention of its teachings about the sanctity of life.

 

Ah. But there would be no such Free Exercise violation if the institutions so mandated are deemed, by regulatory fiat, not religious.

 

And thus, the word came forth from Sebelius decreeing the exact criteria required (a) to meet her definition of “religious” and thus (b) to qualify for a modicum of independence from newly enacted state control of American health care, under which the aforementioned Sebelius and her phalanx of experts determine everything — from who is to be covered, to which treatments are to be guaranteed free-of-charge.

 

Criterion 1: A “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious” — and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients.

 

Criterion 2: Any exempt institution must be one that “primarily employs” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.” Catholic soup kitchens do not demand religious IDs from either the hungry they feed or the custodians they employ. Catholic charities and hospitals — even Catholic schools — do not turn away Hindu or Jew.

 

Their vocation is universal, precisely the kind of universal love-thy-neighbor vocation that is the very definition of religiosity as celebrated by the Gospel of Obama. Yet according to the Gospel of Sebelius, these very same Catholic institutions are not religious at all — under the secularist assumption that religion is what happens on Sunday under some Gothic spire, while good works are “social services” that are properly rendered up unto Caesar.

 

This all would be merely the story of contradictory theologies, except for this: Sebelius is Obama’s appointee. She works for him. These regulations were his call. Obama authored both gospels.

 

Therefore: To flatter his faith-breakfast guests and justify his tax policies, Obama declares good works to be the essence of religiosity. Yet he turns around and, through Sebelius, tells the faithful who engage in good works that what they’re doing is not religion at all. You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.

 

The contradiction is glaring, the hypocrisy breathtaking. But that’s not why Obama offered a hasty compromise on Friday. It’s because the firestorm of protest was becoming a threat to his re-election. Sure, health care, good works and religion are important. But re-election is divine.

 

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

 

The Washington Post Writers Group

 

Charles K can be cutting when he wishes to be. Hence my highlight of his comments on Sebelius's role ;)

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