I’ve more or less said my piece in response to the HHS Mandate — it’s about all I blogged about last week, and I’m pleased to move on to other topics, short of any major developments. But I wanted to say one thing in passing: the arguments I’ve heard in favor of the HHS Mandate haven’t just been bad. In many cases, they’ve been outright disingenuous.
For example, the Times has descended to putting religious liberty in scare quotes and claiming that opposing the Mandate would “deprive [the Church’s] followers or employees of the right to disagree with that teaching.” That argument is utterly asinine: a fine example of false parallelism. Consider. It’s a functional violation of my right to be pro-life, if I’m conscripted to pay for what I believe is murder. But in what world is it a violation of a pro-choicer’s right to be pro-choice if I don’t pay for her abortion? Is anybody willing to defend the Times’ editorial here? Or are they just assuming their readers won’t think too hard about what they’re being fed?
Others have responded to some of the howlers (like the idea that 98% of Catholic women use contraception), but I wanted to directly tackle those who claim that we’re just against the HHS Mandate because we’re (a) conservative, (b) Catholic, or (c) against birth control:
- This isn’t a Left / Right Issue. The New York Times referred to this as “a phony crisis over “religious liberty” engendered by the right.” That’s just not a serious claim. Prominent liberal pundits like E.J. Dionne, Michael Sean Winters and Chris Matthews came out against the HHS Mandate. Even within the Obama Administration, numerous high-profile figures tried to stop the Mandate from going forward: Politico names Vice President Joe Biden and then-Chief of Staff Bill Daley as two who tried to stop Obama from doing this, while ABC also mentions Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. And neither the USCCB nor the American bishops can be pigeonholed as simply conservative. For example, Cardinal Mahoney, who appears to have been the first to voice his objection, is a beloved icon of the religious left for his work marching with Cesar Chavez, and encouraging civil disobedience over Bush-era immigration laws (in fact, the New York Times even permitted him an Op-ed for this latter cause).
- This isn’t a Catholic / Non-Catholic Issue. Just as the opposition to the HHS Mandate cuts across party lines, so too does it cut across religious lines. Numerous non-Catholic religious leaders have spoken out, like Rick Warren (Saddleback Church), Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship), Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary), Richard Land (Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty commission), Albert Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), and so on. Nor is it just religious leaders. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal, who has come out swinging against the Mandate, is an agnostic. Evangelical former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee captured this well by declaring, “We are all Catholics now.”
- This isn’t a Birth Control Issue. Many of those folks that I just mentioned, whether non-Catholics or liberal Catholics, are fine with the use of contraception. They oppose the HHS Mandate because it’s a violation of religious freedom, whether they share those same religious beliefs or not (Chris Matthews captures this well in his reaction).
|Cardinal Mahoney at the “May 1st Immigration Rally”|
If a practicing Catholic or a Catholic institution in the United States can be compelled by the government to act against religious faith, it’s only a matter of time before some equally offensive compulsion is brought down upon you by the same heavy hand of a government that refuses to respect its limits.
That’s why we’re all Catholics now.
Ironically, Obama finally seems to have achieved his dream of uniting people of every race, creed, and political affiliation — but this is probably not how he envisioned it playing out.