In the halcyon pre-Obama days, when Prop. 8 meant that gay marriage was a hot blogging issue, I argued that religion organizations, not the state, should be allowed to define what constitutes a “marriage,” with states confined to authorizing “civil unions.” In that context, I commented upon the religious implications of the government mandating that a church engage in something that touches upon a core doctrinal belief:
The second problem right now with the emphasis on changing state definitions of marriage, rather than religious definitions, is the risk that there will be direct challenges between church and state. A lawyer I know assured me that this couldn’t happen because, for example, the Catholic church does not get sued because it opposes abortion. That was facile reasoning. While abortions may be a civil right, the Catholic church does not provide abortions. What the Catholic church provides is communion, which is not a civil right, so the church can withhold it at will. What happens, though, when the church provides something which is both a core doctrinal belief (marriage) and a state right (marriage)? It’s a head-on collision, and I can guarantee you that the courts will get involved and that some activist judge will state that the Catholic Church is constitutionally required to marry gay couples. (Emphasis added.)
I was prescient. Mandating that the Catholic Church provide abortions is precisely what the Obama administration is doing. Institutions such as the Catholic Church, which considers the right to life one of its core beliefs, must nevertheless fund abortions by providing insurance that makes abortion drugs available to all women on demand. Funding an act is tantamount to committing that act yourself.
Whether you support a woman’s right to have an abortion or not, surely anyone who is intellectually honest must see that it is morally wrong to make a religious institution fund it. To use an extreme analogy, this is the beginning of a continuum that ends with Jews being forced to dig their own mass burial pits before being lined upon along the edge of those pit and shot.
I assume that those who are celebrating this mandate will contend that, throughout the Bush years, they were forced to see their tax dollars go to fund a war they did not support, one that saw thousands of people die. Likewise, those who oppose the death penalty must nevertheless pay taxes that fund the judicial and prison system. That argument is a red herring. The Constitution explicitly authorizes both war and capital punishment, which are legitimate government powers. Those who don’t like that reality are welcome to try a Constitutional amendment to wipe out the government’s war powers and do away with capital punishment. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
There is nothing in the Constitution, however, that authorizes the Federal government (and, by extension through the 14th Amendment, any state government) to mandate that a religious institution be complicit in an act it believes constitutes murder. More to the point, the Constitutional grant of religious freedom, by which the government agrees to stay out of managing a religious institutions affairs, either practical or doctrinal, should prohibit such conduct entirely. This is one more example, as if we needed it, of the Obama administration’s fundamental lawlessness.
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