A federal judge in Eastern Missouri has upheld the government mandate that insurance policies cover birth control. Judge Carol E. Jackson ruled that the mandate is not a violation of religious liberty. Religious freedom is “a shield, not a sword,” she said, and religious liberty claims cannot be used as a “means to force one’s religious practices upon others.” Her argument closely aligns with points that the Century made some months ago in an editorial and that I tried to make in a blog post.
health and human services
I've so far declined to comment on Wheaton College's decision to join the election-year culture war skirmish du jour by suing the feds for stomping all over its religious freedom requiring insurers to cover basic women's health needs while allowing faith-based employers to themselves stay out of it. I was sad but not surprised to learn of this move. Wheaton takes it as not only one legitimate view but an article of evangelical conviction that the morning after pill is unacceptable? Sure, okay. I disagree with my alma mater, but it's hardly the first time.
In a response to complaints from Catholic leaders, last week the Obama administration revised its rule requiring some religious institutions to include birth control in health insurance. The new stance was welcomed by some Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association but was firmly rejected by the Catholic bishops--who in doing so shifted the ground of their own argument.
Are Protestants more in line with the Catholic bishops on contraception than Catholics are? Or is it just that there's some correlation between being Protestant and being politically inclined to oppose most any proposal that starts with "Employers should be required..."?
We disagree with the Catholic bishops' stance on birth control. Nevertheless, we think HHS should offer a broader religious exemption.
When conflicts come up between religious beliefs and the law, religious progressives should support certain religious exemptions--even if they disagree with the beliefs in question.