ObamaCare “Compromise,” Moral Fiction and Snake-Oil Theology

By Matt Bowman, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel

The Obama administration proposed a new regulation last week in its assault on religious freedom through ObamaCare, but the regulation is the same old story: the government violates religious freedom while imposing its own strange moral theological views on religious groups to tell them they should not complain.

Most religious non-profits will still be required to comply with the abortion-pill, contraception and sterilization coverage mandate.  But under the proposed rule they can use an accounting gimmick in which they pretend that it is their insurer who is covering these items, not themselves.

This proposal is a moral fiction.  As Yuval Levin points out, ”the religious institutions are [still] required by the government to give their workers an insurer and that insurer is required by the government to give those workers abortive and contraceptive coverage, but somehow these religious employers are supposed to imagine that they’re not giving their workers access to abortive and contraceptive coverage.” Michael Gerson correctly calls this arrangement a “shell game” and a “parlor trick”; an attempt to “fool” religious groups into accepting coercion of their beliefs.

Consider the following analogies and ask yourself whether the government should be engaging in moral theology like it is doing here.

Suppose the government decides that college students need access to pornography for their sexual health.  It forces all colleges to give their students a free subscription to the Playboy Channel. Christian colleges object. So the government says it will merely force those colleges to give their students a subscription to cable television, and then it will force that cable company to give those students a free subscription to the Playboy Channel. Why would the Christian colleges be content with this arrangement?

Imagine that the government wishes to empower Second Amendment rights.  It pairs employers with local families struggling with mental illness and requires the employers to provide the families with free handguns. Religious groups object. So the government forces the religious groups to give people with mental illness a membership at a shooting range, and then forces the shooting ranges to provide those people with free handguns as a benefit of membership.

Perhaps the government decides that Americans need to just calm down, especially religious fanatics. It forces employers to supplement the water supply in their buildings with sedatives.  Religious groups object.  So the government forces the religious groups to maintain an account with the water company, and then forces the water company to put sedatives in the religious groups’ water supply.

Or maybe our government decides that what troubled teenagers really need is more beer. It forces employers to donate a free case of beer to local teenagers every month. Religious groups object. So the government forces the religious groups to give their local teenagers a membership to Costco, and then forces Costco to give those teenagers a free case of beer each month as a benefit of membership.

Should the objecting groups be satisfied in any of these cases?  Wouldn’t they instead be justifiably insulted at the government’s shenanigans?

The Obama administration is engaging in snake-oil moral theology, and then imposing its moral views on any religious entity that disagrees. No one should be forced by the government to facilitate early abortions and anti-fertility activities, under any rationale.

Author: Alliance Defending Freedom