by F. Grey Parker
I am protected from litmus tests or societal demands to prove my faith by the Constitution. That's what the separation clause provides for.
What I am not guaranteed is special status to impose my religion when I participate in public markets. I am also (supposed to be) Constitutionally disallowed access to taxpayer monies while simultaneously demanding the right to implement policies driven by a theological agenda in those markets.
Contrary to popular GOP propaganda, there is no war on religion in the United States. That is absurd. What we do have currently is a coordinated effort to attack the bedrock principle of separation. Nothing illustrates this more than the current brouhaha over the Obama Administration's new birth control guidelines.
"The issue has become highly politicized in an election year, and some polls have shown eroding support for President Barack Obama among Catholic voters. Catholic leaders are blasting Obama for the decision, and Mitt Romney Monday night in Colorado lashed out at the administration for seeking to curtail religious freedom.
The rule's supporters are confident it will withstand such challenges. Defending the controversial requirement, the administration has often pointed out that 28 states have similar requirements. And those state rules have withstood legal challenges from groups that contend they violate the religious liberties of faith-based employers that object to contraception.
Opponents say a crucial difference between the federal and state mandates could make it easier to get struck down: An employer who doesn’t agree with the state rules can opt out of offering coverage. That won’t be possible under the national health care law, at least not for large employers.
"You don't have an option on whether or not to provide health insurance coverage," said James Bopp, general counsel to the National Right to Life Committee. "Under Obamacare, you have to. In these states, you could just decline to provide the coverage."
The right wing and its demagogues are having a field day.
Rush Limbaugh says "It's not the government's business to make any church or any religion 'modernize' …there is no permissible way the government can do this, according to our Constitution."
Newt Gingrich calls it a "tremendous infringement of religious liberty."
The Constitution provides the right to freedom of religion. It also provides the right to do business under guidelines set by congress and governmental regulatory bodies. Since when are businesses and houses of worship interchangeable? Also, if we are to conflate the two, when are we going to start taxing them equally?
We are in very dangerous territory here. The GOP is attempting to set a national precedent under which narrow religious interpretations have an accepted role in commercial trades. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is insisting on it. Last week, he called the guidelines un-Constitutional. This serves to illustrate just how little he understands or respects the intent of the framers. Today, having clearly sensed the ginned-up controversy working with their base, he announced his intent to literally legislate religion.
No one is forcing anyone to violate the terms of their faith. This is because no one is forcing anyone to run a business. You don't like it? Close. You can't abide by it? Shutter your establishment. The vacuum created by any such move will be met by the entrepreneurial spirit.
There is something else quite important here; A majority of "contraceptives" prescribed in the United States are not used for "family planning." They are specifically used to target other women's health issues.
It is worth noting that a majority of Catholics, the group singled out by so many "social conservatives" as being under siege or in need of defense from this... support the policy.