Prophylactic Government

They’re a bossy, intolerant, holier-than-thou lot, these irreligious people. Not all of them, of course, and we hasten to add that some of our best friends are godless heathens, but too many of the unchurched are self-righteously determined to impose their non-beliefs on everyone.

The latest example is a ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services that the “Obamacare” law requires all large institutions to offer their employees insurance covering contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients, even if those institutions are affiliated with religions that object to such practices.

News reports about the ruling have stressed its effect on Catholic institutions, and thus far the Catholic church has been the most vociferous in its criticisms, but people of all religions will likely feel threatened by the new policy. While most Protestant denominations and other faiths take a more permissive view of contraception than their Catholic brethren, at least as far as married couples are concerned, many churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples are as steadfast as the Catholics in their opposition to sterilization and abortion. All people who still cling to a faith in a power higher than government knows that there’s something in their creed that will eventually bring them into conflict with an unrestrained secular state, and we expect that many of them will decide that this is as good a place as any to draw a line.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the policy “strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventative services,” but it seems a strange equilibrium. The respect for religious belief is merely rhetorical, the increase in access to services is entirely tangible, and in the end people of faith will have to either pay for something they find sinful or stop providing needed services to the public.

That seems an appropriate balance to a post-religious sensibility, which marvels that anyone still believes in such archaic notions as the propagation of the species, and in the most fevered imaginations of the post-modern left it’s a necessary counterweight to the brutal theocracy of the “The Handmaid’s Tale” that is always looming yet never arrives. From a religious point of view it’s pure bullying by a government with no respect for religious freedom, and we hope that more than a few agnostics and atheists who cherish their liberties will also recognize the dangerous precedent being set by a policy that forces people to act contrary to their most cherished beliefs.

— Bud Norman


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