Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion of the Obama Administration’s decision to mandate that even organizations associated with the Catholic Church cover contraception. This has raised the ire of many on the right, who view this mandate as an assault on religious freedom. Since the Catholic Church does not believe in using contraception, they argue, forcing them to cover it means they must violate their consciences. Leaving aside the details, one thing is clear to me - the critics of the mandate are almost without exception missing the larger point.
The contraception mandate is awful, for sure, but not because it is an “assault on religion.” It is wrong because the government has no business telling ANYONE what they must cover. The mandate would be wrong whether it was inflicted on a Catholic group, or a secular one. And to be honest, I don’t think that religion is even a major factor in the decision to establish the mandate. It is born out of a belief that there is some imaginary “right” to free health care, including contraception. That is the true abomination.
Furthermore, why is there outrage only now? Is it somehow okay to force non-Catholics to pay for other’s health care? I understand this involves an issue of great moral importance to Catholics. But is a federal mandate more wrong because it goes against a religious teaching? I say this because many, including myself, do not subscribe to a religion, or belong to one without much political clout. It is disturbing that somehow my liberty is not worth as much because I am in a minority and I don’t have groups lobbying on my behalf.
All liberty is important, and I by no means mean to diminish the outrage that Catholics feel here. Their anger is justified and entirely valid. I just hope to express that liberty matters whether it is religious liberty or just a desire to be left alone. My moral objections are just as strong and valid. Let’s not forget that the root of the problem is a massive, overreaching government that sees fit to extend its tentacles into all areas of life.