The Obama administration is taking an ax to America’s freedom of religion. It has deliberately picked a fight with religious Americans and the Catholic Church in particular in a move that should alarm Americans of all faiths.
The president has mandated that employers provide health-care coverage for all employees. He is now also demanding that this coverage include birth control: free sterilizations and access to all fda-approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortions. Of course, Catholic doctrine forbids all of these practices, and even many non-Catholics likewise oppose abortion, including the “morning-after pill,” on religious grounds.
The government doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter how upset religious leaders get, whose conscience is violated, or whose beliefs are trampled. The president has settled the issue: Abortion-inducing drugs are every woman’s right—even if God Himself disagrees.
Attacking Freedom of Religion
When the Department of Health and Human Services first published this proposal last August, Catholic leaders were among those who objected the most strenuously, calling it “an unprecedented attack on religious freedom.” Efforts to stop the law failed, and in January, dhh Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that it will go into effect in August. She offered one bizarre, meaningless concession: Religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals and universities are allowed an additional year to “adapt” to the change. They won’t have to betray their convictions until August 2013.
Predictably, people were outraged that Americans are going to be forced to pay for things they morally oppose. The administration knew this would happen, and President Obama “retreated” to what was surely his pre-planned position. Supposedly to appease those with religious objections, he announced in mid-February “a solution that works for everyone.”
What “works for everyone” is not to back off the demand for free abortifacients, sterilizations and contraceptives in all federally mandated health-insurance plans. “Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services—no matter where they work. So that core principle remains,” the president explained. “But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company—not the hospital, not the charity—will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles” (emphasis added).
So the “free” pharmacological abortions are still ordered by law, but the insurance company must pay for them and can’t explicitly bill the employer. Most likely it will recoup the cost simply by charging the employer higher premiums. And the employer is still required to provide free access to services it views as sin. The president did not try to “accommodate” religious freedom; rather, he demonstrated himself to be completely intolerant of dissent.
There are no exceptions for religious insurance companies, self-insured religious employers, non-profit employers who are religious, or non-religious employers (such as small business owners with personal convictions). Any American who simply does not want his or her money paying for someone else to get sterilized or to fatally poison a human embryo will pay stiff fines for obeying his or her conscience rather than the law.
This is not just morally wrong, it is constitutionally wrong.
Governing the Government
This president is hostile toward the original intent of the United States Constitution, and this is just the latest example. The First Amendment guarantees that no law will prohibit an American from free exercise of religion. But in the president’s view, a woman’s right to have recreational sex and enjoy cost-free access to pregnancy prevention/termination trumps the constitutional right to act according to one’s religious beliefs.
The Founding Fathers had such an abuse of power in mind when they wrote the Constitution—a document that is now getting almost the same dismissive, infinitely subjective treatment as the Bible itself.
The liberal view is that human nature is fundamentally good and should be given room to flourish. The realist—and biblical—view is that human nature is fundamentally evil and must be conscientiously governed. Thankfully, the Framers took the latter view. That is a big part of the reason that the system of government they created, while imperfect, has stood for over two centuries and done much to guarantee the success of the United States of America and its people.
The Founders realized that government is necessary in order to check the evils of human nature in society. They also recognized—having fought and bled in order to free themselves from a tyrant—that firm limits on power are needed in order to check the evils of human nature within the government.
As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
In the Constitution, the American Founders established a system that successfully governs the government.
The fundamental means by which the Constitution accomplishes this are representation, separation of powers, and limited government. The first of these puts the ultimate power in the hands of voters. The second lies in the checks and balances the Founders created through interaction among three branches of government. The third comes in the form of enumerated powers. For example, Article i, Section 8 of the Constitution outlines the duties of Congress. If it’s not listed here, Congress can’t do it. And the head of government—very unlike a monarch—is voted in, carries out his constitutional duties for four years, and can be dismissed at that point, if not before.
Remember, these fundamental restrictions were borne of a realistic understanding of human nature. But right now, these restraints are under the knife.
Attacking the Constitution
Upon entering office, the president must solemnly promise that, to the best of his ability, he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That is required by the Constitution, which also says that “senators and representatives, and all executive and judicial officers … shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution.”
Far too many of these leaders have taken that oath—and then done the opposite! The current president has, to the best of his ability, smeared, ignored and undermined that founding document!
America’s most powerful leaders today fundamentally disagree with the charter they are meant to uphold! In the eyes of the president and his top leaders, the Founders’ limits on the government, which protect the nation from human nature, are obstacles preventing them from remaking the nation according to their own perverse ideals (article, page 5).
This thinking is not unique to the 21st century. Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn points out that the seeds of this anti-law thinking were sown a century ago by Woodrow Wilson, who viewed the Constitution’s doctrines of limited government as obsolete. “Wilson argued that progress and evolution had brought human beings to a place and time where we didn’t have to worry about limited government,” Arnn said. “He rejected what the Founders identified as a fixed or unchanging human nature, and thought we should be governed by an elite class of people who are not subject to political forces or constitutional checks and balances—a class of people such as we find in our modern bureaucracy. This form of government would operate above politics, acting impartially in accordance with reason” (emphasis added).
Here is the crux of it. This thinking trusts in human nature and human reasoning. It sees nothing that needs restraining. It is so confident in its own correctness that it seeks to operate above the law. Today, with a government that is fiercely following this philosophy, it is plain to see the problems that can result.
Casting Off Restraint
Right after Mr. Obama was elected, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote on this subject in the January 2009 issue: “The Founding Fathers created the Constitution to limit the government’s power because they had lived under a tyrant who decided, according to his own whims, what was fair for the people and what wasn’t. The Constitution gave them a certain protection from evil human nature. The Founders based this charter on certain biblical principles, not just human reasoning.”
What began with Wilson and blossomed under Franklin Roosevelt is now reaching its apex: transcending the limits imposed by the Founders, and perpetually increasing the government’s power as a guarantor of “positive rights.”
Today the federal government acts, for example, as though citizens have the “right” to material goods and services—housing, education, health-care, abortifacients—giving the government the obligation to take resources from other citizens to pay for them. This represents an enormous expansion in federal power at the expense of the rights and freedoms of individuals.
The president is bypassing the democratic process with growing impunity. The legislature is blowing past its constitutionally enumerated powers and continually enlarging its mandate. And the judiciary is torturing the Constitution’s language to force ever more bizarre meanings into it, thus bringing it into conformity with its own liberal plans. These efforts are just getting started—and are quickly gaining momentum.
These leaders are shucking off the constitutional system by which the government itself is properly governed. Why? Because of their basic, fatal misunderstanding of human nature. Because they reject the crucial need for human beings to live subject to God’s law and, in this case, even the law of the land!
Essentially, this thrusts the door open to the very abuses of power the American Founders had fled and worked so diligently to prevent. It destroys the rule of law and replaces it with the rule of men. In the end, human reasoning reigns supreme. The whim of the tyrant becomes law.
The Tyranny of Human Reasoning
Lest you think there is no cause for concern that circumstances could descend to that state, consider again the administration’s latest ruling—not only mandating that all Americans receive health-care coverage, but also that in it, insurance companies must provide free sterilization, contraception and pharmacological abortion.
This ruling imposes breathtaking constraints on private companies, placing them at the mercy of governmental whims. It forces individual citizens to enter into contracts whether or not they want to. And it undercuts the Bill of Rights’ protection of free exercise of religion, compelling anyone who disapproves of these practices on religious grounds to compromise their beliefs.
Why is the president making such sweeping moves, sacrificing such pillar American freedoms? Simply because he believes it is the right thing to do.
Insurance companies that reduce the number of pregnancies will help their bottom line, the president contends. This new regulation labels birth control—including sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs—as “preventive care.” “That means free check-ups, free mammograms, immunizations and other basic services,” Mr. Obama explained. “We fought for this because it saves lives and it saves money—for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody. That’s because it’s a lot cheaper to prevent an illness than to treat one.”
There is something chilling about this reasoning when applied to human life itself.
Many people believe—correctly—that human life starts at conception and stoutly oppose drugs that induce early-term abortions. With this law, the administration isn’t just making it possible for a woman to take such drugs—it is forcing all taxpaying citizens to indirectly provide her with these drugs for free. And the president praises the termination of the pregnancy—what could be a fertilized ovum or human embryo—for its cost savings. Like catching a cancer in its early stages.
He’s right in one sense: Terminating a pregnancy is certainly cheaper than raising a child. Death is cheaper than life.
This president is solidly in favor of abortions (what he calls “reproductive rights”). As an Illinois state senator, he voted against a ban on what is called partial-birth abortion—and then went a step further: He opposed a bill to protect the life of a newborn that managed to survive that grisly procedure. Take a moment, if you can stomach it, to imagine what that would actually mean within the walls of an abortion clinic!
Now this man holds the highest office in the land and is dictating the nation’s health-care law. His administration is deftly couching this latest mandate in noble language like “women’s health,” “preventive care” and “reproductive services” (as if anyone who opposes it is against women’s health). But it is the product of some truly ignoble thinking.
How else can you explain the government so pitilessly steamrolling over deeply held religious objections as though they are utterly baseless, undermining constitutional protections and even alienating voters in the process?
In pushing his radical social agenda, the president is so convinced of his own righteousness, none of that matters. From his perspective, the centuries-old doctrine of a church with a billion believers is a fringe view, and freedom of religion is just a bump in the road.
Where This Is Leading
This is just a single example of the dangers posed by throwing out the rule of law.
“A president who slights the Constitution is like a rider who hates his horse: He will be thrown, and the nation along with him,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Pence in September 2010.
This exploding development calls to mind the darkest period in the history of ancient Israel—the period of the judges. As the nation turned its back on God and His law, it suffered curse upon nightmarish curse. Scripture uses a simple description of the moral and intellectual climate at that time—one that rings sickeningly true today: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Quoting that verse in 2001, Mr. Flurry wrote, “This was the condition of our biblical forefathers—just before their nation collapsed and they went into slavery!”
Watch for history to repeat itself. ▪