Maybe you guys and gals know this already. But I was wondering exactly how Obama got the power to push into church affairs? I mean, Obama’s not king. He doesn’t get to make laws all by himself. And I don’t recall Congress voting on this bit of overreach. So where did it come from?
I see the answer in this WSJ editorial, “ObamaCare’s Great Awakening”.
In late January the Health and Human Services Department required almost all insurance plans to cover contraceptive and sterilization methods, including the morning-after pill. The decision came after passionate lobbying by religious groups and liberals from the likes of Planned Parenthood…
A decree came out of HHS? So as a technical point it wasn’t even Obama that did this, it was the Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius. But how did she get the power?
This goes back to the drafting of the ObamaCare law. At that time, a few guardians of civil liberties expressed concern that ObamaCare might be used to exert unacceptable control over religious institutions. So lawmakers tossed in a conscience exemption for “religious employers”. Thus reassured, wavering Democrats signed on.
Turns out there was a problem: The definition of what constitutes a religious employer was not precise. Perhaps this was done purposely, perhaps inadvertently. We saw how the bill was a cobbled-together mishmash. By the time it had reached its final form, nobody had a clear picture of what was in it.
In the final push to pass ObamaCare, you’ll recall how Nancy Pelosi famously declared, “…we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” And she was right about the first part, in that we’ve spent the subsequent era figuring out exactly what the hell Obama did to us. But that “fog of controversy” doesn’t seem to have gone away.
Given that Obama fills positions with extremists, it’s no surprise what happened next: HHS declared an ultra-narrow interpretation of the conscience clause, such that the protection would apply to almost nobody. Religious charities, universities, schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. are precluded from being guided by their religious conviction. Thus, with the stroke of a pen, Obama’s lackey asserts sovereignty over the entirety of the nation’s religious infrastructure.
We expected this sort of thing. But some of Obama’s more moderate supporters were surprised.
Peggy Noonan’s editorial, “A Battle the President Can’t Win”, notes that Obama might have lost his bid for reelection in this single act.
…the church is fighting back. Priests in an estimated 70% of parishes last Sunday came forward to read strongly worded protests from the church’s bishops. The ruling asks the church to abandon Catholic principals and beliefs; it is an abridgement of the First Amendment; it is not acceptable. They say they will not bow to it. They should never bow to it, not only because they are Catholic and cannot be told to take actions that deny their faith, but because they are citizens of the United States.
She goes on to note:
There are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States. In 2008 they made up 27% of the electorate, about 35 million people. Mr. Obama carried the Catholic vote, 54% to 45%. They helped him win.
They won’t this year. And guess where a lot of Catholics live? In the battleground states.
I find it interesting that this decision comes on the heels of another sop to the left and a slap to the center: The Keystone XL veto.
It seems that Obama is trying to satisfy the extreme wing of his party. Maybe his plan is to ease up on the extremism as the election draws near, and hope the swing voters will forget what he did here. The electorate can have a remarkably short memory.
By the way, if war does come to the Middle East, that may be the overwhelming concern to voters in November. If it’s war, all bets are off, both for America and the world. But I’ll speculate this much: If the war goes well, this will work to Obama’s advantage. The nation tends to unite behind its leader in time of war. And if the war doesn’t go well, we’ll have such serious problems (global oil shocks, global financial shocks, etc) that there may not even be an election.
Nothing to be done about that, so just pray.