The president of the United States has decided to go Henry VIII on the Church's medieval ass. Whatever religious institutions might profess to believe in the matter of "women's health," their pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities and immunities are now subordinate to a one-and-only supreme head on earth determined to repress, redress, restrain and amend their heresies. One wouldn't wish to overextend the analogy: For one thing, the Catholic Church in America has been pathetically accommodating of Beltway bigwigs' ravenous appetite for marital annulments in a way that Pope Clement VII was disinclined to be vis-� -vis the English king and Catherine of Aragon. But where'd all the pandering get them? In essence, President Obama has embarked on the same usurpation of church authority as Henry VIII: as his Friday morning faux-compromise confirms, the continued existence of a "faith-based institution" depends on submission to the doctrinal supremacy of the state.Read the whole thing.
"We will soon learn," wrote Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, "just how much faith is left in faith-based institutions." Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's vicar on earth, has sportingly offered to maintain religious liberty for those institutions engaged in explicit religious instruction to a largely believing clientele. So we're not talking about mandatory condom dispensers next to the pulpit at St. Pat's – not yet. But that is not what it means to be a Christian: The mission of a Catholic hospital is to minister to the sick. When a guy shows up in Emergency, bleeding all over the floor, the nurse does not first establish whether he is Episcopalian or Muslim; when an indigent is in line at the soup kitchen the volunteer does not pause the ladle until she has determined whether he is a card-carrying Papist. The government has redefined religion as equivalent to your Sunday best: You can take it out for an hour to go to church, but you gotta mothball it in the closet the rest of the week. So Catholic institutions cannot comply with Commissar Sebelius and still be in any meaningful sense Catholic.
The so-called "cafeteria Catholics" like Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and the entire Kennedy family who go down the line picking and choosing which of the church's beliefs they'll follow won't care that much about this whole mess...unless they value religious freedom. Of course they demonstrate religious freedom every time they ignore a church teaching so they probably won't balk at the idea the government can dictate their belief system.
However, for the bishops of the church and those who are faithful followers, not to mention people from other faiths who know their beliefs are next, this will create some major heartburn. Does Obama really want churches teaching from the pulpit that they must ignore the government edicts? That's what's gonna happen, and to some extent, already has.
And will the government then react by punishing churches with removal of their non-profit status? A religious war is on the horizon.