Having said that I find one current political issue particularly troubling. That issue is President Obama’s insistence that religious institutions provide contraceptives as part of their mandated health insurance. This means that Roman Catholic schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions will have to take actions that are directly contrary to their religious convictions. This has caused a powerful reaction as it is a fairly obvious example of the federal government trampling on the free exercise of religion for a large group of people. Many Christians who are not necessarily aligned with the Catholic doctrine on contraception are upset that our federal government is requiring people to act in ways that violate their own beliefs, beliefs that are protected by constitutional guarantees. The President’s offer of a “compromise” was a patent attempt to dodge the firestorm of reaction through some accounting sleight of hand, an attempt that has clearly failed. The problem has not gone away.
I will have more to say about this, but for the moment I believe this is a wrong turn for our country. It has ominous implications. Is it the worst thing in the world? Is it disaster for the church? No, Christians have lived throughout history in situations where freedom of religion was a pipedream. In fact, the church has often flourished while facing persecution. So we have to keep this in perspective. This is not persecution, far from it. But it appears to me to be a deviation from the plain meaning of the First Amendment, and that’s not a good thing. Perhaps some will disagree with me, and if they do I hope we can, as stated earlier, agree to disagree in a spirit of humility and grace. But how should we respond to this action? I will have more to say about this in an upcoming blog.