Last week the news erupted with coverage of Catholic institutions fight against the Administration's edict that they cover contraceptive care in their health insurance plans. Many people got bogged down when they zoomed in tight on the merits of contraception. If they zoomed out a little and got some perspective (which many people thankfully did) they saw the larger implication of this action. Obama, or rather his HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius, was forced to offer a "fix" when 70 million potential voters seemed to line up on the side of the Catholic church. But the "fix" is actually worse than the disease IF you have some perspective on it.
Charles Krauthammer noted the duality of the Administration's position in his piece from last week in which he discussed what the President said about good works being central to religiosity at this year's national day of prayer and what Directer Sibelius said about religious institutions. Here, from the Washington Post, was her definition of what a religious institution is and is not.
Criterion 1: A “religious institution” must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose.” But that’s not the purpose of Catholic charities; it’s to give succor to the poor. That’s not the purpose of Catholic hospitals; it’s to give succor to the sick. Therefore, they don’t qualify as “religious” — and therefore can be required, among other things, to provide free morning-after abortifacients.
The perspective Catholics gained was not that the government wants contraception for everyone but that the government believes it has the right to dictate what religious institutions do. This belief was also felt by the military chaplains who were ordered not to preach about this issue in their Sunday services.Criterion 2: Any exempt institution must be one that “primarily employs” and “primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.” Catholic soup kitchens do not demand religious IDs from either the hungry they feed or the custodians they employ. Catholic charities and hospitals — even Catholic schools — do not turn away Hindu or Jew.
Their vocation is universal, precisely the kind of universal love-thy-neighbor vocation that is the very definition of religiosity as celebrated by the Gospel of Obama. Yet according to the Gospel of Sebelius, these very same Catholic institutions are not religious at all — under the secularist assumption that religion is what happens on Sunday under some Gothic spire, while good works are “social services” properly rendered up unto Caesar.
The perspective everyone should be getting with the HHS fix is that this government believes it has the right to dictate the specific practices of business, in this case insurance companies, who will now be required to provide a service for free. Why not tell McDonalds that they must supply a free bottled water with every meal because, after all, that is in the customer's health interest? Why not mandate that businesses offer either their own fitness centers or pay for club memberships, since that also will improve the health of their employees? So much has, and will, be done in the name of "health."
Even in our schools we see changes being made in the name of "health." We have written about this many times in MEW, here, here, here and here.
In North Carolina this week, a mother had her 4 year old's lunch sent home with a note that it did not meet the USDA's guidelines for a healthy meal and that she was being charged $1.25 for the "supplemental" food the school had to supply to her child.
Hit the "-" button on your map tool and see that the lunch that was deemed unqualified contained: a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, some chips and a box of apple juice.
Hit the "-" button again and see that the school had someone assigned to check lunchboxes for every child who brought one from home to make sure that the food was in line with USDA guidelines.