By now, it is well known that The Catholic Church’s objects to the Department of Health and Human Services’ requirement that faith-based employers provide insurance coverage for contraceptive services (even though a majority of Catholics support birth control being included in health care plans). Likewise, it is well known that The Catholic Church has petitioned the government for an exemption to this requirement.
What many people may not have realized is that such an exemption would actually allow The Catholic Church to effectively fine its employees (vis withholding money for health care coverage) for disobeying Catholic dogma (in the privacy of their own homes), regardless of the employee’s religious identity.
In effect, the Catholic Church is petitioning the government to enable it to use financial coercion, in the form of bribes or extortion, to impose dogma upon its employees.
Many conservatives, such as House Speaker John Boehner, have decried this requirement as an attack on religious freedom. He himself has publicly said:
If the president does not reverse the Department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, will”.
This begs the question: why is it “religious freedom” for the Catholic Church to impose its dogma on its employees, but not religious freedom for employees of The Catholic Church to not have dogma imposed on them?
This seemingly hypocritical dichotomy plays out in a lot of areas of conservative social policy. On issues such as abortion, gay rights, prayer in school, and public displays of religious iconography/sloganry, conservatives seem to like it when Big Government defends freedom of religious imposition, but hate it when Big Government defends freedom from religious imposition.
If John Boehner insists that congress, “acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend” will reverse attacks on religious freedom, then when will it reverse the Defense of Marriage Act, which attacks the Unitarian Universalist Church’s religious freedom to legally marry the couples they choose?