Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Here is a short piece of mine, up at USA Today, on the HHS mandate and Friday's announcement of planned modifications to it. A bit:
. . . It is true that not all those who object in good faith to the community's laws can or should be accommodated. It is also true that, in a pluralistic society, everyone sees his or her tax dollars used by governments for some programs and purposes they oppose. At the same time, a free society like ours will regard it as often both wise and just to accommodate religious believers and institutions by exempting them from requirements that would require them to compromise their integrity. This is such a case.A crucial thing to remember, both about the mandate and the promised adjustments-to-come, is that it is deeply un-American in its hostility to diversity and pluralism in civil society.
The mandate's religious-employer exemption is limited only to inward-looking entities that hire and engage only their own. It embodies the view that religious institutions may be distinctive only insofar as they stay in their place — in the pews, in the pulpit, at the altar. It reflects a troubling tendency to impose ideological sameness and conformity in the public sphere, to insist that all groups and associations act like the government, in the service of the government's goals.
The mandate prompted an impressively united reaction by those who cherish America's tradition of religious freedom and accommodation. On the left and on the right, among Republicans and Democrats, there was an appreciation for the fact that this was an overreach. It was, and still is.