This week, the Obama administration made a ruling that essentially requires Catholic (and other religious institutions) must provide full insurance coverage for contraception (including methods that are post-fertilization).
The Roman Catholic Church has consistently taught that birth control is wrong — especially those methods that are post-fertilization (like the Morning After Pill, IUD's, etc). ?Many conservative Protestants, Jews and other religious people agree in varying degrees with this position. ?According to the Archbishop of New York, this directive is forcing the church to pay for something it explicitly considers to be immoral and thus violates the basic tenants of freedom of religion.
[Before I tell you what I think, let me lay my cards on the table: ?I am a moderate democrat, I am supportive of the use of birth control, though I have deep concerns about some methods that are post-fertilization. ?While I am personally anti-abortion, in terms of public policy I am a supporter of reproductive rights and choice.]
That said, the Obama administration is wrong on this issue.
Freedom of religion in this country is a fundamental right grounded in our founding core values as expressed in the First?Amendment. ?While religious people do not have the right to force their moral beliefs on others through legislation, we do not as a society have the right to compel religious institutions to violate their principals and beliefs. ?Moreover, individual employees should not expect their faith-based employer to violate their religious convictions in providing benefits to you.
But the church is also wrong.
While the church has the right to speak up and challenge the ruling, this is probably a case of "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's."
For example, I am virtually a pacifist, opposed the Iraqi war, and believe it was immoral, illegal, unjust and a violation of Christian ethics. ?However, my tax dollars — and yours — were used to financially support the war. ?I was compelled by my government to support something that I believe is fundamentally immoral and unjust. ?The same is true for people of faith in states that have the death penalty, when they oppose such penalties as part of their pro-life position (as is true for the Catholic Church). ?Our tax dollars are used to pay for that execution.
But Jesus teaches that we are to be good citizens, respect the laws of the land, and "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." This is part of what it means to live in a pluralistic society (as the Roman Empire was in Jesus's day and in Paul's day.)
Are their times that we are called to be a prophetic voice — and even use non-violent protest as a means to create change — against our Government. ?Yes, absolutely. ?But we should think carefully before we make the issue of insurance coverage for birth control into one of those issues. ?For it is worth noting that no one is being compelled to actually use birth control, just to make it available to those who want to.