David Hughes, The Telegraph
'The Obama administration’s decision to take on the Catholic Church at this stage of the political cycle is either very brave or very stupid. As Jon Swaine reports this morning, the President’s overhaul of healthcare includes a provision that religious charities, universities and other groups must now provide contraception in staff insurance packages and failure to do so will result in hefty fines.
More than 150 Catholic bishops have spoken out against the change, with one accusing Obama of waging a "severe assault on religious liberty". According to Alexander Sample, the Bishop of Marquette, "we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees and suffer the penalties for doing so.” With 70 million Catholics in the United States, this looks like a kamikaze mission by the White House. Why have they done it? David Brooks in the New York Times has a persuasive theory:
Members of the Obama administration aren’t forcing religious organizations to violate their creeds because they are secular fundamentalists who place no value on religious liberty. They are doing it because they operate in a technocracy. Technocrats are in the business of promulgating rules. They seek abstract principles that they can apply in all cases. From their perspective, a rule is fair when it can be imposed uniformly across the nation. Technocratic organizations take diverse institutions and make them more alike by imposing the same rules. Technocracies do not defer to local knowledge. They dislike individual discretion. They like consistency, codification and uniformity.This obsession with legislative uniformity could have a big price tag. When he was elected in 2008, Obama outscored John McCain by 54 per cent to 45 per cent among Catholic voters. That advantage has, I suspect, just been frittered away.'