by Carolyn Bolton:
Sandra Fluke Tuesday said there is no room in the marketplace for business owners with moral objections to employer-provided birth control. This is the latest liberal permutation of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists in which the Establishment Clause is referred to as a “wall of separation” between church and state. Contrary to what liberals have to say, this wall was not intended to block believers from public life.
“Our laws protect individuals’ private religious beliefs, but when you cross over into the public sphere to become a corporation and make a profit off of the public, you must abide by the public’s laws,” Fluke wrote in her Washington Post op-ed titled “At the Supreme Court, a potential catastrophe for women’s rights.”
But surely so-called women’s rights encompass the unique American privilege women nationwide have to exercise their religious conscience not simply in the privacy of their homes or confined to the four walls of their churches but within American society as a whole — the marketplace included. Any other interpretation of the law is religious intolerance masquerading as social justice.
Indeed, the Obama administration is powerless to reconcile the contraception mandate with the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “The federal government cannot grant special favor to the secular over the religious,” a group of four U.S. senators, including Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), said in one of 84 amicus briefs filed in defense of Hobby Lobby.
The legality of the mandate, however, is not something that has concerned the administration as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made clear when in a committee meeting in 2012 she admitted to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) she never requested an analysis of the impact the mandate would have on religious liberty.
“The government’s refusal to address RFRA in any meaningful way (except when sued in federal court) is remarkable. But it’s also consistent with the way the government has treated the law of religious freedom from the beginning of the HHS mandate,” a coalition of bipartisan congressmen, who helped pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, said in another of the 84 amicus briefs filed in defense of Hobby Lobby.
For a man seemingly so concerned with righting wrongs, President Obama has shown no remorse for a mandate that uses the force of law to subjugate thousands of Americans — against their better judgment — to the unconstitutional whims of a man who believes unplanned pregnancies are punishment for sex sans contraception.
But this is nothing new. “Excluding religious minorities from significant businesses or occupations is a time-honored means of religious persecution,” Doug Laycock, University of Virginia law professor and religious-liberty expert, said in a statement on behalf of numerous Christian churches and ministries, including World Vision. The law professor was specifically referring to the burden faced by Christian business owners who — under Obamacare — must keep their staff trimmed enough to not have to comply with the contraception mandate.
Of course, the most unnecessary prophylactic is the one President Obama is hanging from the church steeple — a translucent violation of the Establishment Clause.
Carolyn Bolton is a writer and editor living in Washington, DC. Follow her on Twitter @carbolton.