That’s the near-unanimous response to President Obama’s supposed “accommodation” offered to those who objected to Obamacare’s mandate that religious institutions pay for contraceptive products and services—including abortion-inducing drugs.
That mandate — which tramples heavily on religious liberties — drew tremendous fire across the board, from Christians and Jews alike, drowning the President in a political maelstrom of his own design. And though today the President sought to calm that storm with a “compromise,” the voices of opposition are as strong as ever because, quite simply, it doesn’t remedy the moral and religious liberty objections to this mandate, and as a practical matter, it simply doesn’t work.
Here’s a roundup of the reactions:
Former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, Princeton Prof. Robert George, Notre Dame Law Prof. Carter Snead, Catholic University of America President John Garvey, and EPPC Fellow Yuval Levin wrote:
This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy. It is certainly no compromise. The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust. Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services…
It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer. It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer. What matters is what services the policy covers.
The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty noted:
It’s not like President Obama has seen the light and is now committed to protecting conscience; he’s trying to, as the New York Times puts it, “shore up support among wavering Democrats, who have also expressed doubt about the rule, along with more liberal religious organizations and charities, who oppose the rule but not as vehemently as the Catholic leadership.”
Pro-Life Caucus Chairman Chris Smith weighed in:
The so-called new policy is the discredited old policy, dressed up to look like something else. It remains a serious violation of religious freedom. Only the most naïve or gullible would accept this as a change in policy.
The newest iteration of Obama’s coercion rule utterly fails because it still forces religious employers and employees who have moral objections to paying for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception to pay for these things, because it is still the employers who buy the coverage for their employees.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said:
This ObamaCare rule still tramples on Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of religion. It’s a fig leaf, not a compromise. Whether they are affiliated with a church or not, employers will still be forced to pay an insurance company for coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs.
This is not just a problem for church-affiliated hospitals and charities. Under these rules, a small business owner with religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs and contraception must either violate his religious beliefs or violate the law.”
And the Alliance Defense Fund wrote:
The Obama administration’s rule change doesn’t change anything. Employees will still pay for this coverage. Through this sleight of hand, the administration is forcing indirectly what it can’t do directly. It is still forcing people of faith to subsidize practices and treatments that violate their values, their morals, and their religious beliefs. What’s next? Will the administration force Jewish schools to serve pork because it’s ‘good’ for Jewish students? When you take religious liberty from a few, you take religious liberty from all.
The responses go on and on, but perhaps words laid down before the President even made his announcement sum it up best. Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Chuck Colson, and Meir Soloveichik joined forces in the Wall Street Journal this morning to warn of the common peril posed by Obamacare’s mandate for their faith communities:
Stories involving a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jew typically end with a punch line. We wish that were the case here, but what brings us together is no laughing matter: the threat now posed by government policy to that basic human freedom, religious liberty.
…[U]nder no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law.”
On Monday, Feb. 13, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) will speak at The Heritage Foundation at 11:30 about how Obamacare tramples on religious liberty and freedom generally, and what can be done about it. Join us live or tune in to watch online.