Bad faith

The forbidden becomes tolerated. The tolerated becomes subsidized. The subsidized becomes mandatory. 

That’s the fifty year history of contraception, from Estelle Griswold to Kathleen Sebelius. It’s a case study in how liberal evolution works. An initial plea for rights results in an ultimate seizure of them. People who don’t know the meaning of rights mistake freedom for free. Dumb.

Americans elected Barack Obama their president, not their pastor. So why does the president’s birth-control “compromise” continue to order religious organizations to violate the tenets of the faiths they serve by paying for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations?

The Obama administration frames the conflict between its “preventative services” rule and religious conscience as a difficult choice between competing rights. But there is no right to free diaphragms as there is a right to freely practice one’s religion. In a contest between rights and wants, rights win—particularly when one person’s wants violate another’s rights.

Freedom of religion is in the Constitution. Free birth control isn’t.

President Obama’s Friday Jedi Mind Trick-resolution to the controversy supposedly puts private insurers rather than religious employers on the hook for morning-after pills and other cure-alls for the children disease. The farcical nature of this Orwellian distinction without a difference becomes obvious when one asks: Will the insurers still pay for the insured’s birth control if church employers stop paying for their employees’ insurance?

Insurers will cover such services only because the government forces religious groups to fund them. There is no such thing as a free lunch—or a free tubal ligation. Somebody always pays, and in this case it is Catholic hospitals, evangelical colleges, and Christian Orthodox charities. The “right” to privacy again crowds out private space.

The former Episcopalian priest Albert Jay Nock surely got a bead on government’s encroachment into the private sphere in 1935’s Our Enemy, the State. The onetime writer for The Nation and The New Republic explained that “just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own. All the power it has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power; there is never, nor can be, any strengthening of State power without a corresponding and roughly equivalent depletion of social power.” 

There is a totalitarian instinct within Barack Obama. Being president of the United States isn’t enough. He assumes the post of CEO of General Motors. He makes himself the loan officer to America’s college students by nationalizing the industry. He plays pope of the Catholic Church. When the state is as big as the U.S. government, there isn’t room for much else.

Washington is the new Detroit. Washington is the new Wall Street. Washington is the new Rome.

Obama has a history of saying the right things and doing the wrong things. In 2006, Senator Obama delivered the keynote at Jim Wallis’s Call to Renewal conference. This is the rare instance of the substantive transcript outshining the flashy presentation. It seemed as though on matters of faith, in sharp contrast to Bill Maher, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and Daniel Dennett, a major figure on the Left “got it.”

The Illinois senator warned progressives that “they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice.” He told the liberal audience that “we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in people’s lives.” And he risked alienating his flock when he noted that “secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.”

Why has Obama not heeded the advice he gave? As is the case with his current contraception compromise—strange among such settlements in that it didn’t consult the opposition—what the president does clashes with what the president says. His actions tell us what his words don’t. He routinely acts in bad faith.

The progeny of a Mulsim-turned-agnostic father and Nothingarian mother, Obama went to a Muslim school in Indonesia, worked for Catholic charities on the South Side of Chicago, and passively sat through twenty years of racist, anti-American conspiratorial rants from black liberation theology preacher Jeremiah Wright. One might surmise that this long, strange trip through a cornucopia of faiths would make him more sensitive to their freedoms.

In that Call to Renewal keynote, Obama recalled reminding his 2004 opponent Alan Keyes that he was “running to be the U.S. senator of Illinois and not the Minister of Illinois.” But something has changed, and the politician who wasn’t satisfied with senator, now isn’t placated with president. Barack Obama elected himself minister-in-chief.