Glendon: Mandate is “a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda”

Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today in which she explains the reasoning behind the 12 lawsuits filed against the Obama administration yesterday. Glendon repeats the assertion (also made by the USSCB in their statement on the mandate here, and more recently by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on CBS this morning) that Catholic objections to the mandate aren’t primarily about contraception, but about religious freedom. Glendon further argues that the mandate itself is not primarily about women’s health, but about promoting a certain ideology:

The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women’s health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.

The media have implied all along that the dispute is mainly of concern to a Catholic minority with peculiar views about human sexuality. But religious leaders of all faiths have been quick to see that what is involved is a flagrant violation of religious freedom. That’s why former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared, “We’re all Catholics now.”

Glendon also describes exactly what is at stake in the dispute over the HHS mandate:

At the deepest level, we are witnessing an attack on the institutions of civil society that are essential to limited government and are important buffers between the citizen and the all-powerful state.

If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it, we are witnessing an effort to reduce religion to a private activity. “Never before,” he said, “have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith.”

Read the whole article, here.


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About Catherine Harmon 574 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.