Search  |  Login  |  Register

By David French1325201666000

The case for limited government is becoming increasingly inseparable from the case for religious liberty. Yesterday, the New York Times published a lengthy article on the battle between the Catholic Church and various arms of the leviathan welfare state. The church is battling Obama administration requirements that Catholic schools and hospitals cover contraceptives in their health plans, battling Obama administration decisions to freeze Catholics out of contracts to aid sex-trafficking victims, and battling the state of Illinois over state requirements that Catholic charities place kids with same-sex couples. These fights come after the Catholic church famously shut down its adoption services in Massachusetts rather than bow to state demands that it place children in same-sex households. The Times sets ups the battle for religious liberty as a matter of right of access to government contracts:

Critics of the church argue that no group has a constitutional right to a government contract, especially if it refuses to provide required services.

But Anthony R. Picarello Jr., general counsel and associate general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, disagreed. “It’s true that the church doesn’t have a First Amendment right to have a government contract,” he said, “but it does have a First Amendment right not to be excluded from a contract based on its religious beliefs.”

While I agree completely with Anthony Picarello’s comment, we shouldn’t lose sight of a larger truth: Because of the massive expansion of government, religious organizations are often unable to even conduct their traditional charitable functions without heavy state regulation. In other words, the “government contracts” or “government benefits” at issue are a required component of the charitable work. Don’t believe me? Try running a foster-care program independently. Try offering a health-insurance plan for your employees without dealing with a maze of federal regulations. So this is not a simple matter of a private organization trying to feed from the federal trough but instead of a religious organization trying to carry out a mission that predates the very formation of our nation and being barred from doing so because the state has decided it knows best.

This represents a fundamental change in our social contract and one that — for all the yammerings of the “strict separation” crowd — actually results in the government leaping straight into the most sacred choices of our religious institutions. The Catholic Church is entirely correct to stand against Illinois and the Obama administration and defend its 2,000-year-old mission and purpose.

This article is crossposted at National Review Online.

Latest in
Constitution

AG Holder’s Resignation a Welcome Sign

By Jay Sekulow1411677073000

President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, is expected to announce his resignation today. Embroiled for years in some of the most divisive scandals we’ve seen in decades, his resignation is a welcome sign of change in the Attorney General’s office. Attorney General Holder has been tasked with...

read more

An Everyday Celebration of Liberty

By Matthew Clark1411065072000

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for...

read more

9/11: A Day of Remembrance

By Jay Sekulow1410452588000

Thirteen years ago today, jihadists attacked America - bringing unimaginable horror and pain to the homeland. On this anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, our prayers are with all who lost loved ones that fateful day. As a nation we must never forget what happened that day - those who lost...

read more

The IRS Surrenders to Angry Atheists

By David French1407525002000

In John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky’s excellent new book, Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department (I reviewed it here ), they outline a disturbing DOJ/EPA racket called “sue and settle.” The racket is simple, unethical, and fiendishly effective. It works like this: An outside,

read more