The Welfare State’s War on Religious Liberty | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

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

Ex-FBI Director's Case Collapses

By Jay Sekulow1497044409096

Fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee accomplished one thing: With his testimony, Comey’s case against President Trump collapsed like a house of cards. Not only did Comey’s testimony clear President Trump – admitting under oath that the President was...

read more

Comey is Not a Credible Witness

By Jay Sekulow1496880902209

Former FBI Director James Comey is preparing to tell his side of the story before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday regarding his encounter with President Trump. His prepared remarks were released today – and make no mistake about it – this is Comey’s opportunity to get back in the...

read more

President Trump Fired FBI Dir. James Comey

By Jay Sekulow1494370610081

President Donald Trump has just fired FBI Director James Comey. President Trump’s letter states that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” President Trump's action is not only appropriate, but represents the correct action taken against Comey who has become a renegade FBI Director.

read more

Defense of Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Jay Sekulow1488493786306

There is a ruthless, coordinated attempt by those on the Left – in Congress, in the mainstream media, and in the bureaucracy – to undermine and undercut President Trump. First it’s a leak. Then a deceptive smear. And finally an all-out assault intended to hinder and even remove from office senior...

read more