Jost & the editors on the “accommodation.”
First Tim Jost [.pdf], health-care law scholar:
Accommodation of religious belief and “neutral laws of general applicability” is not an easy task. I am a religious conscientious objector and object to the requirement that I must pay taxes to support war. Yet I do not consider the federal government to be at war with religion, even though it makes no accommodation for my religious beliefs, much less the accommodation that it affords those who object to contraception.
For two centuries that United States has been conducting an experiment virtually unprecedented in human history—a government that neither establishes nor forbids any religious beliefs. Sometimes, as with respect to laws prohibiting polygamy in the nineteenth century or my objection to war taxes, it has offered no quarter to minority beliefs. In other situations, as with the implementing of the preventive services requirement, the government has gone a great distance to accommodate minority beliefs, while at the same time trying to accommodate the needs of the majority. As a member of a religious group that has always Sydney been in the minority, and is likely to stay there, I rejoice in this ongoing experiment. President Obama, himself a professed Christian, is not at war with religion, his administration is rather trying to find a peaceful solution to one of the many conflicts over religious values that characterize our diverse nation.
Second, our latest editorial:
Conservative Catholics complain that too many liberal Catholics instinctively greet every statement from the Vatican with suspicion, skepticism, or derision. It’s a fair point. The motives and judgment of those who appear unthinkingly hostile to all hierarchical authority should be questioned. Patient attention to the legitimate concerns of others and the presumption of goodwill on the part of those we disagree with are essential virtues.
Unfortunately, patience and the presumption of goodwill were not much in evidence in the response of the U.S. bishops and many conservative Catholics to President Barack Obama’s compromise on the question of mandated contraceptive coverage for employees of religious-affiliated institutions. Even before all the details of the president’s proposal were known, the bishops rejected it and then upped the ante by insisting that the only possible solution was to repeal the mandate altogether. In other words, the bishops are now demanding that no employer be required to offer free contraception coverage to its employees. To justify their response, they offered only the most tendentious reading of the possible flaws in Obama’s proposal. Now the USCCB is threatening a concerted political and public-relations campaign—during an election year—that casts the president as a determined enemy of religious freedom.