Others have some thoughts on this, along with matters carefully ignoredmissed by President Obama.
Ruth Ann Daily of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out a principle that was well understood in our early days, but that our former University of Chicago Senior Lecturer in Constitutional Law seems to have…forgotten.
She describes an 1801 exchange of letters between Thomas Jefferson and a coalition of Baptist ministers from Connecticut, where the Congregationalist Church was supported by all citizens’ state taxes [emphasis added].
The “Danbury Baptists” and other minorities…could seek an exemption certificate that would route their taxes to their own church, but in practice, many municipalities made that difficult to do, and in principle, the Baptists argued, it was wrong:
“What religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights,” they wrote to Jefferson, “and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.”
Jefferson’s response extolled the “wall of separation between church and state,” a metaphor borrowed from Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. The Baptists and the deist skeptic are still right, 210 years later: An exemption, by definition, establishes one worldview over another and relegates dissenters to second-class status. Therefore the government must abstain from any such sphere where its presence is not absolutely necessary — as in forcing employers or insurance companies to dispense free contraceptives.
Caroline May of The Daily Caller describes another aspect of this problem that Obama…missed: some insurance providers are “religious organizations whose beliefs preclude them from offering birth control.”
She quotes Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission:
Let’s just take Southern Baptists, there are 16 million of us, almost all of us are covered by a self-funded insurance program called GuideStone. So when he says “well you don’t have to pay for it, your insurance company will,” our insurance company is a Southern Baptist insurance company, it is self-funded through the denomination, so it is totally unconscionable for them to provide abortifacients.
As Land put it
My initial reaction is: How dumb does he think we are? Does he think when he puts lip stick on a pig, that we don’t understand that it is still a pig?