No, I’m not exaggerating. The American experiment in religious liberty is officially over. The First Amendment provided institutional structures that allow different religions to peacefully coexist. All groups agree to not try to capture governmental structures for the benefit of their own particular denomination.
But the Obama administration has ended that truce. The administration made a decision to require all employers to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization. The administration offers no religious exemption for people who have the audacity to believe that pregnancy is not an illness that needs to be always and everywhere prevented.
In effect, we have a new state religion, a new Established Church of the United States of America, with Barack Obama as its head. It is the religion of Secular Hedonism, the worldview that sex is a sterile recreational activity, with babies thrown in as an afterthought, an optional extra, for people with quirky life-style preferences. The contraceptive mandate uses the full might of the US government to scrub the public square clean of any competing religious voices that dissent from the new orthodoxy.
But because this worldview is fundamentally irrational, it cannot stand on its own two feet. Some sexual activity does result in babies. Not everyone wants their government acting as if the highest goal is that pleasure is to be sought. Not everyone believes that the purpose of the government is to allow people to indulge themselves sexually, without a live baby ever resulting.
The Catholic Church for instance, famously opposes every precept of Secular Hedonism. As a matter of fact, so did all of the Christian churches, right up until five minutes ago. The ancient Christian teaching is that marriage is the proper context for sexual activity and for child-bearing, for the good of children, women, and men alike, as well as society as a whole.
The government believes that this dissenting voice cannot be tolerated. It must be crushed. And, of course, from their point of view, they are perfectly correct. They have an established religion that says that every sexual act is intrinsically meaningless except for the meaning we might happen to assign it. They simply can’t allow someone to go around saying that each and every sexual act is sacred, and endowed by our Creator with inalienable significance. From the point of view of Secular Hedonism, Catholicism must be crushed.
And of course, anyone else who dissents from the new orthodoxy must be crushed as well. That is why so many other faith traditions have joined in criticizing the Obama administration’s usurpation of power from civil society. The National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Jews have all criticized the administration’s attack on religious liberty. These religious bodies know that their religious liberties are at stake as well.
The religious truce is officially over. The Established Church of Secular Hedonism has declared war on the rest of us, enlisting the might of the United States government on their side. We will respond using nothing but peaceful means.
We used to refrain from making religious arguments in the public square. We thought it was our duty. We thought it was good strategy. The Ruth Institute has specialized in defending the ancient Christian teachings, using non-religious arguments. This no longer makes sense. The arguments are still good arguments. But there is no longer any reason to hold back from proclaiming our faith. Our position deserves respect, not simply because it is our “deeply held religious belief”. Our position deserves respect because it is grounded in reason and evidence, and in a far deeper understanding of the human person, and the human good. The ancient Christian teachings on marriage, family and human sexuality are superior to the teachings of the Established Church of Secular Hedonism.
If we don’t respond firmly, the Obama Administration will assume they can get away with ending religious liberty. This website, StopHHS.org will become a clearing house of info about the insurance mandate. Go sign their petition.
Dr Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD, is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage.