The religious freedom discussion this morning is dominated by analysis of a draft Executive Order circulating in the Trump administration restoring many rights to religious objection regarding advances in areas like the contraception mandate, same-sex marriage and transgenderism. The media coverage is universally breathless, and opposed to the order – which, bear in mind, is a LEAK of something that has yet to be acted upon. The Nation was the recipient of the leak, but even its coverage descends immediately into negative analysis. Most outlets would carry two stories, one reporting on the leak and another analyzing its contents, but then media ain’t what she used to be. I will rely on The Hill for a somewhat less breathless description of what the order does:
The order, as drafted, could allow employers to deny women contraception coverage, calling on the Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury secretaries to issue a rule exempting organizations and individuals from the Affordable Care Act’s preventive-care mandate.
”Persons and organizations do not forfeit their religious freedom when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts: or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments,” the draft says.
Back in my days at Article VI Blog, watching all things Romney and Mormon, we had a game we liked to play called, “What if somebody said that about an African-American?” It was a test for bigotry. It’s time to pull it out of the hat on this issue.
Suppose for a moment that the Trump administration forced through Congress a law requiring mandatory church membership. Doesn’t really matter what church or what it believes, but it has to be called a church – the church could be “the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now” (nod to Flip Wilson). Atheist’s would be up in arms immediately, as would faiths that call themselves something other than a church. Certainly those who are not church affiliated would feel that their rights to be not church affiliated were being denied. Seems like what is good for the goose, is not so good for the gander. Isn’t that pretty much the definition of discrimination?
Well, those of us that are church affiliated have deeply held beliefs about some things. And many the of laws and regulations that came to be in the Obama administration denied us our rights to practice our religion as we are instructed to do so by that religion’s teaching. Bear in mind, President Trump has already announced that the orders to the federal government regarding its actions on these issues are to be unchanged. The draft order, so vilified, does not change the behavior of the United States government in any fashion. No legal rights are rescinded – Obergefell stands. Same-sex marriage will continue and contraceptives will be readily available throughout the land. It simply carves out a space for those of us with religious convictions, and the businesses we own and operate, to operate in accordance with those convictions.
I have not read the order in detail and the language may need some tweaking, but that is for the lawyers. What is undeniable is that the answer to discrimination is not preferential treatment of the formerly discriminated against – such is just piling discrimination on top of discrimination – it is retribution, not justice.