This week’s fiasco over whether or not religious institutions should be required to subsidize activity that violates their core beliefs has been papered over for the time being (because after all, the President and his henchmen would never renege when it’s politically convenient to do so, right?). The issue has been portrayed in much of the media as yet another battle in the long, nightmarish struggle over abortion. But in fact, there’s a much broader question in play. I pointed it out back in the first clause of this post. The Anchoress sums it up quite nicely, I think, and that brings us to the QotD:
[T]he point everyone seems content to miss is this: it is not the President’s job to dole our rights out to us!
This is absolutely correct. How out of whack are things when a religious institution (You know, those things that are mentioned in the first one of those Amendment thingies) can even be asked to fund something that is anathema – in the truest sense of the word? (While one can make a case that things have been out of whack since health insurance became a job benefit, rather than an a la carte purchase — itself a result of Federal interference with the market of employers and employees — we’ll let that water lie whar History done flung it.) To describe what has happened today as an “accommodation”, “exception”, or other similar term is an inversion of the relation between the State and the individual.
The Catholic institutions in this week’s activity have not been granted anything. Our rights are not granted us by the government (because what has been granted can be revoked), but are in fact inalienable. That on too many occasions the populace has acquiesced to the State’s interference with those rights is not terribly surprising, as that interference has been gradual and under the anesthesia of a distracting mass culture and a power-worshipping mass media. But it does not, at base, change the nature of the relationship.
What the Catholic institutions have done does not involve receiving an accommodation — it is an assertion of that which is already theirs. The government’s efforts to express it otherwise is merely indicative of its disdain for the difference between citizen and subject.