Just what is the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that has garnered so much attention over the last year?
On the outside, it appears to be nothing more than another directive handed down by a “progressive” government regarding health(care).
This kind of thing is something that the American people is probably getting used to, so many do not take any notice. After all, what is one more misunderstood directive in a sea of misunderstood directives over the last four or so years?
But dig deeper, and it becomes more clear what this is. A major part of the HHS mandate is a directive that ALL employers provide access to contraceptives as part of healthcare coverage. While this may seem innocuous, it really is not. The problem is the “ALL employers” part, because there are employers in the U.S., the majority of them religious, who have reason NOT to provide access to this sort of “healthcare”. If the U.S. Government is directing all employers, including religious groups and organizations, what they must do (provide), that is clearly a violation of the separation of Church and State.
Since the HHS mandate was handed down, religious groups, organizations, and churches across the country have been in an uproar. How can the State, which dictates what the Church can and cannot do to maintain a tax-exempt status, dictate what the Church must do? If the Church is to be separate from the State, it has the right to choose what it does and does not do, within the reasonable bounds of the law.
Many churches and religious organizations view the use of contraceptives and abortions as morally wrong, going so far as to ban their use completely among their followers. This is not against any law, and no one is getting hurt in any way by these faith-based directives. But suddenly, the failure to accept the use of these methods has become illegal. The Church has gone from not breaking any laws by condoning the use of contraceptives, to being in violation of a State directive mandating free access to contraceptives, due to the Church’s beliefs.
The United States was founded on a principle of freedom of religion – a freedom to practice whatever religion on wants, wherever one wants, whenever one wants, without interference from the State. But as the State begins to direct what the Church must do – not just a simple what the Church cannot do to maintain a status as a Church free from State – it is the State that is violating the Constitutional rights of the Church.
The HHS mandate may look like a good thing on the surface. And maybe for the majority of Americans, it is a good thing. But to religious groups and organizations, who have a moral call to avoid the use of contraceptives, it is anything but a good thing. To these groups, this is the State dictating to them what they must do, while at the same time telling the Church what it cannot do to maintain the separation of Church and State that has characterized this country from its inception.