“Can Obama win his battle with the Catholic Church?”
The words scrolled across the bottom of my screen. The cable channel “experts” were debating the President’s mandate that Catholic institutions provide employee insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion inducing drugs.
“The President is helping women with their reproductive health needs,” one of the pundits noted. “But how will the voters respond?” the host replied.
Indeed, the President of the United States instigated a battle with an entire church, and did so quite intentionally. And it’s futile to now ask “can he win?” (he’s already scoring political points– I’ll explain in a moment).
Americans should instead be asking some different questions: Why have we come to accept a U.S. President’s attack on a church as normal, as though it’s nothing more than the subject of armchair quarterbacking? Why do polls show that nearly half of the American electorate wants to re-elect him? And why did a clear majority of American Catholics vote to empower this man in the first place?
After touching-off a global fury with his ruling on healthcare expenditures within religious organizations, the President announced last Friday that he would allow an “attempt to accommodate” (notice that he did not propose to “exempt”) religious organizations with the mandate. Rather than requiring religious groups to pay for birth control, Barack Obama plans instead to require all insurance companies to offer birth control to all women that they insure, and to do so at no extra cost to their customers.
Reaction from prolife leaders to the “accommodation” was swift and negative, while many pundits still argued that it was un-constitutional. Yet the non-profit, Washington, DC-based Catholics United, Inc., offered its blessing on Mr. Obama, noting that “the new regulation will ensure that Catholic hospitals, universities and social service providers that are religiously opposed to contraception and sterilization do not have to provide or even refer for those services, while also requiring insurance companies provide contraceptive services free of charge to any enrollee who wishes to have the coverage.”
And herein lays President Obama’s political victory: he has yet again driven a wedge between some of the Catholic laity, and many of the Catholic clergy. He jabbed a stick in the collective eye of Catholic Church hierarchy over teachings that some Catholics don’t take seriously to begin with, and he now has at least some Catholic lay-organizations praising him for being reasonable and negotiable – even as Catholic Clergy remain disgruntled, and “un-reasonable.”
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.