Bill Murchison
The U.S. Supreme Court had a banner day, a crackerjack day, with horns and ice cream, as it trumped the federal government's brazen claim of power and authority to define which religious convictions, if any, have a proper place in the health care arena. Hooray for the Hahn and Green families for carrying to the high court their plea to be released from the duty of providing employees with contraceptive coverage under Obamacare.

Never mind (as the government saw it before the court's 5-4 ruling) the two families' religiously grounded conviction that the mandate violated their religious beliefs and moral principles, potentially implicating them in the destruction of unborn life. The families, we should all note, didn't mind covering in their insurance plans the majority of contraceptives mandated by the government; they opposed only a few devices, including the morning-after pill, which prevents the implantation of already fertilized eggs.

Why couldn't the Health and Human Services Department, the court majority wondered aloud, work out for the family-owned companies involved -- the Greens at Hobby Lobby, the Hahns at Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. -- exemptions like those already granted religiously affiliated non-profits? An answer that skirts the Supreme Court's deliberative language is ready at hand. It is that the administration doesn't care a rap about the religious rights asserted by the Hahns and the Greens.

It has other religious rights in mind -- the ones to which its voters and supporters, promoters and intellectual apologists seem most profoundly committed. These latter rights are not conventionally thought of as religious. No scriptural quotations, no theological disquisitions, adorn them. They are religious all the same in their centeredness upon a single gospel of salvation -- the Gospel of "I Want."

The great quest of the late 20th century, all the more imperative in the 21st, is to bring the concept of human need, human potential, into line with human desire, eschewing all the old "pie in the sky" stuff. Talking about Now; talking about Me. The court, in its Hobby Lobby-Conestoga decision, said "no" to Me. Or, rather, it said, "Look. Other people have rights, too." That's exactly the thing you don't say to all the modern evangelists for Me -- bloggers, comedians, Ivy League faculty, lawyers, panelists on "The View."

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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