Paul Greenberg

It's really not fair or accurate to say this administration has declared war on religion. Its policy isn't that clear. If it has one. And if it does, that policy keeps changing, depending on who's exerting what pressures at the time.

By now there have been so many reversals and retreats, waivers and exemptions, defeats in court and in the court of public opinion, it's hard to tell just what that policy is at the moment. Maybe it's all TBD, as the bureaucrats say. To Be Determined.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi told us we'd have to pass Obamacare before we found out what's in it? Well, we passed it and there's still no telling. It all depends on what the administration wants to find in it today. Which could describe its whole approach to the Constitution.

First the administration wanted to tell religious schools what teachers they can hire and fire to teach the faith. The Supreme Court begged to differ. Unanimously.

Then the White House and its health czar took aim at Roman Catholic hospitals, clinics, universities, charities and any other good works the church might dare undertake.

The word went forth from Washington: The health-insurance plans of all such institutions must cover contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. All of which run counter to Catholic teaching.

The administration generously excluded the church itself from having to violate its conscience, but not its affiliated institutions -- hospitals, churches, universities and so benevolently on. As if the church were just its physical plant and immediate staff. All the rest must bend the knee, bow the head, and do as Washington decrees, details TBD.

What is one to say of such a cramped view of faith? And of religious liberty? Perhaps what the eminent physicist said when one of his students proposed a particularly bizarre theory: That's not right. It's not even wrong.

What it is, is hopelessly confused.

My mother lost her last battle against cancer at a Roman Catholic hospital -- Schumpert sanitarium in Shreveport, La. Am I supposed to believe that the silent nuns who glided in and out of her room wearing caps that looked like angel's wings, tending her with quiet, thorough, loving care, carrying out every order from the useless doctors, were just employees? That they weren't following a religious vocation? That they were not part of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ? But just on a Career Path? And, therefore, belong under Washington's authority, not their Lord and Savior's?


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This is the absurdity reached when politicians decide that we must render unto Caesar what is not his. And never will be.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.