In a brazen move by the Obama administration, an important provision of the healthcare reform law, which will take effect on August 1st, was released this week – a mandate that states that most healthcare plans will be required to cover the cost of contraceptives for all those who seek such protection. Though the push for increased availability of oral (and otherwise) contraceptives is nothing new for a democratic caucus, the perhaps most surprising aspect of this passing date is that Christian institutions—including colleges and universities—will be mandated to comply with this measure within an extended time period.
A blatant disregard for the religious separation between government enforcement of law and ethical choice provided for religious institutions in the first amendment, by which “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, the Obama administration hits a new low on its attack of religious freedom by mandating that even colleges with backgrounds disallowing the use of contraceptives must, by law, provide such materials or face astronomical fines. Christian colleges and universities, which run primarily on donations provided to them by alumnus that expect a certain plumb line of teaching and care, are not exempt from Constitutionally provided freedoms. The protected status allows for such schools to continue to teach expressed religious beliefs and scruples of actions that meet the high standard which they have set for their students; mandating them to provide protection for actions which they have deemed to be against their moral or religious code only furthers the attack on their ability to fully express religious ideals which affect the student life on campus.
The legal precedence for religious institutions to reject government actions which run contrary to its religious beliefs has been set in multiple court cases, creating a fair ground for legal battle against the Obama administrations decision. This precedence allows for a decision to be made on a government requirement via a “balancing test to determine when a uniform, nondiscriminatory requirement by government mandating action or nonaction by citizens must allow exceptions for citizens whose religious scruples forbid compliance.” Through the lens of the traditional Catholic Church, which has continually and adamantly rejected the use of contraceptives in permissible sexual relationships, the “religious scruples” therein are in grave danger of violation if mandated to provide the contraceptives for such activity. For the Obama administration to impose the acceptance of such a policy under the threat of monumental fines is to force a religious organization to go against long held beliefs to satisfy the desires of a progressive governmental regime, and decreases the ability of the leading universities to continue to hold student behavior to a high regard by enforcing compliance with common beliefs.
It is reasonable to assume that youth who desire to participate in such behavior will continue to do so, regardless of the standing of the religious institution to which they belong. Having the responsibility to make adult decisions is one that cannot be ignored by the populous. As such, one would hope that the students choosing to participate in behaviors contradictory to religious institution’s teachings would have also the maturity and responsibility to provide for themselves whichever contraceptives they feel best suits their lifestyle. However, those contraceptives cannot and must not be mandated to come from a setting in which students are encouraged to pursue behaviors fitting to the religious backgrounds on which some of the nation’s top Christian colleges and universities were founded.