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The Independent Institute
Commentary

God, Women and the Nanny State


If nothing else comes out of President Obama’s plan to force employers, including faith-based organizations, to provide free pregnancy prevention and termination coverage for employees, let’s hope it’s the realization that government is not a benevolent, godly force, but a potential threat to both religious and personal freedom.

It is highly unlikely that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known today as Obamacare—would have passed without the endorsement of church leaders across the religious and political spectrum.

Preaching “social justice,” pastors and priests, rabbis and ministers, actively supported universal health care mandates.

At the height of the debate, the president even participated in conference calls with religious leaders, organized by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, urging the clerics to preach from their pulpits for the Obamacare’s act’s passage, and offering them supporting propaganda to distribute to their congregants.

Imagine the surprise to some of these same church leaders when the benevolent legislation they were asked to support as a “faith-based initiative” was turned against their faith.

The president’s supposed compromise “tweak” of the proposal—mandating that insurance companies bear the cost of providing free pregnancy prevention and termination, rather than employers—is no less objectionable, since large religious institutions, like most large companies, self-insure. This makes the church, in effect, both the employer and the insurance company.

Perhaps church leaders now will awaken to the folly of having overlaid “God and country” in their ministries, from sending off soldiers to fight for “godly” causes, to prayer breakfasts showcasing politicians, and religious leaders lobbying for legislation and embracing policy positions that may be anathema to the church.

As the sociologist Rodney Stark, co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University (a private Baptist institution), has shown, history bears many scars from the continual tension between the “church of piety” and the “church of power.”

From the Mayan temples’ massive human sacrifices, intended to intimidate the empire’s enemies and paralyze them with fear, to the state-monopoly German church’s “patriotic” support of Hitler, when the church allies with the ruler both the church and the people, the church serves come out the losers.

American church leaders should take a lesson from history and from their current experience and renounce this unholy alliance.

And let women and the church both speak truth to power in leading a renaissance for a civil society consistent with natural law, in which rights are bestowed not by Washington, but by God.

The Obama White House clearly has crossed the line. When Washington has the authority to mandate family planning, whose family plans will the bureaucrats sanction, and whose will they deny?

American women should be horrified by this mandate, stop dead in our tracks and scream: “No!” No, we don’t want our employers or federal bureaucrats in our doctors’ offices; we aren’t dependent little girls who have to be guided by our “elders and betters” in how we take care of our bodies.

We can be fully conscious decision makers over our own health care and reproduction. And for those of our sisters who need help in meeting life’s challenges and dealing with risks and consequences, we can provide appropriate assistance that doesn’t require the takeover of every woman’s health choices by Washington.


Mary L. G. Theroux is Senior Vice President at The Independent Institute and Managing Director of Lightning Ventures. She is Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Alameda County Salvation Army; former Chairman of the San Francisco Salvation Army Advisory Board, and a Member of the National Advisory Board of The Salvation Army.