Christopher Haley over at On the Square, the First Things blog, published an excellent analysis this morning on how the Department of Health and Human Services’ new rules, mandating that insurers cover contraceptives without co-pays, violates Catholics’ free exercise of religion.
After criticizes the contraceptive mandate in general, along the same lines as my own response when the changes were first announced, Haley focuses on how the mandate’s carefully worded, extremely restrictive exemption for religious institutions is bogus:
We do not serve people because they are Catholic; we serve people because we are Catholic. And the same goes for members of other religious groups ….
[A]t its core, this mandate is an assault on the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause. Catholic employers would no longer be free to serve or employ non-Catholics, except at the cost of violating deeply held and reasoned moral and religious convictions about human life and dignity. But then, not serving our neighbors also violates deeply held and reasoned moral and religious convictions about our mission to serve others. Thus, by providing only two equally unacceptable and offensive options to Catholic teaching, the mandate de facto prohibits the free exercise of the Catholic religion.
The whole piece deserves a reading.