On Jefferson’s side

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The Post-Gazette’s editorial on the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate takes a measured approach to the issue but misses the mark in its conclusions (“Devil in the Details: Religious Objections Undercut the Health Care Act,” Jan. 10).

The editorial board states that “what is a routine piece of paper on the government side amounts to a coupon for sinfulness on the other.” It then goes on to side with the government. This approach, however, flies in the face of our religious liberty jurisprudence.

The decision in Bishop David Zubik’s lawsuit over the mandate quotes the 1981 Supreme Court decision in Thomas v. Review Board: “[I]n this sensitive area, it is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether the [adherent has] correctly perceived the commands of [his] faith.”

In recommending that the government’s interpretation of complying with the mandate supersede religious believers’ interpretation of that act, the editors counsel the breach of the “wall of separation between church and state” by the state. It is instructive to remember where that famous phrase originates: Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Conn., assuring them that they will be able to practice their faith free from government intervention. The wall, first and foremost, protects the church from the encroachment of the state.

No right, even the right to religious liberty, is unlimited. But in this case, where the believed moral wrong is so significant and the government interest so tenuous, shouldn’t we side with Jefferson?

Field Director
Pennsylvania Family Institute
Mt. Lebanon

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