OUR VIEW: Obama switch not really a compromise

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President Obama has said that religious leaders often use faith as a way “to exploit what divides” society.

At the same time, Obama wanted to require employers of female employees working in religious-backed schools, hospitals and even churches pay for contraception coverage, without regard to the convictions of a given institution or, more significantly, individual women.

On Friday, the president responded to pressure from not only the Catholic Church, but members of other denominations, even though their complete individual views on the subject do not necessarily match.

Obama said as a compromise to his one-size-fits-all insurance plan, he would not require religiously affiliated organizations to be forced to provide contraception coverage. Just the insurers would be required to do so at no direct cost to any woman working at those institutions.

The president forgot to mention it is still the faith-based employers that will either pay directly or indirectly the insurance premiums that finance those requirements.

Obama’s change of mind appears to be simply a switch of which hand he is using to slap down a woman’s right to choose in the direction opposed by abortion advocates, and any given religious organization to freely exercise their independent faith convictions. It also is a matter of government imposing its will not only on religious organizations, but the insurance industry as well.

During the weekend, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter issued a statement in which he described Obama’s compromise as being a slight of hand meaning that a religious-based employer would “still be required to contract only with insurance companies that offer contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.”

The senator reminded his audience that the Constitution does not restrict the practice of religion in any public setting. What it does do is forbid elected officials from imposing a state-mandated church on the public by literal design, implied practice or through imposing its will even if it conflicts with the creeds of faith-based organizations.

“The First Amendment unequivocally protects our rights based on those beliefs; a right the government must respect and defend,” Vitter said.

We have long found it interesting how many politicians – regardless of political affiliation, cultural background or region of the country they call home – will get religion when it suits their purpose. When the practice of faith convictions does not match their desires, it is at best downplayed and at worst infringed upon in the name of not exploiting or dividing society.