Monday, February 13, 2012

What's the Difference?

I'm one who believes that the Obama administration was wrong to attempt to compel the Catholic Church to bend to its will on the matter of contraception coverage. I also agree with those who find the subsequent "compromise" little more than a ridiculous charade. For more on why it's all smoke and mirrors read this piece by Hanna Smith at National Review Online. Mr. Obama seems to be telling the Catholic Church that if they don't want to eat their peas that's okay, but he's going to put the peas in a salad and make them eat the salad.

But this post isn't about that. I have a question that no one yet seems to have addressed. How is a government mandate that requires people to violate their conscience by forcing employers to provide coverage for morally problematic products and procedures substantively different from the government requiring people who are opposed on religious grounds to war and capital punishment to pay taxes to support those? Is there a significant difference between being forced by the state to pay for birth control and abortions and being forced by the state to pay for military action and criminal executions when one opposes all of them?

If religious groups can be exempted from mandates to provide certain kinds of insurance coverage on grounds of conscience (which they should) why aren't religious believers exempted from paying taxes on similar grounds? William James once said that "A difference, in order to be a difference, has to make a difference." So what's the difference here that makes a difference?

I'm just asking the question. I don't have an answer.