The Obama Administration’s answer to the outrage expressed by the Catholic Church over his contraceptive mandate is to change the conversation from a freedom of religion issue to a plain freedom issue. In announcing his “compromise” over the contraceptive mandate announced by Kathleen Sebelius on January 20, the President employed the tried and true “bait and switch” technique. Since Christians can be a sympathetic group especially when their constitutional rights are being violated the president decided to shift his mandate to the hated insurance companies. Surely no one in their right mind will dare stand up for their rights. So the President simply rewrites his edict forcing the bad guy insurance companies to hand out free contraceptives while the good guy religious groups are let off the hook. The problem is the hook in this case is the weapon of a government mandate that this President pulls like a gun.

The president is attempting to use a technicality to mask an executive branch power grab. Instead of facing and fixing the problem of mandating a service that is reprehensible to many Christians, President Obama has decided to make the problem worse by cheapening and then dismissing the core complaint by using an accounting trick. Chris Stillwell, writing for Fox News said, “One doesn’t prescribe a placebo unless he or she believes the problem is in the patient’s head.” Freedom is a foreign concept to the president. He truly believes that he is justified in handing down edicts from on high that are designed to curtail the base instincts of the great-unwashed masses. To him, conservatives really are nothing more than a group of misguided souls who cling to their God and their guns. That is why White House Press Secretary Jay Carney can respond with a smug turn of the head and a shrug of the shoulders when pressed about the so-called compromise. He simply paints all who disagree with the president’s new plan as extremists who have a political axe to grind.

Our founders had a right understanding of the separation of the church and state. They would never affirm the modern definition with its strict prohibition on any religious expression by agents of the state. What they would support is an understanding of this great truth as a liberating force for the church. The first amendment was never intended to curtail or corral the activity of the church. It was designed to protect the activity of the church from an overreaching, over regulating federal monster. In his book We Hold These Truths, Matthew Spalding writes, “What the separation of church and state does, then, is liberate America’s religions… in respect to their moral forms and teaching… to exercise unprecedented influence over private and public opinion by shaping citizens mores, cultivating their virtues, and in general, providing a pure and independent source of moral reasoning and authority.”

Take a long look at that last phrase… “A pure and independent source of moral reasoning and authority.” The phrase serves as a warning and a wake-up call for people who love liberty. Any source of moral reason and authority that is diluted by the whim of a leader who doesn’t recognize or respect true liberty must be rejected. Only someone who believes supremely in their own superiority could possibly set forth a mandate for houses of worship or houses of commerce. The right to act according to the dictates of our own conscience under God is a right for which generations of Americans have been willing to fight and die. President Obama doesn’t understand this and that is why he is baffled by our reluctance to simply bow before his supposed wisdom. If Solomon had possessed the wisdom of President Obama he would have cut the mothers in half so the baby in the famous dispute could have enough of each to be pacified.

This squabble has never been about birth control. For the president, it has always been about ultimate control. It has been and continues to be a debate about whether this or any president can direct by fiat the actions of free, independent citizens apart from any action of the legislature. It we lose that debate we will lose more than our right to respond to God as we see fit. We will lose our right to respond to anything without the government’s approval.

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