From accommodation to conscription?

The Obama health care mandate in context


  • William C. Duncan


Religious liberty, free exercise, United States, minority religions, contraception mandate, discrimination laws, government power, same-sex unions


The context for understanding President Barack Obama’s mandate that all employers, including religious ones, must provide free contraception and sterilization to their employees is historical. The United States Constitutional system values the accommodation of religious practices, in contrast to Revolutionary France, which attempted to conscript religious groups and clergy to advance government programs. For much of its history, the United States has pursued this policy of accommodation, but recently, increasing government power has created conflicts with religious practice leading to the mandate and similar government incursions. These appear to represent a shift to the French Revolution’s policy of conscription.