It would have been nice if George Will had worn flashing-light glasses with Elton John flair when, a month ago, he made this statement on ABC’s “This Week”:
“This is what liberalism looks like. This is what the progressive state does. It tries to break all the institutions of civil society, all the institutions that mediate between the individual and the state. They have to break them to the saddle of the state.”
Put simply, Will’s comment means that the “progressive state” increasingly tells both individuals and institutions what they may or may not do and say—imposing mandates that extend even to the type of light-bulbs folks buy.
One legal rationalization for this huge expansion of government power was Hugo Black’s 1947 Supreme Court opinion that claims the Constitution erects a “wall of separation” between church and state—a phrase subsequently used to eradicate vestiges of common religious belief and practice (like the Mt. Soledad cross) from the public square.
Consequently, a Constitutional amendment designed to protect the “free-exercise” of religion from federal coercion is now employed to prevent invocations at high school graduations. Similarly, because the Boy Scouts’ beliefs conflict with progressive ideology, they are denied municipal concessions for Balboa Park facilities that would be available to “non-religious” groups.
Novel renderings of “equal protection” laws are also utilized by progressives to break individuals and institutions to the saddle of the state.
Thus, a medical group in North County that refused to provide artificial insemination for a lesbian—based on the respectable belief that children shouldn’t be intentionally deprived of both a father and a mother—was told by the California Supreme Court in 2008 that its religious convictions violated state law when applied to professional services.
Similarly, Catholic Charities in Massachusetts gave up their longstanding work in the adoption field when that state required the organization to place adopted children in same-sex households.
With the expansion of federal power into insurance mandates, the potential for eroding liberty is almost limitless. A government that can require individuals to purchase health insurance is a government that can also require religious institutions (and insurance companies) to provide policies that cover abortions or other procedures that might violate their consciences. Such was the case with directives recently inserted into the massive Obamacare legislation.
Put succinctly, the vastly expanded government of a largely religious people is now expected to be rigorously secular and to reflect the condom-dispensing, abortion-ready convictions of secular elites.
Moreover, for progressives, religious liberty is largely restricted to the walls of a church. Soon, it may be confined to the space between the ears of their serfs.