Glenn Beck. Remember him? The guy who used to be on FOX News with the crazy conspiracy theories diagrammed on a blackboard and the dramatic tears? He’s back. With a prominent guest column gig in the Washington Post about threats to our religious freedom. We should have known – any issue that gives him an opportunity to invoke fear is like catnip to Glenn Beck.
Beck argues that all of our religious freedom is threatened by the Obama administration’s new HHS rule providing free access to birth control. The free birth control is just one aspect of the range of excellent free preventive care benefits included in the Affordable Care Act. There is a full exemption for religions from the birth control access requirement (such as churches), and a limited exception for religiously affiliated organizations (such as universities and hospitals run by religions) by which the health care insurers will be required to pay the costs of the employees’ birth control instead of the religious organizations with religious objections. The limited exception was heralded by a wide variety of religious organizations, including many Catholic organizations, but not the Republicans in Washington or the Catholic bishops. Beck takes up the cause of this small group of stubborn objectors with the clarion call, “We are all Catholics now!” despite the fact that, as he notes, he is actually Mormon.
The fact that Glenn Beck is a Mormon claiming religious persecution is interesting in itself. You might not know this, but Mormons have played a central role in clarifying what the First Amendment’s free exercise clause means and doesn’t mean in constitutional law jurisprudence.
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