Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
The recent Supreme Court challenge to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties really brings into sharp relief the duplicity of so-called conservative Christians. We’ve also seen these same arguments when it comes to wedding photographers and cake bakers being sued for refusing to provide services to same-sex couples for their weddings.
I have a really hard time sympathizing with them and I’m kind of tired of hearing them whine, but not because I don’t agree with them. They are right to be outraged at the mandate. But they are outraged for the wrong reasons and because of this, also hypocritical.
Let’s examine the issue.
Christians are upset that the state is requiring them (actually businesses owned by Christians) to act in a certain way (provide contraceptives, bake cakes, take pictures) which violates their religious principles. Of course it does. But that is the wrong argument and one that is every bit as bad as arguments from special interest groups looking for special rights.
Indeed the whole of Obamacare (and virtually every other law) is an affront to liberty, not just the mandate. But we need to stop right here and say that limiting this to religious principles is a mistake. To take that position is to say that it is OK for the state to require non-Christians to provide certain benefits to their employees which they don’t wish to, even if it doesn’t violate their consciences.
Is the atheist shop owner to be required to provide specific benefits to his employees that he doesn’t wish to, just because he has no moral objection? Should Christians be arguing just for themselves in matters of justice and fairness? Certainly not. This is a matter of property rights and personal liberty, not religious liberty. The argument should be that forcing anyone to provide any service against their will is a violation of their rights, religion notwithstanding.
Ah, but they cannot argue such. That would be too “libertarian”. And you know what libertarianism leads to, don’t you? Anarchy. It’s of the devil of course. But more importantly, it would also expose their hypocrisy.
You see, these same people who cry ‘woe is me’ about the state using its monopoly on violence to force a certain worldview on others are generally the same people who also want to use the state’s monopoly on violence to enforce their worldview on others.
Take, for example, the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. Conservative Christians are incensed that those states are not fining, kidnapping, and caging people for smoking weed, something they consider to be morally wrong. Of course this is couched in Christian-ese language like “common grace”, “restraining evil” and “maintaining moral restrictions”.
But the hypocrisy is clear. The fact that both of these things (Obamacare mandates and imprisonment for drugs) are violent acts of the state perpetrated against innocent, non-violent people, means that Christians who want one but not the other are either at best totally clueless, or at worst totally disingenuous. They want the state to use its power, but only for things they approve of.
I think their mindset is best summed up in the words of George W. Bush who said in 2000, “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier…just so long as I’m the dictator.”