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“Forcing” Christians to violate their religious beliefs?

Holy Antichrist, Batman! Hold onto your utility belts, because, as CNS News breathlessly reports, the Obama administration has found a way to legally force Christians to violate their religious beliefs, despite the First Amendment.

In a legal argument formally presented in federal court in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Kathleen Sebelius, the Obama administration is claiming that the First Amendment—which expressly denies the government the authority to prohibit the “free exercise” of religion—nonetheless allows it to force Christians to directly violate their religious beliefs even on a matter that involves the life and death of innocent human beings.

It’s a long screed that’s only missing one thing: any mention of any Christian being forced to violate their religious beliefs. What they’re complaining about is the fact that health plans have to cover contraception, which includes medications that rabble-rousers like to call “abortion-inducing drugs.” But this ignores the plain and simple fact that nothing in the Obama health-care program ever requires Christians to have an abortion. Christians like the evangelical founders of Hobby Lobby might not like abortion, and they might like to use their financial position to try and impose their religious views on their employees, but in fact it’s none of their business what kind of health care their employees choose to pursue.

The First Amendment only protects personal exercise of religious freedom. It has always restricted religions from forcing their beliefs on others, and in fact that’s part of its duty. Whenever one group is allowed to dictate what religious practices others must submit too, “free exercise” has been violated. If the founders of Hobby Lobby are Christian, the First Amendment protects them from being forced to ingest “abortion-inducing drugs” against their wishes, and that’s the extent of their free exercise. If, as Protestants, they attempted to forbid any of their Roman Catholic employees from praying to Mary and the saints, they would be similarly limited. They can abstain from such prayers themselves, but to allow them to impose their religious restrictions on their employees would be a violation of free exercise, not a protection of it.

What the Obama administration is really trying to do is to force Christians to grant other people the same respect and free exercise privileges that they demand for themselves. It’s telling that believers like David and Barbara Green would be willing to try and sue for the right to deprive their employees of their religious freedom.