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Relishing The Culture Wars

Publication Date: 
February 09, 2012
The Economist - Lexington's Notebook

Professor Michael W. McConnell is mentioned in the following article by the Economist on the culture clashes between the Obama administration and Catholic institutions.

WHY figure out a compromise when you can fight a full-fledged new battle in the culture wars? The growing conflict between the Obama administration and the Catholic bishops seems entirely unnecessary.

At first glance, it looks as if two principles are in collision. Barack Obama has taken the principled view that all women need affordable access to the full range of contraceptive services and products, including the morning-after pill that pro-lifers see as a form of abortion. So under the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") Catholic and other religiously affiliated schools, universities and hospitals (though not churches and places of worship) will in future have to ensure that the insurance policies they provide for their staff include these services at no extra cost to the recipient.


True, this might entail some personal inconvenience to those who work in Catholic institutions. But as Michael McConnell, a professor of law at Stanford, points out, you do not go to a kosher butcher and ask for a pork chop. America is lucky to possess alongside its public institutions a rich ecosystem of universities, schools and hospitals that are mainly secular in function, and serve all faiths, but are animated by atmosphere of religious vocation. That is a public good worth preserving -- and my hunch, since this has become a conspicuous part of the Republican election campaign, is that the White House will indeed find a way.