Opinion

Good news! Peter Singer, the infanticide promoter at Princeton University, thinks he has has solved the religious liberty problem in America. Singer writes that, if Catholics don’t like the HHS contraception mandate, they can just close their universities and hospitals, or hand them over to secular interests.

It’s just that simple!

“The Obama administration’s requirement to provide health insurance that covers contraception does not prevent Catholics from practicing their religion,” Singer writes in a progressive journal. “Catholicism does not oblige its adherents to run hospitals and universities.” Therefore, Singer argues, the government can tell Catholics how to run these institutions without infringing on religious liberty.

One may suppose that Singer isn’t aware of the Bible which says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Of course, this is coming from the horrific ethicist who also seems to have missed, “Thou shalt not kill.”

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

In the end, Singer’s argument, far from being uniquely brilliant, is just one more humdrum attempt to reduce religion to the private sphere.Writing at Secondhand Smoke, Wesley Smith says that Singer tries to redefine religious freedom to mean only that one can worship the way one pleases:

That’s the old attempt to shrink “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship,” an advocacy slight of hand used previously by President Obama. But the practice of religion isn’t limited to the ceremonies and rubrics of worship. Rather, the exercise of one’s religion involves how the faithful live their lives outside of the church, synagogue, temple, or mosque–whether as individuals or in juridical associations and religion-related institutions and organizations….

Singer, one might say, is an Australian, and so has an excuse for his ignorance about American freedom. Sorry, I’m not buying. The truth is, as a utilitarian, he doesn’t believe in “rights,” or liberty.  He doesn’t care about freedom of religion. He embraces utilitarian outcomes–which have little to do with individual liberty or organizational freedom.

And therein lies the risk of authoritarianism. By seeking to hollow out freedom of religion and render it impotent freedom of worship–Singer seeks to impose secular values on everyone who acts in the public square.  And if you didn’t like it, just get out of Dodge.

The freedom to worship is hardly impotent–but genuine religious liberty requires much more, including the ability to operate universities and hospitals without being forced to violate one’s conscience.

This article originally appeared on the website of the Cardinal Newman Society and is reprinted with permission.

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