'Religious Freedom,' the Individual Mandate, and Gifts: On Why the Church is Not a Bomb Shelter

Patrick McKinley Brennan

Villanova University School of Law

October 1, 2012

Villanova Law Review, Forthcoming
Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2013-3006

The Health and Human Services' regulatory requirement that all but a narrow set of "religious" employers provide contraceptives to employees is an example of what Robert Post and Nancy Rosenblum refer to as a growing "congruence" between civil society's values and the state's legally enacted policy. Catholics and many others have resisted the HHS requirement on the ground that it violates "religious freedom." They ask (in the words of Cardinal Dolan) to be "left alone" by the state. But the argument to be "left alone" overlooks or suppresses the fact that the Catholic Church understands that it is its role to correct and transform society, not merely to be left alone in a gilded cage. This paper uses the HHS mandate as a vehicle by which to clarify the Catholic understanding of the ideal -- but currently mostly unachievable -- relationship between Church and state: the state should receive its principles from the Church, not the Church from the state. Social justice and subsidiarity disallow a state that reduces the Church to the status of a bomb shelter. Leviathan is happy to have the Church out of sight and out of mind.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

Keywords: religious freedom, individual mandate, contraceptives, rights, state, church, subsidiarity, social justice, pluralism, immunity

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Date posted: October 5, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Brennan, Patrick McKinley, 'Religious Freedom,' the Individual Mandate, and Gifts: On Why the Church is Not a Bomb Shelter (October 1, 2012). Villanova Law Review, Forthcoming; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2013-3006. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2157145

Contact Information

Patrick McKinley Brennan (Contact Author)
Villanova University School of Law ( email )
299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
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