Show of hands — who was surprised that conservatives, conservative Catholics, and Catholic conservatives didn’t do a happy dance in response to President Obama’s revision of the contraception-coverage mandate?
First, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops complained that the religious exemption in the original mandate was far too narrow. They pointed out that Catholic institutions — animated by religious belief — that provided service in the areas of health care, education, and charitable work would be made to purchase health coverage that included services inimical to Catholic teaching. In other words, the bishops argued that their religious freedom was being infringed upon. And I agreed. Commonweal agreed. America agreed. The National Catholic Reporter agreed. E. J. Dionne. Mark Shields. Amy Sullivan. The Washington Post. The Economist. We all agreed that the Obama administration had overreached and needed to walk back the policy.