After logging-off a popular free email service, I found a link to this story about healthcare providers who both come from and cater to a particular audience whose faith commitments prevent them from using contraceptives. I was impressed. The truth is, I think having medical practices, colleges, and financial institutions that cater to the moral needs of people of faith is a great thing. Fine, I'm a pastor, but I'm also a person of faith who would prefer to invest his money in a way that would support enterprizes I find desirable, not just whatever an investment firm finds profitable, whether it's selling Christian books, gambling, pyotechnics, organic coffee, prostitution or pornography.
Generally, Americans support the right of others to make choices. Not only is it important to our Capitalist system, it is also the primary way we exercize our personal freedom. However, in contemporary America, there is a growing sense that choices motivated by religion, especially traditional Christianity, shouldn't be acceptable.
At the time I read the article and took the poll, only 26% of people who responded to the question answered "I support them and hope they take off," to the question "What do you think of medical practices that blend health and faith?" What was worse, out of 21987 responses, 38% responded "I do not support them at all." Amazingly, a plurality of respondents would prefer to prevent individuals from having the choice to seek religiously informed health-care.
I guess this shouldn't surprise me. Catholic hospitals have been on the receiving end of attacks for years for refusing to provide abortions, and Massachusetts required Wal-Mart to sell morning-after pill earlier this year (in a reading of state law that would seem to require all pharmacies to dispense the drug, regardless of their religious objections).
I guess many Americans believe that free practice of religion should end when we enter the public sphere, whether that is in our own medical practice, while looking for a doctor, or choosing a pharmacy. I wonder if these folks think Christians should have a right to choose what books to sell in Christian bookstores, or if Christian counsellors and psychologists should be allowed to practice their trades in light of their faith?
Some of us seem to have confused living according to particular values with imposing them on others. This is truly a sad day.