The Religious Right was overjoyed today after the Trump administration announced both a rollback of parts of the Obama-era mandate that stipulates that most employers must offer health insurance that covers contraception and new Department of Justice guidelines on “religious liberty” that advocacy groups worry could provide a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others.
Religious Right groups have been fighting against the contraception mandate since it was finalized in 2012, and in 2014 won a major Supreme Court victory in the Hobby Lobby case, which allowed “closely held” corporations to claim a religious exemption to the rule. In the fight against the contraception mandate, anti-choice groups coalesced behind Hobby Lobby’s argument that some forms of birth control covered by the mandate—including IUDs and emergency contraception—constitute “abortifacients.” These groups’ inclusion of certain contraception methods in their definition of abortion painted a stark picture of what is at stake in their efforts to roll back Roe.
Religious Right activists also used the mandate as fuel for their narrative that conservative Christians are being persecuted by a secular U.S. government.
But arguments against the contraception mandate occasionally flew even further off the rails. Here are a few of the worst examples:
The Mandate Is Invalid Because It Violates ‘The Law Of God’
Alveda King, an official with Priests for Life, which launched its own challenge to the contraceptive mandate, wrote in 2015 that the rules were invalid because they contradicted the “law of God”:
In order for the laws of a nation to be valid, they must at the very least harmonize with, and not contradict, the law of God.
Unfortunately, for women, the HHS Mandate does not conform to this formula which is why I stand with Priests for Life in the complaint against the HHS Mandate.
The Mandate Encourages Religious Persecution Abroad
In 2015 Senate testimony about international religious freedom, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins linked the contraception mandate to the persecution of Christians around the world. He said, “The lack of priority on religious freedom that we have placed here domestically in our policies does send a message internationally. I think there is a correlation between…the growing intolerance toward religious freedom here at home, i.e. in the marketplace, is giving rise to persecution abroad”
The Mandate Is A ‘Descendant Of The French Revolution’
Rick Santorum made this rather confusing point in a speech to the 2013 Values Voter Summit:
The Mandate Led To The Sandy Hook Shooting
After 20 children were gunned down at an elementary school in Connecticut in 2012, Mike Huckabee managed to link the horrific crime to the birth control mandate, saying, “Christian-owned businesses are told to surrender their values under the edict of government orders to provide tax-funded abortion pills. We carefully and intentionally stop saying things are sinful and we call them disorders. Sometimes, we even say they’re normal. And to get to where we have to abandon bed rock moral truths, then we ask, ‘Well, where was God?’ And I respond that, as I see it, we’ve escorted him out of our culture and marched him off the public square and then we express our surprise that a culture without him reflects what it’s become.”
The Mandate Is A Satanic Plot
Shortly after the mandate was announced, the Family Research Council hosted a webcast for opponents, including Sioux City Bishop Walker Nickless, who said that the new policy was part of a plot by the devil to undermine morality and “tear us apart”: