The Rev. Al Sharpton offered up support for the Obama admin’s contraceptive mandate on “Morning Joe” today. While hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski characterized the mandate as a government “overstep,” Sharpton said it helps protect individuals who work at religious institutions and he called it a “principled decision.” He even went as far as to cite “separation of church and state.”
Sharpton’s main argument is that employees who disagree with “the dogma and theology of the church” should still be able to be protected, equally, under the law.
“I think that what the Obama administration is saying that you do not have to follow the tenets of a church organization to be an employee of a church,” he explained.
“Do you think this is a good decision?,” Scarborough perplexingly asked.
Sharpton’s response was a bit difficult to follow, especially considering that he didn’t answer the question and ends up making the claim that the mandate somehow reinforces the separation of church and state.
“If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we’re going to have a separation of church and state,” Sharpton proclaimed. “Whether I would personally agree with the decision or not, the question is do I have a right to make that law?”
Aside from being difficult to decode, these statements run counter to reality. Regardless of where one stands on contraceptives and the Catholic Church, the government’s mandate does anything but reinforce a separation of church and state.
HotAir’s Ed Morrissey had a thought-provoking response to Sharpton’s comment:
This is an absurd perversion of the concept of separation of church and state. When Thomas Jefferson wrote that (it’s not found in American law), he meant that the church should not dictate to the State on law — and that the state should not dictate to the church on doctrine. Jefferson wanted to avoid establishing a state religion run by Parliament that had the power to manipulate the spiritual for the sake of the secular. That is exactly what Obama proposes to do in this case: dictate to the Catholic Church and its organizations that its doctrine on contraception, abortion, and sterilization are incorrect and force them to fund those practices that violate their most deeply held beliefs on the sanctity of life, all to satisfy Obama’s political needs.
When asked by Scarborough whether he knows clergy who disagree with the decision, Sharpton affirmed that he does. That being said, he went on to claim that disagreement on the part of church leaders “doesn’t mean you don’t take a principled decision.”
“Clearly this is not calculated by politics, this is based on principle,” he continued.
Following Sharpton’s defense of the Obama admin, Scarborough made no bones about his disagreement with the mandate.
“You have a lot of Catholics who are pro-choice who were offended by this decision…The very idea that a centralized government, a centralized state can reach out and tell the church…,” he said. “I must say it’s a staggering, staggering decision by HHS…”
Mika, agreeing with her co-host, said, “I think it’s wrong; I agree with you. And I think it was an overstep.”
Watch the dialogue, below: