Kevin Drum explains that if Catholic hositals or schools want to take Federal money they should pipe down and play by the new Federal rules mandating contraception coverage in healthcare plans. Great point! Except that the new rules have nothing to do with whether the entity in question atually takes Federal money, as Megan McArdle, Ross Douthat and many others have managed to figure out.
The new rule does include an exception with an odd twist:
The rule includes an exemption for certain “religious employers,” including houses of worship. But church groups said the exemption was so narrow that it was almost meaningless. A religious employer cannot qualify for the exemption if it employs or serves large numbers of people of a different faith, as many Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies do.
Which implies that Jesus need not apply:
Under the government’s narrow criteria, the bishops said, “even the ministry of Jesus and the early Christian Church would not qualify as ‘religious,’ because they did not confine their ministry to their co-religionists,” but urged compassion for the sick and the poor, regardless of faith or creed.
Can't have a religion that reaches out to non-believers.
Yuval Levin has a bit of historical background, and Prof. Bainbridge has more. To abridge Bainbridge - it is absurd to suggest that our Constitution considers sitting in church to be a recognized religious exercise but ministering to the needy is not.