The last two weeks have produced an astounding convergence of profound philosophical public controversies in the United States that finally does justify the phrase, much bandied about for some years, “culture wars.” That expression was coined originally for Bismarck’s mad Kulturkampf against the Roman Catholic Church (and, to a lesser degree, other churches) in the mid–19th century. It was the usual self-aggrandizement of secular states against a vast, international, unsubmissive, foreign-governed church, and recalled French and Spanish railings against the Jesuits, Napoleon’s detention of Pope Pius VII, and many other church–state frictions.
But the interim final regulation in the Affordable Care Act that would require Roman Catholic–affiliated hospitals and agencies to pay for insurance of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives for their employees, gratis, was an astonishing affront to America’s largest religious denomination.
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