Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 18, 2013

Bruce P. Frohnen
Pages 119-138

The Problem with Empathy: Constitutional Agnosticism, the Rights of Conscience, and the Quest for Community

The Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate, requiring all but the most insular religious organizations to pay the costs of a practice their religious tenets explicitly reject, raises fundamental issues regarding the rights of conscience in the contemporary United States. This article examines recent attempts to defend religious liberty on the grounds that the state should take care not to violate the rights of individual conscience. The problem with such an approach, this article argues, is that, in the name of a justice system more sensitive to individual beliefs, it further erodes the rights of religious associations to act on the common beliefs of their members, undermining believers’ ability to actually act according on their faith.