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The birth control edict: <em>State v. Church</em>

It's shaping up as the most important church-state battle of our time. And should the state prevail, the Constitution will be pushed further down the slippery slope of becoming a dead letter.

The issue is birth control and whether the federal government can force religious organizations (that, as a matter of doctrine, oppose artificial birth control) to include, with limited exemptions, free contraception and related services in the private health-insurance plans they offer their employees.

Now, for the record, we're for birth control. And count us among those who long have believed that organizations such as Planned Parenthood do a marvelous job. And, dare we say it, we suspect many members of the Catholic faith, whose leaders are leading the charge against this diktat , might just not subscribe to their church's position on birth control.

But , that's not the issue. The issue is whether the government, in pursuit of a state-determined "greater good," can truncate, if not traduce, constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion. Simply put, it cannot . But if the government prevails, where does it end?

Will the government soon be establishing all doctrine for all of our churches and all of their affiliated hospitals, nursing facilities, universities and charities• Not in any America in which any of us should want to reside.

Unless the Obama administration rescinds this clearly illegal rule, it should be prepared to be spanked by a Supreme Court that's already affirmed (in its recent "ministerial exemption" ruling) that the church-state line is neither gray nor sloped.

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