As some of you may have noticed, the Catholic Bishops and some Catholic institutions have a sad because any health insurance plan they offer their employees has to cover contraception. Lawsuits and menacing videos have ensued.
But when other Christians want to handle venomous snakes as part of their religion, the state of Tennessee can make that illegal, and there's no great Constitutional outcry.
You can use Peyote if you're a member of the Native American church, but you can't start your own denomination and claim peyote use as part of your newly invented faith.
Per Janet Reno, ruling as Attorney General in 1998, Rastafarians do not have the religious right to smoke marijuana in the United States.
So what's the difference? I can see at least one, and I'll discuss it on the other side of the Orange Squiggle of Power.
The difference which I wish to discuss is that between the government saying that "this must be done" versus the government saying "this cannot be done". In religious terms, it is the difference between ordering a believer to commit a sin, and forcing a believer to commit a sin OF OMISSION.
Here in America we are much more comfortable with sins of omission than of commission. We will jail the thief, regardless of motivation, but ignore the greedy man whose refusal to share left the thief destitute and desperate. The law exists to maintain order, not to produce good people.
And of course maintaining order benefits those who have as opposed to those who have not; as does overlooking stinginess as a major moral failing.
Which is why the opponents of marriage equality attempt to frame allowing gays to marry as a threat to order; Americans are less likely to buy the argument that the government can make people moral by making their actions illegal.
This touches on the mandate and many other things. Americans are suspicious of the government trying to force us to act as we should, as opposed to punishing those who act as they shouldn't. And this suspicion is traditional conservative, meaning it has a heritage in American thought outside the fever dreams of Glenn Beck, and may actually be worthy of some consideration.
If, then, you wish to argue that the government can and should compel people to do what they ought to do, the bar of public opinion is set higher, and the argument needs to be made more compelling.
Especially when you are threatening patriarchy and wealth with your new rule.