MSNBC host Chris Matthews aligned himself with the tradition of Christian saints martyred for their religious beliefs as he criticized President Obama for mandating that religious insitutions provide contraception to their employees, despite their religious and moral beliefs.
"If the church teaches it's morally wrong to use birth control, how can you make the teacher pay for the birth control without losing their authority, their moral authority?" Matthews asked today when discussing the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that many religious institutions provide contraception to their employees. "If you can make them do it, they can't teach it anymore."
Matthews recalled the stories of Thomas More and Thomas Becket when explaining his thinking. "I guess I grew up watching movies like Becket and A Man for All Seasons and seeing the church and state go to war with each other and being told stories from the Old Testament about the Maccabees, about people, families being told you got to eat pork," he said. Matthews added that it is "frightening" to him "when the state tells the church what to do."
The movie A Man for All Seasons depicts the 16th century story of Sir Thomas More, who was executed by Henry VIII because he refused to approve of the king's divorces and remarriages, or to endorse Henry's unilateral claim that he was the head of the church, rather than the Pope in Rome. Similarly, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was executed by a 13th century English king because he opposed the king in several matters pertaining to the rights of the church.
"It gets to that interesting point for me, which is frightening, when the state tells the church what to do," Matthews added.