Like so much of the Obama administration’s social and economic policy, the Constantinianism of the administration is more European than American. In Obamacare and other initiatives, the administration has sought to replicate the European social-welfare state and the European state’s typical relationship to the national economy. The Constantinianism of the administration, although informed by the secularism implicit in that rainbow logo, is an attempt to bring America’s religious communities into a more European relationship to state power, not through church establishment in the classic sense, but through regulation.
Thus we have had the Obama version of the investiture controversy (who gets to choose religious ministers?), played out in the administration’s efforts to repeal the “ministerial exception” to equal-employment-opportunity law (which permits religious communities to order their internal lives according to their own self-understanding). And we have had the Obama equivalent of Josephism in the Obamacare “contraceptive mandate,” although in this instance the effort is not to make the Church into a “department of the police” but into a subdivision of the Department of Health and Human Services.