In medieval times, “villeins” were a class of serfs who held the legal status of freemen in their dealings with all people except their lord (according to the American Heritage Dictionary). How close are we to becoming “villein citizens”? When faced with the capricious nature of the state, we fall back on what seems to be our freedom, yet increasingly our liberty is defined not by the will of the people but by government bureaucrats and elected officials. In our relations with our fellow citizens, and with private institutions, we continue to believe we are free, accorded rights by law and possessing a centuries-old apparatus based on custom to protect those rights, and act as such.What rights are we worried about this time?
Yet in relations with the federal government, we are increasingly seen and treated as serfs, with no protections save what the lord at the time deigns to give us.
Let us be clear (to use a phrase currently in vogue), when the state gets to determine what counts as a religious organization, and when it determines what that organization must do, then we are not free men, but serfs to an increasingly confident master. That is the nub of the HHS-mandate ruling.Oh, of course, the right of your employer to meddle in your medical affairs.