In any case, my friend Adam and I were talking on the phone yesterday and he brought up a deeper issue in the entire ruling. Namely, that what the HHS ruling is actually doing is trying to define the Church. What most people don't recognize is that the administration is not eliminating the religious conscience clause totally. Rather, what they are doing is defining religious institutions is very narrowly. For them, a "religious" institution must necessarily be an institution that explicitly deals with worship.
Now this is very interesting because as my friend pointed out, this makes their move something like a version of "Augsburg Interim II." To explain briefly for those who are unfamiliar: Just after Luther died, the Charles the V took over a lot of the Lutheran lands and then tried to enforce a watered down version of Catholicism on the Lutherans. The initial attempt (the Augsburg Interim) was too harsh and none of the major Lutheran theologians would buy into it. The second (the Leipzig Interim) was an attempt (mainly) to impose Catholic ceremonies on the Lutherans. Melanchthon bought into this (initially) and claimed that the faith of the Church couldn't be determined by the state, but in external things (smells and bells), the state could impose anything it wanted to on the Church. Flacius, on the other hand, stated that the Church was free in these matters unless it needed to publically confess Christian freedom against tyranny (see Galatians). Moreover, the Church, he stated, was to in no way under the control of the state.
Flacius technically won (see FC X), but in practice Melanchthon won. At the peace of Passau (1552), the princes were given the power of bishops in their individual Churches. Later after the Wars of Religion, the secular state (conceived as living in its own autonomous realm) was born. Since then, the secular state in continental Europe has had the right to define what the Church is and where the boundaries of the Church are. This was the birth of modern. Modernity mean the birth of a new and neutral realm called the "secular." Such a realm was invented de facto by an agreement by the princes to keep religion out of the politics of the nation-state. What began as an agreement among princes, quickly turned into a way defining all reality. Since secularity defined all reality, it was something to which the Church had to unquestioningly conform to.
This can be observed in several areas beyond the realm of politics. So, for example, secular biblical studies (which arose shortly after this period) argued that in reality only non-spiritual forces could explain why the biblical texts said what they said, and not divine inspiration. The interesting thing about how modern biblical studies works is that all biblical texts must be de-coded in order to discover the power-play that underlines the author's intentions. In other words, all reality is based on politics, even religion is covert politics. Science becomes essentially defined by non-spiritual realities called "laws," that could be manipulated by human beings, much like political offices and power arrangments. Any claim to the contrary is treated with horror and charges of religious fundamentalism (see the Intelligent Design movement).
Every time religion insisted on its unique character and its ability to define reality, those who believed in the secular charged it with regressiveness. For secularists, religion can only be useful when it either 1. is harshnessed to secular ends (Liberation theology, et. al). 2. remains something interior (Liberalism, Neo-orthodoxy). Therefore, it is no surprise that Schleiermacher said that religion was merely a "feeling" at the same time as Prussia nationalism was rising and the king of Prussia was creating a Union Church in order to solidify northeran German national unity. Neither was it terribly surprising that Karl Rahner invented an essentially Roman Catholic version of Schleiermacher during the time when the II Vatican Council was embracing secularity as a valid source of meaning alongside Christian truth.
This brings us back to the HHS ruling. In ruling that religious institutions could only ones that deal directly with "worship" the administration was saying that only the interior realm of religious experience, (that is, a realm that does not interfere with the rights of the secular state to control every external mode of life and define the "real"!) can validly be accepted as religious. Much like Flacius, we cannot accept such a judgment. The Triune God is the foundation of all reality, and his Word of law and promise is what defines the Church. The realm of the state and its law possess a valid use, but only insofar as they serve their divinely appointed purposes. God and his Word define the Church, and not the secular.