In the midst of espousing Biblical principles at the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, Barack Obama made a point to say, “We are our brother’s keeper.” Interesting that he used the collective “we” — and made no mention of his actual brother or of his responsibilities to him.

Yesterday evening, author Mark Steyn filled in the gaps in the president’s speech:

“Oh give me a break,” Steyn said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Thursday night. “For a start, when he says, ‘I am my brother’s keeper,’ his brother is back in Kenya living on $12 a year. That’s what he was living on at the time of the 2008 election. So all the president has to do in terms of shared responsibility is put a $10 bill in an envelope and mail it to Nairobi or Mombasa or wherever and he will double his brother’s salary.”

At issue is the Obama administration’s effort to require Catholic institutions to provide contraception. Steyn explained this is part of “big government” trying to supplant the church as a source of “moral authority.”

“This version of shared responsibility means the state should be your ‘brother’s keeper,’” he said. “And this is the point for the Catholic Church. Separation of church and state is one thing, but big government means the state as church, the sole legitimate source of moral authority whether it’s on contraception or gay marriage or abortion or any of the rest. And that’s what you see in Europe. Big government drives out other sources of moral authority.”

Steyn’s comments are thought-provoking, as they usually are. His last statement, though, could easily be reversed: The decline of other sources of moral authority enables big government. It’s a chicken-egg dilemma: Did we first abandon a belief in the authority of church and family, leaving a hole for government to fill? Or did the government gradually usurp the authority of church and family, leading church and family to abdicate responsibility?