Health-care mandate is unhealthy for religious expression

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First, a word about what this week’s column is not about.

It’s not about whether Obamacare is the best prescription to cure the drawbacks and disparities in America’s health-care system.

It’s not about policy buzzwords like “individual mandates,” “risk pools” or “severability.”

It’s about just one question: Can the government order its citizens to act against their religious faith?

You probably thought that question had been answered more than 200 years ago. The Founding Fathers hammered out the First Amendment to the Constitution ensuring the free exercise of religion without government meddling.

The White House thinks otherwise.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S health-care initiative includes a mandate directed at religiously affiliated employers and their health providers. They must offer insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs such as the “morning-after” pill.

In the words of John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America: “It’s like compelling Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, or Quakers to fight, or Jews to eat pork.”

Of course such a mandate runs utterly contrary to the Catholic Church’s unwavering respect for human life. It’s an unshakable pillar of Catholic faith and a component of its formidable care network – 56 Catholic health-care systems nationwide, whose hospitals employ more than 750,000 workers. One in six U.S. patients – regardless of faith – are treated in Catholic hospitals.

Church officials spent months imploring the Obama administration to grant Catholic caregivers an exemption to the birth-control requirement. Instead, they discovered what could be a new medical disorder: bureaucratic deafness.

NOW, FEDERAL lawsuits have been filed around the country by 43 Catholic dioceses, universities and institutions fighting against the Obamacare mandate.

(I’m explaining all of this just in case you might have missed this huge story on the evening news. The day the story broke, May 21, national news broadcasts on ABC, NBC and CBS devoted just a combined 19 seconds of TV airtime to it.)

The Diocese of Savannah, which oversees Augusta-area Catholic churches, is not a plaintiff in the litigation. But its leader, Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, made the diocese’s position clear in a letter read to all parishes the weekend of May 27. He said, in part:

“We must stress that the concern is not about whether people in this country should have access to the services covered by the mandate; it is rather about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to fund services which violate our religious and moral beliefs.”

The Obama administration’s message to Catholic institutions couldn’t be clearer: This is what we believe about contraception and abortion. If you don’t abandon your beliefs and help advance ours, you’ll pay the price.

That’s both literal and figurative. The University of Notre Dame, for example, with its 5,000-plus employees, stands to pay $10 million in fines annually if it stands firmly by Catholic teachings.

A GOVERNMENT penalizing you for embracing your faith? That’s the kind of oppression our ancestors fled, right?

But is birth control the real issue here for the government? In a lot of states, people qualify for free birth control anyway through clinics. And where it’s most inexpensive, you can pick up a simple method of contraception for the price of a pack of gum.

On top of that, no one is being forced to specifically seek Catholic caregivers’ help on contraception matters. If you want birth control, you have the freedom to go somewhere else.

For the White House, it’s not a birth control issue. It’s just a control issue.

Few in the media have hit the nail on the head about this better than political analyst Yuval Levin in National Review. Churches, he points out, help comprise a “mediating layer” of civil society that separates individuals from government.

And separating individuals from government is the last thing the Obama administration wants. If that layer of civil society is scraped away, more citizens will be forced to turn to the smothering cloak of Big Government for protection.

That scraping already has begun, with mixed results. Last October, the Department of
Health and Human Services
defunded a grant to the Conference of Catholic Bishops that supported aid to victims of human trafficking.

Said Jonathan V. Last of The Weekly Standard: “The Obama administration decided that they no longer wanted the Catholic Church in the business of helping these poor souls. That, evidently, is the government’s job.”

And last December, Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tried to argue before the Supreme Court that religious institutions didn’t have the right to control their hiring and firing practices based on religious beliefs.

The justices, thankfully, unanimously laughed that one out of court.

But nobody’s laughing over this.

Catholic institutions have become conscientious objectors in this brewing battle for religious freedom – ironically in a nation that is the world’s most accommodating when it comes to others’ beliefs.

Apparently – sadly – this White House wants a country in which the government extends First Amendment rights to even the most loathsome hate groups, yet refuses to extend those same First Amendment rights to a church whose commitment to heal the sick touches millions of lives.

Comments (19) Add comment
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Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 06/02/12 - 11:54 pm
3
7
Code for the anti women's

Code for the anti women's voter. Hey Joe, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be the 8th sacrament.

DanielHaszard
13
Points
DanielHaszard 06/03/12 - 03:49 am
1
1
Jehovah's Witnesses blood transfusion confusion

Religions need to adapt and accommodate.
Jehovah's Witnesses blood transfusion confusion

Jehovahs Witnesses take blood products now in 2012.
They take all fractions of blood.This includes hemoglobin, albumin, clotting factors, cryosupernatant and cryopoor too, and many, many, others.
If one adds up all the blood fractions the JWs takes, it equals a whole unit of blood. Any, many of these fractions are made from thousands upon thousands of units of donated blood.
Jehovah’s Witnesses can take Bovine *cows blood* as long as it is euphemistically called synthetic Hemopure.
Jehovah's Witnesses now accept every fraction of blood except the membrane of the red blood cell. JWs now accept blood transfusions.
The fact that the JW blood issue is so unclear is downright dangerous in the emergency room.

--
Danny Haszard FMI http://www.ajwrb.org JW blood transfusion reform site

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/03/12 - 07:28 am
4
3
The Catholic Church is the

The Catholic Church is the largest and most organized religion and this is the Obama's administration's attack on religion. Obama is following a script. Bust non-union companies, anyone with a few bucks and religion. "Forward" in lockstep.

seenitB4
91139
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 09:16 am
3
3
Rep. party

To my good friends on the Rep. side ----please...please give it a rest about birth control.....or watch another election float down the ole river to no mans land....
What is viagra all about my friends...pay for one & not the other....doesn't make sense.....

carcraft
27258
Points
carcraft 06/03/12 - 09:18 am
1
1
Daniel, working in the OR I

Daniel, working in the OR I think you are incorrect. Some will accept cell saver some won't, non hemoglobin products are the same. I tkink the major point is that I can't force A JW to receive blood and I can't force a. Catholic Dr. To do a vasectomy on me!

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 06/03/12 - 10:01 am
0
1
Viagra

Seenitb4, I know of a couple of guys that take Viagra(now because of other meds), and they both must pay, and I do mean pay, for it. There is no insurance co-pay, they pay the entire amount. Is this what you meant? We're talking big bucks for a certain number of pills.

OJP
6973
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OJP 06/03/12 - 11:48 am
0
2
"Can the government order its

"Can the government order its citizens to act against their religious faith?"

Of course it can and to suggest otherwise is absurd. The First Amendment does not permit you to infringe upon the rights of another simply because your religion commands it.

Freedom of religion doesn't just mean freedom of YOUR religion.

carcraft
27258
Points
carcraft 06/03/12 - 12:12 pm
1
0
OJP- Pleas explian your post,

OJP- Pleas explian your post, conscientous objectors have not had to serv, 7 th day Adventist chose to be corpse men ( in the words of Obama), and were accomdated. I f I want my empoyer to pay for birth control ( I really don't think about $200/ year for birth control is a deal breaker) then I won't work for an organization, what's so hard about that?

OJP
6973
Points
OJP 06/03/12 - 12:26 pm
1
1
@carcraft: If your religion

@carcraft: If your religion says someone should be killed for doing X (when X is currently not illegal).

Thankfully, the government would prevent you from following the commands of your religion.

OJP
6973
Points
OJP 06/03/12 - 12:31 pm
0
1
@carcraft: As to the employer

@carcraft: As to the employer provided healthcare issue specifically, I don't think it is smart economic policy to discourage higher employment.

If an employer is going to provide health insurance, it should be based on medicinal science, not personal religious beliefs.

And I do not think it violates religious liberty to do so (just as if a fundamental Christian didn't want to pay for fire extinguishers because his belief is that God will protect his place of business).

Fiat_Lux
15965
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/03/12 - 02:14 pm
3
1
Fortunately, OJP...

The Catholic Church is not advocating that someone be killed. It is demanding that the innocent NOT be killed, and it is refusing to be forced to provide the means and ability for innocents to be killed or prevented from being born alive.

As for non-abortifacient birth control, I honestly don't believe it would be worth my time to try and explain why that is prohibited for Catholics (and, really, for all people), mainly because I don't sense that you and many others, even among Christian and those who call themselves Catholics, embrace the belief that it is up to God to decide who is created and when they should die. That belief, however, in no way limits anyone's freedom to do as they please, even up to and including murder. It's just that some things also are illegal and punishment is attached to exercising that freedom of choice.

And yes, many of us who have been given the gift of freewill certainly have decided to make that decision without regard for what the Almighty intended or us or our children. It's just not worth discussing here because so many posting here haven't the slightest interest in what the Almighty might think about what they do or neglect to do.

JohnBrownAug
1962
Points
JohnBrownAug 06/03/12 - 03:24 pm
0
0
The Cristeros War in Mexico.

The Cristeros War in Mexico.

OJP
6973
Points
OJP 06/03/12 - 03:25 pm
2
0
@Fiat_Lux: I understand that,

@Fiat_Lux: I understand that, but who's to say a religion doesn't exist or won't come along that does advocate killing for actions which are not criminal?

When the Supreme Court ruled that Mormons do not have the right to practice polygamy despite their religion directing them to do so, it noted that:

"The permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances...."

OJP
6973
Points
OJP 06/03/12 - 03:36 pm
1
1
Perhaps I will found my own

Perhaps I will found my own religion, based on the following doctrine:

Paying taxes is inherently evil.

It's okay for those who are members of different religions to pay taxes (and thereby fund the public services I will rely upon). However, the government cannot force me to pay any.

Is the absurdity becoming any clearer?

KSL
135487
Points
KSL 06/03/12 - 03:38 pm
1
1
Silly.

Silly.

carcraft
27258
Points
carcraft 06/03/12 - 05:03 pm
1
0
OJP- Sell it to the

OJP- Sell it to the government and the IRS and you are in the clear, I wish you success! The Catholic Church opposed abortion and Birth control and didn't fund it or allow it in it's hospitals long before big brother Obama came along. If you wnated that treatment or sevice you went some where that provided it!

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 06/03/12 - 06:54 pm
1
0
I don't understand why people

I don't understand why people equate birth control pills with viagra. One pill prevents the conception of life and the other pill is use for a dysfunction in the male anatomy. Viagra neither prevents the conception of life or causes the abortion of such.

InChristLove
22481
Points
InChristLove 06/04/12 - 05:53 am
2
0
OJP responded to: "Can the

OJP responded to: "Can the government order its citizens to act against their religious faith?"

Of course it can and to suggest otherwise is absurd. The First Amendment does not permit you to infringe upon the rights of another simply because your religion commands it.

Freedom of religion doesn't just mean freedom of YOUR religion

OJP, are you saying that if the government decides to allow marriage between members of the same sex, that it becomes legal in all states, then if we follow your logic in your earlier response, ministers who follow the doctrine of the Gospel, who believe it is a sin and don't want to marry these couples, will have to marry these individuals because the government can order them to do so against their religious beliefs. It is the individuals right to be married so the ministers will have to marry them, just as you say it's a individuals right to have birth control covered under their medical coverage and just because they are employed in a religious insitution, the institution has to provide birth control medical coverage because that is the individual's right.

Am I following your logic correctly?

OJP
6973
Points
OJP 06/06/12 - 05:33 pm
0
0
Saw this today and decided to

Saw this today and decided to post it because it is quite relevant:

"A Kansas abortion opponent accused of sending a threatening letter to a Wichita doctor claims in court documents that her message was 'divinely inspired' and protected by the freedoms of speech and religion."

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Abortion-opponent-says-letter-d...

What can't we get away with if the government can't touch us as long as we use the magic word "religion"?

OJP
6973
Points
OJP 06/06/12 - 09:35 pm
0
0
@ICL

No... a church is not necessary for the legal concept of marriage. Marriage equality will not require forcing churches to perform same sex religious marriage ceremonies.

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