Christianity in Politics, Current Events

Freedom of Religion and the HHS Mandate

I don’t often weigh in on the political sphere. However, I think there is a lot of misunderstanding over why many Christians are opposed to the HHS Mandate. It is important, first, to know what the HHS mandate is. It is just as important to know why people are opposing it. Even if you oppose its opposition, it is important to know the other side’s reasoning. I’ll keep this as brief as I can.

What is the HHS Mandate?

Simply put, the HHS mandate is a proposed regulation to force Roman Catholic and other organizations to provide services (like paying for abortions or contraceptives) for their employees. In other words, it forces them to pay for services to which they are religiously opposed.

What’s NOT the issue?

The issue here is not whether abortion is right or wrong. The issue is not whether contraception is right or wrong. The issue is not whether any individual ethical decision is right or wrong. One doesn’t need to agree with others on these issues to realize what the actual issue is.

What is the Issue?

The issue with the HHS mandate is that it destroys religious liberty by forcing organizations to pay for services to which they are ethically opposed. Think of it this way: You’re part of a religion which is opposed to doing various drugs. Should it be legal to force you to pay for marijuana for your employees if they desire it?

To explain it even more simply: I am not a Mormon, and I like caffeine well enough. Mormons are opposed to drinking caffeine. I would not try to force them to pay for coca-cola for their employees because this would be a violation of their conscience and religious liberty.

Here’s the key: even though I don’t necessarily agree with the ethical principle, I do agree with allowing for religious liberty and not forcing others to pay for services to which they are opposed religiously.

Analogy: one key battle was the fight over whether certain Native Americans would be allowed to utilize peyote (a drug from a cactus) as part of their religious ceremonies. Though I personally would be against using drugs, I would not oppose the use of such a substance in another’s religious ceremony. Why? Because it would violate their religious liberty.

So what’s the big deal?

Simply put: if the HHS mandate passes, it is the U.S. Government telling certain religious practitioners that although they are religiously opposed to certain services, they will be required to pay for them as a religious organization.

In other words, it is a gross violation of religious liberty. Whether you are Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, atheist, Muslim, or of any other persuasion, you should be against this mandate. One can’t help but think that if we allow such a violation of liberty in this area, it only sets up for violations of liberties in other arenas.

Further Reading

Will Obama force Catholics to buy insurance that covers abortions?

LCMS responds to HHS mandate.

“This is the end of America”- Best Selling Author [Eric Metaxas] weighs in on HHS mandate.  

HHS Mandate 101.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

49 thoughts on “Freedom of Religion and the HHS Mandate

  1. What are some examples of things religions are not allowed by the Federal government to do or are forced by the Federal government to do? Some trivial examples that I presume are legally mandated would include banning religious organizations from sacrificing children and requiring religious organizations to pass building inspections, fire code, etc. I’m wondering where the line is currently drawn, how that line shifts historically, and where anti-HHS advocates think it should be. Thanks for any comments!

    Posted by Walt | June 24, 2012, 6:56 AM
    • I think the point is that the Federal government in this country has not historically forced religious bodies to do things. We are trying to keep things that way. Religious freedom has been protected in the U.S.. Until now. And they are not trying to keep us from sacrificing children. They are trying to force us to pay for other people doing that, by forcing us to pay for other people’s contraception and abortifacients, which are all easily and readily available at just about every street-corner drugstore already. So why the mandate? Power. Plain and simple. It’s about power and the grabbing thereof.

      Posted by Disciple | June 24, 2012, 5:10 PM
    • I wrote a reply earlier, but I couldn’t get it to go through. (I hope it doesn’t show up later looking like I hit reply over and over.) Here are some concrete examples on a page at the USCCB: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/our-first-most-cherished-liberty.cfm

      Specifically the Church is threatened by the government (not only on the federal level) in these areas: HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs; state immigration laws; altering Church structure and governance; Christian students on campus; Catholic foster care and adoption services; discrimination against small church congregations; and discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. See the page link above for examples of each of these areas of concern.

      Nothing about banning us from sacrificing babies. Everything about sacrificing our religious liberty and freedom to live out our faith as Catholic Christians in the USA, home of the brave bullies and land of the free birth control and abortifacients paid for by those who oppose it the most; the very people who oppose the sacrificing of babies on the altar of convenience, which sacrifice takes place in our country alone thousands of times every day.

      This is about freedom. Period. Or the lack thereof.

      Posted by Disciple | June 24, 2012, 6:39 PM
  2. Great post, JW. There is, indeed, much confusion about the mandate. And most of the confusion is deliberately encouraged by the media and the members of the government who are in favor of this power grab. To think that this is happening in the USA, land of the free. Yeah, land of the free whatever it is the government decides they can force you to pay for. Good grief.

    One correction, though. Mormons have no problem with caffeine, none at all, and no prohibition against it. It’s hot drinks that Joseph Smith prohibited and Mormons take that to mean coffee and hot tea. I can’t rememer if hot chocolate is a problem or not. But they have no problem with Cokes or Dr. Pepper and other sodas. It’s hot drinks not the caffeine, and if it seems arbitrary, well, that’s just the way it is. 😉

    Glad you posted on the religious freedom issue, JW. Folks don’t seem to realize that it is religious freedom that is the issue. But if this mandate is allowed to stand, then religious freedom isn’t the only thing at stake. Freedom itself is threatened when any of our rights are threatened. And the right to conscience — the right to follow one’s own conscience! — is such a basic human right that it boggles my mind that ANY government, much less the government of the United States of America, would try to take right away by force of law. The U.S. government has turned into nothing but a bully against its own people. That we have come to this! Good grief!

    Good to see you, JW. Thank you for writing about this. God bless you and peace be with you.

    D. 🙂

    Posted by Disciple | June 24, 2012, 7:25 AM
    • Are there any constraints that are appropriate to set on religious freedom?

      Posted by Walt | June 24, 2012, 4:07 PM
      • This is a very perceptive question. It’s an issue with which I struggle frequently myself. It seems clear that there is a line, but unclear as to where it is. Now, lest readers go and say I’m some kind of relativist or something, I must say that I am simply not sold on any particular political theory dealing with religion and politics.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 24, 2012, 4:09 PM
      • If we go by the Constitution (I know, what a novel idea), the protections that are in there, and in the amendments made to it, are aimed at protecting religion from the government and not the other way around. Why is there talk now of putting constraints on religion? Because, for one thing, there is a rather large religious body who opposes the will of some persons who want to further a culture that the Church has fought throughout her existence. Someone wants to eradicate those protections. Someone who would prosper by getting the Church out of the way, crippling her and effectively silencing her by fining her out of existence. Of course, I don’t expect that to happen. Ultimately. But I think we could be in for very bumpy ride before the we reach the end of the dark night we are now entering.

        Posted by Disciple | June 24, 2012, 4:22 PM
      • Disciple – You may be able to better understand the contrary viewpoint if you can think of a few constraints put in place by the Federal government that do currently constrain religious freedom. There are a few I’m thinking of that you probably have no problem with.

        Here’s my question again – are there no limits that should be placed on religious freedom?

        Posted by Walt | June 25, 2012, 6:40 AM
      • Why don’t you give me some examples of constraints (not absurd this time) that you have in mind, Walt?

        Posted by Disciple | June 25, 2012, 7:25 AM
      • Reynolds v. United States, for example. I’m not sure what you will count as absurd

        Posted by Walt | June 25, 2012, 7:03 PM
  3. What if an organization believed only in faith healing? Do you think a mandate that said, “If you provide your employees with health insurance, it must include conventional medicine,” would violate their religious freedom?

    Posted by Stan | June 24, 2012, 10:22 AM
    • Short answer: Yes. It would. Because it is not what they are being forced to cover, it is THAT they are being FORCED to cover anything at all. We should not be forced by the government to do this. THAT is the WHOLE POINT of the rallies, the opposition, and even JW’s entire post. It is the BEING FORCED that IS the PROBLEM.

      Posted by Disciple | June 24, 2012, 4:06 PM
      • Yeah, I’m pretty much in agreement here. Just as religious organizations are allowed (and should be) to select whom they employ for their religious institutions, so to should they not be forced to cover violations of their conscience.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 24, 2012, 4:11 PM
      • You realize that companies don’t have to offer health insurance, right? They aren’t being forced to offer anything. You understand that, correct?

        The point of the mandate is that if you’re purporting to offer real health insurance, you have to ACTUALLY offer real health insurance, rather than some bizarre Swiss-cheese “health insurance” (in quotes) torn apart by your religious peculiarities.

        Posted by Stan | June 24, 2012, 10:20 PM
      • Stan, you do realize, don’t you, that once the forcing begins, it is a very small step from forcing you to provide something in the insurance to providing something else in the insurance and also to providing insurance itself. Once the forcing begins, there is no stopping it. Once the forcing begins, you and I have both lost our freedom. Providing contraception and abortifacients in NOT healthcare, has no place in health insurance, and those things are readily available at very low cost already. Birth control pills cost about $9 a month at drugstores so why force Catholics to provide them for people? It has nothing to do with helping people with real health insurance needs. It has everything to do with power. With grabbing power. With forcing the Church to do something which the government knows very well the Church cannot do and remain the Church. THAT is what this is about. It is NOT about healthcare.

        Posted by Disciple | June 25, 2012, 7:23 AM
      • I do not think it is plausible that the government is going to start *forcing* organizations to provide health insurance.

        I think you and J.W. need to keep the discussion in the realm of what is actually occurring and not occurring and be careful to avoid buying into conspiracy theories, even when they’re peddled in good faith by authorities and fellow laypeople of your church.

        I will also say that to believe that government is doing this as a deliberate power play against the Catholic Church is extremely bizarre. It may be difficult for us to come to an understanding if you have such extreme opinions.

        Posted by Stan | June 25, 2012, 5:46 PM
      • Hold on, Stan, I’m confused by what you’re saying about what’s “actually occurring.” What argument did I make that was conspiracy-theory oriented. I have argued that this HHS Mandate violates religious conscience in the here-and-now.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 7:39 PM
      • Disciple – the slippery slope argument doesn’t work. The reason we have checks and balances in the U.S. is to prevent and/or correct slippery slopes, so there’s no reason to deny something that is reasonable for fear of something unreasonable following in its footsteps. What we’re left with then is the question of whether providing birth control is reasonable. Birth control pills actually do many things for women besides contraception – everything from preventing menstrual migraines to ovarian cysts. Are you familiar with these uses of birth control pills that are actually really important for the health of women?

        Posted by Walt | June 25, 2012, 7:08 PM
      • Walt,

        If you’ve looked at the literature on this debate, or indeed the special convention with Congress on the topic, you’d know that the Roman Catholics (I’m not one) and other religious organizations opposed to this mandate still agree to provide birth control pills for these medical purposes. Perhaps it would be better to be more familiar with the topic before jumping to attack the other side?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 7:40 PM
      • J.W., I was mistakenly combined two suggestions, the latter of which (to avoid conspiracy theories) not referring to you, but to this: “It has nothing to do with helping people with real health insurance needs. It has everything to do with power. With grabbing power. With forcing the Church to do something which the government knows very well the Church cannot do and remain the Church.”

        In any case, why do you think the current mandate violates religious freedom, given that organizations are not being forced to provide health insurance (only to provide complete health insurance if they purport to provide health insurance)?

        Posted by Stan | June 25, 2012, 7:42 PM
      • I don’t see how it is reasonable to say that “health insurance” is required to provide for birth control pills. Why is it? And what does it mean to have “complete health insurance”? How do you define that?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 7:45 PM
      • J.W., you said, ‘I don’t see how it is reasonable to say that “health insurance” is required to provide for birth control pills. Why is it? And what does it mean to have “complete health insurance”? How do you define that?’

        I think the HHS defined that! These are medical services that the HHS determined are necessary as part of holistic and complete medical coverage. We can argue about that if you want (you clearly disagree with the HHS on this determination), but the issue is certainly a gray “What constitutes essential health coverage?” issue rather than a black/white “Religious freedom or oppression!” issue.

        This is what I was trying to push toward when I asked about what you would say about a religious organization that didn’t believe in conventional medicine at all. It was an attempt at argumentum ad absurdum to show that the issue is about what health coverage is or should be considered essential, not about religious freedom/oppression.

        Posted by Stan | June 25, 2012, 7:50 PM
      • If the issue is so “gray,” then, why the insistence that “total health care” must require things that force religious organizations who desire to provide health care to violate their consciences?

        “It was an attempt at argumentum ad absurdum to show that the issue is about what health coverage is or should be considered essential, not about religious freedom/oppression.”

        Right, and I reject this argumentum ad absurdum, because I don’t think it is absurd to say that religious organizations should not be required to violate their consciences.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 7:52 PM
      • J.W., you said, “If the issue is so ‘gray,’ then, why the insistence that ‘total health care’ must require things that force religious organizations who desire to provide health care to violate their consciences?”

        Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? Those religious organizations do NOT desire to provide health care, as health care is defined by the HHS. They desire to provide a chopped-up, incomplete health care as defined by their religious dictates, however absurd or bizarre they are.

        Like, perhaps a Watchtower organization doesn’t want their healthcare to cover blood transfusions. That’s not “healthcare”; it’s pseudo-healthcare. The government says, “You can’t do that. If you’re purporting to provide healthcare, you have to provide healthcare. Otherwise, pay the exemption and have people get their own.”

        Posted by Stan | June 25, 2012, 8:01 PM
      • So what you’re saying is that it is not gray at all; rather, you’re saying that the HHS mandate dictates objectively what health care is (even though just a few comments up you say “We can argue about that if you want (you clearly disagree with the HHS on this determination), but the issue is certainly a gray “What constitutes essential health coverage?” issue rather than a black/white”) and then saying that religious institutions who do not agree with this definition will be required to submit to it.

        Which is it, Stan, is “…the issue …a gray ‘What constitutes essential health coverage?’ issue rather than a black/white…” or is it a matter of saying “Here’s what health care is, period.”

        You seem to be saying both. Which is it?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 8:07 PM
      • -> Given the HHS mandate, it’s not a gray issue: Catholic organizations who refuse to provide contraception are not providing healthcare.

        -> Given the definition of healthcare from these Catholic organizations, it’s ALSO not a gray issue: They ARE providing healthcare, but the government is infringing upon their religious freedom by requiring something peripheral (that goes against their conscience).

        In other words, given X, Y certainly results. But which X is correct?

        Is the HHS’s definition of complete healthcare correct, or is a different definition correct? That’s where the issue becomes gray. Would you like to argue about X? In order to argue about X, we have to stop treating this as a relatively simple matter of religious freedom/oppression. To be honest, the issue has little if anything to do with that. It has to do with the definition of “providing healthcare.”

        Posted by Stan | June 25, 2012, 8:14 PM
      • So, for argument’s sake, would you say that Roman Catholics are not currently providing health care? Somehow, the inclusion of birth control pills that are not medically necessary transforms their system into health care?

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 8:19 PM
      • JW,
        Regarding birth control pills, I was addressing Disciple’s quote here:
        “Providing contraception and abortifacients in NOT healthcare, has no place in health insurance, and those things are readily available at very low cost already. Birth control pills cost about $9 a month at drugstores so why force Catholics to provide them for people?”

        Forgive me if I was off-target and/or ill-informed.

        Posted by Walt | June 25, 2012, 8:23 PM
      • Sorry, my own view of comments is a bit different and it can be hard to follow a string of them to several people. In any case, I would still point out that the Roman Catholic church is perfectly willing to provide for birth control pills when used for health reasons, and even said so multiple times in the panel discussion on the topic; what they are against is the use of birth control pills for, well, what they’re mostly intended for.

        And I should note that I myself am not opposed to the use of contraceptives or the birth control pill per se; what I am trying to make explicit here is that is not the issue. The issue is whether these organizations, which are willing to provide for the health care of women when these things are actually needed, should be required to violate their conscience and be forced to provide for birth control pills at-will.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 8:30 PM
      • In other words, I’m standing with my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters not so much on the ethical/moral side but on the liberty side of the issue. Just as I would stand with the Native American on peyote or Mormons on caffeine.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | June 25, 2012, 8:32 PM
      • J.W., you said, “So, for argument’s sake, would you say that Roman Catholics are not currently providing health care?”

        I would say this, and would also say a similar thing about an organization that denied coverage for acne medication, or benign tumor removal, or thyroid medication, or influenza vaccinations, or erectile dysfunction medication. Contraceptive medicine is actual healthcare, in my view and in the view of (I think) most people, and denying it for any reason turns your provision from “health care” into “not quite healthcare.”

        Posted by Stan | June 25, 2012, 8:41 PM
    • Then there is the whole conscience issue. After we deal with the fact that the government is trying to force us to do what it wants us to do, there is the problem with the fact that the Church has taught for two thousand years that these things are wrong. But the U.S. government wants to force us to pay for the very things we have always refused to do and have always taught are morally evil. The government is trying to pretend that religious freedom is only what happens inside a church building or inside the privacy of your own home. But I live as a Catholic every minute of every day, tring to be as faithful as possible to the teachings of the Church. How can I do that if the government decides to fine me into oblivion for following those teachings? This is amazing, that it can happen here and that so many people don’t view it as a problem, and don’t see that it affects all of us. All of us are in danger of losing our freedom, and not just religious freedom, if we don’t challenge this and stop it.

      Posted by Disciple | June 24, 2012, 4:15 PM
  4. In reply to Stan about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and blood transfusions… A great deal of research went into finding a substitute for blood in their case so that they DO NOT have to VIOLATE their consciences. They can now get a life-saving transfusion with this substitute for blood. However, Catholics are not being offered an exemption or an out. They are being told to comply or GET OUT. And that is what has ALREADY happened. I listed things above that have already happened. This law goes into effect as of August 1, if allowed to stand, and to get ready for it, Catholics have had to act already or face heavy fines for not complying. Jehovah’s Witnesses have an issue with transfusions and a way around it is found for them. I don’t see any way around this for us. There are, apparently, other people who won’t see the noose tightening around their own necks until it is too late.

    Posted by Disciple | June 25, 2012, 9:06 PM
  5. (An aside: Of course, the Mormons do not object to caffeine. There is no Mormon prohibition against caffeine. They drink sodas. It’s against hot drinks, as Joseph Smith put it, and Mormons take that to mean coffee and tea. But that is a minor point. The thing is, I stand with them that they should not be forced either to drink hot drinks nor to provide them to others with their [the Mormons’] money.)

    It truly boggles my mind that people are so cavalier about what is happening to their fellow citizens, and so non-chalant in the face of such an extreme power grab by our own federal government. As for people talking about what is in the healthcare bill, I hope people realize that Kathleen Sebelius is not even through writing the thing yet. Yes, she is writing it herself! We have no idea what will end up in there. Well, we really do have a pretty good idea. She is as pro-abortion as they come and she actually said, at a NARAL Pro Choice America fundraiser (a vital clue right there): “we are in a war”. So I’m an extremist for seeing what is happening and calling it like it is? Puh-leez. Oy ve.

    Posted by Disciple | June 25, 2012, 9:16 PM
  6. @ Walt: This is what I meant by absurd: “Some trivial examples that I presume are legally mandated would include banning religious organizations from sacrificing children…” Probably you thought it was amusing, even a bit insulting. But I find this to be a very serious topic.
    ___________________

    I have been learning about this whole issue long before the HHS Mandate ever appeared, years, in fact. I saw it coming. I invite everyone to do some research into what is happening and has been happening for, as I said, years. The federal government has been steadily absorbing power from the other branches which were originally designed to provide checks and balances against each other. But the federal branch has steadily grown. Some people see it, some people don’t. That just means some people see it and some don’t, it doesn’t mean it isn’t taking place. But you know what they say about the best way to boil a frog…

    Posted by Disciple | June 25, 2012, 9:24 PM
    • Disciple – I wasn’t trying to be insulting at all. This is what I’m trying to do – I think that there is common ground to be found in what we four in the discussion would consider reasonable constraints on religion. I mentioned child sacrifice because this is on the extreme end of the spectrum in terms of something religious folks should not be allowed to do even if it is an important religious tradition. I would like to keep moving along the spectrum to find where it is that each of us draws a line on what a religion should be able to do and what the government should be able to mandate. I mentioned the case of Mormon bigamy that was tried in federal courts, and I’d be interested to hear your response on it. Peyote or eagle feathers is perhaps further along the spectrum. Please don’t disregard my thoughts as self-gratifying or insulting to you, I’m actually quite serious as well.

      What do you mean when you say the federal branch is steadily growing?

      Posted by Walt | June 26, 2012, 6:52 AM
      • Walt, I don’t see much parallel with the two cases at all. We are not engaging in an illegal practice and being forced to stop. We are being forced to start engaging in a practice and it happens to be one that we find morally objectionable. It is impossible for us to provide contraception and abortifacients (which is what a lot of if not most or even all birth control pills are) to anybody except in the very rare case where the contraception actually is part of authentically necessary healthcare. To insist that this is like the other cases you’ve mentioned is disingenuous at best. The government made concessions to other groups, like the peyote cult (I am not using that word in a perjorative sense but in its actual sense). It stopped the bigamy practiced bynthe Mormons. But it wants now to force Catholics — and not just Catholics — to provide (for free even!) what Catholics hold and have always held to be morally evil. Not all Catholics are faithful and some use contraception. But this is not forcing us to use contraception, it is forcing us to pay for other people to use contraception, which means we are being forced to materially participate in what we see as an evil act.

        Conscientious objectors have had protection in our country for things like the draft, but now we are being told more and more that our conscience doesn’t mean a thing. Pharmacists must sell birth control, nurses and doctors must engage in abortions, medical students must perform abortions or participate in them, and now we have to provide birth control for others. Even in the small number of cases where birth control may be actually medically necessary, it is readily available on just about everynstreet corner drugstore already for around $9 a month so why force us to provide it as if it were hard to get and widely and really needed? It isn’t needed, it is wanted and it is wanted because welcoming new life is not wanted. Why force us to participate in what we see as (because it is) a culture of death? Because that is the goal here, to force us to do what the government wants us to do. It won’t stop here unless we stop it. Nothing has so glavanized the religious community as this attack on our liberty, but it is liberty period that is under attack.

        I’m sad that so many people cannot see what is happening, but happy that so many can. I hope and pray that you will see it. The federal branch of the government has steadily grown in power, taking bits of power from the other branches, for amny long years until much action is undertaken by the federal branch in the form of unelected “czars” and executive orders which bypass Congress and even the Constitution if unchallenged and even then the challenge can be ignored or swept under a rug, which is what “tabling” does. If you aren’t aware of any of that, I invite you to do some research. I won’t be able to do that for you. I’m in the middle of doing my own for the books I’m writing and my time on the web is limited by the amount of time I am spending on that work. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as I always do for all the people I meet online or off. Peace be with you.

        Posted by Disciple | June 26, 2012, 8:00 AM
      • Disciple –
        I still think we can find common ground on things that the government does require religious institutions to do. For example, if a religious institution chooses to erect a building, it must pass building codes. This is not a mandate that the church builds buildings. It is a requirement that if the church builds buildings, the buildings must comply with regulations. So too health insurance.

        I am still confused by your notion of the federal branch of government. I’m not familiar with this branch, and I don’t understand from whom you think it is grabbing power.

        Hope the writing goes well – this is a fun place to procrastinate for me, but life is definitely busy.

        Posted by Walt | June 28, 2012, 9:30 AM
      • @Walt: I meant the executive branch.

        Posted by Disciple | June 28, 2012, 11:23 AM
  7. And maynI just say how much I hate typing on an iPad keyboard? Typos typos typos. Oy ve.

    Posted by Disciple | June 26, 2012, 8:03 AM
  8. Spot on, man. I also really appreciated this article, if you haven’t yet seen it: http://www.anamnesisjournal.com/issues/2-web-essays/54-r-j-snell

    Posted by Matt | June 28, 2012, 12:55 AM
  9. I agree with Kevin Drum who said:

    “I guess I’m tired of religious groups operating secular enterprises (hospitals, schools), hiring people of multiple faiths, serving the general public, taking taxpayer dollars — and then claiming that deeply held religious beliefs should exempt them from public policy. Contra Dionne, it’s precisely religious pluralism that makes this impractical. There are simply too many religions with too many religious beliefs to make this a reasonable approach. If we’d been talking about, say, an Islamic hospital insisting that its employees bind themselves to sharia law, I imagine the “religious community” in the United States would be a wee bit more understanding if the Obama administration refused to condone the practice.”

    Above, “Disciple” said, “[Constitutional protections] are aimed at protecting religion from the government and not the other way around.” This is quite a bold statement. I am sure the Founders were unaware or disinterested in British history that included Henry VIII’s seizure of church authority in England, establishing the Church of England (and himself as the “Supreme Head” of it).

    In any case to claim, unequivocally, the Founder’s intent of the 1st Amendment is ridiculous.

    But back to condoms…

    As Drum mentioned, religious institutions should (and can) function within their belief systems if they actually function in a purely religious sense. They waive their ability to protest when they gleefully accept billions of dollars in medicaid / medicare reimbursement annually. That is, they shouldn’t be surprised when the government makes mandates after they let them so far in the door.

    They cannot have their cake and eat it too. If they wish to adhere to an outdated belief practice, they should take the high and pious road and become autonomous. Then, they can be free to practice whatever inane ideas they have.

    That, and we all know why the issue has died down and not been overturned: there’s too much money involved for the churches to play hardball.

    Posted by Andrew Marburger (@AndrewMarburger) | October 10, 2012, 12:23 PM

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