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Catholic Bishops Call White House Contraceptive Coverage Policy Change “Unacceptable”

Late yesterday, the nation’s Catholic Bishops came out with a statement that noted at least two strong objections to the revised contraceptive coverage plan unveiled yesterday by the White House:

Hours after calling the Obama administration’s contraceptives compromise a “first step,” the Catholic bishops said Friday night they have “two serious objections” to the new policy and will fight its enactment.

First, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the administration’s plan still includes a “nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients.”

“This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern,” the bishops said in their statement. “We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.

And while Obama’s new plan allows religious-affiliated employers to refrain from paying for contraceptive coverage — insurers would be obligated to provide the coverage for free — the bishops said the change doesn’t go far enough.

“It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write,” the bishops said. “At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.”

(…)

[The Bishops] made it clear that a “lack of clear protection for key stakeholders — for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular nonprofit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals — is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.”

This last part seems to be a bit of moving the goalposts on the part of the bishops. Previously the discussion was about religious institutions that run entities like hospitals, now it’s been expanded to included entirely new classes of people, some of whom arguably have far less of a “religious liberty” claim than an organization like the Catholic Church might. Should the owner of a small manufacturing company be treated the same, for the sake of this argument, as the Catholic Church? I think there’s a fairly weak case for doing that, which is why I don’t think the religious liberty argument doesn’t really work in this case. The real question, for which no answer has been provided to date that I’ve seen, is why the Federal Government should have any power at all to tell employers and insurance companies what the contents of their contracts should be. That’s the real issue here, not some culture war argument over a non-existent “war on religion.” Why the right isn’t making it is beyond me.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    The real question, for which no answer has been provided to date that I’ve seen, is why the Federal Government should have any power at all to tell employers and insurance companies what the contents of their contracts should be.

    Yeah I’d love to see the right attempt to make that argument. A real vote winner. I suspect this is all going to fizzle because the WH kept the substance of the program but provided a fig leaf for the church. We’ll see. I’m sure Rubio, Boehner and co will continue blustering away but this move (which I’ve seen described as breathtakingly cynical (ie. effective) by right wing chatterers) but it’s ultimately a loser because Obama has effectively removed the casus belli.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  2. WR says:

    Good strategy you’re advocating there. Doug — the Republicans should start running on a platform that all regulation of business is unconstitutional, and that all companies should be entirely free to do whatever they want. If they happen to kill a few thousand people, the market can take care of that.

    Man, I wish you party would start following your advice.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  3. WR says:

    Of course, that was “your party,” not you party. Didn’t there used to be an edit button around here somewhere?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. James in LA says:

    The number of people who care what corrupt bishops of the catholic church think dwindles by the hour. They lost, and more is yet to come. To stand with the catholic church is to stand with pedophiles and their protectors. The tithe now increasingly goes to defend what cannot be defended.

    It’s nice to see women win one for a change, and see those who have earned it lose power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  5. Commonist says:

    Bishops sure talk for all Catholics. And they sure have lots of credibility on what is church business or not considering they think it is church business to protect or obscure child molesters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @James in LA:

    The number of people who care what corrupt bishops of the catholic church think dwindles by the hour.

    The Catholic Hierarchy has zero moral authority:
    8,000 instances of abuse alleged in Archdiocese bankruptcy hearing

    Sealed documents filed in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy identify at least 8,000 instances of child sexual abuse and 100 alleged offenders – 75 of them priests – who have not previously been named by the archdiocese, a victims’ attorney said Thursday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  7. James in LA says:

    @Ron Beasley: All in ONE archdiocese. The global multiplier leads to an obscenity that will ultimately shutter the church, and none too soon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  8. anjin-san says:

    The Catholic Hierarchy has zero moral authority:

    I have to agree, Until they put their own house in order, I am simply not interested.

    It’s also worth noting that the GOP has ignored the expressed wishes of the bishops on any number of issues. This has nothing to do with religious freedom, and everything to do with the one issue that matters to Republicans – damaging Obama any way they can.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    @anjin-san: I think we make a mistake if we think this is something new. It’s not, it is the Catholic Church for the last 2,000 years. The Church’s mission was power and had little to do with spirituality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  10. Moosebreath says:

    “Good strategy you’re advocating there. Doug — the Republicans should start running on a platform that all regulation of business is unconstitutional, and that all companies should be entirely free to do whatever they want. If they happen to kill a few thousand people, the market can take care of that.”

    In other words, a libertarian paradise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. Dean says:

    I am not Catholic and I disagree with the idea that the use of birth control is a sin. However, I do have three issues with the White House’s initial decision and the compromise.

    First, we do go down a slippery-slope if we allow government to restrict religious liberty. Similarly, I disagreed with the French government’s rule regarding the ban on Islamic veils and other religious symbols in schools. That law has been expanded in the past few years as well.

    Second, the compromise is a work around by the White House that skirts the Catholic beliefs regarding birth control. To me, it’s not much different than another parent allowing kids visiting their home to have alcohol because the kids’ parents won’t allow them to drink.

    Third, who actually pays for “free birth control?” We are all in favor of free stuff, but someone has to pay for it and the government is just passing the costs off to another group. If this is allowed, doesn’t the government have the right to make everything free?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dean: It is in a sense free because it is cheaper than the alternative – pregnancy, child birth and well baby care. It makes economic sense for Insurance companies to offer it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Dean says:

    @Ron Beasley: If birth control is cheaper than the alternative, couldn’t you then make the argument that all medications should be free?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Tlaloc says:

    Why the right isn’t making it is beyond me.

    As above the right knows that argument is a political loser by a mile. They’re only hope is to convince people that those who provide your healthcare should be able to do whatever they want just because they believe in magic.

    The sad thing is this argument is actually compelling for way too many people. Strangely if you ask if a chef should be allowed to add arsenic to your food because he believes invisible people told him to, most people quickly come to realize that freedom of delusion, ahem, religion, has no sway outside of what you choose to do to yourself.

    If you choose to run a business providing food, housing, or *gasp* insurance you have every right to believe whatever the hell made up crap you want but you don’t have any right to force those beliefs on your customers and employees.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. Hey Norm says:

    @ Dean…
    All medication is not preventative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. JohnMcC says:

    The PPP Polling company (there’s a redundancy there but I think that’s how they refer to themselves) says they found that this “controversy” is a winner for Barack. “56% of voters generally support the birth control benefit, while 37% are opposed. Independents strongly favor it 55/36 and a lot more Republicans (36%) support it than Democrats (20%) oppose it. Women are for it by a 63/29 margin.” They add “(o)nly 39% of voters support an exemption for Catholic hospitals and universities while 57% are opposed to one.” And “(t)here is a major disconnect between the leadership of the Catholic church and rank-and-file Catholic voters on this issue…”

    Sen Rubio’s bill (co-sponsored by 26 Repub senators) removing any coverage that any employer has any objection to — well, with luck will become a part of the Repub platform this year.

    Go for it, Marco!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. The real question, for which no answer has been provided to date that I’ve seen, is why the Federal Government should have any power at all to tell employers and insurance companies what the contents of their contracts should be. That’s the real issue here, not some culture war argument over a non-existent “war on religion.” Why the right isn’t making it is beyond me.

    Well, some on the right have made that argument. Rush Limbaugh tiraded about exactly that this week.

    I made it myself on your previous post, and I was instantly assailed for making it.

    However, the contracts concerned are not “their” contracts. This matter was federalized a long time ago, and Obamacare concretes it over with rebar. The Obamacare act contains 700 references to the Secretary “shall,” another 200 to the Secretary “may,” and 139 to the Secretary “determines.”

    In short, the act grants the executive the power to rule on any and all health care matters (as the executive chooses to define them) by simple edict. That is the real issue that the present controversy has brought into light. As the WSJ put it,

    To take a small example: The HHS rule prohibits out-of-pocket costs for birth control, simply because Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s regulators believe no woman should have to pay anything for it. To take a larger example: The Obama Administration’s legal defense of the mandate to buy insurance or else pay a penalty is that the mere fact of being alive gives the government the right to regulate all Americans at every point in their lives.

    Not sure I care that the bishops are “moving the goalposts” (if they are) since of course politicians do that all the time.

    I also see in comments above the tendency too universalize one’s own opinions about the RCC – namely, those who personally dismiss the moral authority of the RCC therefore think that everyone else does, too (i.e., “The Catholic Hierarchy has zero moral authority”).

    Also, i really do wonder why, of all health care provided, only contraception and related services are imperative to be free to the consumer. A woman won’t even have a $1 copay under Obama’s mandate for month’s supply of the Pill, but if she needs surgery to defeat her breast cancer and save her life, she’d better have deep pockets for deductibles and copays. I can only surmise that preventing or aborting babies is a core value (maybe the core value) of the Democrat party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dean:

    First, we do go down a slippery-slope if we allow government to restrict religious liberty.

    Would you like to tell us what religious liberties are being restricted?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    A woman won’t even have a $1 copay under Obama’s mandate for month’s supply of the Pill, but if she needs surgery to defeat her breast cancer and save her life, she’d better have deep pockets for deductibles and copays.

    That you think there’s any comparability between dispensing a pill and a mastectomy is a measure of how completely clueless you are about issues of women’s health.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Doug, journalist Don Surber makes that point, too:

    President Obama’s order that the Catholic church must provide free birth control to its employees begs a larger question: Just who the heck is Barack Obama to order anyone to buy anything for anyone?

    And like I said:

    Why is birth control treated as the No. 1 women’s health issue anyway? Most females are either too young or too old to bear children. Diabetes, though, can strike at any age (a grand-niece was diagnosed at 3). We require co-payments for blood pressure medications and a whole slew of other conditions that pose a far greater health risk to men than birth control. And why is women’s health considered a greater priority than men’s health? Men have a shorter life expectancy so it must be the fault of our health system, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  21. Russell says:

    Should the owner of a small manufacturing company be treated the same, for the sake of this argument, as the Catholic Church?

    Yes. Neither should be permitted to skirt the law due to “moral objections”. We should certiainly not be in the business of modifying the laws only if your business is big enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. Russell says:

    why the Federal Government should have any power at all to tell employers and insurance companies what the contents of their contracts should be.

    I’m beginning to agree with this argument, and see it as another reason to support single payer health care.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. Dean says:

    @Brummagem Joe: That would be the one where the government forces a religious institution to provide something that is against their religious beliefs.

    Even with the President’s workaround, it still smacks of an assault on religious liberty. The fact of the matter is, no one who works at a religious institution is required to work there, nor are they required to get their healthcare from there.

    Also, I don’t believe it would pass court muster, given the 9-0 decision in the Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case. Even with a split court, they tend to frown on regulations related to religious liberty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  24. Russell says:

    @Dean

    no one who works at a religious institution is required to work there, nor are they required to get their healthcare from there

    Of course there is no requirement for a religious institution to provide insurance either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. James in LA says:

    @Dean: @Dean: No one is forcing you or anyone else to take contraception. We all pay for detestable things in our taxes and premiums and none of us retains a line-item veto on how that money is spent. It’s called the “real world.” Religeous orgs are free to opt out of the public square at any time.

    This whole issue is a non-debate debate because talking about an improving economy will cost the GOP even more votes it cannot possibly afford to lose. Between this, Komen, and Boehner’s House, the GOP, as constructed, has likely lost women as a majority in perpetuity.

    Given how much time is left until November, the mind reels at what could possibly be next. Flag burning? Bring back the Stockades? No more mini-skirts and hot pants?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dean:An assault on Religious freedom would be a requirement that were required to take birth control or get abortions. The Quakers are not required to serve in the military but they are required to pay for the Defense budget and wars of which they don’t approve. Willard Romney’s grandfather was forced to flee to Mexico when the US outlawed polygamy. A religious group in my part of the country does not believe in medicine at all but anoints an ill person with oil and prays over them. After a number of infants and small children died from easily treatable diseases a bi-partisan group in the State legislature passed a law requiring them to seek medical help foe anyone under 18. Four members of that church are now in jail after having been convicted of manslaughter. So requiring religions to go against their beliefs happens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. Doug Indeap says:

    Arguments for a “religious employer” exemption have gone from wrong to ridiculous.

    Those demanding such an exemption initially worked themselves into a lather with the false claim that the law forced employers to provide their employees with health care plans offering services the employers considered immoral. The fact is that employers have the option of not providing any such plans and instead simply paying assessments to the government. Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law’s requirement to pay assessments does not compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs. Problem solved–except perhaps for an employer who really desires not just to avoid a moral bind, but rather wants to retain control of his employees’ health plans, limit their choices to conform to the employer’s religious beliefs, and avoid paying the assessments that otherwise would be owed. For that, an employer would need an exemption from the law.

    Indeed, some continued clamoring for just such an exemption, complaining that by paying assessments they would be paying for the very things they opposed. They seemingly missed that that is not a moral dilemma justifying an exemption to avoid being forced to act contrary to one’s beliefs, but rather is a gripe common to most taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action the government may take with the benefit of their tax dollars. Should each of us be exempted from paying our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for a war, health care, or whatever else the government does that each of us may consider wrong or even immoral?

    In any event, they put up enough of a stink that the government relented and announced that religious employers would be free to provide health plans with provisions to their liking and not be required to pay the assessments otherwise required. Problem solved–again, even more.

    Nonetheless, some continue to complain. They fret that somehow religious employers ultimately will pay for the services they oppose. They argue that if insurers (or, by the same logic, anyone, e.g., employees) pay for such services, those costs will somehow, someday be passed on to the employers in the form of demands for higher insurance premiums or higher wages. They counter what they call the government’s “accounting gimmick” with one of their own: the “Catholic dollar.” These dollars, once paid by a religious employer to others, e.g., insurers or employees, should be used only for things the religious employer would approve. The religious employers’ aim, we are assured, is not to control the actions of others, oh no, but rather is merely to assure that the employers themselves have not somehow acted contrary to their
    own beliefs by loosing “their” dollars into hands that would use them for things no self-respecting religious employer would himself buy. Their religious liberty, they say, requires not only that they be exempted from the law, but further that anyone to whom they pay money also be exempted and thus “free” to act according to their desires.

    I wonder what they would say if they knew they had some of my “atheist dollars” in their wallets that can only be used for ungodly purposes, lest I suffer the indignity of paying for things I disbelieve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. Neo says:

    Obama must think that these Catholic bishops are some kind of cheap date.
    It’s really gonna look great when a Nobel f-ing Peace Prize winner is sending priests and nuns to jail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  29. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Neo:

    It’s really gonna look great when a Nobel f-ing Peace Prize winner is sending priests and nuns to jail.

    What would these fruitcakes do without the reductio ad absurdum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    That would be the one where the government forces a religious institution to provide something that is against their religious beliefs.

    This is NOT a restriction on religious liberty by any stretch of the imagination for reasons that James in LA summarised. Suppose I believe as an non believer that much of the religious trappings of funerals in Arlington cemetary are against my conscience. Am I supposed to object to my tax dollars being spent on them. How about the salaries of military chaplains when we are supposed to have complete separation of church and state. Your entire argument is fatuous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  31. Blogrescue says:

    Test comment (ignore this)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. James in LA says:

    @Neo: “It’s really gonna look great when a Nobel f-ing Peace Prize winner is sending priests and nuns to jail.”

    Only the pedophiles, and their protectors. You can begin by producing Bernard Law for trial in Boston.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  33. Dean says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Here’s what you’re missing. These are not tax dollars we are talking about. There is no tax being collected to pay for “free birth control” (or whatever that is). The government is telling a religious institution they have to pay for something that runs counter to their religious beliefs.

    Also, there is no way the insurance companies are going to take on the costs on their own without passing them on to the insured institution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  34. WR says:

    @Dean: “First, we do go down a slippery-slope if we allow government to restrict religious liberty.”

    Ultra orthodox Jews believe that women should be restricted to riding in the back of buses so that men don’t have to see them. Fundamentallist Mormons believe their religion requires them to marry multiple 13 year-old girls. Fundamentalist Muslims believe women should be beaten or stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage.

    So tell me, how much freedom do you believe American women should be forced to give up so that we’re not going down a slippery slope of allowing government to restrict religious liberty?

    Oh, and are there any rights or freedoms men should have to give up in the name of the same principle?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  35. WR says:

    @Donald Sensing: “The Obamacare act contains 700 references to the Secretary “shall,” another 200 to the Secretary “may,” and 139 to the Secretary “determines.” ”

    Oh, my God! Those fascists are using…verbs! Everyone knows that verbs are the first step towards totalitarianism!

    If there’s an adverb in there, we’d better all move to Canada.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  36. grumpy realist says:

    When the Catholic Church makes as much of a stink about insurance companies covering medications for male impotence I might start listening to them.

    Look, Catholic Church: this world is getting over-populated enough. Either population gets controlled through disease and war and women dying in childbirth, or we use stuff like birth control. Or do you want to go back to abandoning new-borns on the hillside? That should be historically established enough to be considered a conservative position…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dean:

    Here’s what you’re missing. These are not tax dollars we are talking about. There

    Er…yes they are because these are all tax exempt non profits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  38. Ron Beasley says:

    John Cole:

    When did the 1st Amendment change from basically saying that you can practice whatever religion you want and you won’t be burned at the stake as a heretic and we’re not going to form or recognize a national religion like the Church of England? When did it change to “everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?” And why does it only apply to certain religions?

    Amen, pardon the pun.
    Read the rest

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. Contnuum says:

    @Dean: Birth control actually lowers insurance premium costs. Preventing even one unwanted, or unplanned pregnancy saves more money than the cost of 1000 birth prescriptions. There is no additional cost for including birth control in insurance plans. It actually lowers costs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. Lomax says:

    @Ron Beasley: Church of England: I have always thought that King Henry VIII was a great leader. Not a very nice guy, but smart and tough. England became stronger under his rule. He was also a great athlete in his younger days. He had a thing about divorces.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Carson says:

    What gets me is health insurance that pays for Viagra. Weird, ridiculous. I also get really put out when I hear about “social services” paying to have a woman’s tubes untied! Now that is outrageous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. @Brummagem Joe:

    The real question, for which no answer has been provided to date that I’ve seen, is why the Federal Government should have any power at all to tell employers and insurance companies what the contents of their contracts should be.

    Why does the Catholic Church have any power at all to tell the employees of religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, and nonprofits that they cannot be covered for basic preventive health care in their insurance policies?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  43. @Dean:

    Actually, no. Institutions that are affiliated with a particular religion, but whose primary purpose is not religious, are being told that they cannot compel their employees of other faiths or no faith to abide by the moral precepts of one specific religion — or any religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Kathy…You’re getting me mixed up with Doug Mataconis…..I was just highlighting his quote which is totally ridiculous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. @Brummagem Joe:

    Ooops, sorry Joe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. gVOR08 says:

    @Dean: That’s the beauty of this Dean, providing birth control really is effective preventive medicine. A pregnancy costs as much as a lot of birth control. A bad pregnancy with complications for mother and child is hugely expensive. I saw reference earlier today to a 2000 study that said providing free birth control reduces the insurers costs 15%. Now I’m sure someone will go off on how it’s not preventing disease, it’s preventing births. Have a nice philosophical argument there.

    The fact remains that to offer a Catholic hospital a package with no birth control would be more, not less, expensive than a policy with free BC. Obama’s not really asking the insurance companies for more money, he’s saving them money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  47. Stephen1947 says:

    @Ron Beasley: The Catholic Church hasn’t been doing this for the last 2000 years, only the last 1800. Before the Edict of Constantine was promulgated in 313 AD, Catholics could be excommunicated for being a soldier (even if they had no choice in the matter). Ten years later they would be excommunicated for refusing to become soldiers. The Church hierarchy has been merrily sliding down the slippery slope ever since.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. Pug says:

    @WR:

    You are correct, sir. Furthermore, Christian Scientists have been ordered by courts to get medical care for sick children, against their religious beliefs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. Should the owner of a small manufacturing company be treated the same, for the sake of this argument, as the Catholic Church?

    Actually, there’s a stronger case for this than for Obama’s current proposal, which picks out certain organizations and provides them special treatment in the law. Does any group claiming to be a church get to ignore whatever laws they like? If not, why should the Catholic Church get that right? Does its religious views mean more simply because it’s bigger? Is the federal government going to start declaring which churches are “real churches” and which aren’t? If so on what criteria?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “The Catholic Church: Standing Up for the Freedom to Screw Little Boys up the @ss since 1072.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Is the federal government going to start declaring which churches are “real churches” and which aren’t?

    The IRS already does this for the purposes of tax exempt status. By what criteria I do not know, tho they can not be all that stringent as some friends of mine started their own religion some years back. (they are all atheists)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. sam says:

    @Dean:

    Also, I don’t believe it would pass court muster, given the 9-0 decision in the Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case.

    I think you’re looking at the wrong case. Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (494 U.S. 872) is the one to consult, here. And Scalia wrote the opinion, which asserted that religious liberty is an insufficient ground for being exempt from laws:

    To 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

    Hosanna-Tabor Church does not undo Smith in a way that should give comfort to the bishops. Justice Roberts wrote:

    The EEOC and Perich also contend that our decision in Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U. S. 872 (1990) , precludes recognition of a ministerial exception. In Smith, two members of the Native American Church were denied state unemployment benefits after it was determined that they had been fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, a crime under Oregon law. We held that this did not violate the Free Exercise Clause, even though the peyote had been ingested for sacramental purposes, because the “right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).” Id., at 879 (internal quotation marks omitted).

    It is true that the Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in an attempt to undo the ruling in Smith (because of the facts in the case, some have called it the “Indian Peyote Law”). The Court ruled that law unconstitutional as applied to the states (hence 28 impose the birth control mandate on Catholic hospitals, etc.), but not as applied to the federal government. The law requires that federal law not be a substantial burden on religious practice; that it be consistent with a compelling state interest; and that it be narrowly constructed to satisfy that interest.

    It might be difficult for the bishops to successfully argue that the compromise offered by the administration does not satisfy the three-part test of the RFRA.

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  53. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Bait, taken:

    Not satisfied with President Obama’s new religious accommodation, Republicans will move forward with legislation by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that permits any employer to deny birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday.

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  54. An Interested Party says:

    I can only surmise that preventing or aborting babies is a core value (maybe the core value) of the Democrat party.

    You’re so cute when your being disingenuous…there is quite a difference between birth control and abortion…indeed, more birth control means fewer abortions…but, just like so many conservatives, do keep trying, and failing, to wrap the two together…the more you dig, the more of a winner this issue is for the “Democrat party”…

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  55. merl says:

    those child rapists should be thanking God that they’re not in jail instead of sticking their noses in where they’re not wanted

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  56. @An Interested Party:

    It’s even more amazing that you do not see the ideological connection rather than the merely medical one.

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  57. An Interested Party says:

    It’s even more amazing that you do not see the ideological connection rather than the merely medical one.

    Oh, I do see that and I also see why you would want to play that up…nothing like saying that the “Democrat party” is full of baby killers…

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