Religious Freedom and Healthcare

In recent weeks I've regularly heard Catholic bloggers and commentators complain that the new healthcare legislation infringes on their religious liberty, since it will require them to pay for coverage which will allow their employees to get contraception and other things that are against Catholic teaching.

Something didn't sit quite right with me. Today I realized what is wrong with this sort of claim – and as so often happens, the secret to spotting the problem was simply to insert some other religious group into the equation.

Should Christian Scientist employers have to pay for employees' healthcare at all? Should Jehovah's Witness employers have to provide insurance that covers blood transfusion?

The problem with the argument that some Catholics and even Evangelicals have made against the Affordable Care Act is that it is trying to make religious freedom regarding healthcare a matter for the employer to decide rather than the individual.

If a Catholic employee chooses not to use healthcare provisions which are available to them under law but which they disagree with on religious grounds, and is free to do so, that is religious freedom being protected.

To allow a Catholic (or Evangelical, or Christian Scientist, or Jehovah's Witness, or Atheist) employer to refuse to give you coverage that you are entitled to by law because of their beliefs about religion is giving employers the right to infringe on your religious freedom.

One of the blogs I linked to at the beginning of this post compares the HHS mandate to requiring a vegetarian to buy a hamburger. But that gets it precisely backwards. The closer analogy would be to say that the mandate actually prevents employers from debying you the right to buy a hamburger based on their own vegetarianism.

It seemed to me at one point that this matter was a difficult issue. But now it seems to me quite clear-cut. Have I missed something important? Or am I finally seeing the issue clearly?

See also a recent article on whether White House employees would have access to coffee and other beverages prohibited by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if Romney were to win the election.

 

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    It seemed to me at one point that this matter was a difficult issue. But now it seems to me quite clear-cut. Have I missed something important? Or am I finally seeing the issue clearly?

    You are now seeing the issue clearly.

  • Charles Carrigan

    Completely disagree that employers have no rights here. What you are saying is that when the Church steps outside the walls of the Church into the public square, then it ceases to have any constitutional protections in the free exercise of religion. It is precisely when the Church steps out into the world that it is trying to BE the Church fully. An employer is not infringing on someone’s rights to refuse to offer some benefit that clearly violates the moral views of the organization – you can get a job elsewhere if you as the individual decide that is what is best for you. Hospitals, Universities, adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers, and many other non-profit institutions are being told they must violate their principles in order to exist, and it is not just limited to Catholic organizations wrt birth control. Wheaton College has joined the lawsuit because of their opposition to drugs that cause abortions. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-18/news/ct-met-wheaton-college-sues-20120719_1_religious-liberty-ryken-health-care-law

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      The question is whether employers have the right to impose their convictions on employees, and to what extent. What do you think of the case I offered as an example in the post? Should an employer who is a Jehovah’s Witness have to cover blood transfusions for their employees, and if so, why, since according to your stance, that would seem to be interfering with their free exercise of religion? I, on the other hand, think that allowing the employer to take that stance infringes on the free exercise of the employees.

      • Greg M.

        Yes, I think if they are paying for it with their own money, the employer should have the right to not pay for something it deems morally objectionable. A JW business owner should have the right to spend its money in a way that it deems morally permissible.

        Likewise, an employee should and does have the right to choose another employer.

        There is no imposition here as employees are free to do what they like regarding their bodies. They just won’t get someone else to pay for it. Nothing is stopping them from buying their own contraception or coverage.

        In as much as there is freedom to chose on the part of the employee, the objections raised are non-issues. A JW should have the right to restrict what they contribute money towards, just as a Catholic should have the right to restrict what they support with their money. The extent of these decisions should be left up to the free market to decide. Employees who think otherwise for whatever reason have the right to chose another employer that is more in line with their moral beliefs.

        How far this should go has already been raised by xx and is a legitimate question to ask. Do you think Catholic institutions should be forced to support abortion? Euthanasia? By respecting the freedom of one group of people over the freedoms of the other, you get this problem. By respecting both, there isn’t an issue.

        We could turn the question around and ask if business owners should be forced to support options that allow for employees to send their gay children to homosexual reeducation camps. Or think of any other thing that is religiously and morally objectionable to you and ask whether, if you were a business owner, the government should force you to support it for the sake of your employees.

        Would you want that, or would you want the choice to do so?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I do not regard it as Constitutional if I as an employer could prevent my employees from following the dictates of their conscience as long as it is within the framework of what is legal, and outside of the workings of my place of employment.

          • Greg M.

            So you as an employer would pay for coverage that includes homosexual reeducation camps?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              If I were an employer at present, people might be able to get homeopathic or other “alternative medicine” through coverage. While I think that homeopathy is pseudoscience, and do what I can as an individual to 1) promote knowledge about this, and 2) have legal definitions of medicine exclude things that are not scientifically valid, until the law changed, if it ever did, I would accept that the decision is between my employee and their health care professionals and not for me to decide if I cannot bring about the necessary change by means of democratic processes.

              In the case of homosexual reeducation camps, if a person chooses of their own free will to go to one, should I as an employer be able to prevent them from doing so? Would the relevant legal issue not be the medical or psychological validity of the treatment, rather than my own view of whether one should undergo such treatment?

              • Greg M.

                Insurance A offers XYZ coverage, plus homosexual reeducation coverage, for $100.

                Insurance B offers XYZ coverage and no reeducation coverage, for $100.

                Someone passed a law that said you have to chose Insurance A.

                Do you object or accept?

                Or, if you had the choice, which coverage would you provide your employees?

                This whole thing isn’t about what an employee does on their own time and with their own money. Its never been about that. Its about whether its right to force one group of people to violate their conscience for the sake of another group of people. I maintain that it isn’t right to do that. I maintain that both should have the right to decide what to do with their own money.

                (We may be at a stand-still here because we both seem to want to call each other’s bluffs. I’ll allow for a JW to chose the coverage they offer their employees, and you’ll allow yourself to pay for coverage that may be medically and psychologically harmful or useless.

                Your freedom meter tilts more towards the individual, while I try to have mine tilt more towards the middle. Given this, I don’t think agreement on what should be law can be reached until both of our meters are fairly close.)

        • http://twitter.com/AuntieDote Auntie Dote

          It is a much simpler problem than you make out. If an employee works
          and the consideration for that work is a wage and benefits package, then
          all of the wage & benefits package belongs to the employee. It is
          fair exchange for work carried out, not an “extra” bit of charity
          falling somehow outside of the employment contract. Therefore, the
          religious freedom to be protected, when it comes to provision of
          insurance cover, is not the employer’s but the employee’s.

          The
          employer is not hereby DENIED religious freedom, it is merely that their
          own religious freedom extends only to the use of their own resources –
          they have no special or privileged lien on the resources or the
          consciences of their employees. (Much though the campaign to erode workers’s rights would have it be so).

          The
          state has a legitimate interest in investing in & protecting access
          to healthcare, as a healthy citizenry is a fruitful & productive
          one. It also has a legitimate interest in promoting a fair playing
          field for everyone. The provision of the equal ACCESS to healthcare for everyone is therefore a legitimate area for the state to rule upon.

          However,
          nothing in the state’s ruling demands that ANYONE avail of
          contraceptive cover, blood transfusions, or any other type of healthcare
          against their OWN conscience. Likewise, nothing in the state’s ruling
          permits employers to exercise a privileged position vis-a-vis the
          consciences & use of resources of their employees, beyond setting
          the terms of the employment contract which their employees may accept or
          reject.

        • Alex

          The employer should not be the provider period. There should be a government provided system like in Canada.
          Americans are making this too complicated.

      • Charles Carrigan

        There is a difference between an organization that is clearly missional and one that is not. If you go to work for an organization that has a clear missional position, then you have an obligation to upload the mission of said organization. I don’t know enough about the details of Jehovah’s Witness groups to comment on the particulars of that case, but in general I would say that they have the right to define themselves as they see fit, not as I see fit.

      • dckaynor

        As a Jehovah Witness employer as with other Jehovah Witness’s employer,
        It is not our position to judge our employees on their health care choices, especially for non-Jehovah Witness’s.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Thank you so much for sharing your perspective!

    • Gary

      The constitution’s Bill of Rights are an individual’ s rights, NOT an organization’s rights. Once I was blind, and now I can see.

      • Charles Carrigan

        Organizations are made of individuals. Why should those individuals lose their rights when they come together as a group?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Right, that is exactly the question – why should someone’s right to follow their own conscience be lost when they come together as a group? Should an employer, rather than an individual in consultation with medical professionals and their own conscience and anyone else they choose to consult, be able to determine what health care a person may have covered?

          • Greg M.

            I don’t think anyone is saying that though. A person doesn’t lose the right to contraception or any type of health care coverage they deem morally permissible.

            They just have to purchase it on their own time and with their own money, instead of having another do that. Or they can choose another employer.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              A religious organization is obviously already permitted to demand adherence to doctrinal and moral principles as a condition of employment. If an organization has that status then they can already fire someone for making choices that go against that religion. One can even call one’s institution a “university” even if one states up front that you are not allowed to draw certain conclusions even if e evidence of your research points in that direction. So what exactly is at issue for you, as someone who finds this legislation problematic? Is the concern that even if an organization is merely a secular business, the proprietor should be allowed to decide their employees’ healthcare choices in advance? If not, then what exactly is the issue as you see it?

              • Greg M.

                Speaking generally, the issue I take with this legislation, as I understand it, is it’s requirement for institutions to pay for or contribute money to healthcare services that they find morally objectionable.

                I think they should have a right to object, just as the employees should have the right to choose whatever services they deem appropriate for themselves.

                I still maintain that its incorrect to state that an organization is deciding their employee’s healthcare choices. Employees can still chose to get whatever healthcare they deem necessary in as much as they are willing to pay for it on their own.

                No one is restricting anyone here in as much as the final choices of both are allowed. In fact, I think your position is the most restrictive because it restricts the initial freedom of institutions to decide what they do with their money and what benefits they offer to their employees.

                My position seeks to preserve as much freedom of both groups as is reasonably possible, and I take that as the greater good.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  If just going and finding another job where the employer has a different viewpoint, or buying your own medical insurance on your own, were as simple and as affordable options as your approach to this suggests, then I might not have any qualms about your solution.

                  I think a better one would be to nationalize healthcare and take employers out of the equation altogether when it comes to this.

                  • Kaz

                    If the U.S. nationalizes healthcare then where will all the Canadians go for the treatments that they can’t get quickly enough at home?

                    Have you ever worked in government and had to deal with the insufferably slow, red-tape ridden bureaucracy? Nationalizing healthcare would explode the costs, and would not be sustainable in the long term. Do you think that that’s a good idea when the national debt is quickly approaching 17 trillion?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      The UK has nationalized healthcare. I lived there for many years. It does not prevent the wealthy from having other options. It means that there is care available for the rest of us. I would rather see our budget get everyone healthcare than have it used on some of the things it currently is, personally.

                    • Alex

                      To all my American friends south of our border.
                      Your Republican party is misleading you on the Canadian healthcare system. First it is a government program, not via an employer like Americans are trying to do.
                      I have had nothing but wonderful experiences with my healthcare system. In Ontario we just show our OHIP card and get treated.
                      If Canadians complain then it is because they want OUR system better. Never in my whole life have I ever heard a Canadian say they want a ‘for profit’ American style healthcare. In fact we hear many horror stories about 55 million people not getting any or little treatment from the USA.
                      Our system is much more efficient according to the World Health Organization and we live better and longer. Check the WHO website that compares our countries (and others).
                      Canadian doctors are leaving the USA because they have oftem almost 50 insurance companies with different policies, rules etc and to manage it they need extra office staff. Canada has one primary healthcare provider per province. The American healthcare system is fat with layer upon layer of administration. Canadians fear going to the States without coverage because a small injury can make you lose your life savings.
                      Your country is the only major industrial country that has not ‘got with the times’. And for those who try to connect healthcare with nonsense such as communism, just remember that if you have public schools, public roads, public libraries etc. etc. it is the very same thing.
                      Ps. A friend of mine is a nurse and did you know that many Americans come to Canada for surgery and care paying ‘out of pocket’ because it is much cheaper than yours.
                      Also no Canadian is denied healthcare. We don’t deal with private insurance companies that gladly take your money for years then get people to go through your policy with a fine tooth comb to try and deny you coverage when you get sick.

                    • Kaz

                      @Alex: I didn’t actually get my info from any political party, but from news stories I’ve heard and read over the years. I’ve been doing some reading and I think that, while Canada’s system isn’t perfect, it certainly has it virtues. It’s more attractive in many ways than both our current system, which is a mess, and Obamacare, which is also a mess, probably because it was rammed through rather than thought through. The big question is whether a Canada styled system would be sustainable in a country that has committed itself to having the most powerful military in the world. I doubt it, and while I’d love to see quality healthcare made available to all (including me), I also understand that a U.S. bankruptcy would result in worldwide concerns much more grave then whether I get my new hip in 10 months or 2 years.

                    • Alex

                      Thanks Kaz

                      We read in our papers what the American Republican party is saying.
                      However conducted surveys between the two nations show that Canadians overall are more happy with their healthcare system then are Americans. The last one I read was conducted by an American company and was published in a Washington State newspaper.

                      As far as cost you can check out the WHO website and see Canadian costs are 11.3 % of total GDP and American is 17.9%.

                      While life expectancy in Canada is 79/83 m/f and in the US it is 76/81 m/f.

                      http://www.who.int/countries/en/
                      http://www.who.int/countries/en/

                    • Kaz

                      @Alex: I realize that Canada’s healthcare costs are lower than those of the U.S., but here much of this cost is paid for by the private sector. I haven’t checked the statistics yet to see what portion of our annual cost is currently covered by the government verses what is covered by private insurers, but many fear that transferring most to all of it to government would push the system over the edge of what can be sustained long term in light of the other entitlements, and, as I noted previously, the mind-numbing amount spent on the military.

                      With that said, again, I like your system a great deal more than our current system or Obamacare, which, in my opinion, is a Jerry-rigged hybrid monstrosity. A real problem here is that the two-party system makes it unbelievably difficult for government to effect significant change. The two parties spend more time in their ivory towers spitting at each other than they do governing, and, unfortunately, as you can see by following posts on forums such as this one, the citizens often join in the spitting rather than demanding that the nation’s leaders govern responsibly.

                    • Imantitaxesru

                      The canadians are happier in general and probably have trust in their doctors.  Send them to Dearborn, and they will get a culture shock, you can’t trust everyone blindly, (weather rational or not ) you have to have reasons, they need to compare a few more things.  Americans are just more critical.  But some american hospitals are better than others. Bottom line is canadians are just happier, more trusting, and the population in the great white north is smaller.  They are socialized already too to accept it.  I am for a mega hospital, Walmart style, with bus only access and computers on the high speed buses that you use.  To the door service with instructions on your ipad.  Modular units that are pulled up by semi, with non working equipment replaced by totally new units.
                      And 24 hr access with drs who are buying their spaces of practice.  Drs you will see on yearly instead of what we have now where drs are gone 1 or 2 yrs later.  They would be contracted for a period of time.  All hospitals would be american style, state of the art, and all the same, so no matter what city your in you would not get lost.  You can expect certain things.  I like the bus idea because you can park anywhere along the hi speed bus line, and would not get disoriented when old.  As far as food, you would have a food court like in the malls, that would make money instead of loosing as in all hospitals (are loosing).  Location? one 15 min. from indy to columbus, indy to ft wayne, indy to Muncie, and between indy and richmond.  Mega complexes.  Tired of excuses, and poor working condions, and wasteful buildings.  The money saved from building plans and above ground parking lots would be incredible. Contractors would know exactly what to do.  Infanticide would not be allowed.  And if you check what religion you are, you would be treated appropriately. Circumcision is not child abuse, most of the discussions they have are ridiculous. You keep your ipad the whole visit.  I know the drs hate people who come in and say….well the internet says….well, have the universal hospital site say it…then you have a reference point and changes can be tracked.  For the people too sick to use computers or for other reasons…i understand there is alway exceptions. This could be your universal  gov. health care.

                    • Alex

                      Canadian healthcare is much cheaper and efficient than private American with so many different insurers and different policies. Canadian treatments have increased with many more MRI’s. Also what many Americans don’t realize now is that if there was a problem with treating a Canadian it is the government that would pay for neccessary treatment if sent to the States.
                      Many Americans are coming to Canada to pay for surgeries ‘out of pocket’ because it is cheaper than American hospitals.
                      Any Canadian with a life threatening health concern goes to the front of the healthcare line.

                    • Kaz

                      Perhaps in your country they’ve managed to avoid the swaths of red tape that exist here. In this country, the surest way to guarantee that something is NOT handled in either an efficient or a cost-effective manner is to turn it over to government.

                      If you want to get a small idea what it’s like here, I’d recommend “The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America” by Philip K. Howard. It’s an eye-opener.

                  • Greg M.

                    Yeah, I know it can be hard to change jobs or pay out of pocket for uncovered care. When trying to preserve the freedom of both as much as possible, this is one of the things you run into.

                    The alternative is that an institution run by an objector may be put out of business for lack of people wanting to be employed by them.

                    I see these as unfortunate, but fair, outcomes.

                    I agree with you about the nationalized healthcare solution too.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      It sounds like we shouldn’t argue, since there is a solution we can both agree on! :-)

                    • Greg M.

                      Works for me!

                  • the heretic

                    exactly right ! – no employer should provide health care as part of an employment package (except perhaps the military but for a different reason). The affordable health care act should provide like Medicare (80%) and the insured should find and insurer, of which there are many, to cover the other 20%.
                    The extreme reading of the employer making decisions over what is part of a wage package would be that as he pays your wages he also has control over what you spend your wages on. e.g. must follow his religious convictions on spending including health, diet, clothing style etc.

                • Kaz

                  My problem with the legislation is that it doesn’t go far enough. Why stop at requiring insurance to cover contraceptives? One of the most effective forms of preventive medicine is encouraging behavior that gives us a sense of satisfaction and well being. So I think that insurance companies should be required to pay for sex toys, and a fully stocked wardrobe by Victoria’s Secret for all women who feel that this could spice up their sex lives.

                  I think that insurance companies should be required to pay every policyholder’s monthly expenses for a basic membership to a health club. Further, I think that insurance companies should be required to purchase a premium membership for every policyholder who can show that he/she exercises at least three times a week.

                  I think that insurance companies should be required to pay for home alarm systems, which will help prevent health problems caused by violent intruders. They should also pay to equip all policyholders with protective firearms for the instances where the alarm system doesn’t dissuade determined predators.

                  I think that insurance companies should be required to pay to have the automobiles of all policyholders equipped with OnStar, as a quick response to an accident is often the most effective means of saving crash victims from long-term, expensive conditions.

                  I think that insurance companies should be required to provide bulletproof vests to all policyholders who are unfortunate enough to live in gang infested areas.

                  I think that insurance companies should be required to pay part of the monthly grocery expenses of all policyholders who can show that by buying health food they spent $XX.xx more than they otherwise would have.

                  Ok, I don’t really think these things. I do think that as long as large numbers of people do expect others to pay their way, we’ll have politicians who pander to them, especially when it might broaden their voter base.

                  • Gary

                    Why stop at denying coverage for contraception? Stop vasectomies and ED treatment. Rush Limbaugh would lose his Viagra cache. Men want to determine what benefits women get. How gracious.

                    • Kaz

                      Who said anything about determining what benefits women can get? I wasn’t advocating that anyone “deny” coverage for contraception, or anything else for that matter. If an insurance provider wants to provide such coverage, either because they feel that they can remain competitive while doing so, or because they feel that by doing so they gain a competitive edge, then they should have the right to make that decision. My concern is with the entitlement mentality that leads people to believe that it’s appropriate to _require_ insurance companies to cover contraceptives, even though this means that my own insurance rates will inevitably increase to pay for the new entitlement.

                      I don’t want to get too graphic here, but there are serious health risks with male homosexual behavior. Should insurance providers be _required_ to offer free sex-change operations to those who feel that nature gave them the wrong equipment? Should I be required to subsidize such operations via higher premiums? Should insurance companies be required to cover everything that the emerging American “gimme” mentality would like, even though your “gimme” is my “have to subsidize”?

                    • Gary

                      Tell it to the bishops, and Romney.

                    • Kaz

                      Huh?

                    • Gary

                      Who said anything about determining what benefits women can get?
                      The bishops and Romney.

                    • Kaz

                      Huh?

            • http://twitter.com/AuntieDote Auntie Dote

              They ARE purchasing it on their own time and with their own money, EVEN when using the employer-provided cover. They exchange their work for due remuneration, which includes wage and benefits. Once received, the benefit is theirs, not their employer’s.

              The employer’s recourse, where they wish their employee to conform to faith norms, is to continue to use persuasion and encourage them to make the desired choice, rather than use the coercion of restricting their available choices.

        • Gary

          Because they are individual rights.

      • Straw Man

        The bill of rights is not in fact an enumeration of anyone’s rights–individuals OR organizations. The bill of rights is a (redundant) list of POWERS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT HAVE. This protects rights only indirectly, by forbidding the federal government to do certain things, which it was never granted power to do in the first place in the Constitution itself, which if the government did, would infringe various rights.

        For example, the first amendment says that Congress has no power to make laws that infringe on the free exercise of speech or religion. The government can’t stop someone from saying what he wants, or from worshipping as he pleases. We INFER from this that there is a right to say what you want, and a right to worship as you please, but the language plainly concerns itself with prohibiting the federal government from making such laws.

        This makes it very hard to parse out a distinction between “persons” and “organizations.” If a company pays a person to say something, can that person not freely say it? Well, Congress has no power to pass a law infringing that person’s speech, so apparently the answer is yes.

        You would apparently attempt to parse the law to say, “Congress cannot make a law that forbids any individual from saying what he or she pleases, but it can make all the laws it wants to forbid groups of individuals from saying things the government doesn’t like.” This is logically incoherent: for one thing, as a married man I can have my speech restricted without limit; after all, it can be argued that I speak not for myself but for my entire family, and “families” don’t have free speech rights…

        Similarly, any opinion of yours with which your employer happens to agree can be infringed freely. Any opinion shared by others in your church can be banned. Any opinion consistent with the consensus of your rotary club can be censored. There is nothing you could meaningfully say that can’t be censored, since it can always be alleged that you are speaking on behalf of some group that happens to agree with you.

        It’s actually quite important to realize that the “bill of rights” does not in fact list rights at all (except by implication), but instead lists powers that are denied to the government.

  • DannyHaszard

    Blood Transfusion confusion.
    Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine allows a liver transplant but not the blood that is in it.
    Reasonable points are raised about bloodless alternatives during ELECTIVE scheduled surgery. However, bloodless alternatives are no substitute for blood transfusions when there has already been massive loss of blood volume, as occurs in accidents and trauma leading to sudden blood loss.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that life is sacred to God therefore blood is sacred because it represents and symbolizes life. Jehovah’s Witnesses put a higher value on blood than they do life.
    Which is more sacred? The symbol or that which it symbolizes?
    No blood dogma does get people killed!
    Since 1945 year, 50-100 times as many men,women,children have been killed by the Watchtower society ban on *whole* blood transfusions than at Jonestown kool-aid mass murders.
    Please think about that!
    –Danny Haszard

  • xx

    “as so often happens, the secret to spotting the problem was simply to insert some other religious group into the equation.”

    You could also insert some other piece of secular legislation. For example, euthanasia on demand. I don’t think that the Church is automatically obliged to accede to whatever pieces of secular ideology comes its way via legislation. How bad would things have to get before you agreed that we have a right to dissent as the RC Church is doing at the moment? Is there no piece of secular legislation, however evil, that would give them this right?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      The question is not whether the church has the right to take a stance, or teach its adherents and members to not do certain things that are legal. The question is whether an employer has the right to impose their religious convictions about healthcare on their employees. So let me ask again: Should an employer who is a Jehovah’s Witness be able to provide insurance to employees that would not cover blood transfusions? Why or why not?

      • Susan Burns

        Parents have been indicted for not providing life-saving health care for their children even if they are uninsured.

      • Kaz

        I can’t see how deciding that you cannot, in good conscience, pay for someone else’s contraceptives, is tantamount to imposing your religious convictions on anyone. In order to impose your religious convictions you’d have to somehow manage to negate someone’s right to obtain contraceptives at all, and I haven’t seen anyone attempt that, have you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Pieret/100000023960330 John Pieret

    you can gget in Medicareet a job elsewhere if you as the individual decide that is what is best for you. Hospitals, Universities, adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centers, and many other non-profit institutions are being told they must violate their principles in order to exist

    Then those institutions can also give back the billions they get in Medicare/Medicaid, Federal tuition funds, etc., etc. They too can make those choices … including not to be places of public accommodation, such as publically funded hospitals and universities. When they choose to take our money, they have to play by our rules which prevents them from discriminating against their employees based on their religious beliefs or non-beliefs. Religious freedom runs in both directions. If the Conference of Catholic Bishops wants medical insurance for its members that doesn’t have contraception coverage, they’ll be able to get it (though it probably won’t cost less … the insurance companies know such coverage will save them money). But if they want to employ people in secular pursuits, such as running hospitals, universities and adoption agencies using taxpayer funds and/or tax breaks, then they have made the decision to respect their employees’ freedom.

    • Charles Carrigan

      In our society we have come to believe that the only thing that is “Church” is within the walls of Church buildings, and that is completely wrong headed. We have come to believe that everything outside the walls of Church buildings is secular and subject to the rules of secular liberalism/humanism/atheism. You state that if they want to “employ people in secular pursuits such as hospitals, universities…. then they have made the decision…” – Who decides that a hospital & a university are secular pursuits? The Church is called to heal the sick; running a hospital can therefore be a religious pursuit, not a secular one, if those behind it view their mission in that regard. You are infringing upon the “free exercise of religion” when you insists that the Church must stay behind the closed doors of the Church building and never come out of it.

      “They choose to take our money, they have to play by our rules” is simply saying that those with power get to decide what the rules are – that’s authority by force, not by the rule of just law.

      • Gary

        “Who decides that a hospital & a university are secular pursuits?” It is universally accepted that if you accept federal money, you play by federal rules.

      • Claude

        The rules are determined by our government representatives.

        And where was the USCCB when 28 states passed mandates requiring employers to provide contraception coverage? Or were they saving the battle cry of religious liberty for the 2012 election. I hear Cardinal Dolan has a shot at being the first Pope from the US.

  • Gary

    Concerning the post “whether White House employees would have access to coffee and other beverages prohibited by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if Romney were to win the election.” No can do. They are still federal government employees, even if just appointed. I’d worry more about the majority of appointees being Mormon. I’ve worked at a place like that, the term was “Mormon mafia”, when the executive director was Mormon, most of his top level advisors were Mormon. Imagine that.

  • Straw Man

    Your argument is interesting, but I’m afraid it falls short. You argue that “allowing a Catholic employer to refuse to pay for your contraception, infringes your religious freedom,” presumably by enforcing Catholic mores on a non-Catholic employee.

    But your phrase “allowing them to refuse to pay” turns on its head the fact that you’re talking about forcing people to buy you things. Your religion allows you to use contraceptives; does that mean I am obligated to buy you contraceptives, or else I’m a religious oppressor? And if your religion mandates the use of dildoes? Or the sacrifice of goats? I have to buy you sex toys and goats, or else I’m oppressing you? This argument is incoherent on its face. It only appears to work because you’re assuming without question that forcing others to buy you things is itself moral.

    Religious freedom consists in forbidding anyone, especially the government, to interfere forcibly in your free exercise of your religion. It does not consist in forcing me to buy you votive candles, or rosaries, or sacrificial chickens (even if I’m a vegan, say). Indeed forcing me to pay for your religion IS an infringement of my religious freedom–not to mention theft pure and simple.

    Obviously health care is a good thing. Helping others get it, who can’t afford it on their own, is also a good thing. The question is whether forcing others at gunpoint to do a good thing, is itself a good thing. As a vegan, I think you carnivores should be forced to slaughter your own animals–I don’t think you should enjoy a sanitized existence in which others perform this barbaric slaughter, and you get to pretend that steaks and chops grow on trees that way. Similarly, if you think it’s a good thing to make people exercise charity, upon pain of confiscation and imprisonment, I think you should be forced to hold the gun in your hand and perform the imprisonment personally (and shoot them if they resist). I think it would help strip away the falsehood that lets you live in a world sanitized of the stark reality of what you advocate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.trotter.18 Rebecca Trotter

    I’ve come to think that this issue is very analogous to the Jews asking if they should pay taxes. The money paid in taxes was paying for their own oppression, after all. It’s not like they didn’t have a legitimate moral case against helping to fund the Roman Empire. But Jesus said to let it go. IMO, contraception is also one of those “give unto Caesar” things. When we have completely fulfilled our requirement to give unto God what is God’s in our own lives, then maybe we can worry about what Caesar is up to.

  • James

    That group also opposed transplants considering like cannibalism, including cornea transplants, so a Jehovah’s Witness with vision problems may go blind if he followed these guidelines

    You can call this the truth
    Awake! – In its edition of December 8, 1968, on p. 21 and 22:
    “Although thousands of corneal transplants are performed each year … There are those, such as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, considering all transplants between humans as cannibalism ….

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3680766860945&set=o.116119031816909&type=1&ref=nf

  • Imantitaxesru

    Heard this week that a third of meds are not needed, and medical field can’t be much more screwed up than it is unless they tried.

  • Imantitaxesru

    I observe the secular approach to care, and find it is defended by those who are far left of me. But that’s not hard to do as I am right of the constitution and republicans, I am what you call a right wing extremist.  I think if your paying for something it should not violate your values, faith, dignity, of course, I am right of most of those who are asked to strip down and you say “how far?”  I say why, I resent you for not offering me services until I do.  I resent you not doing procedures I ask or tests I ask for.  (and am willing to pay for).  I resent Dr’s taking people into surgery that do not need it and then not doing the latest techniques. The moral of the hospital is now controlled more by the gov. than the church.  we are experiencing  a shift from a faith based care to a populous dictated, misguided control of a field that the lawyers get rich on.  My faith, no matter how dogmatic, right of center or wrong in others eyes is this: Have christian leaders in high places I support.  Have a personal prayer life, then go to the elders to be prayed for, then go to the clinic and be diagnosed. (again by my christian community) then go to the hospital and spin the wheel of fortune (because everyone is just doing their job)  I want the freedom to know I am not being shaved by some gay guy or woman.  My scripture for that is Is. 3 and Sissera in Judges.  Why do you violate basic orders of God’s universe so?  Again I am asking as someone far right from those who like anything about obama’s care.  Shame is to those who don’t do something before it’s too late.  Shame to those who can’t see the Babylonian patterns through out history.  Shame on those who are blind to the spirit of this world.  God has set an order by His words, thru His prophets and apostles, and there will be no surprise for them at the judgement (I include myself)  I guess everyone already is aware now.  But anyway, solutions are simple, you just make a right turn when the choice comes.  And I know it is circular reasoning..ha ha.  But I think the leadership is very poor and that is why we are no longer viewed as christian communities. Politics turn a deaf ear to bible based christian leaders and pick the ones that are compromisers and synergistic. 

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