The penalty if religious institutions won’t comply

So what will happen if religious and other pro-life institutions refuse to go along with the Obamacare contraceptive and abortifacient mandate?

Under President Obama’s healthcare law, the HHS can levy $100 per employee, per day against institutions that won’t comply with the mandate.

Therefore, religious employers with hundreds of employees could be fined millions of dollars each year. A 50-employee institution, for example, would face a penalty of $1,825,000 each year.

“ObamaCare gives the federal government the tools to tax religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, universities and soup kitchens right out of existence,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), sponsor of the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act.

Using the language that the Supreme Court recently decided covered the penalties in ObamaCare, Sensenbrenner cites a February report by the Congressional Research Service that adds up the noncompliance tax to $36,500 annually per employee. Any group health plan and health insurance issuer subject to insurance market reforms in Title I of the Affordable Care Act that objects to coverage requirements based on religious and moral convictions does not qualify for an exemption.

via PJ Media » ‘ObamaCare Catch-22′: Crushing Fines for Religious Entities in Mandate.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Other Gary

    I’ve said it before on this blog, I do not have a religious or moral conscience problem with complying with HHS “mandate,” or “tax,” or whatever it is. I wish, instead of wringing our hands and wailing about what pro-life institutions are going to do once our religious liberties are stripped and the federal government starts to tax them out of existence, we could have have a more profitable discussion.

    Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means convinced this new policy is the smartest way to fix the healthcare mess in this country. I can easily think of several reasons to oppose it, most of which are economic. But I don’t believe the “mandate” demands pro-life people or institutions do _anything_ that violates conscience. Therefore, I do not believe to be in compliance creates a real situation where people have to choose whether to obey God or men.

    Despite Rev. Harrison’s testimony in Washington, I remain unconvinced that any person’s religious conscience is being unjustly constrained. In order to be convinced otherwise, someone would need to show that paying an insurance premium is tantamount to getting an abortion or (in the case of Roman Catholics) using contraception.

    But I’ve braced myself, so go ahead….blast away!

  • Other Gary

    I’ve said it before on this blog, I do not have a religious or moral conscience problem with complying with HHS “mandate,” or “tax,” or whatever it is. I wish, instead of wringing our hands and wailing about what pro-life institutions are going to do once our religious liberties are stripped and the federal government starts to tax them out of existence, we could have have a more profitable discussion.

    Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means convinced this new policy is the smartest way to fix the healthcare mess in this country. I can easily think of several reasons to oppose it, most of which are economic. But I don’t believe the “mandate” demands pro-life people or institutions do _anything_ that violates conscience. Therefore, I do not believe to be in compliance creates a real situation where people have to choose whether to obey God or men.

    Despite Rev. Harrison’s testimony in Washington, I remain unconvinced that any person’s religious conscience is being unjustly constrained. In order to be convinced otherwise, someone would need to show that paying an insurance premium is tantamount to getting an abortion or (in the case of Roman Catholics) using contraception.

    But I’ve braced myself, so go ahead….blast away!

  • reg

    Other Gary,
    On the money.
    Also if we spent the energy spent claiming victimhood and fighting things like these on actually helping pregnant women through pregnancy with options for adoption or assistance we would save far more babies. Money donated to pregnancy crisis centers which support women through pregnancy will save more lives than money contributed to political candidates who promise that which they cannot deliver. But wringing our hands and yelling and screaming lets us feel like we are doing something, and if we feel better about ourselves that is all that matters.

  • reg

    Other Gary,
    On the money.
    Also if we spent the energy spent claiming victimhood and fighting things like these on actually helping pregnant women through pregnancy with options for adoption or assistance we would save far more babies. Money donated to pregnancy crisis centers which support women through pregnancy will save more lives than money contributed to political candidates who promise that which they cannot deliver. But wringing our hands and yelling and screaming lets us feel like we are doing something, and if we feel better about ourselves that is all that matters.

  • BW

    No one should be made to pay for anyone else’s contraceptives.

  • BW

    No one should be made to pay for anyone else’s contraceptives.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    The point is that the State is stepping in on an area which it does not have authority. It is a violation of the First Amendment, plain and simple “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Put it this way, if the FedGov went to your church and said to your pastor “You cannot preach on X or Y,” how would you feel about it?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    The point is that the State is stepping in on an area which it does not have authority. It is a violation of the First Amendment, plain and simple “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Put it this way, if the FedGov went to your church and said to your pastor “You cannot preach on X or Y,” how would you feel about it?

  • larry

    The false dilemma of your argument is simple and obvious, you are not another person’s conscience. If paying premiums that supports an issue that violates their conscience is in and of itself a violation of their conscience, then it is precisely a violation of THEIR conscience to which you yourself cannot be an arbiter of lest you pretend you are God and/or you are violently forcing your conscience, by way of this argument, on others. Your statement, “I do not have a religious or moral conscience problem with… is an act of conscience, yours in this case and by this argument you extend to force your conscience on others (else why make a noise, argument, at all). It matters little whether you agree or disagree, or I the same it’s a matter of an act of the conscience of the individual and thus the collective of individuals that forms a group. Put more neutrally, if you think eating beans is evil against your conscience but I do not, for me to force that upon you is an act by definition of violating your conscience by way of me forcing my conscience on you concerning the matter, the evil of eating beans (true or false) is another issue.

    One of Pastor Harrison’s best points was this very thing that government is once again acting in the realm of the conscience, regardless of the issue, and thus putting itself in the role to whom God alone must rule and that power which acts in the realm of God is acting beast like.

  • larry

    The false dilemma of your argument is simple and obvious, you are not another person’s conscience. If paying premiums that supports an issue that violates their conscience is in and of itself a violation of their conscience, then it is precisely a violation of THEIR conscience to which you yourself cannot be an arbiter of lest you pretend you are God and/or you are violently forcing your conscience, by way of this argument, on others. Your statement, “I do not have a religious or moral conscience problem with… is an act of conscience, yours in this case and by this argument you extend to force your conscience on others (else why make a noise, argument, at all). It matters little whether you agree or disagree, or I the same it’s a matter of an act of the conscience of the individual and thus the collective of individuals that forms a group. Put more neutrally, if you think eating beans is evil against your conscience but I do not, for me to force that upon you is an act by definition of violating your conscience by way of me forcing my conscience on you concerning the matter, the evil of eating beans (true or false) is another issue.

    One of Pastor Harrison’s best points was this very thing that government is once again acting in the realm of the conscience, regardless of the issue, and thus putting itself in the role to whom God alone must rule and that power which acts in the realm of God is acting beast like.

  • Mary

    reg #2
    You are making the assumption that people that are concerned “wringing our hands and yelling and screaming” are not helping to fight on the fronts you listed. Can we not be both politically active and “in the trenches” active at the same time?

  • Mary

    reg #2
    You are making the assumption that people that are concerned “wringing our hands and yelling and screaming” are not helping to fight on the fronts you listed. Can we not be both politically active and “in the trenches” active at the same time?

  • Other Gary

    BW, why do you say that? Because you don’t think anyone should pay for anyone else’s _anything_? Or because it’s specifically birth control?

    Let’s say you make payments on your own health insurance premiums. You many never need a liver transplant. Yet in a way, through your premiums, you’re grouping together with a bunch of other people to pay for someone else’s liver transplant. Is that wrong? Suppose you are (for whatever reasons) morally opposed to any and all organ transplants…are you saying the fact that you pay your premiums to pay for your own coverage makes you morally culpable when someone else gets a liver transplant.

    Does it anger you in general when we pay for things we disapprove of, or is it _only_ contraceptives that get you concerned?

  • Other Gary

    BW, why do you say that? Because you don’t think anyone should pay for anyone else’s _anything_? Or because it’s specifically birth control?

    Let’s say you make payments on your own health insurance premiums. You many never need a liver transplant. Yet in a way, through your premiums, you’re grouping together with a bunch of other people to pay for someone else’s liver transplant. Is that wrong? Suppose you are (for whatever reasons) morally opposed to any and all organ transplants…are you saying the fact that you pay your premiums to pay for your own coverage makes you morally culpable when someone else gets a liver transplant.

    Does it anger you in general when we pay for things we disapprove of, or is it _only_ contraceptives that get you concerned?

  • BW

    If a person has an issue with organ transplants, they ought to not have to pay for them. Maybe they have to get their own group of people together to form their own co-op, or find a different insurance company, but no, they shouldn’t be forced then. It’s not going to be easy, I don’t think, but they have that right.

    My problem is with the government mandating it.

  • BW

    If a person has an issue with organ transplants, they ought to not have to pay for them. Maybe they have to get their own group of people together to form their own co-op, or find a different insurance company, but no, they shouldn’t be forced then. It’s not going to be easy, I don’t think, but they have that right.

    My problem is with the government mandating it.

  • Other Gary

    Larry, my point in bringing up _my_ conscience was simply this: to this date I have not heard any argument that demonstrates paying the premiums for insurance that includes coverage for birth control or “morning after” pills is wrong. Bringing up _my_ conscience was something of an invitation for anyone out there to show the connection and make the case for moral culpability.

  • Other Gary

    Larry, my point in bringing up _my_ conscience was simply this: to this date I have not heard any argument that demonstrates paying the premiums for insurance that includes coverage for birth control or “morning after” pills is wrong. Bringing up _my_ conscience was something of an invitation for anyone out there to show the connection and make the case for moral culpability.

  • Random Lutheran

    Don’t think that a change in administration next election will change anything, either. This is a useful stick in the hands of government, for the purpose of keeping those pesky religious folks in line — and once they have it in hand, neither party puts down such a stick unless forced to, and that’s not going to happen easily, if at all.

  • Random Lutheran

    Don’t think that a change in administration next election will change anything, either. This is a useful stick in the hands of government, for the purpose of keeping those pesky religious folks in line — and once they have it in hand, neither party puts down such a stick unless forced to, and that’s not going to happen easily, if at all.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Religious people and their silly scruples; am I right? I mean we just want them to pay for the hit man, it’s not like they’d actually be committing the murders themselves. They wouldn’t even be paying for the hit man directly! They’d just be adding money to a pot that pays for not only a variety of hit men, but also puppies and rainbows. Surely that’s enough layers of abstraction to assuage their tender consciences. I mean, it’s plenty to keep mine quiet, and I’m the most sensitive and caring guy around!

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Religious people and their silly scruples; am I right? I mean we just want them to pay for the hit man, it’s not like they’d actually be committing the murders themselves. They wouldn’t even be paying for the hit man directly! They’d just be adding money to a pot that pays for not only a variety of hit men, but also puppies and rainbows. Surely that’s enough layers of abstraction to assuage their tender consciences. I mean, it’s plenty to keep mine quiet, and I’m the most sensitive and caring guy around!

  • Other Gary

    Well, Matt, that’s no way to advance an argument. Even by analogy, there are no “hit men” in this scenario.

  • Other Gary

    Well, Matt, that’s no way to advance an argument. Even by analogy, there are no “hit men” in this scenario.

  • Other Gary

    Matt @ 11:

    “Religious people and their silly scruples; am I right? ”

    No, you’re not right. I am a religious person and a Christian. I’ve never been an advocate for abortion. I’m probably predisposed to give any argument for upholding the rights of religious rights of people a more than sympathetic hearing. Therefore, if it doesn’t sound convincing to me, it may mean the argument itself needs some shoring up!

  • Other Gary

    Matt @ 11:

    “Religious people and their silly scruples; am I right? ”

    No, you’re not right. I am a religious person and a Christian. I’ve never been an advocate for abortion. I’m probably predisposed to give any argument for upholding the rights of religious rights of people a more than sympathetic hearing. Therefore, if it doesn’t sound convincing to me, it may mean the argument itself needs some shoring up!

  • Norman Teigen

    You are right, Other Gary. Those of us who have spoken up on this issue have been ridiculed and our religious faith and church membership has been questioned by unthinking and irresponsible people. You may expect the same.

    The truth is that many well-intentioned and sincere people have bought the lie that the Affordable Healthcare Act is a violation of religious conscience. It simply is not so.

    Thanks for speaking up.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  • Norman Teigen

    You are right, Other Gary. Those of us who have spoken up on this issue have been ridiculed and our religious faith and church membership has been questioned by unthinking and irresponsible people. You may expect the same.

    The truth is that many well-intentioned and sincere people have bought the lie that the Affordable Healthcare Act is a violation of religious conscience. It simply is not so.

    Thanks for speaking up.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    I totally agree, Gary. I mean there are just pharmacists who are paid to dispense poisons medicine that mothers can use to kill their unborn children terminate their pregnancies. That’s three whole extra layers of abstraction! They must be lying about the whole conscience thing. They really just hate women. Or doctors. Or women doctors.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    I totally agree, Gary. I mean there are just pharmacists who are paid to dispense poisons medicine that mothers can use to kill their unborn children terminate their pregnancies. That’s three whole extra layers of abstraction! They must be lying about the whole conscience thing. They really just hate women. Or doctors. Or women doctors.

  • Cynthia

    Norman Teigen, I do not see how you can say this is not a violation of religious conscience. The CHP, when it comes under the Affordable Care Act, will be required to pay for contraception for the teenager who is having sex with her boyfriend, for the college student who sleeps with multiple partners, and for the married woman who is having an affair. I see this as aiding people in breaking one of God’s Commandments. That is certainly a religious conscience issue. If contraception is not covered, we do not have this problem.

  • Cynthia

    Norman Teigen, I do not see how you can say this is not a violation of religious conscience. The CHP, when it comes under the Affordable Care Act, will be required to pay for contraception for the teenager who is having sex with her boyfriend, for the college student who sleeps with multiple partners, and for the married woman who is having an affair. I see this as aiding people in breaking one of God’s Commandments. That is certainly a religious conscience issue. If contraception is not covered, we do not have this problem.

  • Jon

    Larry is right. Debating whether something is really a matter of violating another’s conscience cannot be done without invoking one’s own conscience on the issue. It’s making a value judgment. As Matt Cochrane’s reply cheekily points out, Other Gary does not value the conscience objection of the religious pro-lifers.

  • Jon

    Larry is right. Debating whether something is really a matter of violating another’s conscience cannot be done without invoking one’s own conscience on the issue. It’s making a value judgment. As Matt Cochrane’s reply cheekily points out, Other Gary does not value the conscience objection of the religious pro-lifers.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    In all seriousness, Gary, my post was spurred by yours, but was not intended to be directly in response to it. I recognize your claim to belief; your arguments just happen to be shared by many who are hostile to religion and I took the opportunity to address them.

    It comes down to this: Innocent people are being intentionally killed. As a result of the HHS mandate, organizations who were not participating in this ongoing killing, are now being coerced into providing material support. Likewise, as a result of the mandate, Catholics (and those who have similar views on birth control) are being coerced into participating in a controversial practice that violates their sincerely held beliefs. They didn’t have to before; now they do. Is there more going on in the situation? Perhaps. Are there more layers? Sure. But no matter how much more is going on, there is no less going on. Other nuances may obscure those two bedrock realities, but they do not change them.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    In all seriousness, Gary, my post was spurred by yours, but was not intended to be directly in response to it. I recognize your claim to belief; your arguments just happen to be shared by many who are hostile to religion and I took the opportunity to address them.

    It comes down to this: Innocent people are being intentionally killed. As a result of the HHS mandate, organizations who were not participating in this ongoing killing, are now being coerced into providing material support. Likewise, as a result of the mandate, Catholics (and those who have similar views on birth control) are being coerced into participating in a controversial practice that violates their sincerely held beliefs. They didn’t have to before; now they do. Is there more going on in the situation? Perhaps. Are there more layers? Sure. But no matter how much more is going on, there is no less going on. Other nuances may obscure those two bedrock realities, but they do not change them.

  • Steve P.

    Cynthia,

    You aren’t paying attention. It isn’t a violation of Mr. Teigen’s conscience, and his conscience and that of those who agree with him is the only conscience that ought to be considered in this discussion. That you are so backward to think that contraception, premarital sex, promiscuity, and adultery are violations of God’s commandments demonstrates that your conscience is incoherent.

    Our Leader loves Mr. Teigen’s conscience and hates yours, and his will will prevail in all things and against all opposing institutions. If you don’t like it, run for President, win, and then you can be the Leader.

  • Steve P.

    Cynthia,

    You aren’t paying attention. It isn’t a violation of Mr. Teigen’s conscience, and his conscience and that of those who agree with him is the only conscience that ought to be considered in this discussion. That you are so backward to think that contraception, premarital sex, promiscuity, and adultery are violations of God’s commandments demonstrates that your conscience is incoherent.

    Our Leader loves Mr. Teigen’s conscience and hates yours, and his will will prevail in all things and against all opposing institutions. If you don’t like it, run for President, win, and then you can be the Leader.

  • Jon

    @ 19 more cheek!

  • Jon

    @ 19 more cheek!

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    There are three things involved here. First, the violation of conscience through the monetary support of infanticide. I should not be required to pay for something that is morally objectionable. It really is simple as that. By paying into the system that provides for the abortifaciant treatments, I am guilty by proxy for that child’s death. I cannot live with that on my conscience. This is no different than hiring a hit-man. Sure you didn’t kill the target, but you provided the money that provided the means.

    Second, it prevents a fundamental religious practice. One of the reasons that right now the focus is on institutional lawsuits is that they stand the best chance of winning the court case. They have an easier time making the case that the tax is government impedance on the free practice of religious beliefs.

    Third, the stupidity of the congress that voted for the law and the administration now enforcing it. If they had simply made coverage of abortion and abortifactic drugs an opt out option there would never been a case. But they rather stupidly made it mandatory, giving red meat to the pro-life camp that will provide the legal funds and a slam dunk case to a decent constitutional lawyer.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    There are three things involved here. First, the violation of conscience through the monetary support of infanticide. I should not be required to pay for something that is morally objectionable. It really is simple as that. By paying into the system that provides for the abortifaciant treatments, I am guilty by proxy for that child’s death. I cannot live with that on my conscience. This is no different than hiring a hit-man. Sure you didn’t kill the target, but you provided the money that provided the means.

    Second, it prevents a fundamental religious practice. One of the reasons that right now the focus is on institutional lawsuits is that they stand the best chance of winning the court case. They have an easier time making the case that the tax is government impedance on the free practice of religious beliefs.

    Third, the stupidity of the congress that voted for the law and the administration now enforcing it. If they had simply made coverage of abortion and abortifactic drugs an opt out option there would never been a case. But they rather stupidly made it mandatory, giving red meat to the pro-life camp that will provide the legal funds and a slam dunk case to a decent constitutional lawyer.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I see that the objection is not to give monetary support to actions which violate ones conscience.

    Fine. So everybody was ok with every single military action in the last century? And conscientious objectors can insist that their taxes do not support the military? And religious vegetarians can say that their money cannot support cattle farmers, through the Dept of Agriculture? And atheists should object to their money supporting military chaplains, and presidential prayer breakfasts etc.?

    I’m not being facetious. I’m just wondering if you guys are thinking about the implications of this argument.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I see that the objection is not to give monetary support to actions which violate ones conscience.

    Fine. So everybody was ok with every single military action in the last century? And conscientious objectors can insist that their taxes do not support the military? And religious vegetarians can say that their money cannot support cattle farmers, through the Dept of Agriculture? And atheists should object to their money supporting military chaplains, and presidential prayer breakfasts etc.?

    I’m not being facetious. I’m just wondering if you guys are thinking about the implications of this argument.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @22 So be it. And yes, I already know the mess it would cause in figuring out who pays what in taxes. Honestly, I don’t care.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @22 So be it. And yes, I already know the mess it would cause in figuring out who pays what in taxes. Honestly, I don’t care.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    It’s a pretty simple Klasie. Your examples don’t show that we can’t have the conscience protections in question. After all, we already had the ones in question and the mandate is taking them away. Nor do they show that the argument for those protections are invalid. The bedrock realities still remain. They only show that turning infinite pluralism into moral imperative makes the act of governing anything impossible. There is no such thing as moral neutrality–most of our current problems on these issues stem from pretending otherwise. The best way of protecting as many consciences as possible is to limit government to essential functions.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    It’s a pretty simple Klasie. Your examples don’t show that we can’t have the conscience protections in question. After all, we already had the ones in question and the mandate is taking them away. Nor do they show that the argument for those protections are invalid. The bedrock realities still remain. They only show that turning infinite pluralism into moral imperative makes the act of governing anything impossible. There is no such thing as moral neutrality–most of our current problems on these issues stem from pretending otherwise. The best way of protecting as many consciences as possible is to limit government to essential functions.

  • larry

    Other Gary,

    But that IS the point completely missed with this line of “argument”. You are just reiterating the same error in your reply as in the first. i.e. foisting “your conscience” on another conscience. The counter may easily be, “to this date I have not heard any argument that demonstrates paying the premiums for insurance that includes coverage for birth control or “morning after” pills is right”. Such a “counter argument” is nothing different than your countering argument to theirs. Because it is a matter of conscience either way, you are appealing to conscience and foisting your conscience on another, ironically, guilty of what you and others accuse the “opposition” of doing that they are “yes” doing. That’s the foolish irony in this entire line of “reasoning” one is guilty of what one accuses.

    As to the red herring arguments of the form of what about X things one disagrees with that are funded via tax dollars that one is consciously counter too that have occurred or are occurring in the past or present tense under government law that one is required to pay taxes or fees too. That too is a conscience moment, some in conscience can decide their disagreement with but realize it is beyond their ability to do much more than that (you have to pay the taxes for X) and there are plenteous examples of these, at other times things rise to such a level that a passive disagreement must take place (e.g. some of the 60s movements), at other times things rise to such a level that resistance is required at another level, an example of this is D. Boenhoffer during WWII. In all of these there are two common factors, Law and Gospel, for the Christian in his/her decision of conscience. That common thing? Back to God “love your neighbor” as is within your reach and ability to do so, this is always sacrifice, and as Luther said to Melcanthon on the Gospel, “Sin boldly but believe all the more boldly”. That later part is critical to all three examples.

  • larry

    Other Gary,

    But that IS the point completely missed with this line of “argument”. You are just reiterating the same error in your reply as in the first. i.e. foisting “your conscience” on another conscience. The counter may easily be, “to this date I have not heard any argument that demonstrates paying the premiums for insurance that includes coverage for birth control or “morning after” pills is right”. Such a “counter argument” is nothing different than your countering argument to theirs. Because it is a matter of conscience either way, you are appealing to conscience and foisting your conscience on another, ironically, guilty of what you and others accuse the “opposition” of doing that they are “yes” doing. That’s the foolish irony in this entire line of “reasoning” one is guilty of what one accuses.

    As to the red herring arguments of the form of what about X things one disagrees with that are funded via tax dollars that one is consciously counter too that have occurred or are occurring in the past or present tense under government law that one is required to pay taxes or fees too. That too is a conscience moment, some in conscience can decide their disagreement with but realize it is beyond their ability to do much more than that (you have to pay the taxes for X) and there are plenteous examples of these, at other times things rise to such a level that a passive disagreement must take place (e.g. some of the 60s movements), at other times things rise to such a level that resistance is required at another level, an example of this is D. Boenhoffer during WWII. In all of these there are two common factors, Law and Gospel, for the Christian in his/her decision of conscience. That common thing? Back to God “love your neighbor” as is within your reach and ability to do so, this is always sacrifice, and as Luther said to Melcanthon on the Gospel, “Sin boldly but believe all the more boldly”. That later part is critical to all three examples.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Good answer Matt, but even with the basic functions of government, things are going to happen that sear consciences.

    So – either you build a conscientious objector clause for every possible scenario, or you just try to limit it and tough luck on those who are still troubled, or you choose anarchy.

    Think about Rome: They indulged in many, many practices that are objectionable. Murder, slavery, wholesale slaughter.

    What does Christ say? Pay unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…..

    And what did John the Baptist tell the Roman soldiers?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Good answer Matt, but even with the basic functions of government, things are going to happen that sear consciences.

    So – either you build a conscientious objector clause for every possible scenario, or you just try to limit it and tough luck on those who are still troubled, or you choose anarchy.

    Think about Rome: They indulged in many, many practices that are objectionable. Murder, slavery, wholesale slaughter.

    What does Christ say? Pay unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…..

    And what did John the Baptist tell the Roman soldiers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Other Gary says, “… there are no “hit men” in this scenario.”

    What?

    You mean those abortions just happen all by themselves without somebody being paid to perform them?

    Are you serious?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Other Gary says, “… there are no “hit men” in this scenario.”

    What?

    You mean those abortions just happen all by themselves without somebody being paid to perform them?

    Are you serious?

  • Cincinnatus

    Klasie:

    Your comment misses the point in a huge way due to a peculiarity of American constitutional law. The Courts have ruled repeatedly that general tax funds can be used, for better or worse, to underwrite any number of activities–wars, assassinations, food stamps, etc.–that particular individuals and groups may find problematic.

    However, there is abundant precedent–including in the words of the First Amendment–showing that there may be, at the very least, a potential violation of fundamental constitutional rights in a mandate that specifically and directly requires a religious entity to compromise its core ethico-religious beliefs.

    Religious institutions don’t pay taxes anyway–in part for this very reason–but supposing that they did, it probably wouldn’t be deemed unconstitutional if, say, some of their property taxes were used to subsidize the local Planned Parenthood. It would be problematic, however, if the government passed a law that effectively required the Church to write a check directly to Planned Parenthood.

    …and the latter, by way of analogy, is essentially what is going on in the HHS mandate. Don’t get me wrong: I could see a hypothetical Supreme Court case going either way, but there’s a strong case to be made for overturning the mandate.

  • Cincinnatus

    Klasie:

    Your comment misses the point in a huge way due to a peculiarity of American constitutional law. The Courts have ruled repeatedly that general tax funds can be used, for better or worse, to underwrite any number of activities–wars, assassinations, food stamps, etc.–that particular individuals and groups may find problematic.

    However, there is abundant precedent–including in the words of the First Amendment–showing that there may be, at the very least, a potential violation of fundamental constitutional rights in a mandate that specifically and directly requires a religious entity to compromise its core ethico-religious beliefs.

    Religious institutions don’t pay taxes anyway–in part for this very reason–but supposing that they did, it probably wouldn’t be deemed unconstitutional if, say, some of their property taxes were used to subsidize the local Planned Parenthood. It would be problematic, however, if the government passed a law that effectively required the Church to write a check directly to Planned Parenthood.

    …and the latter, by way of analogy, is essentially what is going on in the HHS mandate. Don’t get me wrong: I could see a hypothetical Supreme Court case going either way, but there’s a strong case to be made for overturning the mandate.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    True Cincinnatus, but then the discussion should center around that.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    True Cincinnatus, but then the discussion should center around that.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@29:

    As opposed to what? Isn’t that what we’re talking about? There is in the United States a very well-defined right of conscience in matters like this. “Other Gary” and his ilk are just plain ignorant of these facts.

    Again, these “well-defined” rights don’t predetermine the legitimacy of the mandate. From what I’ve seen, though, it’s the supporters of the mandate who are, almost to a man/woman, entire unaware (or unwilling to discuss) that there are actual, substantive, legitimate constitutional grievances to lodge against the HHS mandate.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@29:

    As opposed to what? Isn’t that what we’re talking about? There is in the United States a very well-defined right of conscience in matters like this. “Other Gary” and his ilk are just plain ignorant of these facts.

    Again, these “well-defined” rights don’t predetermine the legitimacy of the mandate. From what I’ve seen, though, it’s the supporters of the mandate who are, almost to a man/woman, entire unaware (or unwilling to discuss) that there are actual, substantive, legitimate constitutional grievances to lodge against the HHS mandate.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@28, 30), okay, but then this is how the argument from those opposed to the ACA goes: I am morally opposed to being required to pay money to a company that might be used by another person in a manner I consider immoral. However, I am okay with being required to pay money to the government which might be used by another person in a manner I consider immoral.

    Kind of a weak argument, to me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@28, 30), okay, but then this is how the argument from those opposed to the ACA goes: I am morally opposed to being required to pay money to a company that might be used by another person in a manner I consider immoral. However, I am okay with being required to pay money to the government which might be used by another person in a manner I consider immoral.

    Kind of a weak argument, to me.

  • DonS

    As I read through this thread, I was going to say, well, what Cincinnatus said @ 28, though he said it better.

    Cincinnatus makes an excellent point concerning the specifics — religious institutions are tax-exempt, so the argument that their tax dollars support objectionable activities is a non-starter. However, looking at the issue more broadly, what about an individual who IS required to pay taxes? What’s the problem with making that individual, who is an employer, fund contraception and abortifacients against his conscience, directly through a health insurance policy he is required to buy for his employees, when he already has to pay for objectionable things through his tax dollars? I guess the argument is something like, well, he’s already compromised, so what’s the difference? The same argument applies to making a pharmacist dispense abortifacients against his conscience, or making a doctor perform abortions or refer patients to those who do.

    Here’s the difference. When you pay taxes, you throw your tax money into a huge pool , which then is directed to a multitude of purposes, some objectionable, some not. The courts have held that the burden on government would be extreme if it had to accommodate the differing consciences of every single taxpayer in allocating tax monies in each budget — the government has a compelling interest in being able to manage its budget efficiently and effectively. The taxpayer can take some comfort in the fact that there is no direct nexus between his particular tax monies and the objectionable governmental activity. On the other hand, closer scrutiny applies when the government seeks to place a specific burden or mandate on individuals or entities, forcing them to do something that may violate their conscience or religious beliefs.

    The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires that the government have a compelling interest in placing these types of burdens on the religious beliefs of private citizens and entities. The First Amendment right of free exercise also specifically provides protection for those of religious faith, though at the lower intermediate scrutiny level. With all of the multitudes of ways that women have access to contraceptives and abortions, it is difficult to see how the government has a compelling, or even important, interest in forcing those who are conscientiously opposed on religious grounds to directly pay, through insurance premiums, in full, for contraceptives and abortifacients for their employees.

  • DonS

    As I read through this thread, I was going to say, well, what Cincinnatus said @ 28, though he said it better.

    Cincinnatus makes an excellent point concerning the specifics — religious institutions are tax-exempt, so the argument that their tax dollars support objectionable activities is a non-starter. However, looking at the issue more broadly, what about an individual who IS required to pay taxes? What’s the problem with making that individual, who is an employer, fund contraception and abortifacients against his conscience, directly through a health insurance policy he is required to buy for his employees, when he already has to pay for objectionable things through his tax dollars? I guess the argument is something like, well, he’s already compromised, so what’s the difference? The same argument applies to making a pharmacist dispense abortifacients against his conscience, or making a doctor perform abortions or refer patients to those who do.

    Here’s the difference. When you pay taxes, you throw your tax money into a huge pool , which then is directed to a multitude of purposes, some objectionable, some not. The courts have held that the burden on government would be extreme if it had to accommodate the differing consciences of every single taxpayer in allocating tax monies in each budget — the government has a compelling interest in being able to manage its budget efficiently and effectively. The taxpayer can take some comfort in the fact that there is no direct nexus between his particular tax monies and the objectionable governmental activity. On the other hand, closer scrutiny applies when the government seeks to place a specific burden or mandate on individuals or entities, forcing them to do something that may violate their conscience or religious beliefs.

    The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires that the government have a compelling interest in placing these types of burdens on the religious beliefs of private citizens and entities. The First Amendment right of free exercise also specifically provides protection for those of religious faith, though at the lower intermediate scrutiny level. With all of the multitudes of ways that women have access to contraceptives and abortions, it is difficult to see how the government has a compelling, or even important, interest in forcing those who are conscientiously opposed on religious grounds to directly pay, through insurance premiums, in full, for contraceptives and abortifacients for their employees.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@31:

    1) We’re talking about the HHS mandate, not the ACA as a whole, right? I’m not sure if it makes a substantive difference, but just to be sure.

    2) How is it a weak argument? For one thing, the Supreme Court has specifically validated such logic. General tax levies can be filtered through the legislative process and used for purposes that specific persons and groups might find objectionable. The government couldn’t function if this weren’t true because everyone is opposed to something that government is doing.

    The HHS mandate is different. It mandates that institutions–like, say, Catholic non-profits–must (if they provide insurance) provide insurance that covers chemical contraceptives, sterilizations, etc. (I don’t think actual abortifacients are included.) In other words, the mandate requires, in effect, that religious organizations directly fund chemical contraception, even though it (hypothetically) violates their core religious principles.

    Not only am I able to see a substantive difference between general tax revenues and purposive mandates, but I also understand that one can be regarded as problematic and the other not without resorting to hypocrisy or incoherence.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@31:

    1) We’re talking about the HHS mandate, not the ACA as a whole, right? I’m not sure if it makes a substantive difference, but just to be sure.

    2) How is it a weak argument? For one thing, the Supreme Court has specifically validated such logic. General tax levies can be filtered through the legislative process and used for purposes that specific persons and groups might find objectionable. The government couldn’t function if this weren’t true because everyone is opposed to something that government is doing.

    The HHS mandate is different. It mandates that institutions–like, say, Catholic non-profits–must (if they provide insurance) provide insurance that covers chemical contraceptives, sterilizations, etc. (I don’t think actual abortifacients are included.) In other words, the mandate requires, in effect, that religious organizations directly fund chemical contraception, even though it (hypothetically) violates their core religious principles.

    Not only am I able to see a substantive difference between general tax revenues and purposive mandates, but I also understand that one can be regarded as problematic and the other not without resorting to hypocrisy or incoherence.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    So DonS, you essentially indicate that you’d prefer the Canadian model (single payer), if you absolutely have to have Universal Healthcare.

    Good, eh? :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    So DonS, you essentially indicate that you’d prefer the Canadian model (single payer), if you absolutely have to have Universal Healthcare.

    Good, eh? :)

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@34: Rather a cheap shot. There are other alternatives. But yes, the Canadian model would probably be less objectionable than the HHS mandate purely from the perspective of the First Amendment.

  • Cincinnatus

    KK@34: Rather a cheap shot. There are other alternatives. But yes, the Canadian model would probably be less objectionable than the HHS mandate purely from the perspective of the First Amendment.

  • DonS

    Good, Klasie ;-)

    I think the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision cemented the idea that the federal government taxing power is abominably broad, and there is little question that a single-payer model for healthcare would be found to be constitutional. Unfortunately, for those of us who value the apparently quaint notion of limited federal government. Clearly, using that approach would vitiate the First Amendment concerns, to the extent that taxpayers wouldn’t be compelled to do much else but pay taxes.

    As a policy matter, on the other hand …….

  • DonS

    Good, Klasie ;-)

    I think the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision cemented the idea that the federal government taxing power is abominably broad, and there is little question that a single-payer model for healthcare would be found to be constitutional. Unfortunately, for those of us who value the apparently quaint notion of limited federal government. Clearly, using that approach would vitiate the First Amendment concerns, to the extent that taxpayers wouldn’t be compelled to do much else but pay taxes.

    As a policy matter, on the other hand …….

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@33):

    How is it a weak argument? For one thing, the Supreme Court has specifically validated such logic.

    Hahahaha. Ha. Yeah, what? Seriously? Haha. So all SCOTUS arguments = not weak?

    The government couldn’t function if this weren’t true because everyone is opposed to something that government is doing.

    Kind of my point, really. These arguments don’t actually appear to be about violating someone’s conscience — we all assume that happens, that it must happen, and we’re all okay, at some level, with the government doing that. (The very few people who apparently believe that everyone’s tax return should be accompanied by a mile-long questionnaire about your personal beliefs so as to determine your proper share of taxes are, um, nuts.)

    Anyhow, it’s not a question about being forced to pay for something that violates your (or someone’s) conscience, then. It’s a debate over how one is being forced to pay for such things. Which, to my mind, makes this less of a question about the First Amendment, and more of a question about the Commerce Clause.

    And, you know, the Commerce Clause question has already been settled by the not-weak arguments from the Supreme Court. ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@33):

    How is it a weak argument? For one thing, the Supreme Court has specifically validated such logic.

    Hahahaha. Ha. Yeah, what? Seriously? Haha. So all SCOTUS arguments = not weak?

    The government couldn’t function if this weren’t true because everyone is opposed to something that government is doing.

    Kind of my point, really. These arguments don’t actually appear to be about violating someone’s conscience — we all assume that happens, that it must happen, and we’re all okay, at some level, with the government doing that. (The very few people who apparently believe that everyone’s tax return should be accompanied by a mile-long questionnaire about your personal beliefs so as to determine your proper share of taxes are, um, nuts.)

    Anyhow, it’s not a question about being forced to pay for something that violates your (or someone’s) conscience, then. It’s a debate over how one is being forced to pay for such things. Which, to my mind, makes this less of a question about the First Amendment, and more of a question about the Commerce Clause.

    And, you know, the Commerce Clause question has already been settled by the not-weak arguments from the Supreme Court. ;)

  • Joe

    tODD — I think Cinncy summed up the response to your post @31 pretty well. But I would add this, with the HHS rule their is another issue. Many religious institutions make adherence to doctrine part of the job requirement (being in Milwaukee, where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Catholic, we see news reports fairly often about a Catholic school firing a teacher because s/he refuses to stop living with another outside of marriage, etc.). The institutions do this because they see the school, hospital, etc. as an extension of the Churches ministry to the world. When the institution is then required to provide health insurance for its workers that cover procedures/drugs, etc that if used violate doctrine would be tantamount to participating in the sin.

    An extreme example might be a priest who knows a member is struggling with painful and incurable illness leaving a loaded pistol on the table after a home visit. The priest/church didn’t actually do anything except make the means to commit the sin available.

  • Joe

    tODD — I think Cinncy summed up the response to your post @31 pretty well. But I would add this, with the HHS rule their is another issue. Many religious institutions make adherence to doctrine part of the job requirement (being in Milwaukee, where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Catholic, we see news reports fairly often about a Catholic school firing a teacher because s/he refuses to stop living with another outside of marriage, etc.). The institutions do this because they see the school, hospital, etc. as an extension of the Churches ministry to the world. When the institution is then required to provide health insurance for its workers that cover procedures/drugs, etc that if used violate doctrine would be tantamount to participating in the sin.

    An extreme example might be a priest who knows a member is struggling with painful and incurable illness leaving a loaded pistol on the table after a home visit. The priest/church didn’t actually do anything except make the means to commit the sin available.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@37:

    You’re wrong coming and going.

    First, this is absolutely a First Amendment question. It is about the right of conscience. All the jurisprudence on the question is about the right of conscience. It has been clearly ruled that general tax revenues can be legitimately employed for all manner of potentially offensive activities. I tend to agree with the Court, and so do most reasonable people, if only because the State literally could not function otherwise. But there are all sorts of recognized problems with directly mandating that organizations or people fund specifically designated activities. Again, this is all about the right of conscience, and the right of conscience, last I checked, actually exists in this country. The Catholic Church isn’t just pulling a grievance out of its posterior. The distinction you’re making–that it’s really a question of how things are funded–is accurate, but it’s more than merely procedural. Any time the right of conscience is potentially violated, a substantive grievance is triggered.

    Second, the Commerce Clause is not relevant. On the one hand, I think you’re confusing the ACA individual mandate with the HHS mandate. They’re two different things operating from two different sets of principles. But either way, the Roberts ACA decision, at least at the level of dicta, substantially defanged the Commerce Clause. The ACA mandate was validated under the general taxation powers.

    Which is fine and dandy, but there are still pending First Amendment claims against the mandate that may very well win the day. Just as there are First Amendment challenges against the HHS mandate that are legitimate. (The principle you’re forgetting here is that something can be constitution under one power/clause/conceptual framework, but fail under another. It’s highly likely that the Court would recognize that the Church has a valid claim to make under the FA, even if they are ultimately overruled in the verdict.)

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@37:

    You’re wrong coming and going.

    First, this is absolutely a First Amendment question. It is about the right of conscience. All the jurisprudence on the question is about the right of conscience. It has been clearly ruled that general tax revenues can be legitimately employed for all manner of potentially offensive activities. I tend to agree with the Court, and so do most reasonable people, if only because the State literally could not function otherwise. But there are all sorts of recognized problems with directly mandating that organizations or people fund specifically designated activities. Again, this is all about the right of conscience, and the right of conscience, last I checked, actually exists in this country. The Catholic Church isn’t just pulling a grievance out of its posterior. The distinction you’re making–that it’s really a question of how things are funded–is accurate, but it’s more than merely procedural. Any time the right of conscience is potentially violated, a substantive grievance is triggered.

    Second, the Commerce Clause is not relevant. On the one hand, I think you’re confusing the ACA individual mandate with the HHS mandate. They’re two different things operating from two different sets of principles. But either way, the Roberts ACA decision, at least at the level of dicta, substantially defanged the Commerce Clause. The ACA mandate was validated under the general taxation powers.

    Which is fine and dandy, but there are still pending First Amendment claims against the mandate that may very well win the day. Just as there are First Amendment challenges against the HHS mandate that are legitimate. (The principle you’re forgetting here is that something can be constitution under one power/clause/conceptual framework, but fail under another. It’s highly likely that the Court would recognize that the Church has a valid claim to make under the FA, even if they are ultimately overruled in the verdict.)

  • SKPeterson

    Does anyone else see the problem in violating consciences of those holding to a particular religious or cultural ethic through the use of tax laws that are designed to promote another religious or cultural ethic? If the government is concerned with not having to be burdened by taking conscientious objections into account, maybe it should stop passing laws that expressly seek to promote particular ethical and conscientious objectives. Granted, this gets to the heart of the purpose of taxation. Is it to a negative action, designed to generate revenue for the government, or a positive action to promote or inhibit particular behaviors?

  • SKPeterson

    Does anyone else see the problem in violating consciences of those holding to a particular religious or cultural ethic through the use of tax laws that are designed to promote another religious or cultural ethic? If the government is concerned with not having to be burdened by taking conscientious objections into account, maybe it should stop passing laws that expressly seek to promote particular ethical and conscientious objectives. Granted, this gets to the heart of the purpose of taxation. Is it to a negative action, designed to generate revenue for the government, or a positive action to promote or inhibit particular behaviors?

  • David M

    I think this issue could be reasonably solved if the Feds just decided to tax everyone who didn’t own a firearm. Those of us who choose to be a drain on the system by depending on the local authorities for our defense should pay out and not be freeloaders. The money gained from this tax can be used to subsidize firearms for those who can’t afford them or live in an area which requires more firepower than they can afford. The people with the quaint notion that “guns kill people” don’t have to worry about the tax, because they’re not actually involved in any injury or death which may result.

    The constitution is clear: each citizen has the right and duty to protect themself. Therefore, it is reasonable for the Federal Government to use its taxing power to enforce the citizens’ practice of that responsibility. If a person has a concientous objection to this law, we should let them know that their tax money is used inappropriately all the time, they’re being inconsistent by bringing it up now, pat them on the head, and tell them to go pound sand. Preferably in Canada.

  • David M

    I think this issue could be reasonably solved if the Feds just decided to tax everyone who didn’t own a firearm. Those of us who choose to be a drain on the system by depending on the local authorities for our defense should pay out and not be freeloaders. The money gained from this tax can be used to subsidize firearms for those who can’t afford them or live in an area which requires more firepower than they can afford. The people with the quaint notion that “guns kill people” don’t have to worry about the tax, because they’re not actually involved in any injury or death which may result.

    The constitution is clear: each citizen has the right and duty to protect themself. Therefore, it is reasonable for the Federal Government to use its taxing power to enforce the citizens’ practice of that responsibility. If a person has a concientous objection to this law, we should let them know that their tax money is used inappropriately all the time, they’re being inconsistent by bringing it up now, pat them on the head, and tell them to go pound sand. Preferably in Canada.

  • formerly just steve

    Other Gary, #1, isn’t this about the conscience of those who run the organization that have to pay for these services to be provided? I see a lot of people talking about paying the premiums but to me the issue is not so much with the conscience of the subscriber but the conscience of those running the organization. If I’m wrong, honestly don’t get your point.

  • formerly just steve

    Other Gary, #1, isn’t this about the conscience of those who run the organization that have to pay for these services to be provided? I see a lot of people talking about paying the premiums but to me the issue is not so much with the conscience of the subscriber but the conscience of those running the organization. If I’m wrong, honestly don’t get your point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@39), color me confused.

    Again, this is all about the right of conscience, and the right of conscience, last I checked, actually exists in this country.

    I get confused when you of all people start bandying about “rights” language. I guess I don’t know exactly what you mean by “right of conscience” — no one here is arguing that you aren’t allowed to think or believe what you want. But even you concede that that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get what you want:

    It has been clearly ruled that general tax revenues can be legitimately employed for all manner of potentially offensive activities. I tend to agree with the Court, and so do most reasonable people, if only because the State literally could not function otherwise.

    Right. So you’re free to object to all the (unjust) wars executed by your government, but you still have to pay for them. And no one (reasonable) seems to have any trouble with this principle. Until we tweak it slightly.

    Obviously, your (and others’) argument must necessarily be that it’s more than just a slight tweak, but I just don’t see it. The principle remains that, in both situations, people are being forced to financially support things they personally find morally repugnant. And those opposing the HHS mandate do not appear to be arguing against this principle as such, but only against its singular implementation vis-a-vis health insurance. Oh, but if it were taxes…!

    To put it differently (and Klasie already made this point @34), assuming we had a government-funded, single-payer health care system that covered these objectionable things, would all this talk of violated consciences disappear?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Cincinnatus (@39), color me confused.

    Again, this is all about the right of conscience, and the right of conscience, last I checked, actually exists in this country.

    I get confused when you of all people start bandying about “rights” language. I guess I don’t know exactly what you mean by “right of conscience” — no one here is arguing that you aren’t allowed to think or believe what you want. But even you concede that that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get what you want:

    It has been clearly ruled that general tax revenues can be legitimately employed for all manner of potentially offensive activities. I tend to agree with the Court, and so do most reasonable people, if only because the State literally could not function otherwise.

    Right. So you’re free to object to all the (unjust) wars executed by your government, but you still have to pay for them. And no one (reasonable) seems to have any trouble with this principle. Until we tweak it slightly.

    Obviously, your (and others’) argument must necessarily be that it’s more than just a slight tweak, but I just don’t see it. The principle remains that, in both situations, people are being forced to financially support things they personally find morally repugnant. And those opposing the HHS mandate do not appear to be arguing against this principle as such, but only against its singular implementation vis-a-vis health insurance. Oh, but if it were taxes…!

    To put it differently (and Klasie already made this point @34), assuming we had a government-funded, single-payer health care system that covered these objectionable things, would all this talk of violated consciences disappear?

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@43:

    In answer to the question in your last sentence, yes. Probably, anyway.

    The government can’t make you directly purchase something that violates your conscience. The recent ACA ruling may throw a wrench in this logic, but typically, “mandates” like these would be littered with religious/conscience exceptions. As well they should be. Why this one isn’t, I can’t say. It’s a particularly moronic move by the Obama White House, but that’s another discussion entirely (he could have avoided this whole issue if he just granted the exception–the same exception that is found in dozens–probably hundreds or even thousands–of other laws).

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@43:

    In answer to the question in your last sentence, yes. Probably, anyway.

    The government can’t make you directly purchase something that violates your conscience. The recent ACA ruling may throw a wrench in this logic, but typically, “mandates” like these would be littered with religious/conscience exceptions. As well they should be. Why this one isn’t, I can’t say. It’s a particularly moronic move by the Obama White House, but that’s another discussion entirely (he could have avoided this whole issue if he just granted the exception–the same exception that is found in dozens–probably hundreds or even thousands–of other laws).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How much will illegal aliens be fined for non-compliance of staying in the country without authorization? How about fining employers of illegals $100/day for each illegal discovered in their employ?

    How about fining abortion providers $100/day for non-compliance with medical regulations?

    This hits the problems of eve for and eye punishment fit the crime, cruel or unusual punishments, selective enforcement and bills of attainder.

    So many moral issues involved in criminalizing non-criminal behavior.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    How much will illegal aliens be fined for non-compliance of staying in the country without authorization? How about fining employers of illegals $100/day for each illegal discovered in their employ?

    How about fining abortion providers $100/day for non-compliance with medical regulations?

    This hits the problems of eve for and eye punishment fit the crime, cruel or unusual punishments, selective enforcement and bills of attainder.

    So many moral issues involved in criminalizing non-criminal behavior.

  • BW

    tODD,

    I was just wondering if you oppose the HHS mandate on other grounds, or if you aren’t opposed to it? Are you in favor of the Affordable Care Act, but not the HHS mandate? Do you oppose the entire ACA for reasons not discussed here? Really I’m just wondering and just curious where you stand on it.

  • BW

    tODD,

    I was just wondering if you oppose the HHS mandate on other grounds, or if you aren’t opposed to it? Are you in favor of the Affordable Care Act, but not the HHS mandate? Do you oppose the entire ACA for reasons not discussed here? Really I’m just wondering and just curious where you stand on it.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 43: You say that you don’t see any difference between the government using tax dollars, a tiny percentage of which you paid, for purposes you are religiously opposed to, i.e. funding abortions, or a war you consider unjust, and the government mandating that you take affirmative action to purchase an insurance policy which provides full coverage for abortions/abortifacients/contraceptives, or whatever, to which you are religiously opposed.

    Fair enough. For purposes of furthering the discussion, what about if the government mandated that you transport your employee to the abortion clinic and pay for her abortion? Would that be constitutional? Again, assuming that you had a religious conviction against abortions, for sake of example.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 43: You say that you don’t see any difference between the government using tax dollars, a tiny percentage of which you paid, for purposes you are religiously opposed to, i.e. funding abortions, or a war you consider unjust, and the government mandating that you take affirmative action to purchase an insurance policy which provides full coverage for abortions/abortifacients/contraceptives, or whatever, to which you are religiously opposed.

    Fair enough. For purposes of furthering the discussion, what about if the government mandated that you transport your employee to the abortion clinic and pay for her abortion? Would that be constitutional? Again, assuming that you had a religious conviction against abortions, for sake of example.

  • Booklover

    Thanks, Matt, for the profound quote of the day:

    “The best way of protecting as many consciences as possible is to limit government to essential functions.”

    Somthing to ponder, indeed, David M @41.

    And reg @2, I’ve never understood how one can feel better by making fun of pro-life people. But pro-life people seldom fight back because they are busy doing the precise things that you say they don’t do.

  • Booklover

    Thanks, Matt, for the profound quote of the day:

    “The best way of protecting as many consciences as possible is to limit government to essential functions.”

    Somthing to ponder, indeed, David M @41.

    And reg @2, I’ve never understood how one can feel better by making fun of pro-life people. But pro-life people seldom fight back because they are busy doing the precise things that you say they don’t do.

  • Booklover

    “Something”

  • Booklover

    “Something”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    BW (@46), I think the HHS mandate was wrong, both in terms of what it’s suggesting, and as to its failure to provide an exemption for religious freedom, which would have been in keeping with the precedent for this sort of thing, I believe.

    But that’s how things would have gone in my ideal world (just as to the HHS mandate). Because I oppose something does not mean that it automatically rises to the level of moral indignence. And, as I’ve already said, I don’t find the arguments here all that compelling, even if am sympathetic to the underlying goals.

    I hope you weren’t expecting a yes/no answer as whether I’m in favor of the ACA, because anything that complex deserves a fuller answer than can fit in one syllable. I certainly have personally benefitted from some aspects of the ACA, so I don’t think it’s all bad. The insurance mandate certainly rubs me the wrong way, at the least, but I realize that American jurisprudence hasn’t agreed with my thinking for almost a century now. I guess my main objection is to the federal nature of it, but, again, that ship sailed long ago.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    BW (@46), I think the HHS mandate was wrong, both in terms of what it’s suggesting, and as to its failure to provide an exemption for religious freedom, which would have been in keeping with the precedent for this sort of thing, I believe.

    But that’s how things would have gone in my ideal world (just as to the HHS mandate). Because I oppose something does not mean that it automatically rises to the level of moral indignence. And, as I’ve already said, I don’t find the arguments here all that compelling, even if am sympathetic to the underlying goals.

    I hope you weren’t expecting a yes/no answer as whether I’m in favor of the ACA, because anything that complex deserves a fuller answer than can fit in one syllable. I certainly have personally benefitted from some aspects of the ACA, so I don’t think it’s all bad. The insurance mandate certainly rubs me the wrong way, at the least, but I realize that American jurisprudence hasn’t agreed with my thinking for almost a century now. I guess my main objection is to the federal nature of it, but, again, that ship sailed long ago.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS asked (@47):

    what about if the government mandated that you transport your employee to the abortion clinic and pay for her abortion? Would that be constitutional?

    It would appear unconstitutional, because the government would have no compelling reason to mandate that I do so.

    In the case of wars, the government has a compelling reason to be able to wage them, and to be able to fund them with taxpayer money, even if I often don’t agree with the reasons on any particular war. It is, on average, a public good that they be able to use my money to defend the country. (Or, you know, overturn a foreign regim. Same thing, right?)

    And, in the case of health insurance, the government isn’t merely compelling me to pay (indirectly) for someone’s contraceptives. It’s compelling me to pay (indirectly) for someone’s health care. That, in the end, is their compelling interest, not abortions.

    Your question strips away any notion of a larger good, as well as any indirection in the payment for the abortion. Thus, I see no compelling interest for the government to do so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS asked (@47):

    what about if the government mandated that you transport your employee to the abortion clinic and pay for her abortion? Would that be constitutional?

    It would appear unconstitutional, because the government would have no compelling reason to mandate that I do so.

    In the case of wars, the government has a compelling reason to be able to wage them, and to be able to fund them with taxpayer money, even if I often don’t agree with the reasons on any particular war. It is, on average, a public good that they be able to use my money to defend the country. (Or, you know, overturn a foreign regim. Same thing, right?)

    And, in the case of health insurance, the government isn’t merely compelling me to pay (indirectly) for someone’s contraceptives. It’s compelling me to pay (indirectly) for someone’s health care. That, in the end, is their compelling interest, not abortions.

    Your question strips away any notion of a larger good, as well as any indirection in the payment for the abortion. Thus, I see no compelling interest for the government to do so.

  • DonS

    All right, tODD @ 51. Fair enough. So, we agree, at least, that there is a point at which a government mandate requiring us to do something would go too far, even though we both agree that the government has the right to tax us, and to use the tax money to fund things we might object to.

    Cincinnatus and I (and others who object to the HHS mandates under the ACA) believe the line of acceptability is drawn somewhere between the legal taxation and the mandate requiring employers to purchase health insurance policies offering full contraceptive and abortifacient coverage (I draw it immediately adjacent to the taxation point). You, apparently, draw it somewhere between the coverage mandate and the point where the government would require physical action to transport the employee to the clinic.

    Though we clearly disagree on where the line should be drawn, you should now better be able to understand our point that there is a difference between taxing and mandating, and that it is important.

  • DonS

    All right, tODD @ 51. Fair enough. So, we agree, at least, that there is a point at which a government mandate requiring us to do something would go too far, even though we both agree that the government has the right to tax us, and to use the tax money to fund things we might object to.

    Cincinnatus and I (and others who object to the HHS mandates under the ACA) believe the line of acceptability is drawn somewhere between the legal taxation and the mandate requiring employers to purchase health insurance policies offering full contraceptive and abortifacient coverage (I draw it immediately adjacent to the taxation point). You, apparently, draw it somewhere between the coverage mandate and the point where the government would require physical action to transport the employee to the clinic.

    Though we clearly disagree on where the line should be drawn, you should now better be able to understand our point that there is a difference between taxing and mandating, and that it is important.

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS and tODD:

    My limited knowledge of constitutional law–and my normative inclinations–lead me to believe that the line should be drawn at the point of general taxation. In other words, I agree with you. If private entities (persons or organizations) can be forced to pay directly for a product/item/service that violates their ethico-religious principles, then I’m not sure where else the line could be drawn. If a Catholic hospital can be forced to pay directly for someone else’s (namely, its employees’) contraception, why can’t it also be forced to provide abortions?

    Paying directly (I keep emphasizing “directly” because that is the operative distinction here) for something doesn’t seem terribly distinct from actually doing something.

    tODD, do you think it would violate your conscience or the conscience of a Catholic organization (yes, groups can be viewed in this light) if, say, it were required by law to cut a check directly to Planned Parenthood every month? We all agree that it would be constitutional (albeit still probably morally problematic) for general tax revenues to be used as grants for Planned Parenthood. But would it be constitutional to coerce those funds directly from the Catholic organization to Planned Parenthood? After all, that money could only “indirectly” be going to abortions, right? PP provides all sorts of other unobjectionable health services.

    I thinks that’s a pretty good analogy for what’s going on with the HHS mandate, and it’s pretty clear to me at least that a) there is a violation of a fundamental right occurring and b) the government doesn’t have a compelling justification for that violation.

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS and tODD:

    My limited knowledge of constitutional law–and my normative inclinations–lead me to believe that the line should be drawn at the point of general taxation. In other words, I agree with you. If private entities (persons or organizations) can be forced to pay directly for a product/item/service that violates their ethico-religious principles, then I’m not sure where else the line could be drawn. If a Catholic hospital can be forced to pay directly for someone else’s (namely, its employees’) contraception, why can’t it also be forced to provide abortions?

    Paying directly (I keep emphasizing “directly” because that is the operative distinction here) for something doesn’t seem terribly distinct from actually doing something.

    tODD, do you think it would violate your conscience or the conscience of a Catholic organization (yes, groups can be viewed in this light) if, say, it were required by law to cut a check directly to Planned Parenthood every month? We all agree that it would be constitutional (albeit still probably morally problematic) for general tax revenues to be used as grants for Planned Parenthood. But would it be constitutional to coerce those funds directly from the Catholic organization to Planned Parenthood? After all, that money could only “indirectly” be going to abortions, right? PP provides all sorts of other unobjectionable health services.

    I thinks that’s a pretty good analogy for what’s going on with the HHS mandate, and it’s pretty clear to me at least that a) there is a violation of a fundamental right occurring and b) the government doesn’t have a compelling justification for that violation.

  • DonS

    Agreed, Cincinnatus @ 53. Well said.

  • DonS

    Agreed, Cincinnatus @ 53. Well said.

  • helen

    KK’s government, which provides health care out of general revenues apparently funds abortifacients and abortions.
    KK’s government has also been known to arrest Pastors who, from their own pulpits, preached on texts critical of homosexuality.

    How long do you think it will be before such arrests begin in the US, given the ever broadening definition of “hate speech” (to include anything but criticism of conservative Christians)?

  • helen

    KK’s government, which provides health care out of general revenues apparently funds abortifacients and abortions.
    KK’s government has also been known to arrest Pastors who, from their own pulpits, preached on texts critical of homosexuality.

    How long do you think it will be before such arrests begin in the US, given the ever broadening definition of “hate speech” (to include anything but criticism of conservative Christians)?

  • reg

    Helen,
    I did a google search to see if the stories of Canadian pastors being arrested from their pulpits. I found one story remotely on point as to which Wilipedia reports:
    “Lund v. Boissoin is a court case in Alberta, Canada based on a June 2002 a letter to the editor from Reverend Stephen Boissoin published in the Red Deer Advocate on the subject of homosexuality. Dr. Darren Lund made a complaint about the letter to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. In 2008, a Human Rights Panel ruled that the letter was “likely to expose homosexuals to hatred and/or contempt,” ordering Boissoin to apologize to Lund and pay $5,000 in damages. Boissoin appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. In 2009, the Court of Queen’s Bench overturned the Panel’s ruling.”

    So while I am not suggesting Canada has the first amendment protections we have, I think the story of pastoral persecution may be a tad overstated by the blogs, etc. which reported the stories. Given this your concern that brown and/or red shirted thugs will soon be arresting American pastors from their pulpits is perhaps exaggerated.

  • reg

    Helen,
    I did a google search to see if the stories of Canadian pastors being arrested from their pulpits. I found one story remotely on point as to which Wilipedia reports:
    “Lund v. Boissoin is a court case in Alberta, Canada based on a June 2002 a letter to the editor from Reverend Stephen Boissoin published in the Red Deer Advocate on the subject of homosexuality. Dr. Darren Lund made a complaint about the letter to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. In 2008, a Human Rights Panel ruled that the letter was “likely to expose homosexuals to hatred and/or contempt,” ordering Boissoin to apologize to Lund and pay $5,000 in damages. Boissoin appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. In 2009, the Court of Queen’s Bench overturned the Panel’s ruling.”

    So while I am not suggesting Canada has the first amendment protections we have, I think the story of pastoral persecution may be a tad overstated by the blogs, etc. which reported the stories. Given this your concern that brown and/or red shirted thugs will soon be arresting American pastors from their pulpits is perhaps exaggerated.

  • Daniel Gorman

    “So what will happen if religious and other pro-life institutions refuse to go along with the Obamacare contraceptive and abortifacient mandate?”

    Actually, the LCMS, RCC, and all other major religious employers have been paying for a contraceptives and abortifacient mandate for years. Since Pres. Bush’s Medicare Part D was signed into law, abortion drugs have been subsidized by employee and employer medicare taxes.

    What’s the difference between paying a tax that is given to insurance companies to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients (Medicare Part D) and paying a tax that is given to insurance companies to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients (Obamacare)? If none, why haven’t the LCMS, RCC, and other religious employers sought exemption from Medicare taxes on religious grounds?

  • Daniel Gorman

    “So what will happen if religious and other pro-life institutions refuse to go along with the Obamacare contraceptive and abortifacient mandate?”

    Actually, the LCMS, RCC, and all other major religious employers have been paying for a contraceptives and abortifacient mandate for years. Since Pres. Bush’s Medicare Part D was signed into law, abortion drugs have been subsidized by employee and employer medicare taxes.

    What’s the difference between paying a tax that is given to insurance companies to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients (Medicare Part D) and paying a tax that is given to insurance companies to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients (Obamacare)? If none, why haven’t the LCMS, RCC, and other religious employers sought exemption from Medicare taxes on religious grounds?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I just have a question here. Is the concern over paying for abortions, or for being “forced” to pay for abortions? I say this because my employer-supplied insurance company pays for abortions/abortifacients/etc. And yes, I have health insurance. So, I am “funding the pot” that pays for these things. I suspect most of us with insurance already are. So, what is this argument about?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    I just have a question here. Is the concern over paying for abortions, or for being “forced” to pay for abortions? I say this because my employer-supplied insurance company pays for abortions/abortifacients/etc. And yes, I have health insurance. So, I am “funding the pot” that pays for these things. I suspect most of us with insurance already are. So, what is this argument about?

  • Cincinnatus

    John@58:

    Private insurance companies can (legally, if not morally) fund all the abortions they want with your premiums. It’s a private insurance company, and you’re entirely free to drop their coverage if it offends you.

    I know that’s a rather glib answer, but it’s accurate.

  • Cincinnatus

    John@58:

    Private insurance companies can (legally, if not morally) fund all the abortions they want with your premiums. It’s a private insurance company, and you’re entirely free to drop their coverage if it offends you.

    I know that’s a rather glib answer, but it’s accurate.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@59: Is John also free to drop drop Medicare (which also subsidies abortion) and stop paying his premiums? Isn’t this really about politics? Republicans abortion laws are good; Democrat abortion laws are bad.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@59: Is John also free to drop drop Medicare (which also subsidies abortion) and stop paying his premiums? Isn’t this really about politics? Republicans abortion laws are good; Democrat abortion laws are bad.

  • Cincinnatus

    Danial Gorman and John:

    There are already religious exemptions in place for Medicare and Social Security. This is why, for example, the Amish neither pay Medicare (or SS) taxes, nor receive those services.

    (nice try, smart guys!)

  • Cincinnatus

    Danial Gorman and John:

    There are already religious exemptions in place for Medicare and Social Security. This is why, for example, the Amish neither pay Medicare (or SS) taxes, nor receive those services.

    (nice try, smart guys!)

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, Daniel* (sorry about the misspelling), this has nothing to do with partisanship. The Catholic hierarchy, not to mention Catholic parishioners, constitute one of the more reliable Democratic voting blocs in America. I’d be surprised, in fact, if the HHS mandate even causes many Catholics to change their votes.

    Roman Catholics oppose the HHS mandate because it tramples on their fundamental rights. Why is that hard to accept?

    Moreover, Medicare isn’t a “Republican abortion law.” Medicare was established by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. Fortunately, those Democrats were smart enough to include religious exemptions in their “abortion laws.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Also, Daniel* (sorry about the misspelling), this has nothing to do with partisanship. The Catholic hierarchy, not to mention Catholic parishioners, constitute one of the more reliable Democratic voting blocs in America. I’d be surprised, in fact, if the HHS mandate even causes many Catholics to change their votes.

    Roman Catholics oppose the HHS mandate because it tramples on their fundamental rights. Why is that hard to accept?

    Moreover, Medicare isn’t a “Republican abortion law.” Medicare was established by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. Fortunately, those Democrats were smart enough to include religious exemptions in their “abortion laws.”

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@61&62: Pres. Bush’s Medicare Part D, prescription drug plan, passed by Republicans in the House and Senate, mandated that chemical abortions would be subsidized by Medicare taxes. If the RCC and the LCMS were opposed on principle to having to pay for abortions, why didn’t they immediately exercise their religious exemption to Medicare? Is it because the RCC and LCMS take their marching orders from the Republican Party?

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@61&62: Pres. Bush’s Medicare Part D, prescription drug plan, passed by Republicans in the House and Senate, mandated that chemical abortions would be subsidized by Medicare taxes. If the RCC and the LCMS were opposed on principle to having to pay for abortions, why didn’t they immediately exercise their religious exemption to Medicare? Is it because the RCC and LCMS take their marching orders from the Republican Party?

  • Norman Teigen

    A good example of what Gorman is talking about is found in my church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The ELS has adopted the Republican line of thought and made it into church proclamation because of the influence of the LC-MS and because one of the members of the ELS Doctrinal Committee is an extreme right wing candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First District. This extremist politician, who is highly unlikely to win in November, has caused the ELS to wander from its historic acceptance of the Lutheran Confessions.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

  • Norman Teigen

    A good example of what Gorman is talking about is found in my church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The ELS has adopted the Republican line of thought and made it into church proclamation because of the influence of the LC-MS and because one of the members of the ELS Doctrinal Committee is an extreme right wing candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First District. This extremist politician, who is highly unlikely to win in November, has caused the ELS to wander from its historic acceptance of the Lutheran Confessions.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

  • Cincinnatus

    Daniel Gorman@63: The RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Medicare Part D because Medicare Part D applies only to individuals. Groups can’t exempt themselves because it doesn’t apply to groups in the first place. Medicare taxes are paid by the individual from the individual’s paycheck. Individuals can still exempt themselves. In other words, the RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Part D because they aren’t a part of it in the first place.

    The HHS mandate, on the other hand, applies to groups and organizations (specifically, employers).

    The point you’re trying to make is stupid, Daniel. The RCC, as I’ve mentioned, is a highly Democratic organization. Seriously. The only issues over which RCC members and Democrats significantly differ is abortion and gay marriage. They’re liberal to the core on everything else. Meanwhile, I can’t speak for the LCMS, but I highly doubt they’re receiving typed “marching orders” from the G.O.P. every week. Again, these groups oppose the HHS mandate because it’s a violation of fundamental rights. The end.

  • Cincinnatus

    Daniel Gorman@63: The RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Medicare Part D because Medicare Part D applies only to individuals. Groups can’t exempt themselves because it doesn’t apply to groups in the first place. Medicare taxes are paid by the individual from the individual’s paycheck. Individuals can still exempt themselves. In other words, the RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Part D because they aren’t a part of it in the first place.

    The HHS mandate, on the other hand, applies to groups and organizations (specifically, employers).

    The point you’re trying to make is stupid, Daniel. The RCC, as I’ve mentioned, is a highly Democratic organization. Seriously. The only issues over which RCC members and Democrats significantly differ is abortion and gay marriage. They’re liberal to the core on everything else. Meanwhile, I can’t speak for the LCMS, but I highly doubt they’re receiving typed “marching orders” from the G.O.P. every week. Again, these groups oppose the HHS mandate because it’s a violation of fundamental rights. The end.

  • fws

    The problem with this post is that it contains a lie:

    “and abortifacents”. There are no abortifacents being mandated. There is only this:
    There is a concern, that MAYBE, depending on WHEN a woman takes a birth control pill in her cycle, that MAYBE SOME birth control pills MIGHT act like an abortifacent. We DON’T know. and the LCMS and Harrisson want this negative accusation to be proven without merit by more studies before they make up their mind.

    So Veith is repeating what at best is not truthful and at worst a lie intended to make something into an abortion debate when it is simply NOT that.

    Read the html page in the LCMS website to see I am right.

  • fws

    The problem with this post is that it contains a lie:

    “and abortifacents”. There are no abortifacents being mandated. There is only this:
    There is a concern, that MAYBE, depending on WHEN a woman takes a birth control pill in her cycle, that MAYBE SOME birth control pills MIGHT act like an abortifacent. We DON’T know. and the LCMS and Harrisson want this negative accusation to be proven without merit by more studies before they make up their mind.

    So Veith is repeating what at best is not truthful and at worst a lie intended to make something into an abortion debate when it is simply NOT that.

    Read the html page in the LCMS website to see I am right.

  • fws

    DanielGorman @ 63

    Anyone care to answer this? Cinncinatus? Dr Veith? Anyone?

    This is all to follow rome and trade in our Lutheran Confessional position for a mess of moralistic pottage. moralistic. it is not even at all about any sort of real morality. and it is based on a lie the roman bishops insinuated about “abortifacents”. Shameless

  • fws

    DanielGorman @ 63

    Anyone care to answer this? Cinncinatus? Dr Veith? Anyone?

    This is all to follow rome and trade in our Lutheran Confessional position for a mess of moralistic pottage. moralistic. it is not even at all about any sort of real morality. and it is based on a lie the roman bishops insinuated about “abortifacents”. Shameless

  • Norman Teigen

    Yes, fws, you are so right. Well meaning, well intentioned, and pious people have allowed themselves to be fooled by a lie. This self deception by the faithful is one of the biggest stories in American religious history.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  • Norman Teigen

    Yes, fws, you are so right. Well meaning, well intentioned, and pious people have allowed themselves to be fooled by a lie. This self deception by the faithful is one of the biggest stories in American religious history.

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  • Cincinnatus

    fws@67:

    I already answered Gorman@63 concisely and accurately. In short, Medicare Part D is irrelevant to this discussion.

    Your clarification about the language of abortifacient–a discrepancy I noticed as well–is helpful for the individual believer, but also, I think, irrelevant to the institutional question for two reasons:

    1) Catholics are opposed to the mandate because they oppose contraceptives in any form. It doesn’t matter whether or not such contraceptives are abortifacients; Catholics have strong grounds for opposing the mandate either way. Moreover, the fact that some chemical contraceptives can function as abortifacients, accidentally or otherwise, raises enough of a moral concern for Catholics to oppose the mandate vigorously.

    2) As I understand it–and correct me if I’m wrong–the LCMS opposes the mandate in a show of solidarity. They don’t oppose contraceptives, or worry about abortifacients, but are rather concerned by the precedent that the HHS mandate sets with regard to religious freedom/the First Amendment. That is to say, if the Executive Branch can, willy-nilly, trample on the fundamental rights of the Catholics, what’s to stop them from doing the same to the Lutherans? Best to oppose the problem while the problem is still manageable.

    I’d also remind you that the question of whether opposing the HHS mandate is “moralistic pottage”–or whatever–is entirely irrelevant. This is a question of religious rights, and that is a question that pertains to us all, moralists and Lutherans alike.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws@67:

    I already answered Gorman@63 concisely and accurately. In short, Medicare Part D is irrelevant to this discussion.

    Your clarification about the language of abortifacient–a discrepancy I noticed as well–is helpful for the individual believer, but also, I think, irrelevant to the institutional question for two reasons:

    1) Catholics are opposed to the mandate because they oppose contraceptives in any form. It doesn’t matter whether or not such contraceptives are abortifacients; Catholics have strong grounds for opposing the mandate either way. Moreover, the fact that some chemical contraceptives can function as abortifacients, accidentally or otherwise, raises enough of a moral concern for Catholics to oppose the mandate vigorously.

    2) As I understand it–and correct me if I’m wrong–the LCMS opposes the mandate in a show of solidarity. They don’t oppose contraceptives, or worry about abortifacients, but are rather concerned by the precedent that the HHS mandate sets with regard to religious freedom/the First Amendment. That is to say, if the Executive Branch can, willy-nilly, trample on the fundamental rights of the Catholics, what’s to stop them from doing the same to the Lutherans? Best to oppose the problem while the problem is still manageable.

    I’d also remind you that the question of whether opposing the HHS mandate is “moralistic pottage”–or whatever–is entirely irrelevant. This is a question of religious rights, and that is a question that pertains to us all, moralists and Lutherans alike.

  • fws

    cinncinatus @ 69

    “the fact that some chemical contraceptives can function as abortifacients, accidentally or otherwise,”

    There. you. go. again.

    This is NOT a fact. The RC Bishops keep saying stuff that makes this a “fact” a fact.
    A careful reading of the LCMS html page in the HHS ruling yields the truth that there is a SUSPICION, that PERHAP, DEPENDING in when a woman takes a contraceptive, DEPENDING on where her menstrual cycle is, that THEORETICALLY, there is the RARE possibility that MAYBE a contraceptive can work in the manner of an abortifacent. This THEORETICAL, RARE POSSIBILITY has not yet been COMPLETELY ruled out by scientific studies.

    The LCMS would like this THEORETICAL RARE POSSIBILITY completely ruled out by scientific studies before they decide where they stand on this.

    This is far far far from “it’s a fact that some contraceptives act as abortifacents”.

    This is really a lie, a dishonesty. One does not expect the council of Roman Catholic Bishops to engage in such spin and manipulation…. but…. well… look at what they say about the protestants and Lutherans and how they spin lies around that as well.

    Some are thinking this way: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And so we climb into bed with the RC to fight the culture wars…. We embrace Thomist Natural Law which directly attacks the very foundation of Lutheranism for example…..

    This is really bad moral thinking.

  • fws

    cinncinatus @ 69

    “the fact that some chemical contraceptives can function as abortifacients, accidentally or otherwise,”

    There. you. go. again.

    This is NOT a fact. The RC Bishops keep saying stuff that makes this a “fact” a fact.
    A careful reading of the LCMS html page in the HHS ruling yields the truth that there is a SUSPICION, that PERHAP, DEPENDING in when a woman takes a contraceptive, DEPENDING on where her menstrual cycle is, that THEORETICALLY, there is the RARE possibility that MAYBE a contraceptive can work in the manner of an abortifacent. This THEORETICAL, RARE POSSIBILITY has not yet been COMPLETELY ruled out by scientific studies.

    The LCMS would like this THEORETICAL RARE POSSIBILITY completely ruled out by scientific studies before they decide where they stand on this.

    This is far far far from “it’s a fact that some contraceptives act as abortifacents”.

    This is really a lie, a dishonesty. One does not expect the council of Roman Catholic Bishops to engage in such spin and manipulation…. but…. well… look at what they say about the protestants and Lutherans and how they spin lies around that as well.

    Some are thinking this way: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And so we climb into bed with the RC to fight the culture wars…. We embrace Thomist Natural Law which directly attacks the very foundation of Lutheranism for example…..

    This is really bad moral thinking.

  • fws

    cinn

    your response to Gorman says that the situations are not parallel.
    You have not proven that.
    You say that medicare part D has a religious exemption for the Amish etc. and…. it is a religious exemption that is , a) of a different nature and b) not a remedy available to the religious for this situation with regards to the HHS ruling.

    That is an assertion you have not provided proof for. To merely make an assertion of fact ,without evidence or footnote, is not to respond in a way that is conclusive.

    Show us that these two situations are different with facts. a) with respect to the amish religious exemptions. what is the nature of that exemption? what is its basis in case law, supreme rulings and statuatory law and b) how is this situation different in a way that those exemptions do NOT apply here and why?

  • fws

    cinn

    your response to Gorman says that the situations are not parallel.
    You have not proven that.
    You say that medicare part D has a religious exemption for the Amish etc. and…. it is a religious exemption that is , a) of a different nature and b) not a remedy available to the religious for this situation with regards to the HHS ruling.

    That is an assertion you have not provided proof for. To merely make an assertion of fact ,without evidence or footnote, is not to respond in a way that is conclusive.

    Show us that these two situations are different with facts. a) with respect to the amish religious exemptions. what is the nature of that exemption? what is its basis in case law, supreme rulings and statuatory law and b) how is this situation different in a way that those exemptions do NOT apply here and why?

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    1) Whether contraceptives are abortifacients are not–as you say, they probably aren’t–is irrelevant. That’s my point. Catholics oppose contraceptives prima facie, regardless of whether they are abortifacients. While it’s helpful to point out Veith’s error, to go further than mentioning it as a mere error is to play semantics.

    2) I don’t know what you mean when you say that the religions exemptions in Medicare Part D are different from those that should be (but aren’t) present in the HHS mandate. Are you denying that Medicare Part D contains exemptions? If so, you’re just flat-out wrong. I’m not going to do the Google legwork for you because it’s such a plainly, universally known fact. Anyone who is a verified member of a recognized religious group that opposes something in Medicare can request (and receive) an exemption to Medicare (or Social Security, etc.) taxes. Yes, most Amish people exempt themselves. So do many Christian Science members. Etc. The provisions for these exemptions are written straight into the law (and in many other laws). There are also lots of Supreme Court cases that buttress the exemptions; cf., e.g., Wisconsin v. Yoder.

    Or are you claiming that a religious exemption from the HHS mandate would be fundamentally different in some way from a Medicare exemption? If so, how? I don’t really understand the point you may be trying to make here.

    The exemptions should apply to the HHS mandate, but they don’t. Because the Obama administration is either stupid, hubristic, or careless. If they had included the same exemptions that exist in Medicare, Social Security, the public education system, etc., there wouldn’t be an issue.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    1) Whether contraceptives are abortifacients are not–as you say, they probably aren’t–is irrelevant. That’s my point. Catholics oppose contraceptives prima facie, regardless of whether they are abortifacients. While it’s helpful to point out Veith’s error, to go further than mentioning it as a mere error is to play semantics.

    2) I don’t know what you mean when you say that the religions exemptions in Medicare Part D are different from those that should be (but aren’t) present in the HHS mandate. Are you denying that Medicare Part D contains exemptions? If so, you’re just flat-out wrong. I’m not going to do the Google legwork for you because it’s such a plainly, universally known fact. Anyone who is a verified member of a recognized religious group that opposes something in Medicare can request (and receive) an exemption to Medicare (or Social Security, etc.) taxes. Yes, most Amish people exempt themselves. So do many Christian Science members. Etc. The provisions for these exemptions are written straight into the law (and in many other laws). There are also lots of Supreme Court cases that buttress the exemptions; cf., e.g., Wisconsin v. Yoder.

    Or are you claiming that a religious exemption from the HHS mandate would be fundamentally different in some way from a Medicare exemption? If so, how? I don’t really understand the point you may be trying to make here.

    The exemptions should apply to the HHS mandate, but they don’t. Because the Obama administration is either stupid, hubristic, or careless. If they had included the same exemptions that exist in Medicare, Social Security, the public education system, etc., there wouldn’t be an issue.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@65: “The RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Medicare Part D because Medicare Part D applies only to individuals. Groups can’t exempt themselves because it doesn’t apply to groups in the first place. Medicare taxes are paid by the individual from the individual’s paycheck. Individuals can still exempt themselves. In other words, the RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Part D because they aren’t a part of it in the first place.
    The HHS mandate, on the other hand, applies to groups and organizations (specifically, employers).”

    Whether RCC and LCMS can exempt themselves is irrelevant. They are required by law to match their employees’ Medicare taxes. The RCC and LCMS have been subsidizing contraceptives and/or abortions since Medicare Part D went into effect. Why haven’t the RCC and LCMS requested relief from the employer portion of Medicare? Answer: They haven’t been able to make a deal with Republicans, yet.

    Cincinnatus@65:”The point you’re trying to make is stupid, Daniel. The RCC, as I’ve mentioned, is a highly Democratic organization. Seriously. The only issues over which RCC members and Democrats significantly differ is abortion and gay marriage. They’re liberal to the core on everything else. Meanwhile, I can’t speak for the LCMS, but I highly doubt they’re receiving typed “marching orders” from the G.O.P. every week. Again, these groups oppose the HHS mandate because it’s a violation of fundamental rights. The end.”

    The RCC and LCMS will make a deal with whichever political party delivers the most goodies. The Republican Party is offering a better deal (i.e., lower taxes). Perhaps, the Republicans will also give them a full exemption to SS and Medicare taxes. If so, the RCC and LCMS will soon be able to drive all their private sector competitors out of business.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@65: “The RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Medicare Part D because Medicare Part D applies only to individuals. Groups can’t exempt themselves because it doesn’t apply to groups in the first place. Medicare taxes are paid by the individual from the individual’s paycheck. Individuals can still exempt themselves. In other words, the RCC and LCMS haven’t exempted themselves from Part D because they aren’t a part of it in the first place.
    The HHS mandate, on the other hand, applies to groups and organizations (specifically, employers).”

    Whether RCC and LCMS can exempt themselves is irrelevant. They are required by law to match their employees’ Medicare taxes. The RCC and LCMS have been subsidizing contraceptives and/or abortions since Medicare Part D went into effect. Why haven’t the RCC and LCMS requested relief from the employer portion of Medicare? Answer: They haven’t been able to make a deal with Republicans, yet.

    Cincinnatus@65:”The point you’re trying to make is stupid, Daniel. The RCC, as I’ve mentioned, is a highly Democratic organization. Seriously. The only issues over which RCC members and Democrats significantly differ is abortion and gay marriage. They’re liberal to the core on everything else. Meanwhile, I can’t speak for the LCMS, but I highly doubt they’re receiving typed “marching orders” from the G.O.P. every week. Again, these groups oppose the HHS mandate because it’s a violation of fundamental rights. The end.”

    The RCC and LCMS will make a deal with whichever political party delivers the most goodies. The Republican Party is offering a better deal (i.e., lower taxes). Perhaps, the Republicans will also give them a full exemption to SS and Medicare taxes. If so, the RCC and LCMS will soon be able to drive all their private sector competitors out of business.

  • Cincinnatus

    Gorman@65:

    …the LCMS and RCC don’t pay taxes. They’re churches. I’d like to see the party that can give them a better deal than that.

    Or are you using “LCMS” and “RCC” to refer to something other than the actual churches? The intellectual level of this conversation is disappointing. FWS is insisting I provide “evidence” that Medicare includes religious exemptions (if you don’t know those exemptions exist, you probably shouldn’t be participating in this conversation); then you try to tell me that the LCMS and RCC are primarily political interest groups maneuvering for lower taxes–on what, I can’t fathom. What is even happening here?

    You do raise a fair point about employers matching Medicare taxes. However, in theory, employees (and employers) are paying into medical services they’ll only use as retirees. As far as I know, only Medicaid (i.e., the Medicare program for low-income individuals) covers abortions, and Medicaid–again, as far as I know–is funded through general tax revenues.

    Even if I were wrong, though, the fact that the RCC and/or LCMS are potentially inconsistent on this point isn’t really an argument. Because they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim about Medicare, they aren’t permitted to raise a claim about another issue? Why not?

  • Cincinnatus

    Gorman@65:

    …the LCMS and RCC don’t pay taxes. They’re churches. I’d like to see the party that can give them a better deal than that.

    Or are you using “LCMS” and “RCC” to refer to something other than the actual churches? The intellectual level of this conversation is disappointing. FWS is insisting I provide “evidence” that Medicare includes religious exemptions (if you don’t know those exemptions exist, you probably shouldn’t be participating in this conversation); then you try to tell me that the LCMS and RCC are primarily political interest groups maneuvering for lower taxes–on what, I can’t fathom. What is even happening here?

    You do raise a fair point about employers matching Medicare taxes. However, in theory, employees (and employers) are paying into medical services they’ll only use as retirees. As far as I know, only Medicaid (i.e., the Medicare program for low-income individuals) covers abortions, and Medicaid–again, as far as I know–is funded through general tax revenues.

    Even if I were wrong, though, the fact that the RCC and/or LCMS are potentially inconsistent on this point isn’t really an argument. Because they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim about Medicare, they aren’t permitted to raise a claim about another issue? Why not?

  • fws

    cinn @ 74
    “Because they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim about Medicare, they aren’t permitted to raise a claim about another issue? Why not?”
    cinn @72
    Or are you claiming that a religious exemption from the HHS mandate would be fundamentally different in some way from a Medicare exemption? ”

    Naw. I am saying this:
    1) Medicare D funds the same stuff that the HHS mandate funds.
    2) I am not seeing the logic not opposing paying the employer portion of Med D and opposing the HHS mandate.
    3) The argument seems to be that someone is being forced to pay for services that some could electively use. And one should not have to pay for that service if one is morally opposed to that service being offered. The RC church is against the death penalty. Should they oppose taxes that are used to pay for that too?
    4) I am looking for some consistent argument here is all. Yes they are allowed to be inconsistent. Ok.

  • fws

    cinn @ 74
    “Because they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim about Medicare, they aren’t permitted to raise a claim about another issue? Why not?”
    cinn @72
    Or are you claiming that a religious exemption from the HHS mandate would be fundamentally different in some way from a Medicare exemption? ”

    Naw. I am saying this:
    1) Medicare D funds the same stuff that the HHS mandate funds.
    2) I am not seeing the logic not opposing paying the employer portion of Med D and opposing the HHS mandate.
    3) The argument seems to be that someone is being forced to pay for services that some could electively use. And one should not have to pay for that service if one is morally opposed to that service being offered. The RC church is against the death penalty. Should they oppose taxes that are used to pay for that too?
    4) I am looking for some consistent argument here is all. Yes they are allowed to be inconsistent. Ok.

  • fws

    cinn @ 74

    I am looking for some general principle here Cinn. I am not trying to pick a particular fight. I am thinking that general principle would be where the govt is forcing someone to actually do something that is morally wrong. The govt does lots of stuff that one could say is morally wrong, and they collect taxes and such to do those things. they indirectly support heretical religious groups with free fire and police etc.

    The RC principle used to be this : “error has no rights”. Thus: the 30 years war. So they have had to change that idea where they are in the minority. I respect that ability to adapt. So what is the principle they propose to replace their old one with? If it is wrong no one can do it? Like divorce in RC countries like Chile? Is that what this is aiming for?

  • fws

    cinn @ 74

    I am looking for some general principle here Cinn. I am not trying to pick a particular fight. I am thinking that general principle would be where the govt is forcing someone to actually do something that is morally wrong. The govt does lots of stuff that one could say is morally wrong, and they collect taxes and such to do those things. they indirectly support heretical religious groups with free fire and police etc.

    The RC principle used to be this : “error has no rights”. Thus: the 30 years war. So they have had to change that idea where they are in the minority. I respect that ability to adapt. So what is the principle they propose to replace their old one with? If it is wrong no one can do it? Like divorce in RC countries like Chile? Is that what this is aiming for?

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: The RCC already opposes the death penalty–vehemently–but they aren’t allowed to exempt themselves from general taxes altogether.

    …except that they already are, because they are a church. This has all been rehearsed many times already in previous comments between me, tODD, DonS, etc.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws: The RCC already opposes the death penalty–vehemently–but they aren’t allowed to exempt themselves from general taxes altogether.

    …except that they already are, because they are a church. This has all been rehearsed many times already in previous comments between me, tODD, DonS, etc.

  • fws

    cinn @ 70something

    how am I supposed to take seriously the moral claims of a group that deliberately manipulates conservatives by skewing the public discourse referring to the “fact” that birth control pills act as abortifacents, and that the HHS mandate includes sterilizations?

    The letter from the RC conference of Bishops used some pretty sketchy logic to pull those two “facts” out of their collective “a**es”.

    if one googles this stuff, 99% of the hits are conservative groups repeating these twin assertions of “fact” with NO effort to provide any basis for such assertions.

  • fws

    cinn @ 70something

    how am I supposed to take seriously the moral claims of a group that deliberately manipulates conservatives by skewing the public discourse referring to the “fact” that birth control pills act as abortifacents, and that the HHS mandate includes sterilizations?

    The letter from the RC conference of Bishops used some pretty sketchy logic to pull those two “facts” out of their collective “a**es”.

    if one googles this stuff, 99% of the hits are conservative groups repeating these twin assertions of “fact” with NO effort to provide any basis for such assertions.

  • fws

    cinn @ 70something

    how am I supposed to take seriously the moral claims of a group that deliberately manipulates conservatives by skewing the public discourse referring to the “fact” that birth control pills act as abortifacents, and that the HHS mandate includes sterilizations?

    The letter from the RC conference of Bishops used some pretty sketchy logic to pull those two “facts” out of their collective “a**es”.

    if one googles this stuff, 99% of the hits are conservative groups repeating these twin assertions of “fact” with NO effort to provide any basis for such assertions.

    I am sad to see that Harrison is wasting the capital of the public trust with such a thing.

  • fws

    cinn @ 70something

    how am I supposed to take seriously the moral claims of a group that deliberately manipulates conservatives by skewing the public discourse referring to the “fact” that birth control pills act as abortifacents, and that the HHS mandate includes sterilizations?

    The letter from the RC conference of Bishops used some pretty sketchy logic to pull those two “facts” out of their collective “a**es”.

    if one googles this stuff, 99% of the hits are conservative groups repeating these twin assertions of “fact” with NO effort to provide any basis for such assertions.

    I am sad to see that Harrison is wasting the capital of the public trust with such a thing.

  • fws

    and why is the RCC making two arguments that are PURE CONJECTURE?

    because if they told the truth : we are opposed to one penny of our money being used even for the free distribution of condoms, they know they would lose the PR battle

    It’s the Jesuits who coined the phrase “the end justifies the means”. This is one more example of that in practice.

  • fws

    and why is the RCC making two arguments that are PURE CONJECTURE?

    because if they told the truth : we are opposed to one penny of our money being used even for the free distribution of condoms, they know they would lose the PR battle

    It’s the Jesuits who coined the phrase “the end justifies the means”. This is one more example of that in practice.

  • fws

    cinn @ 70 something…

    just connected some dots here…

    As a CPA I had a hand in helping draft some grant proposals to distribute condoms as a part of a public health education drive.
    These grants are paid for out of title I and title II money from the ryan white act. This gets paid for out of general funds.

    And rome hasnt said boo about this. So why are they all hot and bothered bout this? Is this really a wrong question to ask Cinn? Why?

  • fws

    cinn @ 70 something…

    just connected some dots here…

    As a CPA I had a hand in helping draft some grant proposals to distribute condoms as a part of a public health education drive.
    These grants are paid for out of title I and title II money from the ryan white act. This gets paid for out of general funds.

    And rome hasnt said boo about this. So why are they all hot and bothered bout this? Is this really a wrong question to ask Cinn? Why?

  • fws

    cinn @ 77

    OK. now you really lost me. I am trying to find some general principle here. The one I thought you were proposing is that if someone is opposed to something, then it would be wrong for them to knowingly pay money that supports someone else doing that something,

    So why wouldnt they advise their members to stop paying income taxes? I hope you see my question. What is the general moral principle that is being advocated here?

  • fws

    cinn @ 77

    OK. now you really lost me. I am trying to find some general principle here. The one I thought you were proposing is that if someone is opposed to something, then it would be wrong for them to knowingly pay money that supports someone else doing that something,

    So why wouldnt they advise their members to stop paying income taxes? I hope you see my question. What is the general moral principle that is being advocated here?

  • fws

    cinn @ 77

    What I am asking you to do is to state the general moral principle here that would be the basis for conscientious objection. I am sorry now that I raised the particular questions about med d et al. I would prefer to work from the principle to the specific rather than the other way around. Isnt that the way we are supposed to do morality anyhow?

    Gimme a doctrinal statement please.

  • fws

    cinn @ 77

    What I am asking you to do is to state the general moral principle here that would be the basis for conscientious objection. I am sorry now that I raised the particular questions about med d et al. I would prefer to work from the principle to the specific rather than the other way around. Isnt that the way we are supposed to do morality anyhow?

    Gimme a doctrinal statement please.

  • Doug Indeap

    This post repeats the deceit of Representative Sensenbrenner. Arguments that the ACA infringes religious liberty have gone from wrong to ridiculous.

    First, notwithstanding all the arm waving about religious liberty, the ACA does not force any employer to act contrary to his or her conscience. The law does not compel any employer to provide health insurance to its employees. Any employer may choose not to provide such insurance. Moral dilemma avoided.

    Second, contrary to Congressman Sensenbrennner’s assertion, an employer choosing not to provide such health insurance pays a tax of only $2,000 per employee–far less than the typical cost of health insurance. Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t even pay that tax.

    Sensenbrennner misleads by mentioning a different tax that applies only when a health insurance plan is offered and it fails to meet statutory requirements. Unmentioned by Sensenbrenner are the many exceptions and other ways to avoid or substantially reduce that tax.

  • Doug Indeap

    This post repeats the deceit of Representative Sensenbrenner. Arguments that the ACA infringes religious liberty have gone from wrong to ridiculous.

    First, notwithstanding all the arm waving about religious liberty, the ACA does not force any employer to act contrary to his or her conscience. The law does not compel any employer to provide health insurance to its employees. Any employer may choose not to provide such insurance. Moral dilemma avoided.

    Second, contrary to Congressman Sensenbrennner’s assertion, an employer choosing not to provide such health insurance pays a tax of only $2,000 per employee–far less than the typical cost of health insurance. Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t even pay that tax.

    Sensenbrennner misleads by mentioning a different tax that applies only when a health insurance plan is offered and it fails to meet statutory requirements. Unmentioned by Sensenbrenner are the many exceptions and other ways to avoid or substantially reduce that tax.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    tODD, DonS, and I (among others) clearly discussed and debated the “general principles” at stake earlier in the thread. If you’re too lazy to read the thread, I’m not inclined to rehash our conclusions.

    Also, I don’t care what “99%” of conservative blogs are saying. We’re not talking about conservative bloggers. And how many times do I have to say it? The RCC doesn’t oppose the HHS mandate because it implicates the question of abortion; they’re opposed to contraception as such.

  • Cincinnatus

    fws:

    tODD, DonS, and I (among others) clearly discussed and debated the “general principles” at stake earlier in the thread. If you’re too lazy to read the thread, I’m not inclined to rehash our conclusions.

    Also, I don’t care what “99%” of conservative blogs are saying. We’re not talking about conservative bloggers. And how many times do I have to say it? The RCC doesn’t oppose the HHS mandate because it implicates the question of abortion; they’re opposed to contraception as such.

  • DonS

    Doug @ 84: There is no deceit. The argument is that you cannot mandate that a religious institution do something in direct violation of its religious beliefs. Period. The fact that they can avoid the mandate by payment of a punitive tax is immaterial, for what should be obvious reasons. It doesn’t matter how much the tax is. It could be 1 cent and it would still be a constitutional violation, if the underlying case of these institutions is correct. Your argument would be akin to the government passing a law taking away your right of free speech, but only fining you $5 if you continue to speak. Still unconstitutional, despite the fact that you can easily afford the $5.

    A second issue, of course, is that these institutions are tax exempt.

  • DonS

    Doug @ 84: There is no deceit. The argument is that you cannot mandate that a religious institution do something in direct violation of its religious beliefs. Period. The fact that they can avoid the mandate by payment of a punitive tax is immaterial, for what should be obvious reasons. It doesn’t matter how much the tax is. It could be 1 cent and it would still be a constitutional violation, if the underlying case of these institutions is correct. Your argument would be akin to the government passing a law taking away your right of free speech, but only fining you $5 if you continue to speak. Still unconstitutional, despite the fact that you can easily afford the $5.

    A second issue, of course, is that these institutions are tax exempt.

  • Doug Indeap

    DonS,

    Confronted by questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith, the courts have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, torts, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. (E.g., http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/494/872/case.html)

    When the legislature anticipates that application of such laws may put some individuals in moral binds, the legislature may, as a matter of grace (not constitutional compulsion), provide exemptions for conscientious objectors. In doing so, the legislature need not offer the objector a free pass. For instance, in years past, we have not allowed conscientious objectors simply to skip military service for “free”; rather, we have required them to provide alternative service in noncombatant roles or useful civilian work.

    The real question here then is not so much whether the First Amendment precludes the government from enacting and enforcing the generally applicable laws regarding availability of health insurance (it does not), but rather whether there is any need to exempt some employers in order to avoid forcing them to act contrary to their consciences. Since the law already affords employers choices by which they can avoid acting contrary to their consciences, there is no need for an exemption.

    The real aim of those seeking such an exemption is not religious freedom for themselves (they already have that), but rather power over their employees enabling them to limit their employees’ choices to those conforming to the employers’ religious beliefs.

  • Doug Indeap

    DonS,

    Confronted by questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith, the courts have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, torts, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. (E.g., http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/494/872/case.html)

    When the legislature anticipates that application of such laws may put some individuals in moral binds, the legislature may, as a matter of grace (not constitutional compulsion), provide exemptions for conscientious objectors. In doing so, the legislature need not offer the objector a free pass. For instance, in years past, we have not allowed conscientious objectors simply to skip military service for “free”; rather, we have required them to provide alternative service in noncombatant roles or useful civilian work.

    The real question here then is not so much whether the First Amendment precludes the government from enacting and enforcing the generally applicable laws regarding availability of health insurance (it does not), but rather whether there is any need to exempt some employers in order to avoid forcing them to act contrary to their consciences. Since the law already affords employers choices by which they can avoid acting contrary to their consciences, there is no need for an exemption.

    The real aim of those seeking such an exemption is not religious freedom for themselves (they already have that), but rather power over their employees enabling them to limit their employees’ choices to those conforming to the employers’ religious beliefs.

  • DonS

    So, Doug @ 87, I see that you get around on this issue: http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/2012/june8novenaday6/

    Some quick googling indicates that you are quite active in the fight for “separation of church and state”, of which the linked blog comment is merely one example. I didn’t buy your first argument, about how unconstitutional things are OK if the government provides a way out by paying a tax, and that the Catholic Church is really just a big lobbying organization, so now you are on to argument number 2.

    Unfortunately, you have a problem with this argument as well. It’s called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and protects religious freedom rights much more scrupulously than does the First Amendment under Employment Division v. Smith. RFRA provides that the federal government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
    (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

    This standard applies “even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The term “exercise of religion” is, in turn, defined broadly to mean “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”

    This on-line WSJ editorial well states the reason for the illegality of the HHS mandates, even under Employment Division v. Smith, because the mandates are not laws of general applicability (too many secular exemptions). It also happens to directly rebut your point about the fines somehow whitewashing a constitutional violation, in a manner similar to the way I rebutted the argument above in my earlier post:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204795304577223003824714664.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  • DonS

    So, Doug @ 87, I see that you get around on this issue: http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/2012/june8novenaday6/

    Some quick googling indicates that you are quite active in the fight for “separation of church and state”, of which the linked blog comment is merely one example. I didn’t buy your first argument, about how unconstitutional things are OK if the government provides a way out by paying a tax, and that the Catholic Church is really just a big lobbying organization, so now you are on to argument number 2.

    Unfortunately, you have a problem with this argument as well. It’s called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and protects religious freedom rights much more scrupulously than does the First Amendment under Employment Division v. Smith. RFRA provides that the federal government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
    (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
    (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

    This standard applies “even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The term “exercise of religion” is, in turn, defined broadly to mean “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.”

    This on-line WSJ editorial well states the reason for the illegality of the HHS mandates, even under Employment Division v. Smith, because the mandates are not laws of general applicability (too many secular exemptions). It also happens to directly rebut your point about the fines somehow whitewashing a constitutional violation, in a manner similar to the way I rebutted the argument above in my earlier post:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204795304577223003824714664.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@74: “…the LCMS and RCC don’t pay taxes. They’re churches. I’d like to see the party that can give them a better deal than that.
    Or are you using “LCMS” and “RCC” to refer to something other than the actual churches?”

    This has never been about actual churches but about LCMS and RCC universities, hospitals, insurance companies, etc. that compete against private sector firms. The LCMS and RCC institutions already have many unfair advantages. The Republican party can give them even more goodies if they are exempted from taxes and regulation based on the first amendment.

    Cincinnatus@74: “You do raise a fair point about employers matching Medicare taxes. However, in theory, employees (and employers) are paying into medical services they’ll only use as retirees. As far as I know, only Medicaid (i.e., the Medicare program for low-income individuals) covers abortions, and Medicaid–again, as far as I know–is funded through general tax revenues.”

    Medicare and Medicare Part D do not just cover old people. Younger women are enrolled in plans that cover contraceptives.

    Contrary to Republican mythology, Medicare Part D has never paid for itself. It relies on subsidies from the Medicare fund that the LCMS and RCC pay into. The Medicare Part D deficit has only widened with the closing of the donut hole under Obamacare.

    Cincinnatus@74: “Even if I were wrong, though, the fact that the RCC and/or LCMS are potentially inconsistent on this point isn’t really an argument. Because they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim about Medicare, they aren’t permitted to raise a claim about another issue? Why not?”

    Sure, they can make whatever claim they want to. But, don’t insult our intelligence by claiming its about their religious freedom.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Cincinnatus@74: “…the LCMS and RCC don’t pay taxes. They’re churches. I’d like to see the party that can give them a better deal than that.
    Or are you using “LCMS” and “RCC” to refer to something other than the actual churches?”

    This has never been about actual churches but about LCMS and RCC universities, hospitals, insurance companies, etc. that compete against private sector firms. The LCMS and RCC institutions already have many unfair advantages. The Republican party can give them even more goodies if they are exempted from taxes and regulation based on the first amendment.

    Cincinnatus@74: “You do raise a fair point about employers matching Medicare taxes. However, in theory, employees (and employers) are paying into medical services they’ll only use as retirees. As far as I know, only Medicaid (i.e., the Medicare program for low-income individuals) covers abortions, and Medicaid–again, as far as I know–is funded through general tax revenues.”

    Medicare and Medicare Part D do not just cover old people. Younger women are enrolled in plans that cover contraceptives.

    Contrary to Republican mythology, Medicare Part D has never paid for itself. It relies on subsidies from the Medicare fund that the LCMS and RCC pay into. The Medicare Part D deficit has only widened with the closing of the donut hole under Obamacare.

    Cincinnatus@74: “Even if I were wrong, though, the fact that the RCC and/or LCMS are potentially inconsistent on this point isn’t really an argument. Because they haven’t raised a First Amendment claim about Medicare, they aren’t permitted to raise a claim about another issue? Why not?”

    Sure, they can make whatever claim they want to. But, don’t insult our intelligence by claiming its about their religious freedom.

  • Doug Indeap

    DonS,

    That first argument you didn’t buy wasn’t my argument at all. If you reread it, you will find that I did not argue, as you suppose, that unconstitutional things are okay if government provides a way out by paying a tax. Rather, I presented two separate points. First, I argued and showed how the ACA is constitutional. Period. Then I argued and showed why those claiming they need an exemption so they won’t be “forced” to act contrary to their consciences have failed to show any such need–since the law already affords them a choice consistent with their consciences. Period. They may not like that they don’t get their way for free, but that is a mere political, not constitutional, gripe.

    While the RFRA also poses a problem, as you note, that has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the ACA. As gauged by the standard of Employment Division v. Smith, the ACA is plainly constitutional. Whether the ACA also meets the standard of the RFRA is a closer question. The Court will approach that statutory issue much differently than the constitutional one, since there is no doubt that the Constitution governs a statute, but there are more complexities in sorting out what to do if two statutes conflict. For one, there is a general principle that a Congress (e.g., the one that enacted the RFRA) cannot bind a later Congress (e.g., the one that enacted the ACA), since the latter has the power simply to undo or override the acts of the former. For another, commentators opining that the ACA does not meet the RFRA standard generally reach that conclusion simply by parsing the words of the statute and usually display no knowledge of the court decisions that earlier interpreted and applied that standard (when it was used in constitutional cases) in ways enabling statutes to more readily survive scrutiny.

  • Doug Indeap

    DonS,

    That first argument you didn’t buy wasn’t my argument at all. If you reread it, you will find that I did not argue, as you suppose, that unconstitutional things are okay if government provides a way out by paying a tax. Rather, I presented two separate points. First, I argued and showed how the ACA is constitutional. Period. Then I argued and showed why those claiming they need an exemption so they won’t be “forced” to act contrary to their consciences have failed to show any such need–since the law already affords them a choice consistent with their consciences. Period. They may not like that they don’t get their way for free, but that is a mere political, not constitutional, gripe.

    While the RFRA also poses a problem, as you note, that has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the ACA. As gauged by the standard of Employment Division v. Smith, the ACA is plainly constitutional. Whether the ACA also meets the standard of the RFRA is a closer question. The Court will approach that statutory issue much differently than the constitutional one, since there is no doubt that the Constitution governs a statute, but there are more complexities in sorting out what to do if two statutes conflict. For one, there is a general principle that a Congress (e.g., the one that enacted the RFRA) cannot bind a later Congress (e.g., the one that enacted the ACA), since the latter has the power simply to undo or override the acts of the former. For another, commentators opining that the ACA does not meet the RFRA standard generally reach that conclusion simply by parsing the words of the statute and usually display no knowledge of the court decisions that earlier interpreted and applied that standard (when it was used in constitutional cases) in ways enabling statutes to more readily survive scrutiny.

  • DonS

    Doug @ 90: Yes, I understand the difference between a constitutional and a statutory argument.

    Actually, in this kind of case, using established principles of statutory construction, the courts would almost certainly find that the RFRA controls. The ACA does not acknowledge the RFRA, or indicate that it intends to override it as to this one particular HHS mandate issue, and it is easy for the courts to modify the ACA by excepting the plaintiffs and those similarly situated from the regulations rather than vitiating the broader RFRA. In other words, they would rather fix the ACA than essentially nullify the RFRA, which was explicitly passed by Congress to reverse the Employment Division v. Smith decision.

    This is particularly true since there are also constitutional problems with the ACA mandates, since they are not a law of general applicability.

  • DonS

    Doug @ 90: Yes, I understand the difference between a constitutional and a statutory argument.

    Actually, in this kind of case, using established principles of statutory construction, the courts would almost certainly find that the RFRA controls. The ACA does not acknowledge the RFRA, or indicate that it intends to override it as to this one particular HHS mandate issue, and it is easy for the courts to modify the ACA by excepting the plaintiffs and those similarly situated from the regulations rather than vitiating the broader RFRA. In other words, they would rather fix the ACA than essentially nullify the RFRA, which was explicitly passed by Congress to reverse the Employment Division v. Smith decision.

    This is particularly true since there are also constitutional problems with the ACA mandates, since they are not a law of general applicability.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    one of the members of the ELS Doctrinal Committee is an extreme right wing candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First District.

    He, he. “extreme right” as in just a little to the left of John F. Kennedy.

    There are no “extreme right” candidates running in the USA these days. Show me one person to the right of JFK.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    one of the members of the ELS Doctrinal Committee is an extreme right wing candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s First District.

    He, he. “extreme right” as in just a little to the left of John F. Kennedy.

    There are no “extreme right” candidates running in the USA these days. Show me one person to the right of JFK.

  • fws

    sg @92

    Agree Sg

    There are just some religious pushing for their form of “morality” in a way that shows that they have no real moral restraints.

    EG: Roman Catholic Bishops letter twisting around the HHS mandate to declare as facts that the it mandates sterilizations and that some birth control pills are abortifacents, and downplays the fact that they are also against condoms. Pure post modernist manipulative spin.

    NOM National Org to save Marriage: Claim that preventing fags from getting a marriage certificate will SAVE marriage and that , somehow, the fact that kids do better with their two birth parents has anything at all to do with letting two homos get a marriage license. Homos can already adopt and have foster kids… and.. so….. what then… we make the divorced continue to live together so that the kids have both birth parents around?

    Lutherans pushing for Thomist Natural Law. Ok. So we give in to the exact theological poison that the Apology of the Confessions is directly aimed against so that we can somehow combat sanctity of life issues and those homos who want to be let into the church and live in their baptisms….

  • fws

    sg @92

    Agree Sg

    There are just some religious pushing for their form of “morality” in a way that shows that they have no real moral restraints.

    EG: Roman Catholic Bishops letter twisting around the HHS mandate to declare as facts that the it mandates sterilizations and that some birth control pills are abortifacents, and downplays the fact that they are also against condoms. Pure post modernist manipulative spin.

    NOM National Org to save Marriage: Claim that preventing fags from getting a marriage certificate will SAVE marriage and that , somehow, the fact that kids do better with their two birth parents has anything at all to do with letting two homos get a marriage license. Homos can already adopt and have foster kids… and.. so….. what then… we make the divorced continue to live together so that the kids have both birth parents around?

    Lutherans pushing for Thomist Natural Law. Ok. So we give in to the exact theological poison that the Apology of the Confessions is directly aimed against so that we can somehow combat sanctity of life issues and those homos who want to be let into the church and live in their baptisms….

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