It turns out religious liberty is still in peril here

The USCCB writes:

Dear Friend of Religious Liberty:

As you know, there are major threats looming against people and groups that are opposed in conscience to providing insurance coverage for sterilizations, contraception, or abortifacient drugs, or to participating in or facilitating an abortion.

Now is the time to act!  Congress will soon be considering a “must-pass” bill that will fund the federal government.  Congress can include conscience protection as part of that bill and solve this problem now.

Can you spare 5 minutes to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support conscience protection for EVERYONE?  Call using the “Take Action” link or click here to email your two Senators and Representative.


Please join with us in calling on Congress to protect the right of all people and groups to participate in life-affirming health care — without violating their consciences!

Not sure what to say?  Here are some suggestions:

  • The administration has issued      a mandate requiring virtually all insurance plans to include sterilization      and contraception, even including the morning-after and week-after      pills.  People who run secular charities, or religious or secular      businesses, are being forced to buy insurance coverage for      “services” to which they have a deeply held moral or religious      objection — with no exceptions.  I oppose forcing people to      participate in, fund, or provide things they believe are wrong or immoral.

  • Though churches themselves      are exempted from the mandate, religious ministries of service — such as      charities, schools, and hospitals — are given second-class status under      the law, in the form of a still-murky “accommodation.”  But      these ministries are integral to our religious community and deserve the      same exemption as our houses of worship.  I oppose government      action that defines our religious community narrowly and inaccurately,      reducing freedom of religion to freedom of worship only.

  • Freedom of religion is a      bedrock principle on which our nation was founded.  It is referred to      as our “First Freedom” — first on the list in the Bill of      Rights, and first in priority among human freedoms.  I support      religious freedom as a fundamental human right of every person.

  • A distinct blessing of being      an American is that we are free to choose our faith, and live by the      dictates of that faith throughout our lives — at home, at church, and in the      public square.  Other countries may force faith underground, but in      America we can follow our conscience while also participating fully in      society.  I support policies that allow Americans to live their      faith in their jobs and in their everyday life.

  • In the words of Cardinal      Dolan, “In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have      consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to      reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath.  We      cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally      well-informed consciences.”  I support the right of all      men and women who work in health care — whether providing services or      providing insurance — to live and work in harmony with their faith and      convictions.

Please contact your Congressional representatives today and urge them to take whatever action is necessary to protect religious freedom and the moral convictions of all!

For more information or to join the postcard campaign, go to NCHLA’s action alert.

Thank you for all that you do in support of life and liberty!

-Your Religious Freedom and Conscience Protection Team

P.S. Please forward this to friends and family who share your concern to protect the rights of all to participate in health care! They can click here to sign up for our email list or text the word FREEDOM to 377377 for updates.

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  • CathyLouise

    Done & done! Thank you for the link.

  • Reluctant Liberal

    Serious question here: The HHS mandate requires employers cover certain treatments that some find objectionable under religious grounds. This is considered a violation despite the fact that there treatments will mostly represent only marginal portions of healthcare spending. Does that mean that it is an unacceptable violation of my religious freedom that about a third of my federal taxes are being spent on the military, which I am opposed to for religious reasons? What are the distinctions here? If I’m being ignorant, it’s not willful ignorance. What makes the HHS mandate such a big deal when the conscience rights of pacifists (of whom many are pacifists for religious reasons) have been ignored for decades?

    • Dustin

      Good question. The idea of selectively-applied conscientious objections to generally-applied laws is a recipe for anarchy. I’m disgusted by the drone war. Aren’t my “rights” being violated by having to pay for it? Are my rights being violated when another member of a health insurance plan I might belong to procures a treatment option I’m opposed to, technically with “my” money in the form of my payments to that insurance company? The conscience rights of an employer, taken to the extreme, would mean that my boss would have the authority to determine what I’m allowed to spend my paycheck on. But that money is MINE. I earned it with my labor, just as I earned the health care benefits my job might give me in lieu of a larger paycheck. He has no claim on it, and no right to tell me what I can’t do with it.

      Applied consistently, the “conscience objection” rejects the a basic principle of civilization; that we’re all going to have to find ways to live together cooperatively in spite of things, like faith, that divide us. We can’t carve ourselves up and say, “these people are special, so the law can’t touch them.”

      • Dustin

        Also, I didn’t mean for it to look like I was shouting with. I just don’t know how to italicize “mine.” Sorry for all the addenda.

    • Dustin

      That 2nd paragraph should read “a basic principle.” Scratch the “the.”

    • Brian

      There is a significant difference between the two in terms of “proximate cooperation with evil”. Let’s take your example of the military.

      The congress has an expressed constitutional responsibilty to maintain an army and declare wars to “provide for the common defense”. Therefore, the government has to purchase certain items that somebody will think is immoral. For example, some will object to the purchase of nuclear weapons, based on their inabilty to distinguish from targeting civilians and fielded forces. Others, noting that our adversaries have significant nuclear capabilities, say that not using Mutually Assured Destruction as a deterrant to nuclear war would immorally open US citizens to attack. (The fact that the Church difinitively comes down on one side of this debate is irrelevant to this particular discussion.) Congresscritters and presidents have the ultimate responsibility to allocate tax money in this case, which somewhat relieves the individual of personal culpability in choosing wrong (though voting for advocates of evil for the sake of that evil is still proscribed). You have the freedom to make your thoughts well known on the point, but unless you are in Congress and vote a specific way, you hold no personal responsibility for the immorality of the overall government program.

      Now, consider if the government forced you to invest directly in companies that produce nuclear weapons. Your culpability is higher, because your have to actually contract to make that investment. It’s your money, not the government, but the government is forcing you to spend it in a particular way. Now, you could protest that “if I am forced to do so, I am relieved of the personal culpability.” Well, maybe. During the Nuremburg trials, the “I was just following orders” defense was rejected. After all, John the Baptist gives examples of how people with power, soldiers and taxpayers, still have a responsibilty to follow moral precepts in executing their duties (LK 3:12-14). The fact that companies would be directly contracting to provide the services at no cost to the employee places a considerable moral responsibility on the employer that does not exist on the government.

      This could have been solved by either making health insurance something purchased by individuals or by creating a single payer system, since under either case individuals would have the ability to opt out of procuring these services. Either one would eliminate the moral culpability of cooperation with evil placed on the employer. However, since everyone sees employers as a bottomless pit of money to give to employees, we are only going to give up the link between employment and health care when the system completely falls apart (which, I think, is the point of Obamacare, but that is another discussion.)

      Hope this helps.

      • Reluctant Liberal

        Not especially. I mean, I get the distinction you’re going for, but it isn’t a distinction I find especially useful in this case. Put another way, you seem to be saying that the HHS mandate violates conscience more by giving citizens more choices. I can see how having a middle man (the government) sort of changes the morality of the situation, but only if I squint. Ultimately, though, I don’t see much of a real moral distinction between being forced to contribute to something I’m opposed to with tax forms versus the same on insurance forms.

  • Mike

    There is a difference.
    Businesses are specifically required to include these services in the insurance they buy. If that law were not there, they could choose a level of cover that did not include these services. It would be discretionary. Employees could pay for their own services, as they do in most countries. OR, the government could fund it directly if they chose. Even that would be different to a requirement that you, as a business owner, purchase this service.
    But there never is and never was any discretion available as to what taxes are used for. The main way you can exercise influence over that is by voting. In the end, it is not *you* who are buying the missiles.
    The debate has been weakened by a focus on the definition of a religious organisation. The same problem applies for any individual who owns a business and has values. The individual conscience must be protected even if the individual can not claim to be a religion as such.

    • Reluctant Liberal

      See above. I think the idea that the idea that purchasing decisions are more sacrosanct than tax dollars is just another aspect of the fetishization of private property that is so rampant in American society. Your tax money is not different from expenses that you are legally required to pay. A legal obligation is a legal obligation. Adam Smith was not a saint, and I don’t see why the Catholic Church has more reason to be upset about the millions that might be spent on birth control than it is the billions that have already been spent on our nuclear arsenal.

    • Darren

      This is a great idea! The only objection I have is that it does not go far enough, not nearly far enough.

      Here we are saying that if I have a religious objection to a law, I don’t have to follow that law. But why stop at HHS? Levels of culpability?! My religion has no small sins, thank you very much; right is right, and wrong is wrong, and who are you to now tell me that my objection isn’t “serious” enough?

      Anyone, anywhere, with any objection at all to any law or practice, just so long as they claim it is based on what God told them to do or not do…

      And here I thought it was only the Atheists who were Relativists.

  • Sven

    I note that some US tax money goes towards livestock subsidies, some of which go towards swine. This is not remotely controversial, despite the fact that Jews and Muslims consider swine to be unclean.
    Why is it controversial when Catholics indirectly pay for contraception, but not controversial when Jews and Muslims indirectly pay for pigs?