An Atheist Argues for Religious Liberty

More like this guy please.

  • James H, London

    ” the test of tolerance isn’t how you treat the people you agree with”

    That is damn good. I must remember it for future recerence.

  • keddaw

    “to provide abortifacient drugs to their employees”

    It is actually to provide access to an insurance plan which, at the employees discretion, gives them access to ‘abortifacient’ drugs and contraception. You know, much like how when the employer gives over their wages they can go buy such drugs.

    Not that an employer should have any input into an employees health care, that would solve all this nonsense.

    • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

      As I understand it – I work in health insurance, but am not familiar with every plan everywhere – most plans already covered contraceptive medications, including the potentially abortifacient ones. However, they were covered like any other prescription medication or procedure; that is, the patient had to pay a part of the cost, a copay or a coinsurance percentage.

      The controversy is that the HHS has placed these drugs in the “preventive” category, removes all cost shares by the patient, subsidizing these drugs and procedures. This is an economic incentive. In other words, the plan is designed to encourage people to use contraceptives (including potentially abortifacient ones) and sterilization procedures by making it “free” to them.

      The cost is borne entirely by those who pay the premiums. Employers are required (in my state, at least) to pay at least 75% of the employee’s premium, and often pay 100% of the premium. That means that the employers are the ones subsidizing the medications and procedures that they find morally abhorrent.

      (This is not even beginning to address the requirement that all individual plans are required to carry this coverage as well, meaning that individuals are not able to opt out of contributing their premiums toward such coverage that they find morally abhorrent.)

      This requirement to subsidize the drugs is what employers rightly object to. It is the difference between paying a wage (which employees can use as they will) and giving them a gift card that can only be used for a single purpose. If that purpose were to do something morally controversial, say, to buy marijuana or guns or Justin Bieber albums, would it not make sense to leave it as an option, rather than forcing employers to provide that particular subsidy?

      These contraceptive medications and procedures are exactly morally controversial, so they should be left as an option to the employee, not as a requirement on the employer.

      • RedMeg1990

        Does this mean I should be able to get my Clearblue test sticks for FREE from my insurance? They are part of a recognized NFP protocol.

        • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

          Unfortunately, the mandate only includes “FDA approved contraceptive drugs” and sterilization surgeries.

          NFP isn’t even on their radar, which is ironic in the extreme, because fertility awareness techniques are almost a perfect example of preventive women’s health screenings.

      • keddaw

        1. The employee does not have to use any part of the healthcare they find objectionable.
        2. Neither does anyone in the insurance pool.
        3. Contraception being included in a risk pool reduces the overall expected cost of that pool so employers pay less, rather than subsidise, if their staff are in a plan that covers contraception.
        4. Why the hell does my employer even get to know what’s in my health insurance?
        5. Transplants are morally controversial to some religions, blood transfusions to others, even regular medicine and treatment to some, so where does one draw the line in an allegedly secular state with one law for all?

        • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

          I’ll address your points out of order.

          4. We are talking about employer-sponsored insurance. That is, it is coverage that is chosen by your employer and paid for by your employer as one of the “benefits” of employment. They choose the deductible, whether and how chiropractic services are covered, any “bundled” coverages like dental or vision, and so on. They are the purchaser of the plan, so of course they know (or should) exactly what goes in it.

          Now, if you want to decline the insurance your employer offers you, or if your employer does not offer insurance at all (as small companies can), then you can purchase your own insurance and it is none of your employer’s business. And, so far as I know, no employers are expressing any interest in what you do with your wages.

          But why should an employer be forced to buy something that is morally controversial?

          (I know, you disagree that contraception is morally controversial; I’ll address that separately. But for the sake of argument, consider the principle: under what circumstances should anyone – employer or employee, citizen or alien – be forced to purchase something that is morally controversial?)

          • keddaw

            Much like when the government forces employers to pay payroll tax for their employees and then used that money in morally controversial ways (war, emergency healthcare etc.) Or corporation tax.

            Or is this an argument that the employer must pay those taxes but is not then morally responsible for what the government then does with the money, much like wages?

            If so… then it is up to the employee whether they partake of the morally controversial benefits of healthcare and the employer cannot be held morally responsible for it. Especially if it mandated by law that they provide healthcare insureance with that provision in it. If you wanna talk degrees of separation: Employer A buys insurance from insurer B on behalf of employee C who then gets to choose whether to take a morally controversial treatment/service from provider D.

            But again, my preference is that employers are kept out of employee’s health insurance (or, if they must, provide an insurance voucher/benefit in kind which can only be used to purchase healthcare insurance) in either case all these problems go away.

            • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

              Except that, by creating an economic incentive for controversial treatment/service X, Employer A ends up being directly responsible for paying for that service, and for encouraging employees and their families to use that service. It is (as I said above) putting the employer in the position of a tempter, not just doing wrong, but encouraging others to do wrong and directly assisting them to do so.

        • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

          Still out of order…

          5. Transplants and blood transfusions are not considered “preventive” benefits, and so require a cost-share from the patient; that is, the patient must decide to receive that treatment and put his/her own money toward that treatment, over and above the premiums. This was the same situation contraceptives and sterilizations were in before the HHS mandate, and there was little or no objection by anyone to this – exactly no one was being forced to pay for someone else’s decision to do something morally controversial.

          Which leads us to…

          3. Including contraception and sterilization in the risk pool is not what is at issue. Catholics, at least, can accept that as “remote participation with evil.” We’d rather not do it, but there are no better options at present. I presume those who object to transplants or transfusions make similar arguments.

          Subsidizing those particular prescriptions is the issue. By categorizing them as “preventive”, the mandate demands employers be the ones subsidizing exactly the procedures they object to. It’s exactly demanding that they pay for someone else’s decisions. It puts additional moral responsibility on the employers without allowing them the control over their actions. That is the problem.

        • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

          Last but not least…

          1 & 2. The issue is not about what employees do with their benefits. The issue is about employers being forced to pay for services they consider wrong, harmful, and sinful. It is about employers forced into the position of encouraging others toward evil with economic incentives. It is turning employers into tempters, placing them literally in the position of devils.

          You may disagree with their theology or moral reasoning. Fine. But please understand that for those who object this is serious on the level of life or death, not just of the body, but of the soul.

          • keddaw

            Indeed, but the same could be said for all of the things I mentioned in 5 and yet I didn’t see this sort of moral outrage when employer healthcare mandated blood transfusions or transplants.

            It just seems, from the outside, that there are a couple of things some people don’t like and they’re whining to the law about them rather than actually standing up for the main principle of religious freedom of employers.

            Of course, it is the corporation that is doing it and not the owners. If you are a private unlimited company which receives no federal benefits then I might be on your side. If you are a limited company and/or receive federal benefits then you have zero sympathy from me.

            • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

              You seem to consistently ignore or deny the difference between “including something in a health plan” and “categorizing something as preventive, therefore subsidized”. It is the latter which brings the insurance purchaser (the employer) directly into moral conflict, not the former. This is why you did not (and do not) see outrage over other issues; other issues aren’t being shoehorned into a mandatory subsidized status.

              Does this distinction not make sense to you? Or do you reject the distinction?

  • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

    What we need more than anything in this country is to have a frank and honest discussion of the fundamental metaphysical inadequacies of the Classical Liberal principles the author Mark links to is espousing.

    Once you start arguing for your freedom to dissent from the “received opinion” of our society on contentious issues like birth control, abortion, gay marriage, etc, someone will always challenge you to come up with a principle that would allow us to distinguish what is legitimate dissent that deserves respect from what is illegitimate dissent that threatens the foundations of our society. We want CEOs to be allowed by society to dissent from received opinion on gay marriage. Do we want them to be allowed by society to dissent from received opinion on civil rights? What if it was discovered that the CEO of Microsoft was a member of the Klan? Would we be outraged if the board demanded his resignation?

    Someone give me principle that would distinguish those two positions. Because there isn’t one barring the advocacy of particular purposes and ends of human life. (Aristotle’s revenge.)

    Frankly, we Catholics end up talking a lot of bull****, wanting what amounts to special exemption from societal norms based on nothing that we could defend with the liberal principles and arguments we apparently insist on using.

    • Faithr

      What societal norms are you talking about? The sudden change in the definition of marriage which happened about 5 minutes ago but that suddenly everyone (or so it seems) is on the band wagon with? Do you equate societal norms with peer pressure? All the cool kids are doing it, so you have to as well! Frankly, I am of the old school where I think everyone gets freedom of speech, even hateful people. Because that way most of the people who aren’t hateful, have the freedom to speak. There’s always tension in that. Let’s err on the side of allowing dissent because by demanding people shut up because they offend us is actually the greatest threat to the foundations of our society.

      • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

        This isn’t a sudden change in the definition of marriage. That’s a slow train that’s been a long time coming. Paul VI warned about it in Humanae Vitae, and Ronald Reagan enshrined the new definition into law with no-fault divorce. John Q. Public has been working with a different definition of marriage for more than 40 years. The acceptance of gay marriage is for most people nothing more than the overcoming of a prejudice. We may know that prejudice to be rationally grounded, but 90% of the people watching Glee and Modern Family have absolutely no freaking clue one way or the other.

        Do I equate societal norms with peer pressure? Of course. That’s what they are in a liberal society. If you disagree then you believe there’s a standard of wisdom that we all should be conforming to, and that our nation’s laws ought be giving greater consideration to traditions of greater antiquity and solidity. Good luck making that argument in the public square: “Catholics deserve an exemption from societal standards of medical care because we’re an ancient and venerable tradition with lots of wisdom behind our teachings. And we’re not crazy.”

        Freedom of speech is only legitimate where your speech does not have the power to significantly harm your neighbor. No one gets to yell “fire” in the crowded theater. No one gets to yell obscenities on the sidewalk next to an elementary school.

    • http://robertfking.wordpress.com/ Roki

      I guess what disturbs me most is the politicization of every aspect of life. If the CEO of a major corporation was also a Klansman, I would think, “What an idiot,” but it wouldn’t particularly affect whether or how I use that company’s services – unless the company published a policy of supporting racism.

      I think it’s Maritain, expanding on Thomas Aquinas, who notes that the product of work can be a good object, even if the worker who produces it is morally in error or in a state of mortal sin.

      Then again, that’s a medieval principle. I’m not necessarily a big fan of “liberal” or “enlightenment” principles of arguing, since I think they’re ultimately self-defeating.

      • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

        So do we have a problem with Mozilla firing Brendan Eich or not?

        And I agree with your last paragraph. “Liberal” principles of arguing are ultimately self-defeating. But that’s all that the guy Mark linked to is standing on.

        From the article: “The attitude is: … You have no right to resist, no right even to retreat into your own private sphere and ask to be left alone.”

        Exactly. But that’s just the case with human beings since we are, in fact, social animals. The 18th century didn’t invent a new kind of human being. We are now what we’ve always been, which means that if Aristotle and the medievals were right about the people of their own time, they’re right about the people of ours.

        • Noah Doyle

          if Aristotle and the medievals were right about the people of their own time, they’re right about the people of ours.

          Yup, that’s pretty much where I am.

  • cajaquarius

    I am a gay guy and have no issue with Mozilla or even this CEO guy. I don’t agree with him or the thing he supported, of course, but I don’t actively dislike him over it. People often seem to think this is odd, considering I did have a big issue with Chik-Fil-A and its owner and still don’t eat there to this day. It has been puzzling to my conservative friends and has elicited the suggestion that I am a hypocrite from some of my LGBT brethren. To me, though, these two situations are apples and oranges.

    In the case of Cathy, he was donating to and supporting a hate group that spreads lies and demonizes me and my brethren using bad science, misused statistics, and baseless claims. In the Mozilla CEO case, the guy is giving to an initiative to defend his concept of marriage. That is something I don’t consider automatically hateful and can have legitimate reasoning behind it that I may not agree with but will still appreciate. If he had thrown money into somehow blocking all legal benefits, civil unions, or other things clearly designed to marginalize or kill me and my brethren it would be different.


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