WH “Accommodation” Trustworthy? UPDATED

UPDATE::: Read Bishops first and second responses:::

From Jake Tapper at ABC News, Obama to Announce Contraception Rule ‘Accommodation’ for Religious Organizations:

With the White House under fire for its new rule requiring employers including religious organizations to offer health insurance that fully covers birth control coverage, at 12:15 p.m. ET, President Obama will announce an attempt to accommodate these religious groups.

The move, based on state models, will almost certainly not satisfy bishops and other religious leaders since it will preserve the goal of women employees having their birth control fully covered by health insurance.

Sources say it will be respectful of religious beliefs but will not back off from that goal, which many religious leaders oppose since birth control is in violation of their religious beliefs.

One source familiar with the decision described the accommodation as “Hawaii-plus,” insisting that it’s better than the Hawaii plan — for both sides.

If memory serves, the Obama team were advised to use the Hawaii plan as some sort of model by which to exempt the churches ‘way back in October of last year. It was rejected, then.

Glenn Reynolds, noting the headline, writes:

My advice to the bishops: He’s on the run — don’t settle for his opening bid.

I agree with “don’t settle for the opening bid” but am not sure I agree that he is on the run.

Take no first offers, and I’m not sure about second offers, either. The thing is, no matter what Obama says, he has proved himself to be untrustworthy where the rights of the churches are concerned.

The fact that this episode ever developed at all, when it absolutely did not need to, and the fact of Hosanna-Tabor, suggests to me that this administration will continue to assault the rights of churches to be who and what they are, and to freely exercise their religion beyond the doors of the church. Freedom of Religion does not limit us to the confines of the church, but Obama’s stated commitment to “Freedom of Worship” absolutely does; “Freedom of Worship” is a mischaracterization of what the constitution says.

I expect President Obama will come out and say something that sounds wonderful and conciliatory and that seems reasonable to people who are eager to reconcile with the president and give themselves permission to vote for him again in November. I also expect that beyond the words, what the President offers will be too little — the government miserly granting to us pieces of freedom we are utterly entitled to own outright — but it will be “enough” for some.

And with that, Obama will have done the thing he needs to do, here, which is re-divide the Catholics who have apparently surprised him with their nearly unanimous condemnation of his HHS Mandate.

Re-divide and conquer. If he can get the Catholics who have loved and trusted him until now back under his wing, the bishops and the rest of the Catholics go back to being “reactionary neanderthals” who are simply too stubborn to give in to his benevolence.

If that’s what happens — if Obama comes out and throws a sop to the Catholics he has recently stabbed in the back, and they jump at the chance to reboard his ship — then everything immediately gets much, much uglier, everywhere.

But the thing to remember is this: Obama has now demonstrated that he cannot be trusted to deal in good faith with the churches. Even if he gives a “full exemption”, one needs to worry whether he can be trusted if he wins re-election, and is no longer constrained by the need to please anyone.

Then, I suspect Brad Miner’s Facebrook remarks from yesterday will be proved right. He wrote:

I expect the president to back down — to offer full exemptions to religious organizations. Then, if he wins reelection, we will get a screwing the like of which Catholicism hasn’t seen since the 16th century.

Remember Lucy and the football

UPDATED: My friend Thomas L. McDonald, on Facebook with the WH Fact Sheet:

I just got the WH press briefing. Money line:

“The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.”


Well, Ed Morrissey spells that out:

“. . .so the administration response will be tell insurers for religious organizations to take on the costs themselves without passing it along to the religious organizations that pay for the policies? I’m not sure that even Chris Matthews will buy that as a “compromise.” Religious organizations whose doctrines oppose birth control are not going to buy insurance policies that cover it — nor should the government be forcing them to do so.

This is not a “direct” co-operation with evil, but an “indirect” one, and now we’ll have to go to Aquinas (I think? I need to brush up) but I’m pretty sure it was Aquinas who reasoned that an “indirect” co-operation with evil was sometimes unavoidable in the world.

I expect it will be “enough” for those whose worldview was shaken over the past week and who want and need to be back on Obama’s side, where it all makes sense again. Their concerns having been “accommodated”, they’ll start offering much deeper theological musing than I can between direct and indirect co-operation with evil, and for most things will become very muddled, and everyone else will go back to watching American Idol.

Missing in their musings, I fear, will be the basic, fundamental truth that — “accommodated” in this way or not — the government does not give us our rights, piecemeal; they come from God.

An “accommodation” that puts us in “indirect” co-operation with evil when our rights say we ought not be forced into any co-operation, direct or not, is a game. It’s the football; it is the willful division.

UPDATE II: And yes, as I suspected, the Catholic Health Association is “very pleased” and back on board the bus, after having been so deftly thrown under it. As he did during the Obamacare debate, the Obama team is once again using a sister to soften the breakers and give the progressive imprimatur:

The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.

We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance.

Planned Parenthood, by the way is also very pleased.

That really tells me what this “accommodation” is worth.

And the narrative now becomes: “look at what a great conciliator Obama is, and how obnoxious these church-hardliners are.”

People get played, every day. No one is asking, “why did this president have to make this “accommodation” at all? If he was committed to religious liberty, this controversy would never have occurred at all.

Still waiting for the response of the Bishops, who are now finding themselves squeezed between the bus and the press.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: The folks who gave us Obamacare are back

The Obama administration strategy is consistently to confuse people. That is how the bill we had to pass to find out what was in it came to be law.
There will be a lot of confusion. But don’t be confused, and don’t let people around you be confused. These last days have been instructive [. . .] This new mandate moves us closer to what Pope Benedict XVI warned against in his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”): “The state which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself . . [is]. a state which regulates and controls everything.”

Religious liberty is not an “accommodation.” This fight is not over today. It has only just begun.

Father Robert Barron: writing at NRO
Krauthammer: Gospel According to Obama

Brutally Honest: Not a cave
Shea: A head fake
CMR: This Accommodation does not

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mark LaVergne

    Agree with Brad Miner’s assessment, though not with his language :-) It’s an election year, and any “compromise” now is suspect. Once safely elected in November, Obama would revert to form. He’s lied to Catholics before, so why trust him? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

  • http://www.catechistcorner.com Carlos

    Whether we can trust him or not, the “accommodation” is nothing more than a fix on paper. Insurers are “for profit” organizations. The won’t offer these services out of the kindness of their hearts. Who do you think will still be paying for all these “free” services? The religious organizations opposed to them? Us? Our premiums will go up, both the employee’s portion as well as the employers portion. Like a said, a fix on paper.

  • archangel

    Lucy and the football indeed!!!

    The Hawaii “accomodation” is a difference without a distinction. It doesn’t change the fact that the onus then lands on the insurance company not the employer. Big whoop! The set up is still the same. A move will be made to FORCE religious hospitals to perform abortions and sterilization procedures at some point in time. I have no doubt that a move will be made to FORCE churches to “marry” homosexuals. The assault on the “conscience” will not end here. It will not end until he and his ilk are removed from power. Once bit, twice shy. The left leaning types need to remember another trite saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    Don’t try to kick the ball… kick Lucy instead.

    End of story.

  • archangel

    Wow… the same cliche in two posts. What are the odds? :)

  • soozer

    Will he try to trample on the Constitution again?
    Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

  • Jack

    “… miserly granting to us pieces of freedom we are utterly entitled to own outright” – says it all. Brilliant.

  • kevin

    I can’t wait to see Kmiec’s next response after this is announced. Will it be fawning at the feet of our Sun God for his benevolence, or something more sober.

  • ahem

    Every single thing that comes out of Obama’s mouth is a lie, including the pauses.

  • archangel

    I strongly recommend people go over to “Whispers in the Logia”. He linked Cardinal designate Dolan’s interview on CBS. I think insight there is invaluable.

    As an aside… I love his demeanor.

  • Gerry

    I never get tired of always being right.

  • kevin

    It’s great to be great, I called it too. Had some doubts when Carney was denying a walk back, but here one comes. The bishops have done the Church proud this time.

  • http://catholickey.blogspot.com Jack Smith

    We’ll see the details, but this could be worse for some religious employers, eg., those which are self-insured such as every (arch)diocese in California.

  • Dantes

    As I predicted last night:

    Good chance Obama will figure out a way to defuse this, probably by tossing some bones to Sister Carol “Half my brain is a clinking cash register” Keehan. Having worked in a Catholic Health care system and knowing its hypocrisy on matters of health care and charity, the money comes first. The Catholic Health care organizations have been straying from the Catholic reservation for some time, but since they make so much money, I guess the Pope looks the other way.

    “Don’t take this to mean I support Obama in this. Far from it. I wish more people were mad even not considering the religious aspects of this edict. Obamacare is filled with provisions for command and control medicine. That should scare people, but it isn’t real for most of them…yet.

    [I have no interest in picking on Sister Carol or anyone else who supported Obamacare and trusted this president. It seems to me everyone has their role to play in the workings of God's ways, which are not our ways and we do not comprehend. For all we know, everything that is happening was meant to happen, for the sake of clarity or something -admin]

    From K Lopez, National Review Online:
    “Sr. Carol Keehan, who played a key role getting the bill passed, is back in the Obama fold, “pleased” with the “accommodation.” She has blessed the faux compromise — which White House surrogates and allies are making clear is no retreat — right alongside Planned Parenthood, which was instrumental in its conception. ”

    Still feel the same way about the “Clinking Cash Register” Sr. Keehan?

  • archangel

    I think what many have to realize is that the Obamaites within the church actually AGREE with him. The problem is that THEY got caught in the theological noose and had to back off. THEY are the ones who disagree with the church’s teaching and are trying to force the change from within. They are going to lose. They are the (o)baminatiions within the holy place as well. Be careful whose side you pick in this fight, lefties.

    I think bishops will not be so easy to buy into this. As was already said… the fight has only begun. It doesn’t end here.

  • kelleyb

    If Contraception Freedom is more important than Religious Freedom? No. But the liberal catholics will jump at this “sacrament” of contraception and sterilization. They will throw the teaching of Christ under the Bus of moral relativism, by continuing to accommodate President’s wishes. The liberal Catholics will willingly jump back in bed with their messiah.

    [I would not say that the "liberal Catholics" (and I really do dislike making these distinctions) are onboard with the "contraception is a sacrament" idea. I think they just have a worldview that includes a need to feel like the outsider speaking truth to power, or something -admin]

  • David

    “The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.”

    This is just word-play. The insurance company will set its rates for the group plan it provides the religious institution based on the number of people that they expect will demand contraceptive care. The religious employer will still pay for it. Nothing has changed. In fact, I expect that if you had a religious and non-religious employer their rates would be the same, because they are both going to be paying for the free contraception and abortaficants.

    Let’s hope that the Bishops don’t back down. The true compromise is to let any employer (church-affiliated or not) that has religious objections to the mandate to opt out completely. If they are so hot to have universal contraception and abortion, let PP or some other organization provide and pay for it.

  • Manny

    All I can say is that archangel has been brilliant above. All that he says I support. And all that Anchoress said in the blog too. Right on.

  • Matt H

    “The religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.” So this entire “accomodation” is an assumption that we will forget that money is fungible.
    If employer A pays money into a health plan 1, and health plan 1 then pays for something, saying that employer did not pay for it because the health plan “provided it for free” is a fiction. Health plan 1 had to have money from somewhere to be able to pay for the “free” service, and they got that money by spreading the cost into what they charged for everything else.

  • Mutnodjmet

    And just how does the insurance companies pay for these “free pills”? Now, other citizens — Catholic and otherwise — will have their rates upped to provide this largesse. Nobody has won anything, and those who believe this is a victory are foolish indeed.

    Obama simply cannot be trusted. Obama cannot be trusted on any issue. Obama cannot be trusted by his friends. Obama cannot be trusted by his enemies. Obama cannot be trusted.

  • Gerry

    BTW, Anchoress, you forgot the quotation marks – it’s the “Catholic” Health Association.

    The reaction of Barry’s useful idiots is unsurprising and unimportant – are the bishops and leaders of Catholic (without quotes) institutions going to play Charlie Brown to Lucy Obama yet again?

  • kevin

    This seems like a complete shell game scam.

    The insurers of the Catholic hospitals will have to pay for it, but the Catholic hospitals themselves will not have to provide coverage? So the Catholic entities will be contracting with insurance companies which will be obligated to dispense contraception. Am I missing something here or does this present the same problem? The hospitals themselves were never going to “provide coverage” in the first place; it was that their insurance plans would be required to provide coverage.

  • Janet

    Now that the bishops have the attention of a reasonable number of people, they should be highlighting the BIGGER picture: The entire healthcare law ! Another component within it : RATIONING, AND IT IS COMING IF WE DON”T REPEAL THIS EVIL BILL ! The next outrage coming down the pike….the IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board): appointed bureaucrats charged with deciding who will get care, how much, how often and at what cost, based on the “complete lives system” designed by Ezekiel Emanuel MD.
    Obama’s Health Rationer-in-Chief

    There is a reason this law is being implemented over several years. It is meant to be fed to us piece by piece as we would be outraged to know all the details at once. BTW: FACT-members of congress have premium insurance…for life. They have imposed something on we, the people that they are immune to.

  • Nicholas

    @Gerry above: I think Bishop Lori of Bridgeport has already given the President his answer, in a prescient statement made yesterday:


  • Jane Hartman

    Do not believe this ploy. The Catholic Charities in Illinois were given a “Conscience Clause” in the same/sex union law. Uh-huh right. The minute same/sex unions were legal, the governor shut Catholic Charities down. Alright, the next day. But the “conscience clauses” are not to be trusted or anything this president says. It’s a governmental ploy to take over Catholic schools, hospitals, and charitable agencies.

  • Mark of Lombard

    So before the accommodation, Catholic hospitals were going to have to buy health insurance for their employees that would have let their employees go to a pharmacy and get contraceptives that would be covered by the health insurance policy. This was unacceptable. So now, Catholic hospitals are going to have to buy health insurance for their employees that will let their employees go to a pharmacy and get contraceptives that will be covered by the health insurance policy. I can’t wait to hear whether this will be acceptable.

  • archangel

    If Cardinal Wuerl is any indication, this “accomodation” may very well be DOA.

    Again I refer to “Whispers in the Logia”. Has the video link.

  • http://www.savkobabe.blogspot.com Gayle Miller

    He won’t wait 12 seconds to bring down his iron fist should he be reelected. This is the clear reason why he must not be reelected. He is totally intent on dismantling our Constitution beyond recognition. He must be stopped!

  • Pingback: Obama “Accommodation” Reactions « The Anchoress

  • Paul

    It is: OBEY OBAMA or OBEY GOD!

    If you obey the Almighty, you will pay in this life.

    I remember the “Chick Tracts” from years ago that espoused on the Apocalypse. Those pamphlets told how in the future you would be required by the Government [the Anti-Christ's agents] to submit to their will or face severe punishment [up to including martyrdom].

    We are getting closer to that most people want to believe, but more are becoming aware.

  • Jane Hartman

    Elizabeth, I have a question for you ….. I have often been irked by the fact that my health insurance premiums pay for 2 abortions, a sterilization procedure and any contraceptives that I may want. Granted, I will not choose to use these “benefits.” However, my money is going toward others who may choose to use these “benefits.” Can we ever as individuals opt out of paying for this? Shouldn’t we as Christians be able to exercise our “Constitutional freedom of religion” to opt out of paying for these? I have been to confession regarding these sins of cooperating with sin, and the priest was very lenient. But I still am cooperating with this and I, as an individual, would love to exercise my “conscience” in this regard. I imagine other Christians would love to have this opportunity, too. Is this the time to get our voices heard?

    [I think one battle at a time is wise? You're getting into territory here that goes into whole questions of whether we should not pay taxes b/c some of them fund what we disapprove of, from child safety seats to war. This is where Catholic theology gets into the whole "direct" and "indirect" co-operation. And it's no small point -- it can't be dismissed easily -admin]

  • Kml

    Excellent and insightful analysis as always. And don’t forget that this was announced on a Friday, generating the necessary media weekend chow-down, while simultaneously neutralizing the impact any read statements or sermons would have on Sunday morning capitalizing on the growing concern over this by all Caholics. Those of us who actually understand what this compromise means will still be shaking our heads, but those inclined to compromise will not be outraged enough anymore to actually hear the message from the pulpit.

  • Mike

    It’s a shell game, folks. That the insurance company has to pay for contraceptives, et. al., while the formal contract does not cover these is the most cynical ploy I’ve ever seen. However, it does give folks like the sister at CHA the ability to pretend they aren’t violating Catholic moral teachings.

  • TheHammer

    The key is to not settle for anything but full retreat. Then push to vote these bums out, because they cannot be trusted. This is a long-term fight, not a single issue. Religious freedom vs. secular totalitarianism is the issue. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Then after they get voted out, repeal the whole Obamacare, take back the schools and universities, and teach our young never to forget.

  • SukieTawdry

    I stand with the Church on this most important First Amendment issue because even though I may not share their beliefs, I understand unequivocally that they have the right to the free exercise and expression of those religious beliefs. I only wish the church would stand with me in my assertion that neither this administration nor the government at large has the right to impose these mandates on any of us. Not employers, not insurers, not individuals. And if the Church accepts this “compromise,” I will conclude that the Church is not a reliable ally even in the battle to preserve our First Amendment rights.

  • kelleyb

    The President just rearranged the deck chairs. Our Religious freedom is in mortal peril. We need to pray.

  • doc

    This should surprise no one. The man said he intended to fundamentally transform America during his 2008 campaign. Let’s see, which amendment comes after the first one?