Oversight Hearings on DHHS Contraception Rule Broadcast Now (VIDEO)

Interested in the DHHS controversy over contraception?

Currently, hearings are being held with representatives of the Catholic church, and the Southern Baptists. A Jewish Rabbi is also testifying. From the website:

Chairman Issa Hearing Preview Statement

Americans of all faiths have a right to practice their religion free from the fear of persecution or harassment from their government. Our nation’s founders believed this and enshrined religious freedom into the First Amendment to the Constitution.

While some Americans may not feel that government mandates forcing them to pay for contraception are an infringement on their religious beliefs, others consider it to be an assault against their freedom of conscience. A government policy that encroaches on the conscientious objections of religious groups concerns all Americans who value the protections of the First Amendment. Today, the committee will hear testimony from leaders of different faiths. They are concerned that government, under this Administration, is encroaching on their First Amendment rights.

The Administration’s actions have forced us to confront a more fundamental question about the proper role of government in our lives.

This hearing is about basic question of religious freedom, and whether or not protection will be afforded to religious institutions who wish to follow their conscience in refusing to pay for products they find morally objectionable. I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm

    What about the freedom of workers? Employers should not have the right to impose their beliefs on their non-clergy employees.

  • Gus

    The church left the sanctuary and entered the public square of employment by hiring the non-ordained, they should be required to follow all the employment rules as any other player. By the way, the Bishops should give that rabid anti-Catholic Justice Antonin Scalia a call, he has written in court opinions they should be considered like any employer outside of the ‘church.’

  • Richard Willmer

    I rather agree with Norm and Gus: the Church should be subject to the same employment laws re. its salaried employees as any other employer, except with regard to those who have accepted the sacrifice of Ordination. An individual employee could, one assumes, always waive the right of access to those provisions which are not in accord with the promptings of his/her conscience, and could, if he/she so wishes, make a ‘statement’ of his/her own convictions by so doing.

  • Richard Willmer

    (I believe that it is often by ‘waiving one’s rights’ that one can make the most powerful ‘statement’ about one’s moral convictions.)

  • Michael C

    I don’t know if I’m in the same camp as you guys on this one. The one-size-fits-all method of governing only works if in fact one size does fit all. I might feel differently if we were talking about religious exemptions to things like minimum wage laws or workers compensation, but we’re not. We’re talking about elective, non-essential medications. Is birth control really every employee’s right? If so, why?

  • David M.

    What strikes me in this debate is how out of touch the Catholic hierarchy is with the faithful. The teach against contraception has simply not been received by Catholic laity. There is something unseemly about celebate males teaching married people how to be married.

    What is really at stake is the old Catholic teaching that sex’s only purpose is procreation. This is the heart of the Catholic objections both to homosexuality and contraception. If the Catholic Church abandons its position on contraception, logically its position on homosexuality would be fatally wounded.

    The reality is that most Catholics, like the rest of us, simply don’t believe that sex’s only purpose is procreation. We know it’s also about relational bonding and about pleasure.

    The whole western church is facing the challenge of huge changes in Western cultural conceptions of sex. By insisting on an antiquated binary understanding (that everybody is either male or female, that everyone is assumed to be heterosexual, etc.), it seems to me the Catholic Church only makes itself less authoritative and less relevant.

  • stephen

    Let’s get government out of the boardroom and back in the bedroom where it belongs.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    “We’re talking about elective, non-essential medications.”

    Except sometimes it IS essential. Birth control is used for multiple reasons outside of letting people have sex for just pleasure. For example, the lesbian student who was using it to prevent ovarian cysts. Becuase she couldn’t get a prescription, her conditioned worsened and she had to get an ovary surgically removed. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/health/policy/law-fuels-contraception-controversy-on-catholic-campuses.html?_r=1

    Some women take BC pills to find off extreme depression during PMS. As in, they brush against the possibility of suicide if left untreated.

    This isn’t just about people getting to have sex for pleasure only (which for catholics is sinful for some reason i’ll never understand).

  • Patrocles

    It’s a wonderful opportunity to tell Catholics and Baptists: Either act against your conscience (that is: get inbelievable and untrustable to yourself and your adherents). Or dissolve your institutions and reduce your activities to Sunday morning worship (that’s the traditional goal of the socialist/communist camp).

    It worked well in the Soviet Union, and it will work well in the United States.

  • Patrocles

    I suppose that you won’t remember the Breshnev times, but the Baptists will!

    At that time, churches like Baptists were no more forbidden by the law. So the Breshnev government had to look for another way.

    They simply demanded that every church recited the actual state proclamations in their worship meetings. Which Baptist communities refused to do, and so they could be legally dissolved.

    It was rather smart, and such smart ideas don’t ever die.

  • Richard Willmer

    I think that an implicit comparison of Barack Obama with Leonid Brezhnev is perhaps one of the silliest things I have ever seen on this blog.

  • Jim Guinnessey

    Issa is wrong ,as usual ,and like his other GOP hysterical and frenzied cohorts is attempting to delude Americans into thinking Obama is anti-Catholic or anti-religion. The compromise allows individuals working in religious institutions to have their insurance companies, not the religious institutions, pay for contraception devices if so wished by an employee. This is a non-issue pushed mostly by The United States Catholic Conference (RC bishops) that amounts to more of a political power play by the GOP-leaning bishops than a moral issue.The truth is for both the Roman Catholic hierarchy as well as Protestant evangelical leaders their attempted stranglehold on the sex lives of their congregations is waning if not totally ignored by their congregants who know better..

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Emily K is correct.

    I’ve had both female and male reproductive glands removed – both were dysfunctional by that time anyway. So I’m sterile.

    I also have to take fairly massive quantities of hormones that are usually used for birth control. In my case, they keep me healthy, and it’s possible that I’d die after a few months without them. Although as a scientist I’d be interested in furthering our research in this area, I have no wish to repeat the experiment. I did try for a month, the experience was unpleasant, with deleterious effects still not entirely gone after 2 years.

    Some of the hormones aren’t available in this country, but fortunately the rules were changed to allow import for private use, with a prescription.

    I doubt that the plight of Intersex people ever entered the good theologians minds. If it did, it would be for the first time, we’re not supposed to exist according to Genesis.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Zoe/Emily K – Bishop Lori yesterday told the panel that birth control pills used for medical reasons are covered and permitted under Catholic doctrine.

  • carole

    You don’t have to accept a job at a place or with an employer whose policies you disagree with. Go elsewhere–it’s the very basic idea of freedom. Undermine that and you’ve undermined everything.

    What scares me is that we’ve become a society in which a large segment of people envision an end result that is “good” (an end result their opponents probably agree with most times, actually), but who jump to the conclusion that any means of reaching that good must also be good. Nope.

  • ken

    Patrocles# ~ Feb 17, 2012 at 6:33 am

    “It’s a wonderful opportunity to tell Catholics and Baptists: Either act against your conscience (that is: get inbelievable and untrustable to yourself and your adherents). Or dissolve your institutions”

    How about we say this instead:

    Either adhere to the same government regulations as everybody else or give up the millions in government money you’ve been taking.

    That’s the one point the catholic church doesn’t seem to eager to have anybody look at. These outside businesses (hospitals, universities etc) get a lot of government money to operate. The cardinals/biships/etc are holding out one hand to take the government money saying: “we are a charity just like any other charity and deserve our fair share of the government money” but then in the other hand hold up their bibles and say: “oh no, we are a religion your rules don’t apply to us.”

    So how about we make this proposal to the catholic church, the church no longer gets any government money and doesn’t have to have healthcare insurance that provides contraception/abortion. Then the government uses the money it isn’t giving to the church to fund supplemental insurance with the coverage for those employees that want it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      ken – I believe the schools and institutions involved would respond that the religious liberty they are arguing about is a fundamental right, unrelated to whether they take or don’t take government funds. However, if that option was offered, in the final analysis, I suspect they would (and will) do that. I could be wrong about that but one option is closing down, so your suggestion would be somewhere short of that.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Based on what I know of the DHHS rule, I come down on the religious liberty side of this issue.

    Many critique the Catholic church on grounds that they are wrong in their views. However, according to the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the issue is not who has the right position or best view of contraception (in this case). It is the religious beliefs of those who control the entity involved.

    The government must have a compelling state interest to burden religion with restriction according to the RFRA. Also the remedy to pursue that compelling state interest must be the least restrictive option. I don’t think the DHHS rule passes the tests of the RFRA.

    If the Congress wants to make contraception even more available than it is now, then they can pass legislation to do it. They are not pursuing the least restrictive option when they force religious entities to pay for it over their objections.

  • ken

    Warren# ~ Feb 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    “It is the religious beliefs of those who control the entity involved.”

    What about the beliefs of those controlled by the entity involved? i.e. the employees. Can a hospital owned by a church force it’s employees to adhere to the religions views? Can it demand that employees convert to their religion?

  • ken

    Warren# ~ Feb 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    “I could be wrong about that but one option is closing down, so your suggestion would be somewhere short of that.”

    I doubt that would happen. While the catholic leadership may stay with the “no contraception” line, I suspect the vast majority of catholics (at least in the US) ignore the rule on contraception, and the bishops know this. And I suspect they also know if they push to hard on this rule (i.e. start closing down hospitals/universities etc) they will likely face a revolt.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    ken – nothing prevents non-Catholic employees from getting contraception services. They are readily available via self-pay or at low or no cost via community health centers.

    Nothing prevents Catholic employees from violating their faith and getting contraceptives in the same way — and apparently most do. I just don’t see a Constitutional requirement for the church or a religious employer to pay for it.

  • Carol A Ranney

    I wonder if they cover Viagra and its like?

  • ken

    Warren# ~ Feb 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    “nothing prevents non-Catholic employees from getting contraception services.”

    Nothing prevents them from buying their own healthcare. Except that when it is purchased individually rather than as a group plan, the cost is generally much higher.

    “They are readily available via self-pay or at low or no cost via community health centers. ”

    Everywhere or just in urban areas?

    “I just don’t see a Constitutional requirement for the church or a religious employer to pay for it.”

    but they aren’t paying for contraception. they are paying for health insurance that covers contraceptive costs as well as pregnancy costs and many other things.

    Yes they are a religious organization, but they are also employers and as employers they are still bound by government regulations. Contraception is a form of preventative care. And I do not agree that a church can use its religion to deny people access to medication that can prevent much more costly medical conditions. Any more than I would say that Jehovah’s Witnesses could deny insurance that pays for transfusions.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    “ken – nothing prevents non-Catholic employees from getting contraception services. They are readily available via self-pay or at low or no cost via community health centers.”

    Except for when they aren’t, like in the case of the lesbian Georgetown U grad student.

    Other uses for birth control pills: taming the horrific life-stalling cramps some women experience. Or controlling the non-stop menstruation that some women experience.

    If this is such a non-issue according to Catholic doctrine, why are people still being denied?

  • stephen

    Carol A: Yes, Viagra is covered by insurance. They set limits on the number of pills that can be supplied on a monthly basis.

  • ken

    Also, the Obama Administration is requiring pregnancy coverage as well. for those of you who believe the churches can use their religion to deny contraception coverage, do you also believe they can deny pregnancy coverage for unmarried employees?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    ken – I suppose they could, but delivering a baby, even one born to an unmarried employee would not violate their conscience.

    Discussions that focus on the rightness or wrongness of the view or even the consistency of the beliefs miss the Constitutional question as well as the one’s codified into law by the RFRA. Does the govt have the right to burden religious belief (however stupid or wrong or inconsistent)?

    And govt only has that right if there is a compelling state interest that cannot be accomplished in a manner involving less restriction.

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    What other medications are banned by Catholic-controlled insurance plans? Is Viagra banned? Wouldn’t one be able to argue that giving boner-pills to old men encourages sex not for the sake of procreation, since they are beyond that age? If the man who uses them is unmarried, isn’t that also a sin?

    So are they then going to barge into the personal lives of each person on their plan? Say “are you married? because then you can’t have this medication. It’s against our religious beliefs for you [a non-catholic who doesn't follow our religious beliefs] to have it.” Or, “are you using this so you can have sex without getting pregnant, or so you can prevent a debilitating condition? If it’s the former, our religious beliefs prevent us from letting you have this.”

    “Religious liberty” is not defined by the right to force others to buy into your beliefs.

  • ken

    Warren# ~ Feb 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    “I suppose they could, but delivering a baby, even one born to an unmarried employee would not violate their conscience.”

    you are trying to claim that the CATHOLIC church views contraception as a worse sin than unmarried sex?

    Or perhaps you are trying to argue that just because they are providing health insurance that covers that, it doesn’t mean the church is condoning it?

    “the Constitutional question as well as the one’s codified into law by the RFRA. Does the govt have the right to burden religious belief (however stupid or wrong or inconsistent)?”

    No that isn’t the only question. the other question is if churches engage in ancillary public businesses (ex. hospitals, universities etc) can those businesses claim a religous exemption. and further, can the churches attempt to enforce their beliefs on the employees of those businesses (by making things more difficult/expensive for the employees)

    “And govt only has that right if there is a compelling state interest that cannot be accomplished in a manner involving less restriction.”

    Unless the church is simply trying to use their religion to get out of government regulation. Keep in mind, the church hasn’t asked for an exemption for providing coverage for divorced and remarried spouses, for providing pregnancy coverage to unmarried employees, or any other conscience based objections. The church has used its “morals” to try to make political statements before and I strongly suspect it is doing it again..

  • Michael C

    ken – “For those of you who believe the churches can use their religion to deny contraception coverage, do you also believe they can deny pregnancy coverage for unmarried employees?”

    Emily K – “So are they then going to barge into the personal lives of each person on their plan? Say “are you married? because then you can’t have this medication.”

    While I understand the point you’re making, I take great offense to “slippery-slope” arguments (especially when rights are concerned).

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    No, I’,m saying that if they’re going to disallow something based on their own beliefs (contraception is apparently NOT ok as BC but it IS ok as medicine for other cases) then they should do so with ALL of their beliefs.

    So, they should indeed cover the pill for people using it for things like cramps or preventing ovarian cysts. To do this they would be forced to inquire on a person’s medical needs.

    Additionally, they should refuse to provide insurance benefits to the spouses of couples that were previously married to other people. Divorce is a grave sin in Catholicism, as I understand it. And those people aren’t really spouses; their first spouses are the true spouses in the eyes of their god and their religion.

  • carole

    “While I understand the point you’re making, I take great offense to “slippery-slope” arguments (especially when rights are concerned).”

    Michael C,

    I don’t have have ANY rights concerning insurance coverage derived from the Constitution.

    What you can successfully argue is that I have a “right” to pursue coverage and may I add, the right to REJECT that coverage, that policy as well. If I don’t like it, I have the RIGHT to go elsewhere. yes, even if that means that if I wish to be covered through a group, rather than an individual policy, I work elsewhere.

    The cost to me (one way or another, through direct purchase of an individual policy or through my wages since there is a cost to my employer) should be determined by risk.

    The buyer of a Corvette knows the insurance on such a car will be much higher than that for an Accord.

    The buyer of a mansion knows the insurance of his house will be much higher than that of a modest house of 1500 sq. feet.

    The buyer of a house near the San Andreas Fault (or just about any place in CA) has the option of purchasing an earthquake insurance rider…at great cost, and at great cost for a reason.

    A tobacco or a heroin or a speed addict faces higher premiums…should, too.

    Pregnancy is avoidable in a number of ways, and avoiding it is a matter of individual choice. It’s also cheap to purchase contraception. Using it–that’s another matter, a matter of individual will and choice.

    Further, the “poor,” that tired word meant to evoke sympathy, that meme we hear over and over, are provided food, housing, medical, dental, vision, schooling, special programs to do this and that galore in our society. They, among all people, have the greatest and quickest and easiest access to bc, if only they seek it. Or don’t you know that?

    Once again, w/out getting into other matters, I’ll say it: if you don’t like the insurance coverage your employer offers, there is nothing making you take the job. If one doesn’t like that bc and abortions are not covered by Catholic provider, then why would one even wish to work for an institutions with which they so vehemently disagree on such matters of importance to them?

    My God, what the hell have we become–a nation of people actually arguing for the government to tell us what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot have, and most importantly, what we aren’t capable of.

    To the person who was offended by what was taken as an “implicit” comparison of the President to the Soviet Breshnev. Having once been a raging progressive, I can fully understand that the President and his followers don’t intend to take away anyone’s rights–they are simply blinded by confidence in their knowing what is best for others, in what they see as making the world fair and “even.” What they don’t yet see is that making choices for others (i.e. treating adults as children because one sees it as the quickest way to a desired outcome) is the surest and quickest way to infantalizing them and all of society.

    Leonid Breshnev knew the society he was helping to maintain was a tyrannical one. He didn’t care. Most of those today who are socializing our society have no such tyrannical intent–but that’s irrelevant. They do believe that the government is the best provider and protector of services and of decision making–for you and me.

    No, thanks. I want to make my own decision, and I want to leave to my kids and grandkids the same choices.

  • ken

    Michael C# ~ Feb 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    “While I understand the point you’re making, I take great offense to “slippery-slope” arguments (especially when rights are concerned).”

    My argument wasn’t about a slippery slope, but about hypocrisy on the part of the church.

  • Throbert McGee

    can the churches attempt to enforce their beliefs on the employees of those businesses (by making things more difficult/expensive for the employees)

    So… NOT subsidizing a service is the same thing as “making it more difficult/expensive”?

    As far as I can tell, the religious employers are not forcing their employees to pay MORE than the out-of-pocket market rate for contraceptives; they’re merely declining to offer a perquisite that would enable employees to get contraceptives for LESS than the out-of-pocket market rate.

    How is this any more outrageous than a company deciding not to cover corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) in its employee health care? Employees are still perfectly at liberty to purchase eyeglasses; they simply have to pay the same price as an uninsured person would, because their employer opted not to (partly or totally) subsidize the expense.

    “Not making it cheaper and easier” does not equal “Making it harder and more expensive”.

  • Teresa

    Interesting discussion. Perhaps, the best way to handle this, would be for an employer to allocate to each employee an annual payment; and, then, it’s up to the employee to purchase the medical insurance of their choice. Why the middle man for any employer, faith-based or not. A perfect example is Medicare D, prescription coverage for Medicare recipients. Those folks choose from an assortment of insurers offering many plans each. They choose the best plan/insurer for their needs; not some off-the-shelf plan that a corporation, of whatever type, offers on the cheap.

    If something like that isn’t on the table of choice; then, I’m with Ken on this. The Catholic Church has entered the public arena as a Corporation; as such, government mandates apply to them, as well. Ken brought up a perfect example: a Jehovah Witness Hospital that cries foul because transfusions are mandated medical coverage. And, this is not a slippery slope argument … and, neither are any of the other examples Emily, Carol A., or Ken offered.

    This is a perfect example of the Catholic Church wanting their cake and eating it, too. They want to enter the political realm, oh so on the sly; but, not be taxed. They want to dicate others choices; and, follow none of their own. If an employee of their Hospital is Catholic, and follows the Church’s teaching regarding contraception, then they won’t use their insurance in that manner. End of story.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Religious Freedom; and, everything to do with the Church trying to trump the State. If the Church doesn’t like what’s being considered as medical coverage, then get out of the business of running ‘for-profit’ hospitals … under cover of ‘non-profit’. Most Catholic Hospitals today are run by non-Catholic Boards of Directors. Shut the hospitals down; quite frankly, they won’t be missed.

  • David M.

    I am reminded of the Illinois case of a Catholic Social Services agency separating from their Catholic identity in order to receive state funding for adoptions. If I recall rightly, only 5% of their funding actually came from the Catholic Church. How much of the funding for Catholic hospitals comes from the Church? Does anyone here know? I think that fact, whatever it is, might have a great impact on the question.

  • Michael C

    ken – “My argument wasn’t about a slippery slope, but about hypocrisy on the part of the church.”

    I fully agree with you on that. I cannot tell you how many ways I disagree with the Catholic Church. Personally speaking, I find most of what they do and say ridiculous. I also feel this way about most of the other major religions. However, they do have a right to be ridiculous (to an extent). Whether I agree with them or not, I defend this right. I just don’t think the birth-control /insurance issue is a big enough concern to warrant this amount of hullabaloo.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Ken, Emily & Teresa make the best case. I have not been following this story closely so I didn’t feel qualified to comment earlier, just held back and considered the arguments you all posted.

    Ken is right in Illinois it was 5% contribution by the church towards their adoption and foster care agency and that included “in kind” contributions which means not cash. These Public Square business the Catholic churches run in the Public Square simply must conform to public law. They get 95% of their revenue by invoicing private patients or insurance companies or the Government.

    I agree strongly with Jim Guinnessey

    This is a non-issue pushed mostly by The United States Catholic Conference (RC bishops) that amounts to more of a political power play by the GOP-leaning bishops than a moral issue.

    This is about power and who is going to run our country. Is it going to be the Catholics & Mormons and Baptists with their NOM front group? It is all about power in the Public Square.

    There was a Supreme Court case decided just last month that I found interesting but did not see any articles on it anywhere. This Supreme Court blog is good, I really enjoy it.

    Here is an article on this topic

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/02/u-s-seeks-delay-on-birth-control-case/#more-139088

    This is the article in the SCOTUS blog that I think has some relevance here

    http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/01/opinion-recap-a-solid-ministerial-exception/#more-136532

    In a 9-0 they ruled that any employee of a church who is in a “Ministerial” position can not avail themselves to any workplace laws to claim Discrimination.

    The case is about parochial school teacher who suffered an illness, after she recovered she wanted her job back and the school didn’t give it to her. She tried to sue claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act but that would be against the churches religious beliefs.

    She lost. Basically a church can claim anyone as performing “Ministerial Duties” and then the laws that govern the rest of us do not govern the employees of a church.

    If the janitor is required to attend Wednesday chapel service with the students (and generally Wednesday Chappel EVERYONE must attend) I bet the church is going to claim he has ministerial duties.

    This is basically a Religious exemption to all Federal, State and Local Employment Laws relative to Discrimination. The churches get a complete free pass on. This decision will be abused by the churches, just you wait and see.

  • David M.

    In the end, I have to agree with Warren on this one — as long as it can be shown that the hospital, college, or other institution is indeed a ministry of the church. If a hospital, for instance, is a church investment, that’s another story.

    I am not happy about it, but I think constitutional reasoning leads to this conclusion. One comparable situation is the state requiring parents to provide life-saving healthcare to their children regardless of their religious beliefs. Here, however, the state has a compelling interest in preserving the life of the child. I fail to see any compelling interest in requiring church ministries to provide the benefit of contraception. Of course, there is an exception of hormone therapy for other health reason, and the Catholic Church agrees that it will provide coverage for such cases. The question here relates only to the contraceptive use of hormones and other devices and drugs.

    I am not impressed by the “compromise” position of the Obama administration. Any costs incurred by an insurance provider will inevitably be passed on to the employer as administrative costs. So in effect, the employer will still be paying for contraception.

    I think the Catholic Church is fundamentally wrong in its view of sex, but Catholic leaders have the right to be wrong. The question, I think, is whether the state has an overriding interest in providing contraception. I don’t see any such interest.

    I would very much like to be wrong.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Dave M, well I think you are wrong because the primary business of a hospital is saving lives not saving souls. (Saying this in a nice way).

    In a Catholic Church or Catholic school there are Catholics in the pews and desks. Not so in a hospital. There are some atheists pushing those food carts the business (hospital) is denying the options available to that that atheists cart pusher that the government says “businesses” must provide to their employees.

  • David M.

    @StraightGrandmother

    I understand that employees have their own beliefs. As the law stands, though, a church ministry is not required to hire anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. Be they atheists or whatever, they are ministers of the church (again, if the institution is a church ministry).

    There is no compelling state interest in trumping a church’s beliefs by appealing to the beliefs of the employees. I read part of the articles you linked about the case of alleged discrimination by a Lutheran school. The Supreme Court ruled that lower courts may not interfere in whom a religious entity hires as its ministers.

    My point is that we live in a country where freedom of religion is interpreted broadly. The government will not interfere in the free exercise of religion unless there is a compelling state interest. I don’t think we want to chip away at that religious freedom, even if we think certain beliefs are immoral or otherwise wrong.

  • ken

    David M.# ~ Feb 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    “as long as it can be shown that the hospital, college, or other institution is indeed a ministry of the church. ”

    If it is a ministry of the church, then the church should be paying for it, not taking government money to run it. The US government should not be in the business of funding religious ministries.

  • David M.

    I believe the government is free to refuse payment for services provided by healthcare workers who are deemed to be unqualified. For instance, government programs do not pay for the care of an herbalist. The government is free to say Catholic institutions do not qualify.

    But I don’t think it’s likely to happen.

  • David M.

    The case of the Illinois Catholic Social Services agency is instructive. The Illinois state government decided not to subsidize any adoption agency that refused to allow gays to adopt. Illinois was free to do this. In the same way, the federal government is free to disqualify healthcare providers who do not provide contraceptive benefits to employees. But that’s a different argument altogether.


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