No Exemption for Catholics—But for Others? Sure!

No Exemption for Catholics—But for Others? Sure! February 12, 2012

I haven’t written anything about the Obama “accommodation.”  For one thing, so many people out in the blogosphere published really effective articles—explaining, complaining, disdaining.  What new insight could I offer?

And frankly, I’ve been just too crabby about the whole thing.

But here’s something I’ve noticed:  While Obama holds his nose high and insists that the Catholic Church has no choice but to overlook its deeply held beliefs and just get over this whole “violation of conscience” thing, there are many others who have received an exemption.

That’s right—I said MANY others will not be forced to provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage as part of their insurance policies.  In all, more than a million workers will be without the broad prescription coverage, as a result of private deals with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Among the groups exempted from the requirement are members of certain religions, certain labor unions, certain occupational fields, certain companies.

My list isn’t exhaustive—but here is a summary of the exemptions I’ve found in just a few minutes of on-line research.  There may, in fact, be many more individuals and organizations who are exempted.


Muslims are exempt.  A strict interpretation of Islamic Law (Sharia) forbids Muslims from participating in public or private insurance because it is considered to be “like gambling.”  Muslim sensibilities would be offended, were they to be compelled to participate in such a healthcare program.  American Muslims who pay Social Security taxes and receive Social Security benefits will be forced to accept the insurance provided by ObamaCare.  However, according to the Counter Jihad Report,

“…Muslims can be exempted from ObamaCare if they are part of a “health-sharing ministry,”—a religious non-profit organization in which members contribute money to cover the medical expenses of those in need. Alternately, if Muslims have or purchase Sharia-compliant insurance which is available in all 50 states, and have Sharia-compliant insurance, then they would not be required to pay for the insurance provided by ObamaCare. They would be exempt from any taxes, requirements, mandates, or penalties of ObamaCare.”

Christian Scientists are exempt because they have a long-standing moral conflict with insurance, and because they lobbied effectively in Congress for the exemption.

The Amish are exempt, as well, because they have opted out of Social Security and any type of government-sponsored insurance.  The Amish take care of their own sick and elderly and have done so for generations, without benefit of government subsidies or support., in an article published in March 2010, quoted Third District Congressman Mark Souder:  “The fundamental question is, ‘Is religious freedom trumped by a public health care program?’  There will be a religious liberty fight, but the Amish likely will be part of a bigger category than just themselves.”

Mennonite groups have also opted out of coverage, while at the same time opting out of participation in Social Security payroll taxes and Medicare under 26 U.S. Code 1402(g)(1).


American Indians are exempt, due to financial hardship—that is, because they cannot afford to pay.  The exemption is just one part of their longstanding “special relationship” with the United States government.

UNION EXEMPTIONS reported a list of 34 labor unions and collective bargaining groups that would be exempted from providing full ObamaCare coverage.  The list included:

  • United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund – 351,000 people.  The largest single waiver, according to an article in USA Today, the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, a New York union which provides coverage for city teachers, was granted a one-year waiver.  Waivers were granted to insurance plans and companies that demonstrated that employee premiums would rise, or that workers would lose coverage should no waiver be granted.
  • United Agriculture Benefit Trust – 17,347 people.  This California-based cooperative offers coverage to farm workers.
  • Bricklayers Local 1 of MD, VA and DC
  • International Brotherhood of Trade Unions Health and Welfare Fund – Local 713
  • IndianaTeamsters Health Benefits Fund
  • Amalgamated Welfare Fund
  • Local 1102 Health & Benefit Fund
  • Local 1102 Welfare Fund
  • Local 338 Affiliated Benefit Funds
  • Operating Engineers Local 835 Health and Welfare Fund
  • Texas Carpenters and Millwrights Health and Welfare Fund
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 New Hampshire
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 630 Welfare Fund
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1000
  • 1199 SEIU GreaterNew York Benefit Fund
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning Workers Local No. 52
  • Social Service Employees Union Local 371
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Union
  • United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1459
  • United Food and Commercial Workers and Participating Employers Interstate Health and Welfare Fund
  • And 16 other union funds


  • McDonald’s – 115,000 people.  McDonald’s will be exempt from rules intended to keep people from having to pay for all of their care once they reach a preset coverage cap.  McDonald’s, which offers an insurance plan for its part-time employees, told HHS that it would need to reevaluate the plans unless the company was granted a waiver.
  • Jack-in-the-Box – 1,130 people.
  • Insurers Aegis (HIV-AIDS database)
  • HealthPort, a health information technology company
  • FleetPride, a trucking company
  • Regis Corp. hair salons
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Waffle House
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Denny’s
  • Darden Restaurants
  • Carlson Restaurants
  • Cigna
  • DISH Network
  • Convergys
  • Sensient Technologies
  • Universal Orlando
  • Meijer Supermarkets
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Adecco Group
  • HCR Manor Care
  • Carington Health
  • Telesis Management
  • Adventist Care Centers
  • AMF Bowling Worldwide

So here’s the question:  With so many groups which DO qualify for exemption for religious or economic reasons, why has the Obama Administration dug in their heels and refused to expand the exemption for Catholics? 

Father Robert Barron, in a guest column in the National Review Online, offers a discouraging, even shocking analysis:

The secularist state wants Catholicism off the public stage and relegated to a private realm where it cannot interfere with secularism’s totalitarian agenda.  I realize that in using that particular term, I’m dropping a rhetorical bomb, but I am not doing so casually.  A more tolerant liberalism allows, not only for freedom of worship, but also for real freedom of religion, which is to say, the expression of religious values in the public square and the free play of religious ideas in the public conversation.  Most of our founding fathers advocated just this type of liberalism.  But there is another modality of secularism — sadly on display in the current administration — that is actively aggressive toward religion, precisely because it sees religion as its primary rival in the public arena.


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