Stand Up For Freedom Tomorrow

Tomorrow, starting at 12 noon in every time zone, in 160 cities (and counting) across America, there will be major rallies in support of religious freedom, about which you may not hear a peep from the mainstream media.

The movement is a massive, nationwide, concerted protest against the new HHS mandate, which is a regulation contained within Obamacare. If you haven’t heard yet of this mandate, it’s a requirement placed upon all employers, including religious groups, to pay for their employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance coverage. There are very narrow exemptions that would not exclude religious schools, hospitals, or charities.

So a non-profit Catholic hospital, under this mandate, is faced with the choice of either paying for contraception for its employees, in direct contradiction of Catholic teaching, or simply closing its doors.

If you think this doesn’t matter because you’re not Catholic, or not Christian, or not even religious, keep reading.

This is not an issue that only affects Christians. This is an issue of freedom of conscience for every single American.

I defer to the clear and succinct summary at stophhs.com:

The HHS Mandate violates the United States Constitution and statutory law.  The HHS Mandate violates the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech – both guaranteed under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  It also violates, among other laws, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The HHS Mandate isn’t simply a Catholic issue.  This is an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.  The HHS Mandate allows the government to define whether an organization is religious enough and leads the way toward redefining religious liberty as freedom to worship.  As Americans, our Frist Amendment Right to the Free Exercise of Religion is much more than the right to worship privately in a church building or pray in our homes.  Our right allows us, as Americans, to live our faith publicly through our religious ministries and to serve others precisely because of our religious beliefs.  The HHS Mandate dictates that religious employers can only employ their own and serve their own or be forced out of ministry due to hefty fines. (emphasis added)

This goes far beyond the issue of contraception. Ask yourself what the role of government is in this case. Should the federal government be dictating to every employer every detail of every benefit package offered to every employee? If you accept that, should the government be able to tell a faith-based school that they must provide their employees with something that violates the tenets of their faith? Does free exercise of religion mean nothing?

Should the government tell a vegetarian business owner that he must provide lunch for his staff, and it must contain meat?

This is a dangerous intrusion into the rights of each of us to follow our own conscience. Dangerous in itself, and dangerous for what it would mean for our rights in the future.

Today’s attack is against the rights of Catholic organizations. Forgetting tomorrow’s dangers for a minute, let’s think about that danger. The Catholic school system is the largest private school system in America. 2.5 million students are educated at thousands of Catholic schools across the country. Catholic high schools have a 99% (!) graduation rate and save the taxpayer over $19 billion a year, as they are funded by tuition, donations, and their local parishes. There are 221 Catholic colleges and universities in America, 615 Catholic hospitals (12.5% of the nation’s hospitals), and 1600 local charitable agencies including food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.

The HHS mandate threatens to shut them all down.

Who is on the right side here?

So go to standupforreligiousfreedom.com. Find your nearest rally tomorrow and GO. Tell your friends.

Stand up.

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  1. #1 by sheri on June 7, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    while they may have to cover the cost of these things you find so objectionable, no one is infringing on your right NOT to use them. don’t even get me started on the tax breaks that the catholic hospitals enjoy while being able to refuse to provide certain procedures. i don’t claim to be as educated as you are on this issue nor do i possess the ability to twist it to my way of thinking. but i am a health care worker who believes in the right to choose for everyone. free country, free choice. tell ya what…the churches can start footing the bills for the welfare costs of the women who are unable to pay for contraception and associated procedures. stop turning everything into a religious issue.

    • #2 by basicconservative on June 7, 2012 - 8:06 pm

      No, it’s about not being forced to pay for something one finds objectionable. It’s nothing to do with access or use. Just like it would be wrong to force a vegetarian to buy his employees Big Macs. Did you miss that?

      You may have also missed where I pointed out the thousands of Catholic (plus thousands of other religious) charitable organizations that provide for the welfare of the poor. And where this isn’t a religious issue. Are you trying to turn it into one?

      • #3 by Steve on June 8, 2012 - 1:56 am

        Isn’t the vegetarian forced to pay his employees in legal currency, which the employee may then choose to spend on meat products, or not, as they see fit?

        How is this different from paying part of the cost of an insurance program which the employee may, or may not, choose to use to purchase contraception?

        If the employee goes on birth control, why does it matter whether or not the employee does so with cash, or insurance that the church provided in exchange for services rendered?

        Let’s imagine that this isn’t birth control. Let’s say we had a religion that prohibited blood transfusions (which we do), who wanted a special exemption from the law to put their employees on insurance plans that excluded any procedure involving transplanted blood products. I don’t think we’d be so enthusiastic.

        on group insurance plans that excluded any insurance

        • #4 by basicconservative on June 8, 2012 - 9:13 am

          And the religious organizations pay their employees in legal currency that, if they want to, they can use to spend on contraception and abortifacients. You don’t see the difference between that and forcing a vegetarian to provide his employees lunch and mandate that it be meat?

          I wouldn’t have a problem with Christian Scientist (I think, right?) employers providing weird health insurance. The market would deal with it, and they would have a harder time finding and keeping employees. Nobody is forced to work for a specific employer.

  2. #5 by BD on June 7, 2012 - 9:58 pm

    where is the outrage over paying for wars? That’s your money actually going to kill people. Is that part of your faith? Is that infringing on our religious freedoms… or just us soldiers? Killing people sounds a lot more serious than some condoms. Maybe not to a Catholic… which says plenty…

    • #6 by basicconservative on June 8, 2012 - 9:09 am

      This is a fair point, but you must admit there’s a difference between this, and paying money into a pool of “government funds”, after which the government is going to do a lot of things that we all variously agree and disagree with. Reasonable people can disagree on those things, and the proper way to deal with that is to get involved and try to change opinions and influence elections to change the way the government spends money.

      That’s not the same as the government stepping into a church and telling the pastor, “You are ordered to buy things directly for your employees that contradict the teachings of your church.”

  3. #7 by Steve on June 8, 2012 - 2:07 am

    I’m curious, which religions in the U.S. require their churches to provide group insurance? Also, which states require private employers to provide group health insurance to employees? I’m guessing the answer is “none” to both questions.

    So, if a religion finds that providing group health insurance violates their religious beliefs, then they are free to not provide group health insurance. Since their religion does not require them to do so in the first place, there’s no first amendment violation.

    In fact, if there were a first amendment violation here, wouldn’t it be in making special exemptions to the law for religious employers that other private employers do not enjoy?

    I join you in standing up for religious freedom, and I support the right of any religious organization to not offer group health insurance if they cannot do so in a way that complies with both the laws of the United States, and their religious faith.

    • #8 by basicconservative on June 8, 2012 - 9:14 am

      Please Google “Obamacare” and come back…

      • #9 by Steve on June 8, 2012 - 11:22 am

        I did. At first I wasn’t going to, because I’ve had the full text of this thing downloaded for years, but then I realized maybe you were referring to a last minute amendment that wasn’t in my version. So I went and pulled up the bill, and I have to say, I don’t see anything in here that contradicts anything that I said above. That said, feel free to quote chapter and verse to me if I’m mistaken. That thing gets a little dense sometimes.

        Of course, if a large employer fails to provide health insurance, and has an employee that has to go get taxpayer subsidized health insurance, that employer is going to get taxed. However, that employer is still free to not do it. There’s nothing in any of these religious doctrines that forbids paying their taxes, in fact, some of them explicitly encourage it. So yes, if you want to get sticky about “required”, we can go that direction. However, nobody is saying that they will be shut down, or their various licenses revoked, or thrown in jail. They’ll just get a different set of taxes/fees based on this factor. They already pay very different taxes for a variety of reasons, this shouldn’t be an issue.

        Isn’t the employer also free to pay well enough that none of their employees qualify for state subsidized health insurance?

        Sometimes, there is a price to be paid for sticking to your beliefs. If you are an objector and get drafted, you still might have to complete years of alternate public service. If you don’t want to offer group health insurance, you will pay taxes to help foot the bill if any of your employees wind up receiving taxpayer supported insurance instead.

        I’m also still not convinced that offering a group plan that covers things that are against that church’s teachings is any different from offering an employee money that can be used to violate that church’s teachings. The church is not actually handling, dispensing, or even directly paying for these items, they are just providing a form of compensation that can be used to acquire them. I don’t see any arguments that apply to these insurance policies that do not also apply to U.S. currency.

        • #10 by Steve on June 8, 2012 - 11:47 am

          Just to play my own devil’s advocate and save us a lot of text, I am willing to stipulate that this particular mandate will probably not survive strict scrutiny, especially under our current court.

        • #11 by basicconservative on June 8, 2012 - 11:47 am

          “Different set of taxes/fees,” including fines penalizing failure to provide insurance coverage for every employee. The way you’re talking, the government doesn’t require me to drive the speed limit or pay my taxes on time, either–I’m perfectly free to do whatever I want all the time, and just accept the consequences of various fines. That’s true, sort of, in a sense… but I don’t think it accurately reflects the reality of the situation. The point of this is, what’s the government’s role here? People are free to spend their money how they want. Employers should also be free to pay their employees how they see fit.

          Say companies started offering benefits packages that included a company-run market providing groceries, and employees got a set amout free per month. Is it the government’s place to dictate what the market carries, in any way? Should a Mormon employer pay fines for not selling coffee and beer in their market? How about the market at MADD headquarters, do they have to stock booze? It’s okay, you don’t have to, you can just pay thousands of dollars in fines…

        • #12 by Steve on June 10, 2012 - 11:20 am

          There’s really no difference, unless the organization self-insures (which you don’t have to do), in handing them 100 bucks, or chipping in 100 bucks towards their health insurance. Either way, the employee may, or may not, choose to buy something with it that violates the church’s teachings. Either way, the money that paid for that thing went through the church one or two steps before it paid for the item in question. In fact, in the insurance scenario, the church is further removed from the transaction than they are in the case of paycheck cash.

          The argument we’re seeing is not “it is wrong for the government to require large employers to provide group health insurance plans under penalty of fee, fine, or taxes” it’s “We want an exception”. They are both valid discussions to have, but they’re completely different.

          Instead of trying to start a reasonable discussion about whether or not such an exception is reasonable, this is being framed as an “attack on religion”. As though there’s some HHS bureaucrat rubbing his hands together and cackling about how he’s gonna show those Christians a thing or two. There’s not. It’s a law that applies across the board (as laws should) and does not discriminate between classes of large employers.

          The reality is that there has to be a standard for what is and is not a reasonable insurance policy, and recent changes to that policy have put some religious organizations between a rock and a hard place.

          Run it up the courts and see if they can get themselves and exception. Religious organizations get no shortage of them in the US, it’s entirely feasible.

          However, I am unimpressed with the persecution complex. “Oh no! The law applies to us too! It’s a WAR ON RELIGION”…

          It’s not. It’s not Congress’s job to write in built in exceptions to all the possible religious objections. In fact, if they did, they’d run pretty close to making a law respecting an establishment or religion. It’s the religious organizations job to petition the court to grant an exception on first amendment grounds. This is nothing new, nothing heinous, and the courts are generally very good about 1.) Taking any claim of “it’s my religion” at face value, and 2.) granting exceptions when it’s even remotely reasonable.

        • #13 by basicconservative on June 10, 2012 - 3:48 pm

          Well, I’m making both arguments, really. This is an overreach by the government. It’s not their place to tell business owners what their subsidized insurance benefits have to look like. But if that’s going to take place, there absolutely must be a religious conscience exemption on first amendment grounds.

          Just saying “calm down, see what the court says, it’s not a big deal” seems like a major stretch. Would you not feel any outrage if a new law was passed saying, for example, that handguns were banned? Would you dismiss anyone trying to inform and educate the public about the issue if there was little or no outcry? “Calm down, everyone, just file a lawsuit and we’ll see what the courts say.” No–you may file that suit (as one has been filed in this case), but I think you would take issue with the legislators that passed such a law as well.

          “There’s really no difference…” Absolutely false. Individuals are allowed to spend their money on whatever they want, as long as it’s legal. But just because an employee can legally spend their paycheck on booze doesn’t mean their Mormon employer can therefore be forced to directly buy booze for their employees. “There’s no difference, the money’s coming from the same place…” BS. There’s a huge difference.

          This goes back to the military spending argument above. The difference lies in coercing the individual’s action. I’m against the death penalty, but I’m not going to refuse to pay taxes on the basis that some might go to the dept of corrections. However, I would outright refuse if the government tried to force me to personally administer a lethal injection. There are miles of difference.

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