Has Obama Declared "War on Religion" by Insisting Catholic Employers Cover Abortions and Condoms?

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One of the reasons I oppose government-run health care is that it automatically politicizes every aspect of medical treatment, lifestyle, and more. When taxpayers are footing the bill, they rightly have an interest in what gets funded and what doesn't. Should human-growth hormone shots for short kids be covered? Viagra for old men? And what sort of research should be conducted? It takes a situation that is already full of moral an practical ambiguity (one doctor's experimental treatment is another's quackery on a cracker) and puts it on steroids (which I'm guessing shouldn't be covered, unless it's for a "good" cause). God, what a tedious conversation!

Which brings us to the latest imbroglio involving President Barack Obama's health-care reform: the administration's insistence that most employers provide coverage for things that many religious organizations oppose, especially when it comes to reproduction. There seems little doubt that the law will have very few exemptions in its coverage for contraceptives and elective abortions. So while Catholic dioceses may not have to shell out for IUDs for nuns, Catholic hospitals and other closely-related outfits may well have to offer insurance plans that cover birth control and more that's against church doctrine.

Indeed, here are Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), and Patty Murray (Wash.), three champions of the new law, trumpeting that

It was a historic victory for women's health when the Obama administration changed the law to require private health plans to provide preventive services including breast exams, HIV screening and contraception for free. This new policy will help millions of women get the affordable care they need.

They note "it can cost $600 a year for prescription contraceptives. That's a lot of money for a mother working as a medical technician in a Catholic hospital, or a teacher in a private religious school."

It sure is a lot of money. And there's something obviously wrong with forcing an employer—say, the Catholic church—to cover contraceptive or abortion services that it patently objects to. Indeed, there's something wrong with forcing employers and employees to offer or buy coverage in the first place. We all know that it's monstrously stupid—and an artifact of idiotic wage-and-price controls enacted during World War II—that health insurance is tied to the workplace. Way back when, separating work from health coverage was supposed to be one of the goals of reform, wasn't it? For god's sake, most businessess can't make good decisions in their chosen area of competition. Why should they be picking people's insurance?

Writng in National Review, the libertarian, pro-life Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says that Obamacare's rules are nothing less than a "war on religious freedom":

[The] Obama administration's recent edict requiring nearly all employers — including Catholic hospitals, schools, and charities — to cover sterilizations and contraception in their employees' health-care plans. Because "contraception" includes abortifacients, this decision — made under the powers granted to the executive branch under Obamacare — also threatens many Protestant employers.

I'm an admirer on Rand Paul, who I think is without reservation the most libertarian member of the Senate (and I don't mean that as a backhanded compliment, given the generally low level of freedom-loving in the Senate!). He's the real deal when it comes to limiting the size, scope, and power of the federal government, and I'm glad he's gonna be around for a long time.

Yet I'm not convinced that Obamacare is the equivalent of a war on religious freedom. The individual mandate is unambiguously a war on freedom, for sure: the requirement that you buy coverage as a condition of being alive is clearly that. But as long as various health-care providers pull money directly from the federal government, it seems to me that they can be required to follow certain regulations. And most hospitals, whether private or public, religious or secular, are getting chunks of money from the federal government, through Medicaid and Medicare payments at the very least.

That's a strong argument, of course, for getting the government out of areas such as health care and education, where a similar problem obtains: Shouldn't K-12 schools and colleges that get government funding have to follow certain government rules? If you want that money, say, you shouldn't be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race or gender, right? And if you don't want that control, then opt out of the system, as colleges such as Hillsdale and Grove City have done by setting up replacements for Pell Grants and federally guaranteed student loans.

When it comes to education, though, most conservatives and libertarians challenge the idea that public money necessarily means strict government control. Indeed, the preferred argument when it comes to state-funded voucher programs is that as long as the money is being used by the individual, the state shouldn't be allowed to bully the schools that ultimately get paid into following a particular curriculum. 

So I'm left wondering: If Obamacare was structured in such a way that it gave individuals vouchers to cover all or part of the cost of a health-care policy of their own choosing, would that solve this particular objection? I think such a policy would cause all sorts of problems, including a general increase in health care costs (just as easy, government-backed student loans have given rise to a "higher education bubble"). But would switching to a voucher plan for health-care obviate the issue of religious freedom? It seems to do the trick when it comes to education.

Of course, looking over what I've just written really drives home two different but related points:

First, that any health-care reform which doesn't de-link insurance from the workplace is really not serious in transforming a system that everyone seems to hate but won't fully jettison.

Second, even if Obamacare is booted by the Supreme Court later this spring or repealed upon the ascension to the White House of his royal highness Newt Gingrich, we'll still be facing a situation in which government at all levels is already spending about 50 cents out of every health-care dollar. Which means that reform will still be a top priority come 2013 whoever is actually getting sworn in.

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  1. No. Because they’re operating businesses which are open to all. If their hospitals and schools admitted only bona fide members of those faiths they’d be good. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

    Don’t want to do this, Catholics? Then stop admitting non-catholics to your hospitals and schools. Then you can credibly claim to be actual religious institutions.

    Typical religionist whining about “persecution.” LOL.

    1. That is weapons grade stupid. So, we want to tell religious institutions that they can’t run charities or hospitals that admit anyone but members. That will help things.

      And since hospitals can’t turn people away who need emergency care, it would be both illegal and immoral for them to run such hospitals.

      You are a typical Libertarian who is all for freedom until it comes to defending someone you don’t like.

      1. I’m not sure if that was a dumb libertarian or a dumb troll. Possibly both.

        1. Tonio is a “regular”, though a highly trollesque one.

          1. “Tonio is a “regular”, though a highly trollesque one.”-Tulpa

            Hahahahaha

          2. I don’t know whether to be offended or complimented, so I guess that’s a good thing.

            Also, I think the fact that I’m frequently mistaken for regular liberal troll poster “Tony” based on name similarity doesn’t help.

      2. Once again, John: No. I’m certainly not a Libertarian, as you and many others here have told me repeatedly. On a good day I approach being a libertarian, but mostly I’m a libertarian-leaning classical liberal.

        I hang out here because the discussion helps inform my opinions, and to offer the perspective of a non-movement fellow traveller to my L and l friends.

        And I defend people who I don’t like all the time. The Phelpses, for instance.

        1. Then you have to defend these people here. Religious freedom means the freedom to run your organizations by your conscience. And the fact is that the government is so involved in health care, you can’t run a charity or a hospital without taking government money.

          I don’t agree with the Catholics on birth control. But God damn it they have a right to think what they want and do what they want. How can we let the government mandate that people do things against their religion and still say we have a free country?

          1. never mind religious freedom – just what about association and contract. No one working at a hospital inst doing it voluntarily. If you really don’t like that they don’t offer the health plan you want work somewhere else.

            You dont even need to cite religious freedom for this to be a violation.

        2. No, John, I don’t. That’s the difference between you and me. I recognize that people can start with the same premises as me and arrive at a different conclusion. I may still disagree with them, but I respect them. OM’s views on abortion, for instance.

          1. What the hell are you even talking about Tonio? If you respect them, then why are you okay with the government forcing them to do shit they don’t want to?

          2. Take your meds, John.

            1. STFU Tonio. Make clear posts. What do mean?

              1. John, Tonio is the typical troll that will not ever answer a question directly. He will obfuscate an answer, answer with a…”Hey look! See the Wookie.’, or provide some off-the-wall moral equivalence in order to garner another response that will feed its need for relevance. The best thing to do is not feed the Troll, ignore it.

        3. A classical liberal would abhor government telling a business or charity that they have to pay for their employees’ contraceptives.

          1. Perhaps so, Tulpster, but unlike many here I refuse to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Practical goals. Level playing field. Etc.

            Plus, no special rights for the religious. (FTR, FA is not “special”)

            1. You are being purposefully obtuse.

              Just in case you think otherwise…. it comes across as childish. Not open minded.

      3. I don’t think that there should be a law mandating that anyone provide any kind of health insurance to anyone. But if there is to be one, I think it ought to apply to everyone the same. If the Catholic church can’t be forced to provide insurance with coverage for contraception, then any employer who objects to any kind of medical service should be able to refuse to offer that coverage. In which case, the mandate would be toothless (which woudl be a good thing). I object to religious institutions being given a special status. Government deciding what is and is not a religious organization is no better than it deciding who is or is not “the press”.

        1. Government has already given religious institutions an exemption though their taxation status; it is logical in the sense that they are already univocal

        2. Government deciding what is and is not a religious organization is no better than it deciding who is or is not “the press”.

          ^That there.

        3. I agree, but the conscience exceptions are to prevent the entire law from being struck down as a violation of freedom of religion.

          1. Too late – we already have a First Amendment and a whole cluster of religious exemptions in the federal statutes. The question is whether we should exempt the Amish from Social Security and Obamacare – which the law does – while forcing Catholics into line. Are the Amish in some way more special than the Catholics?

            And it’s not as if the Catholics and fundamentalists are running around saying, “yes, force those secularists to provide birth control, so long as we’re exempt!” They, like you, would abolish the entire regulation if they could. But the need to start somewhere.

            And as for the “so long as they’re raping everyone, let’s rape those religious nuts too” argument, that is silly. Less rape is better than more rape.

            1. Equality under the law counts for something, I think.

    2. You make a very anal point, there. People who choose to receive services from these institutions are also agreeing to the organization’s terms of doing business. Christians do characterize themselves as helping everyone in order to be “good Christians”.

      If you were to say, “as long as they are okay with government handouts, they should accept the terms”, I would be more fine with that.

    3. So your logic is “because they don’t discriminate enough the government gets to force them to act against their beliefs” ?

    4. Dear Tonio,

      You have no right to into McDonald’s and demand a bucket of chicken and a side of coleslaw.

      1. But godamit, they should do breakfast all day.

        1. At least not reject you at 10:31.

          1. I think breakfast is McDonald’s’s way of abusing customers and proving their omnipotence. They should have breakfast at least until noon, especially on weekends, and then after 10pm. That way breakfast will be offered when people are most interested in it, and they still get ten hours to refuse to sell breakfast.

      2. Well, yes I do. Congress shall make no law, and all. Do they have to change their menu for me? Hell no.

        A better, in-kind, analogy would be a restaurant demanding a health department exemption from cleanliness inspections because their religion doesn’t believe in germ theory.

        1. No. If you didn’t clean your restaurant you would harm the people you served. Making people pay for their own condoms is low like giving them e-coli? That is a stupid analogy.

          1. These days, harm means anything commerce clause general welfare statists want it to mean.

            1. The comparison would be forcing a halal restaurant to sell whiskey.

              Or a kosher deli to sell country ham.

              Or a vegetarian restaurant to sell meat.

        2. I think that is a fast food principle

        3. a restaurant demanding a health department exemption from cleanliness inspections because their religion doesn’t believe in germ theory.

          Are you fucking kidding me?

          A restaurant being dirty or infested is a direct threat to the health of their customers (and one that most of their customers are unaware of).

          A charity not paying for their employees’ contraceptives isn’t a threat to anyone.

        4. Thought experiment: if the govt forced dirty restaurants to put signs up on their door saying they were dirty, that would probably have the same effect (as John notes).

          If the govt wants to force Catholic charities to advertise that they don’t subsidize contraception … I don’t think they’d be averse to that. So it ain’t the same.

          1. Nitpick: Health department approval creates the illusion of restaurants not being a direct threat to the health of their customers. Its an institutionalized race to the bottom around here.

            1. They were racing to the bottom before there were health departments too.

    5. Actually, I can’t agree that “they’re operating businesses which are open to all” is any kind of justification for imposing conditions on Catholic schools and hospitals which run counter to their religious beliefs. If patrons don’t like Catholic beliefs they are free to stay away from said institutions. However a cursory glance at why non-Catholics patronize Catholic institutions (especially schools) shows that, at least in part, they do like Catholic beliefs.

      A more convincing argument might be built around “if they have no problem accepting governement funds for their operations they should have no problem with accepting government conditions”.

      1. Actually, I think the reasonwhy most non-catholics attend Catholic schools is that they are decent, relatively cheap private schools. The fact that there is a mandatory theology class and chapel attendance is often just an inconvenience to be put up with to get the advantages of a better school.

        1. And not all Catholic schools require that non-Catholics participate in chapel services or religion classes. The one I attended had a few Hindu kids and some Baptist students whose parents felt they’d be better off at the Catholic school than the shitty local publics.

          The Baptist kids’ parents didn’t mind them attending church, but the Hindu kids’ parents did, so one of the lay, non-Catholic teachers would hold lessons or craft time for them while the Catholic kids went to mass or the Stations or said the rosary.

          It worked out well enough.

          1. That’s funny. I woudl have thought that the Hindus would be open to recognizing another god among the thousands they already have more than Baptists would accept going to Papist ceremonies.

            1. One of the Baptist girls was a good friend of mine, still is. We went to see Pope John Paul II when he came to America and said Mass at Yankee Stadium. That same year (we were in high school then) she started RCIA classes and was baptized into the Church. Wow.

            2. Details matter. Would Hindus who believe in thousands of gods be receptive to the idea of one god being the only one, verses (hypothetically) Christian god being one of numerous other gods?

              Anyway, Catholic schools want to fill up as many revenue seats as possible, so they have incentive to make compromises like these.

              1. A good friend of mine is Hindu. He says that, regardless of what god(s) people believe they’re worshiping, Vishnu knows they are really worshiping him.

                1. Jeez. I wish Christians and Muslims woudl adopt a similar view.

      2. While most hospitals & universities recieve federal funds, I’m not aware of parochial schools recieiving them. Indeed, that would appear to be a first amendment violation too.

        1. It’s not a first amendment violation.

          School voucher programs have included Catholic schools.

        2. Abdul, you are right.

          I actually didn’t mean to include schools in those receiving govt money.

          However, as near as I can tell, Catholic schools are being required to provide contraception and abortion coverage in insurance plans for their employes under Obamacare.

          Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder why any employer offers insurance any more. It would have been cheaper for most of them to have offered employees the cash equivalent in increased compensation years ago.

          1. PPACA requires employers to offer insurance or pay the govt to do so.

            And Abdul is wrong. SCOTUS ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002 that school vouchers could be paid to parochial schools.

            1. When I was talking about federal funds, I was talking about direct grants. I wasn’t talking about medicare or other payments to hospitals or vouchers for parochial schools.

              BTW, few areas have voucher programs, so most parochial schools do not recieve vouchers, FWIW.

      3. Even if they refused all government funds, this regulation would still apply to them. In fact, I’m sure that a lot catholic institutions don’t get any federal funds. It applies because they employ people. It has nothing to do with federal funding.

    6. I sure as hell hope catholic hospitals don’t take your advice because thats about 12% of the country’s hospital capacity right there.

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    9. And what process would pass muster with you to confirm that everyone admitted to a Catholic hospital is a genuine Catholic?

  2. even if Obamacare is ….repealed upon the ascension to the White House of his royal highness Newt Gingrich

    If, by some cruel fate, Newt somehow becomes POTUS, I will bet 1000 – 1 against anyone who is still resident in the US after that happens that the Gingrichmander will NOT repeal Obamacare. He might tinker with it and call it a ‘repeal’, but he will not actually repeal it.

    1. The chances of the ACA being repealed is effectively nil. It’s a juicy federal “get”, and they will not relinquish that power.

      However, some things will be changed, and therefore “Obamacare” will be repealed. This will satisfy everybody who isn’t paying attention.

    2. 1 against anyone who is still resident in the US after that happens that the Gingrichmander will NOT repeal Obamacare. He might tinker with it and call it a ‘repeal’, but he will not actually repeal it.

      No Child Left Behind, or How Liberals Learned to Love Bush’s Education Plan.

  3. If President Santorum directed HHS Secretary Bachman to somehow fineagle the ACA regs to prohibit health insurers from covering third trimester abortions, would anyone consider that a theocracy?

  4. Why the fuck would you want to divert costs for condoms and birth control? This is the reason health insurance is so fucked up. The cost for shit that people should pay for on their own gets hidden and jacked up in the bureaucracy.

    1. Yeah, love that they can say “$600 can be a lot to an individual working for a Catholic hospital or school” without realizing that $200 per employee (assumptions made about the distribution of costs through insurance) would also add up to a signifcant amount for the institution, which could be represented in even lower pay for the teachers and techs, including ones making no use of the services, or diminish other services of the institution.

      1. You know what costs a lot more than $600? Having a fucking kid.

        1. Be careful. I know that we would say that if people want to bang and not have a kid, they should plan for the predictable cost of kid prevention products. But your point could also be construed to give ammo to the “x dollars is a small amount for everyone else to pay to help poor people avoid the cost of a kid” bullshit.

          1. Contraception is one of the few things I’d gladly pay for in a small, voluntary government situation.

            1. Hear, hear. BTW, Sug, you can also donate to Planned Parenthood and similar NGOs which provide low-cost/no-cost contraception services.

              I do this.

              1. Good for you. How are you going to feel when a President Santorum mandates that Planned Parenthood provide anti abortion counseling in return for federal money? Hell, they are taking the money aren’t they?

              2. then you’re an idiot, Tonio

                1. If it prevents the birth of even one person like you, rather, it’s worth it.

                  1. google how much they make dummy; if you want to prevent pregnancies hand out non-defective condoms

                    1. Planned Parenthood and similar NGOs

                      I didn’t say which one, specifically, rather. But thanks for reinforcing that I’m indeed doing the right thing, and for the motive which I stated at 2:47.

            2. I could be persuaded if this contraception was 100% effective and mandatory for everyone.

              1. …mandatory for everyone with an IQ less than 120.

                1. ..mandatory for everyone with an IQ less than 120.

                  The founder of Planned Parenthood, who had intimate connections to Nazi eugenicists, would gladly agree.

                2. Having a high IQ could incidentally make one a poor example of a parent: the people who have been led to believe they are so smart, with reinforcement from society, that they couldn’t possibly make bad decisions as a parent.

              2. I suggest castration

        2. This is a great argument why welfare, food stamps, EBT, etc. should be defunded. Perhaps morons who take risks thinking someone else will pay the consequences will think twice. How many women and men (I use the terms lightly, because so man females and males don’t know what it is to be a woman or a man) screw anything that walks without thinking about the consequences of their actions. Keep abortion legal (not taxpayer funded,) but nix anything and everything that supports mindless breeding. How long before we see a drop in out of wedlock births?

    2. “Why the fuck would you want to divert costs for condoms and birth control?”

      I can think of one reason: birth control costs less than birth. If I had an insurance company, I’d take a good look at those numbers. But that should be an actuarial consideration, not a political one.

      1. And what will the lawyers tell you about writing a more expensive post-conception pregnancy rider (which is standard) when you provided contraceptives with a known failure rate? Probably that you can no longer do this.

      2. My issue with the “BC costs less than a kid math” is that birth control is already dirt cheap. People who don’t use it are either already poorer than dirt and probably not affected by health insurance now making it a mandatory benefit, lack the discipline necessary to take a pill every day/refill the prescription/ put the condom on, or simply don’t want to use it because they don’t like how it feels or makes them feel.

        1. My point is that it may well reduce costs overall for insurers to include contraceptive coverage in all of their plans. This decision should be up to the insurance companies.

      3. Exactly. If it really does save money, insurers should be offering a discount for using contraception, not charging higher premia.

        1. Even if voluntary use of birth control saves money in the long run, government mandating that insurance companies cover it will make it cost more. Especially for out of pocket payers. That’s just how sand shortages in the desert work.

  5. Holy shit that WSJ editorial this morning from Sheehan, Boxer and Murray was terrible. Here’s another quote from that mess-

    Now, sadly, there is an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women. It is being waged in the name of religious liberty. But the real forces behind it are the same ones that sought to shut down the federal government last year over funding for women’s health care. They are the same forces that just tried to pressure the Susan G. Komen Foundation into cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screenings. Once again, they are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.

    I’d say it’s a straw man argument but it doesn’t even make any sense.

    1. It’s a straw woman argument, oppressor!

      1. Womyn

        Keep your patriarchal spelling rules off my body!

        HATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. It’s not like this is going to jeopardize Boxer’s admission to MENSA, you know.

      1. I think she wrote most of this. The whole article is criminally stupid.

    3. Once again, they are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.

      We, on the other hand, are just trying to force women’s personal health-care decisions onto someone else’s tab!

      1. We, on the other hand, are just trying to force women’s personal health-care decisions onto someone else’s tab!

        Seriously. I don’t want to pay for some old dudes Viagra and I don’t want to pay for some stupid 23 year old jobless occupy hippie’s birth control.

        But instead this article says I hate women because I don’t want to pay for their birth control.

    4. the same forces that just tried to pressure the Susan G. Komen Foundation into cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screenings

      Maybe I’m missing something, but wasn’t it a private desision by Komen to cut off their grants to Planned Parenthood, only to be pressured by the pro-abortion activists on the left to back down? Did I miss something? I’ll admit I didn’t follow the story that closely (I’m a dude after all, and silly me I thought what Komen does with their money is nobodies business but theirs). Also, I don’t think Komen cut them off because they offer breast-cancer screenings, it was a certain other “service” they offer that offended the Komen folks.

      1. No Loki, you’re right, which is what makes this article so insanely stupid.

        They want you to believe that Komen -the charity founded for the sole purpose of battling breast cancer- pulled their funding for PP because PP offered breast exams.

        What assholes.

      2. They cut off the funding, because PP is under Congressional investigation. That’s what they claimed. Komen also claimed that they cut off funding because PP does not do mammograms (which they don’t, they refer out to other providers.) They specifically stated that they did not cut off funding because PP performs abortions. That’s what they said, but think what you like.

        PP and abortion activists behaved like douches. Komen, and no other organization, is under an obligation to fund any other organization in perpetuity because they once funded said organization. Is PP going to get out its donor list from the past 20 years and start shaking down people who no longer give to PP?

  6. Opposition to abortion and contraceptives are core tenents of the Catholic Church. Requiring Catholic institutions to pay for abortions and contraceptives for employees of those institutions is a clear attack on those core tenents. It doesn’t matter if the attack is disguised as condition of receiving federal aide that available to all equivalent public institutions. The fundamental purspose of this legislation is to force Catholic Institutions to abandon their core religious beliefs. Period.

    Now I happen to think the church is wrong. That’s one of the reasons that I gave up on the church three decades ago. But I have never questioned the right of the church to believe those things. And along as membership in the church is voluntary and working for Catholic insitutions is voluntary, the government is forbidden from forcing the church to abandon its beliefs.

    This is a really straightforward 1st amendment issue.

    1. Uh, it’s not legislation, it’s an administrative ruling granting a limited exemption to the law. Church organizations are indeed exempt from this. Real church organizations, like actual churches and diocesan HQ’s. Who doesn’t get exemptions are businesses run by the church not directly related to their religion.

      And as I pointed out above, they have the option to reconfigure those businesses to maintain those exemptions.

      But they don’t want to play by the rules everyone else has to. They’re religious so they’re special. Waaaaaah.

      1. But to do that means not being a charity anymore. So you are okay with religious freedom provided they don’t do any charity?

      2. Helping people not die, for free, seems like a pretty fucking big part of religion. At least, that’s what they claim. It’s not like the Catholic church is selling timeshares- they chose things like hospitals and schools.

      3. They aren’t doing it for free, Col. The local catholic hospitals are happy to take your money or your insurance. These people compete on the open market with non-religious hospitals. Level playing field.

        1. They actually were happy to do it for free before the federal government offered to pay them X dollars (in the form of Medicare/Medicaid) for every patient they took.

        2. These people compete on the open market with non-religious hospitals.

          Open market? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA

          Good one…

          1. Such as it is, Baldur, such as it is.

        3. Sure they take money whenever they can, and they can also provide charitable services. And they are in competition, but they entered the “open market” under different conditions that suited them, whereas the market’s new version of openness is altering the ability for them to have those kinds of businesses without conflicting with their fundamentals. If they felt forced to shut down because of this (not that they will), it would be disastrous for them and a big defacto handout for the competitors. They should have just sold Amway instead.

      4. Who doesn’t get exemptions are businesses run by the church not directly related to their religion.

        Bullshit. Catholic schools, hospitals, and soup kitchens are directly related to the religion.

        As some of the bishops have pointed out, even Jesus and his disciples wouldn’t have qualified for a religious exemption because he healed people who were not his followers.

    2. The problem I have with this sort of religious freedom argument is that someone has to decide what is and isn’t a religion. For example, I just invented a religion whose core tennets are that you have to smoke pot everyday and gay people can get married. Do I get an exemption from drug laws for my religious freedom? If the Catholic church gets an exemption to this law, than any organization should be able to declare itself a religion and be similarly exempted from whatever regulations they don’t want to comply with.

      1. It depends. I’m pretty sure there’s a church that has a peyote exemption, but they are hereditary Amerindian, and not particularly interested in franchising. You can start that church (and there’s no injuction on churches marrying anybody — the state just won’t recognize them), but you have to prove that the ritual of smoking pot is integral to your belief, not incidental.

        1. A large part of the point of my silly example is that religious freedom really isn’t respected if you are not part of an established religion. In my example, smoking pot is the sole requirement of the religion, so it is definitely essential to it. But I’m not getting an exemption to drug laws. Lots of people have tried to defend against drug charges on religious grounds and it has basically come down to the Native American Church (or whatever they are called) gets to use peyote and everyone else can fuck off. And the reason they have to do that is that the only alternative is what I present, that anyone can invent whatever religion they want and demand that their favored activities be exempt from regulation. No government official should be judging what is or is not a sincerely held belief.

          1. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act asks basically these questions:

            Is your belief *sincere* (not just a joke like you’re positing) – if it’s sincere it need not be central, that’s not the govts job to say.

            Next, does the govt have a compelling interest in suppressing your activities via a general (no special exemptions), properly-motivated law? (if the law is motivated by discrimination or if exemptions are handed out arbitrarily, the govt probably loses)

            Finally, has the govt chosen the least restrictive means of accomplishing its objective.

            Here’s an analysis of how the HHS regulation *violates* the Religious Freedom Restoration Act:

            http://eppc.org/publications/p…..detail.asp

          2. Isn’t your proposed religion already in existence, known as Rastafarian?

            1. No. They have some weird stuff about the old testament and Marcus Garvey and Ethiopian emperors and stuff.

      2. Your example would fail because it’s obvious you’re just trying to dodge the law (and I’m not sure how gay marriages would be made possible by you having certain religious beliefs). They look for patterns of behavior consistent with being that religion, evidence of membership in a church, etc. For a long time they didn’t recognize Scientology as a religion, either. Unfortunately for entrepreneurs of religion, the religion probably has to exist before you do to be plausible.

        1. I just threw in gay marriage so that I woudl have more than one tenet in my new faith.
          And my example is deliberately silly.

          My contention is that a court or other governmental body deciding on what counts as a legitimate religion is itself a violation of religious freedom. If we are truly to have religious freedom, then no one can define what is or is not a religion. Scientology didn’t magically transition from non-religion to religion one day. I think that the best interpretation of the religion part of the 1st amendment is that religions should not be treated any differently under the law from any other social or charitable organization. Laws that shouldn’t apply to religious groups shouldn’t apply to anyone.

          1. But the practical effect would be to make the free exercise of religion clause unenforceable.

            religions should not be treated any differently under the law from any other social or charitable organization

            But now you’ve just moved the problem to defining “social or charitable organization”. And in any case, that’s not what the constitution says or was intended to mean. Freedom of religion is very, very different from freedom to practice charity.

            1. Well, most things come down to definitions eventually. Still, I stand by my contention that telling someone that what they claim as their religion, no matter how silly, is not a religion is itself a violation of religious liberty.

            1. “Well said” to Zeb, that is. I’m trying to parse Tulpa’s response.

  7. Ask Ron Paul about the secularist war on religion:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html

    1. Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

      Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

      1. Never gets old.

  8. But as long as various health-care providers pull money directly from the federal government, it seems to me that they can be required to follow certain regulations. And most hospitals, whether private or public, religious or secular, are getting chunks of money from the federal government, through Medicaid and Medicare payments at the very least.

    But you can’t run a hospital in this country without accepting those two. So that argument is bunk.

    This is a total attack on religious freedom. Why can’t Gillespie just call a spade a spade here? Why all of the equivocating?

    1. Are you sure that private hospitals can’t insist on their own forms of payment?

      If not, then I think you’re absolutely right, and it’s an abomination that the Catholics should have to fund something like this that violates their most basic beliefs.

      1. If you stopped taking medicare and medicaide, you would essentially have to say you will not treat most of the poor and the old. You could probably do that. Some doctors’ offices have stopped taking both and just treat young people with ordinary insurance. But it is hard to see how you could do that and still call yourself a “charity hospital” or in anyway fulfill the missions of these places.

        1. Eh, that’s really the fault of the old for relying on the gov’t teat. And if you’re a charity hospital, but your “charity” only extends to how much you can get the gov’t to reimburse you for (essentially not charity, just redistributing the cost of treatment away from the individual and to the taxpayers), then I don’t think you have a leg to stand on.

          I’m still not OK with it, but I think they could solve a lot of this problem by just refusing to take gov’t handouts.

          1. Eh, that’s really the fault of the old for relying on the gov’t teat

            No it is not. Once you turn 65 you are required to be on medicare. Your regular insurance becomes a supplement. The old people are not on the government teat by choice. They are forced there by law. And trust me millions and millions of them saved and got retirement plans that they thought would take care of their health care only to be told, too fucking bad, you are getting the government healthcare like everyone else.

            That is a myth.

            1. If anything, John is understating how bad it is.

              Drop medicare, and the government takes back all your Social Security payments… with interest.

              And given the suffering I see in elderly people trying to adjust their estate plan because they lost their last job before they wanted to retire, as they try to work around all the restrictions required to preserve a nest egg in the face of the Medicare/Medicaid juggernaut… I want to dig up Harry Truman’s grave and desecrate his corpse for havign the fucking gall to stand behind LBJ and tell people that thanks to MEdicare & MEdicaid, old people would be spared the “indignity” of having to deal with charities. Because there is nothing undignified about old people discovering that they won’t be allowed to leave anything to their kids when they die…

              1. It is the way they are going to take everyone’s 401K. Oh sure, you can keep your 401K. But then when you go to get healthcare, they will be taking it all.

              1. For some reason my comment got dropped, let’s try this again…

                The old people are not on the government teat by choice. They are forced there by law.

                I didn’t actually realize they’re required. I guess I kind of thought this was still a nominally “free” country. Shows what a sucker I am.

                Now I kind of hope titties gets his moon colony. And then hopefully by the time I retire they’ll have revolted against the home planet and I can go live there instead.

      2. Re: Gojira,

        Are you sure that private hospitals can’t insist on their own forms of payment?

        They can, but they are also mandated to provide care regardless of ability to pay, so they’re stuck. Which is why the “opt-out” argument forwarded by Nick does not apply in this case.

        1. They can, but they are also mandated to provide care regardless of ability to pay, so they’re stuck.

          This is something I didn’t think about, and you’re right, it is a complete catch-22 for them. I’d say that, in addition to my response to John above, refusing to take gov’t money should also come with the freedom to refuse treatment at the hospital’s discretion.

          1. But if you refuse to take old people, and all old people are by law on medicare, you really are not much of a charity hospital are you? You are asking these people to give up their mission or their religion.

            1. If old people are forced to go onto medicare, then you’re right, this whole thing is inexcusable.

              I did a quick google search, and while there are some exemptions that allow you to not take medicare, you have to jump through hoops to get the opt-out approved, so it’s basically de facto mandatory.

            2. Oh, and while I still oppose this, if they were a true charity, they could treat the old fuckers for a very low, nominal fee, and not file for the reimbursement.

              I get it that treating the old is expensive as hell, but like I said above, I don’t consider gov’t reimbursement to be “charity” – it’s just redistribution by another name. Charity should be based on donations, willingness to pay what one can, shit like that.

              1. That is a good idea but I bet you couldn’t get away with it. I bet you are required to file for reimbursement if you treat someone on medicare. I wish RC were here and he might know. But it find it hard to believe that the government would let people opt out of its control that easily.

                1. In fairness, I’m not bashing Catholic hospitals specifically over that. I said much the same thing when lefty charities were crying bloody murder about their state funding being cut during the “austerity” caused by the recession. If you’re taking tax dollars, you ain’t a charity (unless you are forced to, as may be the case with medicare).

                  1. If Obama were cutting funds to everyone, I would be applauding him. But I am not so down with using tax support as a way to bribe and bully people.

                2. You aren’t required to file, so long as you don’t accept payment.

                  Ron Paul goes this route: medicaid patients are treated for free.

                  But, if you request reimbursement, then you become the DHHS’s bitch.

                  1. If the alternative to following the govt’s orders is to starve, that’s essentially a mandate.

                    And do recall that hospitals CANNOT refuse to treat anyone who shows up.

              2. Well it is the other healthcare providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid that drive up costs in the first place, so asking the Church to treat people out of their own pocket would cost a fortune to them and their donors and most likely reduce the quality and availibility of care. It is a catch-22 for the church and other religious charities.

      3. Are you sure that private hospitals can’t insist on their own forms of payment?

        They can, however, they can’t refuse treatment to someone who shows up in the ER. So in practice the choice is, accept Medicare/Medicaid or give your services away for free.

        1. Actually, only hospitals that participate in Medicare/Medicaid are under the jurisdiction of EMTALA laws where they cannot turn away anyone who shows up in the ER. But that is just about every hospital in the country. Technically, if you are a cash-only hospital, you could turn away anyone who couldn’t pay without being subject to penalties.

          Several docs that I know have converted to “boutique” practices, where they accept only cash. Look for more of this in the future if Obamacare moves forward. We might see some cash-only hospitals as well, who would work with those wealthy individuals who really didn’t want to wait in line at what other hospitals will become.

    2. Why can’t Gillespie just call a spade a spade here?

      Using the term “spade” when talking about Obama? RACIST!

    3. This is a total attack on religious freedom. Why can’t Gillespie just call a spade a spade here? Why all of the equivocating?

      Because not everyone is a hand-wringing ninny, John.

      1. Better that than a hypocrite who thinks freedom only applies to people I like. You don’t like Catholics, we get it. And you are totally okay with the government fucking them because you don’t like them. Good for you. But spare us any claims of having any principles.

  9. pres. obama is a self-proclaimed christian,but he seems to have an islamic bent. by taxing catholics for birth control,sterilization and abortificants insurance, he is applying the islamic tax called dhimmitude. this is a tax on non-believers, forcing them to pay taxes on actions that are against their faith.

      1. DIANKSR???

        Yes, I googled dat shit.

        1. Die In A No Knock SWAT Raid.

          Formulated especially for mouth-breathers.

        2. Thanks. Cool. I’m gonna use that.

    1. Hmm – when he exempts Muslim-run hospitals from this, then maybe I’ll pay a little more attention to your ramblings.

      1. There is no such thing that I am aware of. And Muslims don’t object to contraception.

        1. So you’re an expert on Islam, now? So, how old is that religion?

          1. 2012-610= 1402
            Just over 1 thousand 400 years ago.

          2. John previously claimed that Islam was “thousands” of years old here. It was a taunt at him.

            1. And IIRC, he was mocked by the noname griefer troll for it. Funny how you remembered it so well.

            2. No, rev, even on those rare occasions when I spoof I generally leave a calling card in the email address so you can tell who I am.

              I remembered so well because I enjoyed seeing John hoisted on his own petard.

            3. 1400 is more than a thousand. Less than two thousand so the plural is used in a colloquial fashion. Really who cares?

        2. If there’s no Muslims to benefit from the Christian tax, then it’s not a crypto-Muslim plot.

          And they are opposed to abortion, which is a part of this issue as well.

          1. I think it is a whacky theory too. I am just saying there are no Muslim hospitals in this country. So, he really couldn’t apply it to them.

            1. Ah. Well I’m sure there will be one soon enough in Dearborn, so we’ll find out then.

    2. Jizya is the term you are rather feebly grasping for, and it (back when it was collected) was only collected from men who were able to pay. One tribe of Christian Arabs (al-Jurajimah) were exempted altogether because the agreed to fight for the Muslims.

      Where’d all these fucking freepers come from today?

      1. I thought jizya was a verb, as in “I’ll jizya some santorum.”

  10. I’d like to declare WAR!!! on declaring war for everything. How about we use the word “pudding” for when we feel strongly about something.

    1. This.

      Plus the requirement that every scandal be named something”gate”.

      1. Wargate!

        1. I am glad I refreshed because I was about to post the exact same thing, ProL. Spooky.

          1. It’s commenter entanglement.

            1. Spooky snark at a distance.

  11. Has Obama Declared “War on Religion” by Insisting Catholic Employers Cover Abortions and Condoms?

    No, he merely declared war on private property rights and the sanctity of private contracts.

  12. Has Obama Declared “War on Religion” by Insisting Catholic Employers Cover Abortions and Condoms?

    Welcome to Hyperbole land. The Komen foundation effectively declared a war on abortion by pulling 600k of Breast Exam money from Planned Parenthood’s billion dollar budget.

    It’s just a game of connect the dots. Can’t you see the connection?

  13. “Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.”–Ron Paul

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul148.html

    1. Max|6.24.10 @ 3:29PM|#

      Go suck ron puals dick, morons. You peeple are fucking retarded. I`m done coming to this wingnut sight. this is my last post.

  14. I think Mark Steyn put it best: When government gets bigger, everything else gets smaller. Eventually, everyone is compelled to act against his beliefs to stay alive or to make a buck. Those without morals, without scruples, without priniples will naturally be the most rewarded under such a system.

    1. Those without morals, without scruples, without priniples will naturally be the most rewarded under such a system.

      IOW, college professors and politicians.

  15. The Church is being short-sighted. Stop fighting it, let the regulations go into place and then fire anyone who takes advantage of contraception coverage. They haven’t had a good purge of heretics in decades.

    1. You know, you think like a Catholic. Are you Irish or something?

      1. I should give a good knock with my shillelagh for that!

        1. You mean your penis, right? I don’t speak Mick.

          1. Shillelaghs are traditionally made from blackthorn (sloe) wood (Prunus spinosa) or oak.[1] The wood would be smeared with butter and placed up a chimney to cure, giving the shillelagh its typical black shiny appearance


            Certainly sounds like a description of my penis.

            1. Definitely your penis. But I thought you used bacon grease. That’s how it tastes, at least.

              1. Didn’t get it shiny enough. Had to switch back to butter.

                1. If you had any class-which we all know you don’t–you’d use duck fat.

                  1. How nouveau riche of you Episiarch. Us more… cultured… libertarians prefer to shine our beating sticks with baby seal fat.

                    1. You inbred redneck! I personally use whale oil, but NutraSweet is too poor to afford that, thus the duck fat suggestion.

                      The fact that I have to explain this to you is glaring evidence of your incompetence in wearing that monocle.

                    2. I’ve read all of the demographic tables and I know I make more money than you, Episuck!

                    3. Go back to your tractor pull, conservative.

                    4. It is so obvious that you all make less money than me.

                    5. Go back to Wal-Mart, you plebeian fuckstain!

    2. Finally, the Episcopal Church will see their membership go up for a change.

      1. Think of it as a Episcopalian stimulus program.

        1. Within TEC, those have traditionally included show tunes and Perry Ellis.

    3. And enough law suits to make the child molesting priest thing seem small.

  16. And if you don’t want that control, then opt out of the system[.]

    You can’t opt out of the system, not under Obamacare at least. The problem is that through the executive mandates, you have ex post facto situations where previous agreements are made null and void, that is: you previously accept the insurance offered to you by your employer as it is given, yet now and all of a sudden the employer is made to change the agreement whether he likes it or not, a clear case of a post facto ruling. Post facto laws and regulations are unconstitutional, in case you were wondering.

    1. Since when did that ever stop them? You know what they say, “one man’s constitution is another man’s toilet paper”.

  17. I can’t believe everyone got so distracted by ABORTIONZZZZ that they forgot to talk about the extreme hideousness of that picture of the Obamas.

    1. Why do presidents need such a big tree? Why can’t they have a more reasonable one?

      1. Michelle is compensating for her tiny penis.

        1. I always figured Michelle was pretty well endowed.

          1. Everything is relative. It’s only 6 inches, but given the size of her feet it should have been 9 or 10.

            1. And given her size, six must look pretty small on her no matter how thick it is.

            2. Stille dwarfs her husband’s…

        2. ^Sugarfree disappoints me.

    2. It was so obvious no one was gauche enough to bother mentioning it…except you. And now look, you’ve opened the door for ProL and NutraSweet. You really should know better.

      1. The difference between me and SugarFree is that I don’t know how to sexualize Christmas.

        1. No, but you know how to deep dish it, which is far worse.

          1. Instead of tinsel, they smear santorum all over it. It still glistens in the light, but doesn’t leave little slivers all over the floor that you have to sweep up constantly.

            1. That sounds exactly like something ProL would do.

            2. Don’t be a bigot, Jimbo. There are plenty of varieties of santorum that already have tinsel in them.

            3. Actually a tree smeared with santorum might drip…all over the floor.

              1. And if it’s cold enough, you’d have santorum icicles hanging off it.

          1. Assholes denied my hot-linking.

              1. Is this what you meatbags find sexy? I don’t get it. LOL

                Jess

      2. They just look so smarmy. And I guess it is not her fault that there is just no way to dress her so she doesn’t look like she’s got 20 or 30 pounds on BO, but it is still unpleasant to look at nonetheless.

        1. She looks like she’s got 20-30 lbs on the tree.

          1. No sitting in Mr. T’s lap for her.

            1. Mr T: “I pity the foo who gets sat on by her!”

  18. It’s not a war on religion it’s a war on everybody. NO employer should be forced to cover things not just ones affiliated with on particular type of free association.

    As always, the solution is not to force Catholic hospitals to comply but to scrap these requirements for everybody.

    1. This is true. What if you have a business where 80% of your employees are older and no longer need contraception. Why should they be forced to buy a policy that includes something they have no need for? Forget religion for a moment. What if I am sterile, why the hell should I have to buy insurance to cover abortions?

      1. …why the hell should I have to buy insurance to cover abortions?

        Actually, I suspect you already know the answer to that, just as like many others here do.

        But for any one who doesn’t know the answer, it’s because when most people use the word insurance, they don’t mean in surance, they mean free stuff.

        When most people complain about not being able to afford insurance (which they actually can), what they’re really demanding is for someone else to pay their medical bills. But, like I said, you already know that. 🙂

    2. It’s not a war on religion it’s a war on everybody. NO employer should be forced to cover things not just ones affiliated with on particular type of free association.

      Yes, this.

    3. ^This. But for self-obsessed religionists, it’s all about them. Always. Nothing says self-obsession like the belief in an all-powerful friend who cares very much about you and how you feel about it.

      1. like the belief in an all-powerful friend who cares very much about you and how you feel about it.

        Atheists are always good for LUTZ. No serious theist believes in any such thing. The only such humanistic God exists in your imagination.

        We get you, you hate religious people. It would be nice if you though clearly enough to understand that if the government is powerful enough to screw over those you hate, it will some day screw you. But that is a lot to expect I guess.

          1. Whatever the fuck it is. A good laugh.

            1. Fuck you, Frank!

        1. No serious theist believes in any such thing.

          Then there appear to be an awful lot of “unserious” theists out there.

          eg: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”
          “God Hears all Prayers”
          “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John* 3:16, KJV

          *The irony!

          1. That doesn’t mean God is some nice cuddly person who is just like us and is listening and understanding when we hope the Giants win on Sunday.

            Yes, God loves the world. That doesn’t mean he is fully understandable or some old man with a beard watching down on us.

            1. Um, God did listen to us about hoping the Giants win on Sunday.

              1. So Eli is the divine wind and Brady the unbeliever?

                1. If Brady’s the unbeliever then how do you explain him spanking the shit out of Tebow & co?

                  1. Maybe Tebow is a false prophet.

      2. My lutzing days are over, John, but you’re always good for the lulz.

    4. Sorry, you can read the first sentence with either the “as” or the “like”. You don’t need both.

      1. Oops…wrong place.

  19. Has Obama Declared “War on Religion” by Insisting Catholic Employers Cover Abortions and Condoms?

    Is it a War on Relgion? No. Is Religious Freedom acceptable collateral damage for the President? Yes.

    It would seem to me that, much like the Keystone pipeline decision, Obama has chosen one voting bloc over another in an election year. He has rarely shown any concern for violating constitutional limitations on government in the past, so why would he start now?

  20. 1) “Weapons-Grade Stupid”. Thanks, John! Yes, I’ll be using this.

    2) God DAMN Michelle Obama is fugly. I’m sorry – she just is.

    3) War. What is it good for? Absolutely NOTHING. Say it again.

    1. It’s not original to John, of course. I believe I first read that on Pharyngula of all places.

  21. Because of the World War II tax breaks, having insurance for the most part requires having a job. (Of course, it can’t just be any job — it has to be a job with benefits.) So thanks to these tax breaks, the majority of people are at the mercy of their employers as to what kind of insurance they have.

    As usual, conservatives and right-leaning libertarians are scandalized by the idea of the state restricting the employers’ “freedom” to restrict their employees’ health insurance based on the employers’ antiquated, repressive morality, while showing no concern whatsoever for individuals’ “freedom” to choose their own healthcare. Of course, an individual could just quit and look for another job. But that’s a rather clumsy, second-order way to negotiate one’s healthcare, isn’t it? And in this wintry economic climate, in which employers are trying as hard as they can to avoid providing benefits, there is by no means a guarantee that said individual will quickly or easily find another job with a better healthcare plan. It is not a natural and just consequence of the free market that the employer chooses the healthcare, but a direct consequence of the contrivances of the state. So then why are libertarians so eager to defend the Catholic institutions’ “freedom” to restrict the healthcare provided to their employees? Because libertarians are the blind, unknowing lackeys of the capitalist class.

    Do you really think a voucher system would solve the problem? It doesn’t matter whether the government provides a voucher which lets you choose between a few healthcare providers or just provides healthcare straight-up. In either case THE GOVMNT WILL BE USING OUR TAX DOLLARS TO TAKE THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF INNOCENT BABIES AND SPERM CELLS. It’s just like a libertarian to think that providing a voucher and an illusion of choice is enough to cut through the moral stranglehold a religious institution has on a whole sector of society and thereby some share of the state.

    1. Eh, C+. A solid start for a new troll, but, as always, it needs more [BRACKETS].

    2. That’s one thought. Another (better) thought is removing the business tax deductions for businesses. The actuarial pool would likely to change and the health insurance business would look more like, say, the auto insurance business.

      1. This assumes that the state has interest in giving individuals control over their own health insurance. Health insurance is an important part of sustaining a life; if the owners of the means of production control and dole out health insurance, than the majority of people are yet more dependent on the owners of the means of production in order to sustain their lives. By and large, the state’s role is to help perpetuate the relations of production of capitalism, meaning perpetuate the dependency of individuals on the owners of the means of production.

        One of the jobs of the Democratic Party is to convince people frustrated with this social order that the best way to deal with it is not by striking, protesting, or engaging in any other genuine political action, but instead to vote for the Democratic Party. That party will then make a few nominal, half-hearted gestures toward resolving one injustice or another, before protesting that it just can’t do anything more this election cycle, and that everyone will just have to be mature and pragmatic and wait. Obama’s move here is just one of those salutary gestures. It temporarily resolves a specific wrong, while doing nothing to resolve the systemic wrong (the concentration of health care in the hands of the owners of the means of production). Moreover, by resolving said specific wrong in a politically inflammatory way, it gives Obama (and the party in general) a rationalization for making future concessions to the right, both with regards to this particular policy and his policies in general.

        1. Health insurance is an important part of sustaining a life

          PAUSE.

          Health insurance =/= Healthcare. All statements proceeding from this falsehood are equally false.

    3. while showing no concern whatsoever for individuals’ “freedom” to choose their own healthcare.

      If people want to buy/not buy any sort of healthcare coverage, why would anyone be opposed to it?

      Of course, an individual could just quit and look for another job. But that’s a rather clumsy, second-order way to negotiate one’s healthcare, isn’t it?

      They could or they couldn’t; why should I concern myself with the measures they take to ensure they receive their desired benefits package?

      And in this wintry economic climate, in which employers are trying as hard as they can to avoid providing benefits, there is by no means a guarantee that said individual will quickly or easily find another job with a better healthcare plan.

      They can purchase their desired healthcare plan. But again, whatever steps they take (whether purchasing one, quitting to find a better one, or negotiating better cash rates for procedures) why should I concern myself with them?

      1. I suppose you said those things because you believe in the honor of something like “economic freedom”, where every individual is free to make whatever independent choices they would like, and to take responsibility for the costs (and benefits) of said choices. What concern should you, one indifferent anonymous atom of individualism among many, have for what some other indifferent anonymous atom does or doesn’t do in the market?

        This vision of the market is a delusion. We are not all indifferent anonymous atoms free to negotiate however we please. Our freedom of movement is restricted by real, material forces — capital’s monopoly over the means of production. In this particular case, employers’ lopsided leverage over negotiations in the health care market restrict our ability to negotiate our health care. They have this leverage in large part because the state has arranged things as such. It’s nonsense that, after the state arranged it so that there would be material constraints on most people’s power to negotiate their own healthcare, libertarians are getting their panties in such a wad over the state telling one particular type of employer that it can’t restrict the healthcare of its employees in one particular way. This nonsense is proffered as political wisdom because libertarianism confuses a particular relation of production (control over the necessities of life by the owners of the means of production) for “freedom” – individuals’ “freedom” to beg one or another said owners for said necessities of life and said owners’ “freedom” to dole out said necessities as they please.

        1. Actually, it’s not that employers can necessarily force better negotiations than individuals in the aggregate at all.

          It’s about government incenting business to do so, which makes it so much more attractive to the business.

  22. Also, Jezebel has just been awesome on this issue

    Best quote:

    Religious leaders say that the health care law interferes with religious freedom, which in this context means “the freedom to prevent members of their religion from having any other options but to follow the laws of religion.” What is actually best for the public? women who use birth control are healthier and less likely to have an unsafe unplanned pregnancy? and what religious leaders think is best for the public? chastity, or married production of dozens of tiny impoverished future members of the religion? have never been in line, but looming battle over free birth control illustrates just how starkly religious restrictions on health care and actual scientific ideas of health care diverge. No one is forcing anyone to take birth control; the Obama administration is just requiring an organization to provide it as an option. Women who attend Catholic college who believe birth control is morally wrong will still be free to believe that birth control is morally wrong but abstain from using it themselves.

    Other objections to covering birth control point out that forcing religious colleges and universities to provide birth control to female students is effectively forcing all participants in the university’s health care plan to pay for birth control. A fair point, if the idea that one can avoid financially supporting things they don’t personally like wasn’t hilariously impossible. Banks and financial institutions, for example, provide employees with insurance that covers all manner of things that clients of the bank may not want to support (my former employer provided coverage for IVF, abortion up to the point of legal viability, and birth control, which is fairly standard for the industry). If you were a client of the bank, you’re paying employees’ salaries, part of which are going to pay plan premiums, part of which are paying for abortions. If you buy clothes at American Apparel, you’re paying the employees’ salaries, which means you’re also paying for a lot of cocaine and Deer Tick records. Economic isolationism is not possible if you participate in capitalism, no matter how much you don’t like something.

    In spite of this, it looks like The Great Birth Control War of the 2010’s will reach a head in the next year or so. On one hand, the administration is backed by science, and science is backed by facts. But on the other, no one has proven themselves better at ignoring facts, especially as they pertain to women’s health, than religious leaders.

    1. I love how all unplanned pregnancies are unsafe. And expecting women to close their legs and take responsibility for themselves is just too much to ask.

      Feminism is a totalitarian ideology. You are either with them or against them. There is no neutrality.

      1. Eh, I’d say the whole Pro-legalization of abortion/Anti-legalization of abortion has become totalitarian on both sides.

        If you are for legal abortion, you want to kill babies. If you are against it, you hate women. And so it goes.

        1. True enough. But anti-abortion has always been a one issue thing. Pro abortion seems to have completely taken over feminism. What is modern feminism other than fanatical commitment to government funded abortions?

          1. Fanatical commitment to greater paternity leave, maternity leave, and “equal” pay laws that let women spend time with their families with no adverse pay or promotion consequences?

            Also, fanatical commitment to lowering the standard for rape, especially on university campuses as those are the one place that seem to listen to them?

            1. The commitment to those things isn’t quite that fanatical though. If I am a politician who is reliably pro abortion, I can do a lot of horrible things to women and depend on feminists to defend me. If I go against abortion, I am done, even if I am a chartible organization for women’s health.

              1. Eh, the rape stuff will probably sink you, if you are, say, seen as disagreeing with the 1 in 4 stat or something.

                Also, y’know, actual rape. I mean, Clinton is one thing, but holding a woman down would be another.

                1. Clinton was accused of rape. And the feminists didn’t demand so much as a good looking into it.

            2. The commitment is to female supremacy in law and practice throughout the land. NOT equality. Abortion is just the one deed that enshrines viciously and totally their supremacy over everything, including a life that is only HALF their own.

    2. Also…

      Thank you for pointing out that this would all go away if they were willing to pay taxes. I was getting livid watching the Sunday morning talk shows and seeing NO ONE point this out. This is not religious persecution. If you want to be a government-supported, tax-exempt organization, you will have to follow secular laws. Period. Don’t want to follow them? Pay taxes. It’s pretty simple.

      1. Ha, fantastic. The way around this is to pay taxes like any non-tax-exempt organization. You know, those ones that still have to abide by obamacare.

        1. Tax-excempt does not mean “does not pay taxes” it means that donors can deduct their donations from their taxable income.

          Non-profit corporations, on the other hand, by definition, do not have any “profits” to pay taxes on. Being a non-profit is a matter of state incorporation law, being “tax-exempt” is subject to permission from the IRS. They are not the same thing and not all non-profits are tax-exempt, though they do in fact pay no income taxes.

          Churches can only operate as non-profits only to the extent that the operation is directly related to a pastora, charitable or educational mission. Once they start owning for-profit businesses (a fine distinction) they do pay taxes, even if the profits go into the churches coffers.

          The for-profit operations of the LDS church, newspapers, retail, banking, agribusiness etc are a good example of this.

      2. If you want to be a government-supported, tax-exempt organization

        …How is a tax exempt org “government supported”?

        1. Duurrrhhh, teh gubmint haz a rite 2 ur taxes!

          By exempting you, the government is generously forsaking a potential “revenue” stream. See how that works?

    3. Oh, it’s SCIENCE! Why didn’t they say so?

    4. Lastly…

      What this whole story tells me is that the US let the pro-market, pro-capitalism, anti-welfare lobby drive this country’s health and education infrastructure into the ground. There’s a problem when so many schools, universities, and hospitals are being run by the Catholic Church, because they go from being organizations for members/believers to filling the gaps left by underfunded public schools and hospitals.

      So now you have tons of non-Catholics working/studying in these places, but the powers-that-be are still acting as if they are only responsible for operating within the context of the church. While part of me thinks “Hey, don’t go to a Catholic school or have a Catholic employer” the reality is that in education and healthcare the Catholic church can be difficult to avoid.

      There is no reason that a Church should be allowed to grow its non-church functions so much but then still be allowed to act like a religious organization in various ways. Women can’t be priests, but they can be Chief Resident at St Mary’s Hospital, right? Either the law needs to force all employers of lay people to behave in the same way, or the Church needs to get out of these businesses and focus on the ministry – which requires the state to pick up the slack, and unfortunately that seems nigh impossible in an election year to discuss higher spending (read: higher taxes).

      1. My God, people are out there doing shit and not working for the government.

        And double bonus points for the bitch that we have allowed these organizations to serve people other than members.

        Does Tonio write for Jezebel?

        1. Hey I had a thought pertaining to the “bum” question in the other thread.

          What if businesses were given controling rights to the sidewalk outside their business as part of their lease agreement? Like how a shopping complex can make rules for it’s internal sidewalks that don’t front a street (no loitering, no skateboarding, etc.)

          People who want bums can allow them and suffer the consequences, and those who don’t, can force them to move on.

          1. That is a good idea. They already have to shovel the sidewalks. Why can’t they keep people from loitering on them?

            1. You want to give these private businesses control over the public property surrounding their area? Is that some kind of reverse eminent domain or something?

              1. MNG, as it stands, the maintenance of the “public property” surrounding private property is already the responsibility of the private property owner. Have you never been assessed for sidewalk repairs? Have you never been told you need to shovel the walk?

                1. Maintenance doesn’t equal control, nor should it. They benefit directly from that property, doesn’t sound awful that they might have to contribute to its upkeep more than usual. Do you want to argue the public (the government) has no duties to that same area?

                  1. Do you want to argue the public (the government) has no duties to that same area?

                    What? I do not know what you are going for here.

                    As far as I am concerned, if the government wants there to be sidewalks, it can pay for them itself. If I am forced to maintain government property above and beyond everyone else, I should have a commensurate amount of control over it.

                    1. Are you under the impression the government doesn’t pay anything in the creation and upkeep of most sidewalks?

                    2. The government helps create and maintain the sidewalk, so they get some control over it. Even if we buy into your assumptions about things that would justify their retaining some control over it.

                      But we don’t have to buy into your assumptions at all. We could say that the general welfare is improved by making people maintain the walkways in front of their property, and that benefit outweights the awful, horrible slavery-like coercion involved in making the duty a legal one. It promotes traffic and the person is likely to do a swell job at it given their proximate connection to it.

                    3. There is no entitlement to having any infrastructure whatsoever, nor does a property owner have an entitlement to “traffic” being promoted. I have a sidewalk (and street) compromise. Let’s get rid of the expectation of governments to construct them, and the expectation of anyone to maintain them. Businesses may find a natural incentive to provide some form of access. Ultimate control over sidewalk or street depends on how proactively the initial property owner allows or excludes use of the property over a period of time.

          2. Most bums will move along from in front of your business if you ask them firmly but without resorting to threats.

            1. I agree here. Most bums are not looking for trouble. That’s what teenagers are for.

              1. Yes, but the type who loiter in front of your business have an allergy to Barry Manilow that can be exploited. Although, I expect this to be one of the “fast evolving” survival traits where within a few years you have to escalate to Michael Bolton.

        2. Does Tonio write for Jezebel?

          That’s funny, John. They’d see me as the worst sort of sexist pig, rock-ribbed conservative.

          That I’m equally despised by both them and you tells me I’m doing something right.

      2. Remember your history, kids: The government had always been responsible for citizens’ health and education, until the 1980s, at which point religious institutions sprang up outta nowhere to take up some of the slack.

  23. Maybe the Catholic church should just give their employees more money instead of buying them health insurance and then they can do whatever they want to with it. (Yes, I know they can’t, but wouldn’t it be nice).

    1. That is probably what they will do. And we will have millions more uninsured Zeb. Gee it is almost as if Obama wants people to be uninsured.

      1. I’m betting what he wants is for women who happen to work for a Catholic org to be able to have better access to contraceptive, because not having access to that leads to things that fuck up women’s lives.

        Maybe he has gone about this in a dumb way, but that’s probably his goal.

        1. I am betting he wants campaign money from Emily’s list and knows he is in deep shit come November and figures he is going to lose middle class Catholics anyway.

          1. You see the worst possible angle in Obama’s actions and motives?

            Who would have guessed that!

            1. MNG, you think he does everything for puppies and rainbows. Ever occur to you that maybe his motives might not always be pure? You are the one who admits he is a Chicago machine politician.

              1. Did it occur to you that you deconstructed yourself in your own post right there?

        2. And who doesn’t have access to contraceptives, especially people with full time jobs. That is just a joke. This is nothing but the Kulture war and a way to fuck with an institution he doesn’t like.

          1. Yeah, I’m sure the janitor at the Catholic Hospital down the road has 600 bucks to spend left and right.

            John, it may interest you to find out that not everyone is like you and in your situation.

            1. It costs 600 to buy a condom? Where do you buy these condoms?

              1. They’re talking about birth control pills John. Why do you assume all contraception is condoms?

                1. Birth control pills don’t cost 600 dollars a year either. At least, not the low-tech ones that don’t cure your acne or dispense via a ring or some such other newfangled thing.

                  1. And you know this because of all the birth control pills you take?

                    1. Having been a serial monogamist before I got married, the necessary logistics of ensuring I didn’t get saddled with fun-sucking spawn “a little bundle of joy” are not unfamiliar to me.

                    2. You bought birth control pills for your lovers? I doubt that.

                      I’ve been married for a long time. My wife has fantastic insurance, I’ve raved about it here a lot. But it doesn’t cover contraceptives for “free.” I’m the one that often ends up picking them up from the pharamcy and that 600 figure is not crazy.

                    3. You bought birth control pills for your lovers? I doubt that.

                      I don’t care what you doubt.

                      I’m the one that often ends up picking them up from the pharamcy and that 600 figure is not crazy.

                      Yes, it is, especially with the existence of Planned Parenthood. $30 a month is the standard.

                    4. And yes, this may be my privilege showing a little, but if you don’t have $1-$2 per day to ensure you don’t wind up responsible for the life of another human being, you are a failure.

                    5. Sorry, I don’t believe that you went and bought birth control regularly and gave it to your gal. That’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard, frankly.

                    6. I never said I did that, not that it’s any of your business. I was pointing out that I am more than aware of the costs of birth control, which you tried to “refute” by claiming I couldn’t possibly know such a thing because I don’t take birth control, which is total nonsense.

                    7. You never buy birth control but are aware of its costs.

                      Gotcha.

                    8. “with the existence of Planned Parenthood. $30 a month is the standard.”

                      You mean that awful, government subsidized place that does all the abortions?

                      Tsk, tsk, what would your traditionalist parents think young man?

                      It’s laughable for someone to argue “the contraceptives don’t cost that much” because of the existence of subsidized alternatives they likely oppose. It’s like the folks here who say “we don’t need single payer because we have Medicare (which I oppose!)”

                    9. You mean that awful, government subsidized place that does all the abortions?

                      Tsk, tsk, what would your traditionalist parents think young man?

                      Is there a logical refutation in there or just an ad hominem?

                      Of course, did you ever consider that birth control should be OTC, and that is the real libertarian answer to all this, or are you too enamored with BigGov to even think such a thing.

                      “we don’t need single payer because we have Medicare (which I oppose!)”

                      There is no contradiction in that. It isn’t their fault you’re too stupid to understand that.

                    10. I kind of think a person who opposes government programs invoking one they oppose as the reason why they oppose another one is pretty silly, yes.

                      “Of course, did you ever consider that birth control should be OTC”

                      Sure, that would be even better.

                    11. See, that person wants us to follow them in not enacting program X but if we followd that person on program Y, which is their reason they argue we don’t need X, there would be no Y.

                      See?

                    12. There is a contraception method that everyone can afford because it requires nothing to purchase and only refrain from activity.

            2. Why do birth control pills cost $600? Could it be because everyone expects their insurance to pay for it instead of paying out of pocket and having it over the counter?

        3. But, he had to know that the Catholic orgs would take it badly. And that Catholic Dems can and have sunk his party’s chances in the past (Reagan Democrats, anyone?). So this decision makes very little sense to me.

          I mean, if you want to get better contraceptive access while having the same KULTUR WAR fight and pleasing the exact same people, figure out some way to increase funding to Planned Parenthood. But you probably lose less votes that way.

          1. Most Catholics are fine with birth control, look at polls.

            Besides, politically speaking Obama would love this election to be about contraception rather than the economy.

            1. Yeah, but I think that there is a difference here. I have been talking to a lot of folks lately, a couple of whom are pro-abortion, who still feel that this is the government infringing on religious rights.

              I think many Catholics may say, “I disagree with the Church but…”

              Especially the abortion thing, which is how the opposition will frame it.

              1. Well, that’s partly because so far only the Right and the Church have been loud on this. I bet views would change after a big Obama ad campaign to sell this as pro-vs. anti- birth control. And nuts like Santorum will help him sell it that way.

        4. Women fuck up their own lives plenty without restrictions on their access to birth control.

          Considering the pill can fail if not taken properly, and that a woman’s hormones go nuts when she’s fertile and can lead to an “oops, forgot my pill!” or she’s the type who likes to party a lot and is irresponsible about taking her pill regularly, access to the pill is immaterial to whether or not she will get pregnant and then be able to blame the Catholics for fucking up her life.

  24. I can see the argument that the employer should not have to offer insurance and that the insurance company should not have to cover any specific item, and at a certain price, by law. The costs of that will just be passed on to consumers or taken from what might have been higher pay for the workers.

    But I don’t think it is fair to characterize this as forcing the Catholic orgs to give their employees birth control. What’s being forced here is the insurance company is forced to offer contraceptive at no cost over the premiums paid for insurance, and the insurance companies that the Catholic church contracts with will be included in this measure. The Catholic church will not have to buy any contraceptive, it’s just that when they offer insurance to their workers that insurance company will have to cover contraceptive. Then the employee can decide to use that benefit or not.

    1. “What’s being forced here is the insurance company is forced to offer contraceptive at no cost ”

      Because contraceptives are free. They come from God I guess. If you are buying an insurance policy and it includes contraception, you are paying for contraception.

      1. I think there is a difference between a law that says to the Catholic Church “you have to buy condomns and put them in a box at work so any employee can have them” and one that says insurance companies have to cover contraceptives, and there is no exception for insurance companies that contract with Catholic orgs.

        1. There is no difference. You are just paying for the later indirectly. You are not bothered by the latter because you don’t object to contraception. What if it they had to buy everyone home insurance that included a handgun to anyone who wanted one as part of the policy. That wouldn’t be paying for guns?

          1. Well, I’m pretty pro-gun rights so that wouldn’t bother me at all.

            But yes, I would see a difference between saying, for example, that homeowners insurance must require the purchase of a firearm and there is no exception for, say, Quaker homeowners and a law that says “Quakers must buy a gun.”

            1. It is the same thing here. I think the Catholics are bonkers on birth control. I won’t join the church for that and a few other reasons. But, I think it is wrong to force them to do this. It is not like you can’t work somewhere else.

              1. Meh. It forces the insurance company to do this, not the Catholic org. It just means that if the org offers X it’s going to include this.

                But more to the point, even if it “forces” the Catholic org in some respect it increases the choices of their employers. No employee will be forced to take or order any birth control.

                1. And MNG’s fun-house mirror version of utilitarianism creeps out of its hiding place again.

                  As a proud utilitarian, you sicken me.

                  1. Wait, just the other day you were getting on me because I said most libertarians were not utilitarian, you said lots of them were and I could have sworn you included yourself.

                    What are you so butthurt about?

                    1. Either that was a spoof or your hallucinating again.

                    2. I’m butthurt because I’m a rule utilitarian, which means I believe in making general rules that maximize utility, rather than an act utilitarian like you, who jumps into any situation and decides right then and there what will increase utility.

                      Also, I don’t think increasing choice by a little for some people equals decreasing choice by a lot for one person.

                    3. “I’m butthurt because I’m a rule utilitarian”

                      Ahh, so I was not wrong! You must have remembered I’m pretty good with that search thingee.

                    4. I don’t see how a non-anarchist libertarian could not be a utilitarian in some sense.

                2. If I’m walking to my car with $1000 in my pocket, and a gang of 10 thugs rushes me and takes the money from me, splitting it evenly after they leave me laying on the sidewalk, the result is that more people have more choices.

                  1. Really, you’ve never argued with me about how utilitarianism is not contrary to libertarianism and I’m wrong to assume that? There is a search thingee up there you know…

                    1. Yes, there is. Why don’t you use it?

                      Though I have been getting spoofed a lot lately, I’ve been a utilitarian as long as I’ve been around here. I don’t like Act Utilitarianism, if that’s what you’re referring to.

                    2. Rule utilitarian concedes that act utilitarianism is right in principle, just that in practice we better stick to general rules.

                      If we did know the particulars of every situation and the results of acts the Rule utilitarian would be an act utilitarian…

                    3. Not exactly.

                      A rule utilitarian also emphasizes that the stability offered by the existence of known rules is itself utility-increasing.

                      And I disagree with your utility function anyway.

        2. Imagine if the government required companies to provide home insurance. And that all insurance policies include a hand gun, if you wanted one, for home protection.

          Would the Brady Campaign have no right to complain about it being forced to buy their employees handguns? Wouldn’t all of your above arguments apply there too?

          1. Er, didn’t I just do this example?

            1. No, not really.

              1. Isn’t mine actually more direct?

                Johns is an org that opposes X does not get an exception to not purchase insurance that includes X, mine is the actual homeowner who opposes X can’t get an exception to not purchase insurance that includes X.

    2. Well… except Catholics run their own hospitals, which would mean that they could have hypothetically offered their own insurance scheme to employees which was sans birth control. Now, they lack that option.

      1. That’s a good point.

        Remember, I think it’s probably wrong to tell an insurance company it has to provide any particular service, much less at some given price. It would be better for the government to just offer it.

        1. Or, as I pointed out above, just fund those who do (Planned Parenthood).

          However, I think Nick is right: No matter how the government decided, a shitstorm was going to ensue. If the government had exempted religious orgs, or really anyone, those for abortion would be on the streets bitching at the government for not forcing companies to cover contraception/abortion.

          I think this is why the culture war shit gets so tiring. Guns in Starbucks, abortion/contraception for organizations which disagree, gay presence in the media, etc etc.

          For a lot of it, if it doesn’t effect me, I simply don’t care, and don’t go trying to make others care either. But because my tax dollars and your tax dollars in some way affect it, I’m screamed at to care, and I have better shit to do with my day. Like post on this blog.

          1. “as I pointed out above, just fund those who do (Planned Parenthood).”

            And say “hello, shitstorm!”

            Ironically, it’s because the government tried to do this in some quasi-privatized fashion that most people are complaining here.

    3. ReL MNG,

      The Catholic church will not have to buy any contraceptive, it’s just that when they offer insurance to their workers that insurance company will have to cover contraceptive.

      Religious principles, private property rights, contract law – Bah, humbug!

      1. Dude, I said upthread I see the argument that this violates most of that. My point is it strikes me as not the same as saying the Catholic Org must purchase contraceptives.

  25. Tonio, don’t worry, PPACA is coming for you next!

    But this is all quite rich.

    I remember when Reason told me the Patriot Act was the biggest infringement on civil liberties ever. You know, that pesky paper trail left behind when you took out books from a govt.-run library. Egads! The horror.

    Yet, 10 years later: the Pat Act does not even register a beat on the “how does this affect my daily life as an American” radar. If it does register, show me what you got.

    Yet, PPACA or ObamaCare, not even a year old nor even fully implemented– and I’ll dumb down the talk here for our resident leftists– is fucking people’s shit up left and right.

    Logic, proportion– how do they work? I mean, if you can’t see the chasm of difference re: Civil Liberties between the imperfect Right and the totalitarian Left, then you’re either A)Tony, B) Tonio or C) still upset that the Tony Danza show’s been canceled.

    1. My the FreePers are out on Reason today. Did your website crash or something?

      1. I guess Holy Cow doesn’t have a bank account, an IRA, an employer, any need to replace lost identity papers, and plans for traveling abroad and that’s why the Patriot Act hasn’t impacted him at all.

        1. Oh, he’s got all those things, along with his need to convince you to vote GOP this year.

          1. Why should we vote Democrat, then, MNG?

            Shit, that’s like being given the choice between sticking your hand in an operating garbage disposal, or a deep-fryer. “But at least you get to choose!”, the Teams tell us.

      2. If you’d take a moment to look at our website, you’d find out we’re not really fond of the libertarians over there.

    2. The chasm is quite small and even if it weren’t I oppose both.

    3. I would invite you to tally up the number of PPACA posts in the past year. Then count up the Patriot Act posts in the past year. Lastly, and this is the important part, compare these two numbers.

  26. My new way of pissing off everyone: Contraception (with the possible exception of condoms) has nothing to do with health. Pregnancy is not an illness or even a state of being unhealthful.

    1. Nice, I’ll add it to “this is health insurance not health care” as things that will annoy everyone in the conversation but are correct.

    2. Occasionally it has to do with health. I have a friend who takes a drug to treat a hormonal disorder which have such a high chance of causing birth defects that she is very strongly advised, if not required, to take birth control pills as well if she is going to be sexually active.

      1. So again, the “need” from contraception results from a life-style choice, and in no way changes your friend’s state of health. Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t fully support your friend having access to contraception she pays for, but don’t conflate the point of health with comfort, either.

    3. Bullshit. Pregnancy is a disease caused by men.

      And every goddamn one of them is a rapist… even the gay ones.

  27. My pacifist principles are drawn from my belief in, and the teachings of, Jesus Christ. While this exempts me from selective service, I am still forced, every April 15th, to subsidize a massive killing force. Stop whining conservative Christ-fags; or better yet, start making an effort to protect MY religious freedom.

    1. You’re new here, yes?

      1. Well, this wasn’t directed at H&R commenters, or the magazine itself, whose anti-war credentials are generally pretty good. It was more a general statement to social conservative/evangelical types.

  28. McMegan had this covered a couple days ago:

    As Ross Douthat points out, the regulations seem to have nothing to do with whether the Catholic hospitals or other charities take public money; rather, it’s the fact that they provide services to the public, rather than having an explicitly religious mission.

    I’ve seen several versions of Kevin’s [Drums] complaint on the interwebs, and everyone who makes it seems to assume that we’re doing the Catholic Church a big old favor by allowing them to provide health care and other social services to a needy public. Why, we’re really coddling them, and it’s about time they started acting a little grateful for everything we’ve done for them!

    These people seem to be living in an alternate universe that I don’t have access to, where there’s a positive glut of secular organizations who are just dying to provide top-notch care for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed.

    In the universe where I live, some of the best charity care is provided by religious groups–in part because they have extremely strong fundraising capabilities, in part because they often have access to an extremely deep and motivated pool of volunteers, and in part because they are often able to generate significant returns to scale and longevity. And of course, the comparative discretion and decentralization of private charity, religious or secular, makes it much more effective in many (not all ways) than government entitlements.

    In this world, I had been under the impression that we were providing Catholic charities with federal funds mostly because this was the most cost-effective way of delivering services to needy groups.

    Thus it’s not obvious to me that we will be better off encouraging Catholic hospitals and other groups to provide services exclusively to their own flock, while exclusively employing members of their own flock. And I’m fairly certain that if I wanted to stage a confrontation with Catholic charities, it would not be over something as trivial as forcing them to provide birth control coverage to their employees. Preventing pregnancy is not a low-frequency, high cost event, and thus it is not really insurable. It’s just a backdoor transfer from wages to birth control consumption.

    This seems particularly stupid because the Catholic Church will almost certainly be granted an exemption by Republicans if they get even a little bit more power. So I’m not sure I see the benefit in going out of your way just to tell the Church you’d like them to, well, go to hell.

    1. Pretty much hit a lot of points I had been considering.

  29. Back when the states first started passing laws like this, I thought no big deal because the Catholic orgs can just stop offering insurance to their employees.

    But with PPACA they don’t have that option anymore.

  30. Has Obama Declared “War on Religion” by Insisting Catholic Employers Cover Abortions and Condoms?

    In a word, no. Catholics are still free to preach and teach against abortions and contraceptives and no Catholic is going to jail for doing so. The issue is one of economic liberty, and some Catholics are complaining that the forced exactions under Obamacare will be spent on things which they oppose. Welcome to the club boys and girls.

    One thing I do find troubling in all this is this notion that because this particular example of government coercion and rights violation goes against one’s religious beliefs it is somehow more egregious than all the other rights violations that go on daily. It’s as if the rights of believers are more important than everyone else’s, at least in their own eyes.

  31. Best case scenario for Catholics is to play chicken with the government, and force them into the situation of shuttering hospitals because of birth control.

    Either the government will back down, or show that progressives would rather deny life saving care to the sick than allow people to oppose birth control. If they don’t back down, the label “anti-life” will stick a little easier with even rational, moderate people. That will shift political momentum to pro-lifers, which will keep progressives distracted, circling their wagons around the only freedom they value.

  32. There’s an easy solution to this, and the fact that Obama didn’t go for it makes me think that he specifically was going after the Catholic Church.

    Namely, he could have just excused church run institutions from the employer mandate. They could then let their employee buy their own coverage on these new vaunted exchanges.

  33. But as long as various health-care providers pull money directly from the federal government, it seems to me that they can be required to follow certain regulations. And most hospitals, whether private or public, religious or secular, are getting chunks of money from the federal government, through Medicaid and Medicare payments at the very least.

    And there’s the rub. As long as the federal government is funding health care to such a degree, the manner and specifics of that funding is going to be a political football. It’s going to be an excuse for more intrusive lifestyle regulation. This is just the beginning; “public health” justifies anything and everything.

    Government control is poison. This is a little stronger than just “good arguments” for getting the government out of health care.

    When it comes to education, though, most conservatives and libertarians challenge the idea that public money necessarily means strict government control.

    All this applies equally well to schools. The only reason some libertarians promote vouchers is out of a misguided attraction to a state-directed system of education that they haven’t yet managed to shed.

  34. I find it alarming to realize that in less than three years the federal government has comfortably moved into the realm of ‘compulsory legislation’, and is now bulldozering not just over personal rights, but religious rights as well. Does anyone not see this as the wrong way??!!

  35. What are you talking about? It is a war on religious liberty.

    Employment Division v. Smith and the late 1800’s decision in Reynolds was wrong, laws of general applicability does not invalidate the free exercise clause.

    Libertarianism is not Gillespianism.

  36. Largely lost in the fuming over some supposed moral dilemma is that THE HEALTH CARE LAW DOES NOT FORCE EMPLOYERS TO ACT CONTRARY TO THEIR BELIEFS–unless one supposes the employers’ religion forbids even payment of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion). In keeping with the law, those with conscientious objections to providing their employees with qualifying health plans may decline to provide any health plans and pay an assessment instead or, alternatively, provide plans that do not qualify (e.g., without provisions they dislike) and pay lower assessments.

    No moral dilemma, no need for an exemption. That the employers must at least pay an assessment is hardly justification for an exemption. In other contexts, for instance, we have relieved conscientious objectors from required military service, requiring them instead to provide alternative service in noncombatant roles or useful civilian work. In any event, paying assessment does not pose a moral dilemma, but rather a garden-variety gripe common to most taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action of the government. Should each of us feel free to deduct from our taxes the portion that we figure would be spent on those actions (e.g., wars, health care, teaching evolution, subsidizing churches, whatever) each of us opposes? The hue and cry for an exemption is predicated on the false claim–or, more plainly, lie–that employers otherwise are forced to act contrary to their religions.

    Questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new. The courts have confronted such issues and have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, fraud, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. Were it otherwise and people could opt out of this or that law with the excuse that their religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate.

    1. Should each of us feel free to deduct from our taxes the portion that we figure would be spent on those actions (e.g., wars, health care, teaching evolution, subsidizing churches, whatever) each of us opposes?

      Why not?

  37. “Shouldn’t K-12 schools and colleges that get government funding have to follow certain government rules?”

    Let’s see, suppose a Catholic hospital is inclined to provide services to Medicare enrollees. In this case, the Catholic hospital must provide insurance to its own employees which includes copay-free contraception.

    There is no “reason” here. It’s once thing to say government-reimbursed services are subject to certain government-dictated criteria. It’s another to say that since you help people on government subsidy, the government can dictate anything it wants about any area of your business. There’s a big and important difference between these two classes of demands. Telling Catholic hospitals that since they did a government-subsidized hip replacement means that they must foot the bill for the pill every month really is a war on religion.

  38. So all those saying that this isn’t an attack on religion; you’ll all be comfortable with the tax increases that will be necessary to replace all those religious-run health care facilities and hospitals?

    The government doesn’t provide funds to these institutions (based on their charitable works) because they’re promoting a religion. They do it because these institutions invariably provide services at lower costs then if done by a government agency.

  39. Mr. Gillespie seems to be insinuating that Hillsdale became a private school so it could discriminate based on race and gender. Is that the case?

  40. I find it an odd link in thought that because federal monies are given to certian institutions, then our government gets to dictate to the institution how it should operate. The money was basically given because the government deemed the purpose of the institution as “worthy” or “qualified” PRIOR to giving the funds. So, how is it that federal funding suddenly gets to purchase away the constitutional rights of those it gives to? If the government doesn’t feel that Catholic Hospitals are any longer “worthy” or “qualified”, then they have the right to withdraw those funds. How do we make the jump in logic that funding is now tied to dictating the policies of religious organizations? This is the dilemna when socializing. With socialism, no constitution can hold muster beyond the present will of an overbearing government.

    As a side note, I find it interesting that the same liberals that support the Obama adminstration on this issue are opposed to the Komen Society for attempting to pull funds for their displeasure of planned parenthoods stance on abortion and their concern that the funds are not being appropriately directed.

    1. It’s not just odd, it’s intellectually shallow. But, hey, religion ain’t cool with the libertarian peeps.

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