Help…I’m being oppressed.

Religious employers have a right to not be discriminated against because of their religion. They don’t have a right to ignore the same laws that all businesses, religious or not, have to obey.

Ampersand said this in 2004, and people screaming “War on religion” when the government does something they don’t like still haven’t gotten the memo.

Or, as Jon Stewart said, “you have confused ‘War on your religion’ with ‘not getting everything you want.'”

The context is same-sex marriage, but it applies just as well to insurance coverage of contraception.

And the same people, with no sense of irony, cheerfully stomp all over the religious freedom of LGBT people who want to get married and churches who’d be quite happy to do those ceremonies (and do do them as commitment ceremonies).

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6 thoughts on “Help…I’m being oppressed.

  1. ZaftigWendy says:

    I respectfully disagree. Well, actually I both agree and disagree. Regarding gay marriage, I agree that churches and religious people should not force their beliefs on others through civil law. As long as the church that thinks it’s wrong isn’t required to actually perform gay marriages, their religious liberty has not been infringed.

    There is a difference, though, in the current contraception/abortion debate. In this case, the civil law is trying to force religious institutions (like catholic hospitals) to actually perform abortions and provide contraception. Those institutions are a part of a church that believes that participating in abortion or contraception is a sin and that they could go to hell for paying for, assisting in, or otherwise providing those services. To force someone (or an institution) to do an activity that they feel imperils their soul is, indeed, persecution.

    I think that instead of insisting that religious organizations provide these services, we should find some other way to care for women’s needs.

    We could insist that churches who offer insurance to their employees do so at a reduced price so that the employees can afford contraception at full price. We could provide funding for sliding scale clinics. We could allow employees to purchase outside-the-institution insurance at the same rate.

    As far as religious-based hospitals that refuse to do abortions, women wishing an abortion could go to another hospital.

    And on the other issue? I think the simplest solution is to separate religious marriage from civil marriage. Allow civil marriage to anyone and let religious institutions form their own internal guidelines for whose marriages they will and will not solemnize.

    • ciociaLinda says:

      In the current contraception policy, employers do not have to pay for contraception coverage, but allow the insurance company to offer it for free. Thus, they are not paying for anything that is morally offensive to them. And if the employer is an actual church, rather than a church-affiliated employer, they do not even have to do this. They can refuse to allow contraception as part of the package. If this is still a problem, we can do what Hawaii does, and make contraception a state-provided option. But I won’t hold my breath and stand on one foot waiting for the church to be happy with that.

      Re: hospitals opting out of contraceptive services. This is a problem in areas where Church hospitals–due to mergers–are the only game in town, which is happening in some rural areas, where the *only hospital in the county* won’t do vasectomies, etc. Again, it would be o.k. if other options were funded, but religious groups are working hard to take away that option.

      • KellyK says:

        I wanted to look at this in a little bit more depth:

        To force someone (or an institution) to do an activity that they feel imperils their soul is, indeed, persecution.

        In general, I’d agree with that. But I think it depends on what you mean by “force.” What choices did they make that the rule applies, and what are the consequences to them if they don’t? It’s not the government’s business to decide what is and is not a religious belief, so for pretty much *any* law, there could potentially be someone who feels that complying with it imperils their soul. But I think it’s on the individual to structure their life in a way that matches up with their religious beliefs, not on the government to make sure that they’re not requiring anyone, anywhere, to comply with something that someone objects to.

        A courthouse clerk in Massachusetts might legitimately feel that completing marriage paperwork for a gay couple imperils their soul. But their job is to perform those functions, so if they have a problem, they really just need to find another job. Similarly, a fundamentalist who buys a business might legitimately feel that it imperils his soul to have women in authority over men, but he’s not allowed to fire all the female managers on those grounds.

        So, that’s kind of where I draw that line. Where do you draw it?

        Edited to fix a punctuation typo.

      • KellyK says:

        Hi, ciociaLinda. Thanks very much for summing up those points, and for pointing out that going to another hospital isn’t always a feasible solution.

    • KellyK says:

      Hi, ZaftigWendy. Thanks for your comment. (I love friendly debate and disagreement!)

      There is a difference, though, in the current contraception/abortion debate. In this case, the civil law is trying to force religious institutions (like catholic hospitals) to actually perform abortions and provide contraception. Those institutions are a part of a church that believes that participating in abortion or contraception is a sin and that they could go to hell for paying for, assisting in, or otherwise providing those services. To force someone (or an institution) to do an activity that they feel imperils their soul is, indeed, persecution.

      My problem with that is that Catholic hospitals aren’t, under the current law, required to perform abortion or provide contraception to their patients. That I would disagree with (well, mostly…more on that below). But Catholic hospitals’ insurance is required to provide women’s preventative services, including contraception, at no additional charge to the hospital or to the patient. (Which really doesn’t hurt the insurance company, since contraception is way cheaper than pregnancy.) I don’t think that’s unreasonable. As it stands, Catholic employers basically pay their female employees less, since insurance benefits limit preventative care for women in a way that they don’t for men. So I think that really has to be addressed in some way.

      It does get sticky because a lot of religious organizations self-insure. But if you’re going to act as an insurance company, you should be subject to the standard regulations of an insurance company. If, religiously, you can’t do that, you should purchase insurance from someone who can.

      I agree with you that there are other possible solutions. I’m not sure any of those would make those Catholic employers happy. If allowing women to go directly through the insurance company for their birth control constitutes being forced to sin, then giving them an insurance discount that they can use for that purpose (or whatever purpose they want) would be considered the same way.

      Also, since Catholic employers in a lot of places have already been complying with the EEOC ruling that leaving out BC is discrimination against women if your insurance covers prescriptions, the outrage about this seems more political than actual. (But, then, I’m cynical.) I’d be okay with any of your suggested solutions provided that women who can only get limited insurance from their employers are not paying full price for it, and that employers are required to treat men’s and women’s healthcare similarly.

      Additionally, if you choose not to provide insurance at all, you don’t go to jail or lose your business or anything dire. There’s a surtax/fine/whatever you want to call it. But they do have that option. And since those employees are going to cost the system as a whole more, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable penalty.

      Personally, I’d like to see a public option, so that health insurance isn’t so heavily tied to your work, and employers can just stay out of their employees’ health decisions. That would be my preferred solution. But it’s not especially likely.

      As far as religious-based hospitals that refuse to do abortions, women wishing an abortion could go to another hospital.

      Totally agree, with one major major caveat. If a hospital won’t perform an emergency abortion, they should either not have an emergency room at all, *or* it’s their responsibility to make it known to the local area and every doctor and EMS around that they *do not* provide emergency care for pregnant women. A woman should not show up in your ER with an ectopic pregnancy and find out that her options are to have a fallopian tube removed or bleed to death. Nor should she show up partway through a miscarriage to find that the hospital won’t complete it until the fetus’s heart stops, regardless of the risk to her, oh, and by the way she’s in too critical a condition to be moved.

      As long as a hospital agrees that allowing that situation to happen is both medical malpractice and fraud, does whatever they feel necessary to keep it from happening, and accepts the legal consequences if they don’t, then absolutely, they should not have to provide any care they don’t want to.

  2. Twistie says:

    Now we see the violence inherent in the system. Come see the violence inherent in the system!

    I love Dennis the Socialist Peasant.

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