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Crying For Religious Freedom

I have family members who are catholic, friends who are catholic, and all kinds of associates who are Catholics.  I will admit that I don’t understand their devotion to catholic ideology, especially when they turn a blind eye to all of the scandals that seem to rock the Catholic Church on what appears to be a regular basis.  So when this issue broke out about how the federal government mandates impose the will of the people on a religious organization that wants to exclude their employees from health insurance packages that offer contraceptive coverage, my curiosity was piqued.  I wanted to understand the particulars of the issue from both sides.

Being the non conservative that I am, it should be no surprise that I don’t see any religious institution’s right to go into a business and then use their religious ideology to impose their religious doctrine on the employees of that business.  As a people, we have come to the understanding that a religious institution has the right to say that the employees of that institution, the people who work to keep that religious organization functioning, have to follow the religious tenets of that organization.  I don’t agree with that decision.  I don’t think religious dogma supersedes human rights.  But if the government says it is willing to compromise principles that should be for the good of all for the principles of somebody’s belief, I will reluctantly go along for the ride.

But now, we have the same religious institution making the choice to go into business and now that institution wants the same exception that’s being imposed on the employees that work directly for that institution to be imposed on the employees of that business.  I say it shouldn’t happen.  But people will say that the government is trying to regulate religious freedom.  If religious freedom means that people in a church can discriminate against others because that’s their ideology then yes, we should be regulating religious freedom.

Back in high school, I learned in my civic government class that people are free to believe whatever they want to believe in the United States.  Nobody wants to haul somebody to jail because they believe that contraceptives are a one way ticket to hell.  But simply because it’s what you believe doesn’t mean that as a business owner you have the right to say that your employees cannot have access to contraceptives when law says that health insurance packages must include contraceptive coverage.  If a religious institution believes that it should not be forced to offer its employees health insurance coverage that includes contraceptives that maybe that religious institution does not believe it should be participating in any business outside the business of spreading its ideology.

People need to remember, just like the church has religious freedom, the people who work at the church has religious freedom as well.  Does the religious freedom of church leaders trump the freedom of the people who work at the company that is owned by the church?  I don’t think so.  Everybody is entitled to equal protection under the law and nobody should be trying to obtain an exception to that rule simply because they teach dogma.  What happens when Islamic fundamentalist buys or develops a business and then steps up to the plate and says that they want to impose sharia law on their employees?  Would the same people who want to protect religious freedom allow the Islamic employer to impose their rules on their employees?  Would we be willing to say that a catholic employee has to submit to the sharia law of their employer?  Remember, we want to protect the religious freedom of the people who write the checks.

A comfortable majority of Catholics support including contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans and back the decision by the Obama administration that requires employers to include such coverage.  It would be reasonable to think that Catholic Church leaders, who are mostly white, mostly conservative, and overwhelmingly male, just don’t see things like everyone else.  And it is just a coincidence that most of the people who oppose President Barack Obama are the type of people who appreciate a political environment that is mostly white, conservative, and controlled primarily by males, people who weren’t about to support Mr. Obama anyway and often appear out of touch with the majority.

However, there is a compromise that would preserve the Catholic Church’s choice not to provide contraceptives and yet provide this coverage to their employees.  The United States government should go to a one payer health coverage system that removes any employer’s objection to the details of what gets covered and what doesn’t.

But then the same people who want to protect religious freedom will be the same people objecting to true healthcare reform.  It seems some people just insist on having it both ways.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts

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