Monday, January 6, 2014

Supreme Court Will Have to Determine if Religious Freedom Means the Freedom to Impose Your Religion on Others

Apparently That is What Conservatives Believe is Freedom of Religion

The provision of the ACA that went into effect on January 1st provide that health insurance must provide for family planning, including birth control.  Some deeply and sincerely people believe that birth control is a sin, that it is immoral, that it is against God’s law.  They have the absolute right to believe this and no one should ever deny them that right.

But some who believe this want to impose that belief on the rest of the population, and are fighting the mandate that health insurance should provide family planning services for those who do not believe in the same religion as themselves.  And Justice Sotomayer has issued a temporary injunction against the government and the ACA.  The government is arguing this way.

The government asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor to lift the temporary injunction she issued New Year’s Eve for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Colorado nonprofit organization that provides services to the elderly. The Affordable Care Act, new provisions of which went into effect Jan. 1, requires employers who provide insurance coverage to include no-cost FDA-approved contraceptive services as preventive care.

And the government’s logic is clear cut and almost irrefutable.

But nonprofit organizations such as the nuns’ may opt out of the requirement simply by certifying that they have religious objections, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. wrote in a response to Sotomayor filed Friday morning.

“With the stroke of their own pen, applicants can secure for themselves the relief they seek from this court — an exemption from the requirements of the contraceptive-coverage provision,” Verrilli wrote.

So what’s the problem.  Well it is this.  Organizations which believe contraception is wrong want to not only be free to refrain must using it themselves, they want to do as much as possible to deny family planning to those who do not believe the way they do.

Religiously oriented nonprofit organizations around the country have objected to the requirement and said it violates protections granted by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

They contend that if they sign the self-certification letters, that makes them complicit in the government’s plan to provide contraceptive services, because the law provides that third-party insurers still provide the coverage.

Mark L. Rienzi, a Catholic University law professor representing the nuns, said the government is “simply blind to the religious exercise at issue: the Little Sisters and other applicants cannot execute the form because they cannot deputize a third party to sin on their behalf.”

This of course is theocracy at its worse.  It is against one of the basic principles upon which the nation was founded.  And if allowed to stand, if one religious group can impose, even in a small way, its beliefs on those who do not support that religion or adhere to those beliefs, potentially the beginning of the end of religious freedom in the United will have started.  Yes, that is what is at stake.

If an individual believes that contraception is a sin, they are free to not engage in any contraception practices.  They are not free to impose that practice on others, at least not in a nation that calls itself a bastion and beacon of freedom. 

No everybody, if you take a birth control pill, if you have a vasectomy you will not burn in the hottest regions of hell.  You are merely exercising your basic rights, the same rights that those who decide not to use contraception are exercising.  The nation can and should accommodate the religious beliefs of everyone, but it cannot accommodate those beliefs by denying the beliefs of others.

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