Religious Freedom and the recent HHS rule

Started by cssml, February 01, 2012, 02:08:00 AM

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cssml

By now you might have heard that the department of HHS has decided to go ahead with the new rule to require health insurance policies to cover contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization beginning next year.  Despite great efforts by bishops and others, the new rule provides no exemption for religious institutions (hospitals, universities, diocese, catholic social services agencies, ....) unless they are so narrowly defined that they hire and serve only members of their faith.  This has set off a major discussion, and it is not clear yet how the battle will play out.  There will most certainly be efforts to oppose and rescind this rule.  At the time of starting this post,  over 126 Catholic Bishops have spoken out publicly against the ruling, which as USCCB President, cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan put it, gives us one year to figure out how to violate our conscience (http://blog.archny.org/?p=2182).  The names on the list include progressive to conservative bishops, across the spectrum.  The list is being tracked here (including links to each statement):

   http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=25591

There is a grass roots electronic petition on the White House web page to rescind this HHS rule, any petition receiving over 25,000 signatures will receive a direct response from the administration, so if you are concerned by this breach of the First Amendment, please consider signing the petition and spreading the word:

   https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/rescind-hhs-dept-mandate-requiring-catholic-employers-provide-contraceptivesabortifacients-their/lBxr7SdP

The purpose of this thread is to first of all raise awareness of the particular issue, and to discuss the question: what is the appropriate response from "the church", or an individual member of the church, when an attempt is made by "the state" to force them to act against their own conscience?   We have seen the same thing happening with religious adoption agencies which are being forced to abandon their missions or conform their conscience to fit the newly defined 'good' discerned by the state.

Are there similar concerns being raised for Lutheran affiliated hospitals, universities, schools?

Dave_Poedel

While I can't speak to Lutheran health care facilities (the Phoenix Valley used to have Lutheran hospitals, they merged with the Roman Catholic hospitals and then were bought out by Banner Health Systems which has a Mormon as CEO if memory is correct) I am seriously angered by the arrogance of this Administration.  Does your consience object to contraception?  Too bad.  Does your Church take a pro-life stand like the LCMS does?  Keep it to yourself.  Don't you realize that health care makes decisions based on the äutomonous individual?  That means if I (or our government) wants it you must provide it.

Thisx morally bankrupt government cauises me great pain. I wore the uniform of out country for 14 years on active duty and in active reserve status. Conscience was honored; what happened?

Please Lord, strengthen your people, your Chrch to hold fast to your Word and defend life in all stages of development and keep us steadfast in holding to the values that set us apart as your people in this place and in this time.  Amen.

Don Whitbeck

Quote from: Padre Dave, STS on February 01, 2012, 02:46:44 AM
While I can't speak to Lutheran health care facilities (the Phoenix Valley used to have Lutheran hospitals, they merged with the Roman Catholic hospitals and then were bought out by Banner Health Systems which has a Mormon as CEO if memory is correct) I am seriously angered by the arrogance of this Administration.  Does your consience object to contraception?  Too bad.  Does your Church take a pro-life stand like the LCMS does?  Keep it to yourself.  Don't you realize that health care makes decisions based on the äutomonous individual?  That means if I (or our government) wants it you must provide it.

Thisx morally bankrupt government cauises me great pain. I wore the uniform of out country for 14 years on active duty and in active reserve status. Conscience was honored; what happened?

Please Lord, strengthen your people, your Chrch to hold fast to your Word and defend life in all stages of development and keep us steadfast in holding to the values that set us apart as your people in this place and in this time.  Amen.

When we move away from a Republic, to a Socialist, Marist style of government this is what you get.  The President promised the Roman Catholic Church, that her beliefs would be honored, as well as the others in the Christian community.  He has rejected that as well as the separation of church and state; as well, the Bishop elect in New York has indicated to everyone that will listen.

Now the Roman Catholics that supported him last time for his election; will they support him again this time?  It seems where ever he goes, he has a promise, and people fall for it hook, line and sinker, just like they did with his first election.

Seems like no one did there home work on this guy before they voted for him last time, I hope they will this time around and really take a good look of what he has done to this country.  However, I'm not holding my breath, I think the GOP will give him another 4 years, God help us if and when that comes about.

We can also push a lot of the blame on our wonderful Representatives in Congress, and our Senators for not doing there jobs, and allowing the President to rule by decree, as he see fit.
The Voice of God will NEVER Contradict the Word of God

DCharlton

#3
Quote from: Confessional Lutheran on February 01, 2012, 05:54:57 AM
When we move away from a Republic, to a Socialist, Marist style of government this is what you get. 

The proper term is totalitarian.  This kind of thinking precedes Socialism and Marxism, going back at least to Rousseau.  The state or the collective is seen as the origin of all things, including the rights of individuals.  No sphere of life exists on its own, but is created by the state. 

QuoteNow the Roman Catholics that supported him last time for his election; will they support him again this time?

I think that a lot of Christians who prefer his economic policies to those of the right, will have a difficult choice to make.  Many progressives Christians, myself included, who favored health care reform are going to reconsider.  This is precisely the kind of thing that opponents warned would happen, but which we considered alarmist.

QuoteWe can also push a lot of the blame on our wonderful Representatives in Congress, and our Senators for not doing there jobs, and allowing the President to rule by decree, as he see fit.

Unfortunately, we've been allowing Presidents to rule by decree for some time.  One of the reasons that progressives are disappointed with Pres. Obama is that he ran against the imperial presidency of GW Bush, but has not only failed to relinquish the new powers that Bush acquired, but has expanded the powers of the president.
David Charlton  

Was Algul Siento a divinity school?

Dave_Poedel

Quote from: Confessional Lutheran on February 01, 2012, 05:54:57 AM
Quote from: Padre Dave, STS on February 01, 2012, 02:46:44 AM
While I can't speak to Lutheran health care facilities (the Phoenix Valley used to have Lutheran hospitals, they merged with the Roman Catholic hospitals and then were bought out by Banner Health Systems which has a Mormon as CEO if memory is correct) I am seriously angered by the arrogance of this Administration.  Does your consience object to contraception?  Too bad.  Does your Church take a pro-life stand like the LCMS does?  Keep it to yourself.  Don't you realize that health care makes decisions based on the äutomonous individual?  That means if I (or our government) wants it you must provide it.

Thisx morally bankrupt government cauises me great pain. I wore the uniform of out country for 14 years on active duty and in active reserve status. Conscience was honored; what happened?

Please Lord, strengthen your people, your Chrch to hold fast to your Word and defend life in all stages of development and keep us steadfast in holding to the values that set us apart as your people in this place and in this time.  Amen.

When we move away from a Republic, to a Socialist, Marist style of government this is what you get.  The President promised the Roman Catholic Church, that her beliefs would be honored, as well as the others in the Christian community.  He has rejected that as well as the separation of church and state; as well, the Bishop elect in New York has indicated to everyone that will listen.

Now the Roman Catholics that supported him last time for his election; will they support him again this time?  It seems where ever he goes, he has a promise, and people fall for it hook, line and sinker, just like they did with his first election.

Seems like no one did there home work on this guy before they voted for him last time, I hope they will this time around and really take a good look of what he has done to this country.  However, I'm not holding my breath, I think the GOP will give him another 4 years, God help us if and when that comes about.

We can also push a lot of the blame on our wonderful Representatives in Congress, and our Senators for not doing there jobs, and allowing the President to rule by decree, as he see fit.

Your post reminds me of the Eastern bloc before their fall.  They would " accomodate '  the Roman Church in Poland (the country I am most familiar with) but she proved too strong and powerful.

My pipe-dream is that the entire Christian Church would unite around Cardinal Dolan and present a united front against this totalitarian move.  The sad thing is that our divisions make it too easy for the Feds to conquer....but I can pray and dream, can't I?

Michael Slusser

Thanks for the links. I signed the petition. Has any previous administration made it this easy to push back on any of its policies?

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Don Whitbeck

Quote from: Padre Dave, STS on February 01, 2012, 05:28:30 PM
Quote from: Confessional Lutheran on February 01, 2012, 05:54:57 AM
Quote from: Padre Dave, STS on February 01, 2012, 02:46:44 AM
While I can't speak to Lutheran health care facilities (the Phoenix Valley used to have Lutheran hospitals, they merged with the Roman Catholic hospitals and then were bought out by Banner Health Systems which has a Mormon as CEO if memory is correct) I am seriously angered by the arrogance of this Administration.  Does your consience object to contraception?  Too bad.  Does your Church take a pro-life stand like the LCMS does?  Keep it to yourself.  Don't you realize that health care makes decisions based on the äutomonous individual?  That means if I (or our government) wants it you must provide it.

Thisx morally bankrupt government cauises me great pain. I wore the uniform of out country for 14 years on active duty and in active reserve status. Conscience was honored; what happened?

Please Lord, strengthen your people, your Chrch to hold fast to your Word and defend life in all stages of development and keep us steadfast in holding to the values that set us apart as your people in this place and in this time.  Amen.

When we move away from a Republic, to a Socialist, Marist style of government this is what you get.  The President promised the Roman Catholic Church, that her beliefs would be honored, as well as the others in the Christian community.  He has rejected that as well as the separation of church and state; as well, the Bishop elect in New York has indicated to everyone that will listen.

Now the Roman Catholics that supported him last time for his election; will they support him again this time?  It seems where ever he goes, he has a promise, and people fall for it hook, line and sinker, just like they did with his first election.

Seems like no one did there home work on this guy before they voted for him last time, I hope they will this time around and really take a good look of what he has done to this country.  However, I'm not holding my breath, I think the GOP will give him another 4 years, God help us if and when that comes about.

We can also push a lot of the blame on our wonderful Representatives in Congress, and our Senators for not doing there jobs, and allowing the President to rule by decree, as he see fit.

Your post reminds me of the Eastern bloc before their fall.  They would " accomodate '  the Roman Church in Poland (the country I am most familiar with) but she proved too strong and powerful.

My pipe-dream is that the entire Christian Church would unite around Cardinal Dolan and present a united front against this totalitarian move.  The sad thing is that our divisions make it too easy for the Feds to conquer....but I can pray and dream, can't I?

Padre Dave, STS

Agree, hopefully it will come to a joint call for action.  I think Cardinal Dolan remarks were well received by the Christian Community.

However, I wouldn't put any trust in our current President to keep his word on anything!  He is worse then President Carter was.
The Voice of God will NEVER Contradict the Word of God

Dan Fienen

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this deals with health insurance coverage, not doctor or hospital services, right?  Would this force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, or Catholic doctors to prescribe birth control pills?

Would that make a difference?

Would you support the Jehovah's Witnesses in health insurance that they provide for workers not covering blood transfusions?

Dan
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

swbohler

What does this mean for our Lutheran parochial schools?  Are they excluded or included in this?  In the case of our congregation's school, all the full-time teachers are called and members of the congregation, but we have one part-time teacher who is not a Lutheran as well as 4 support staff.  60% of our students are not members. 

Michael Slusser

Quote from: Dan Fienen on February 01, 2012, 07:10:34 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this deals with health insurance coverage, not doctor or hospital services, right?  Would this force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, or Catholic doctors to prescribe birth control pills?

Would that make a difference?

Would you support the Jehovah's Witnesses in health insurance that they provide for workers not covering blood transfusions?

Dan

Youre correct, it's about health insurance, and the immediate consequences you list would not follow from it.

Your question about Jehovah's Witnesses (or Christian Scientists) is a valid one. I have no idea how that would work out.

I still think the exception is written too narrowly. I'll try to find out exactly what its terms are, and post them here.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Michael Slusser

Here are the terms, courtesy of the Henry Kaiser Foundation:

http://healthreform.kff.org/Document-Finder/HHS/HHS-Interim-Final-Rule-for-Group-Health-Plans-and-Insurance-Issuers-on-Preventive-Services.aspx

Additionally, "the Departments are amending the interim final rules to provide HRSA additional discretion to exempt certain religious employers from theGuidelines where contraceptive services are concerned. The amendment to the interim final rules provides HRSA with the discretion to establish this exemption. Consistent with most States that have such exemptions, as described below, the amended regulations specify that, for purposes of this policy, a religious employer is one that:
   (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose;
   (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets;
   (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and
   (4) is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Code. Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) and (iii) refer to churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches, as well as to the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.
   The definition of religious employer, as set forth in the amended regulations, is based on existing definitions used by most States that exempt certain religious employers from having to comply with State law requirements to cover contraceptive services.
        We will be accepting comments on this definition as well as alternative definitions, such as those that have been developed under Title 26 of the United States Code. The definition set forth here is intended to reasonably balance the extension of any coverage of contraceptive services under the HRSA Guidelines to as many women as possible, while respecting the unique relationship between certain religious employers and their employees in certain religious positions. The change in policy effected by this amendment to these interim final rules is intended solely for purposes of PHS Act section 2713 and the companion provisions of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. Because HRSA's discretion to establish an exemption applies only to group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers and group health insurance offered in connection with such plans, health insurance issuers in the individual health insurance market would not be covered under any such exemption."

It looks as if an effort has been made to accommodate churches that are scrupulous in this area, but "the gate is narrow, and the way is hard, that leads to" exemption from this proposed Federal rule.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

swbohler

The word "and" between (3) and (4) would seem to require that an employer would have to meet ALL of the criteria given to be exempted.  As I wrote, our parochial school serves more non-members than members.  So I am wondering if we fail to meet the criteria for exemption since (3) says "primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets".  And maybe (2) as well, since 5 of the school staff are not members while 4 are (although some of the 5 non-members are only part-time while the 4 members on the staff are full-time).  Are my concerns misplaced?

Michael Slusser

Quote from: swbohler on February 01, 2012, 09:06:10 PM
The word "and" between (3) and (4) would seem to require that an employer would have to meet ALL of the criteria given to be exempted.  As I wrote, our parochial school serves more non-members than members.  So I am wondering if we fail to meet the criteria for exemption since (3) says "primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets".  And maybe (2) as well, since 5 of the school staff are not members while 4 are (although some of the 5 non-members are only part-time while the 4 members on the staff are full-time).  Are my concerns misplaced?

Not the way I read it; that's why I highlighted the "and" (and signed the petition). If they'd said, any organization that meets two out of four of these conditions, I could have lived with it.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

cssml

Quote from: Michael Slusser on February 01, 2012, 05:58:48 PM
Thanks for the links. I signed the petition. Has any previous administration made it this easy to push back on any of its policies?

Peace,
Michael

I think the ability to register and sign a petition is new with this administration.  Any citizen can register, and start a petition, it needs to get 150 signatures before it shows up in a search of the petitions.  It is interesting that one of the most popular petitions on the site is  :-) :

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/actually-take-these-petitions-seriously-instead-just-using-them-excuse-pretend-you-are-listening/grQ9mNkN

We also had a period of time open for "public comments" to the dept HHS on this issue which ended at late Sept.  Since that time, the administration had talks with religious leaders, including Catholic Bishops, before announcing this, but it sounds to me like the Bishops were quite surprised when this was announced with no religious exemption.

I honestly do not expect much from this petition, but I think it is one way of letting the administration know that people care, and they are watching, and it might force them to respond and defend their position.  My hope and prayer is that it will end up quickly in the Supreme Court and be soundly rejected.

cssml

Quote from: Michael Slusser on February 01, 2012, 10:01:19 PM
Quote from: swbohler on February 01, 2012, 09:06:10 PM
The word "and" between (3) and (4) would seem to require that an employer would have to meet ALL of the criteria given to be exempted.  As I wrote, our parochial school serves more non-members than members.  So I am wondering if we fail to meet the criteria for exemption since (3) says "primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets".  And maybe (2) as well, since 5 of the school staff are not members while 4 are (although some of the 5 non-members are only part-time while the 4 members on the staff are full-time).  Are my concerns misplaced?

Not the way I read it; that's why I highlighted the "and" (and signed the petition). If they'd said, any organization that meets two out of four of these conditions, I could have lived with it.

Peace,
Michael

And I believe that is how the Bishops read it (probably along with reviews from legal counsel), and why they lobbied (to no avail) to include a true exemption for religious institutions -- in the broad definition -- to include those religious institutions who serve and employ people of all faiths.


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