Religious Freedom Requires Give as Well as Take

Source: The Huffington Post

The always contentious issue of religious freedom appears to be heading back to the Supreme Court. Not that this court can be trusted to make a measured decision, but Lord knows we need someone to restore order and bring clarity to the principle and its application, which are subject to wildly different and often simplistic understandings.

On Friday, the justices considered accepting a case, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, or one of several related cases, involving how religiously affiliated non-profit groups receive exemptions from provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring that contraceptives are part of employee health plans.

The key question before the high court: Is it too much of an imposition to expect a religiously affiliated organization to submit a form?

The plaintiffs, a charity called the Little Sisters of the Poor, are among numerous religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, and non-profits objecting to the mechanism the Obama administration has developed to ensure that contraceptives remain available to employees even when their employers object.

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In a move that has set many liberal eyes to rolling, the religious non-profits are claiming moral opposition, not just to providing contraceptives — a claim the Obama administration respects — but also to the very act of requesting the exemption, which activates the insurance company or a third party to step in to provide the contraceptive coverage.

Seen from the Sisters’ perspective, submitting the form is an act of complicity, of aiding and abetting a moral crime. The sin of using birth control continues, and the employer has acted to facilitate it.

Fair point, in the abstract. But even if the religious employers aren’t being as ridiculous as they might seem to those outside their world, there might be no avoiding this particular mechanism, or one like it. And there might be no avoiding these groups continuing to have some small amount of complicity in the ongoing use of contraceptives however this particular conflict is resolved. Frankly, we are all involved in indirect support of things we oppose, including our participation in an ongoing exercise known as paying taxes.

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Categories: Belief

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