Religious exemptions will undermine the ACA for all

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In challenging aspects of the Affordable Care Act on religious grounds like opposition to birth control, the U.S. Catholic bishops decry its requirements as “interference with religious freedom.” It would appear that exactly the opposite is the case. What they are trying to do is get the government to aid them in their battle against birth control. This is manipulation of law by the church, not the other way around.

If the bishops had any faith in their own powers of moral persuasion, the mandate for coverage could stand, and they would believe in their own moral ability to persuade the flock not to use the benefit. Apparently they do not believe in themselves sufficiently. In desperation, they attempt to breach the “wall of separation” for their own ends.

Despite Bishop David Zubik’s protestations that the church favors universal health care, the church’s actions threaten to dismantle it. If the bishops win, what is to stop a Jehovah’s Witness employer from refusing any coverage that includes blood transfusions? Christian Scientist employers could demand to be exempted from providing any medical coverage at all, since it would conflict with their beliefs. In short, all medical coverage would be undermined by employers seeking religious loopholes.

The bishops will be destroying the very thing they claim to support, for the sake of a dogma exclusive to their particular sect. Better they should support their beliefs from the pulpit and learn to use their own moral authority. Otherwise they will be using the government as a tool to compensate for their inadequacy. Both the nation and the church will suffer for that.

HOWARD SCHMITT
Green Tree


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