Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We need some Jeffersonian democracy.

"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical" said Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. How much more tyrannical it would be to compel employers to purchase products they believe to be morally illicit, as the President and Kathleen Sebelius intend to do.

Jimmy Akin has done a fine job (and is somewhat provocative) in analyzing this matter. The headline is a bit over the top, but I think the analysis is sound:

Does the Left now want to ban private education?

     The February 1, 2012 edition of the Lynchburg News and Advance published a letter to the editor that suggests it would be a good thing if private schools were banned "so the rich would be forced to invest in the public system." The writer, Mr. David McLoughlin of Forest, attributes this notion to Warren Buffet, whom McLoughlin regards as "a wise old man with values."
     I did an Internet search to try to find the context for this idea attributed to Mr. Buffet. Apparently, in a conversation with Michelle Rhee, then chancellor of the abysmal District of Columbia public school system, Mr. Buffet said something to the effect that the public school disaster could be "easily" fixed by outlawing private education in the district. Whether or not this was a serious suggestion on Buffet's part is unclear. That McLoughlin thinks it is a good idea, I have no doubt.
     Consider what McLoughlin is suggesting: "to ban private schools so the rich would be forced to invest in the public system." One wonders if McLoughlin is aware of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and assembly.
    What McLoughlin is proposing is a fascist state--a nation controlled from top to bottom by a tyrannical government. Yes, he wants a state where "the rich" will be "forced" to invest in something they might prefer not to invest in. Of course, they are already being "forced" through taxation to support public education, whether or not their own children benefit from those schools. But apparently this is not enough. No, McLoughlin wants a state where there is no choice in education, where the government closes private schools--an Orwellian state where persons are forced into conformity with the ideals of people like McLoughlin.
     I wonder into what other areas of society such "wisdom" might be applied? The Federal post office is struggling--well let’s just "ban" UPS and FedEx and "force" everyone to "invest" in the United States Post Office. Is Social Security broke? McLoughlin might suggest an easy solution--just outlaw private retirement investments and "force" more participation in the government plan.
     Of course, these notions are extreme, and would never be adopted by our government, would they? I am not so sure. In recent days the Obama administration has demanded that Catholic and other religious organizations, if offering health care benefits to employees, must provide contraceptive and sterilization coverage in health insurance plans. Of course, everyone knows this would violate fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church, and the consciences of many others as well. But those who craft such policies are not concerned with upholding the freedom of religion, but just the opposite. They know, if the Catholic Church is forced to comply, it will mean the end of Catholic hospitals, charities, and schools across this nation.
     What a few years ago would have been unthinkable is now near at hand. If those of the extreme left, like Mr. McLoughlin have their way, freedom in America will one day be a thing of distant memory.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Health Care Regulations Threaten Religious Freedom

     A few days ago the Secretary of the U S Department of Health and Human Services issued a ruling that mandated almost all employers, including the Catholic church and other religious organizations, must provide in their health insurance plans, the coverage of all FDA approved contraceptive services. Approved “contraceptives” include sterilization and abortifacient drugs. Exceptions may be had for those whose services are “primarily to members of their own constituency.” Perhaps this sounds like a reasonable exception. However, through its hospitals and charities, it is hardly likely the Catholic Church would be exempt. Catholic health care and charity is certainly not limited to those of the Catholic faith.
     The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a strong objection, as have many of the bishops around the nation. Here is the letter from Francis DiLorenzo, the bishop of the diocese of Richmond:
     I wrote my senators about this matter. I received this reply from Senator Mark Warner:

Thank you for contacting me regarding reforms to our health care system. I appreciate your thoughts on this issue.
Following a recommendation from the nonprofit, independent Institute of Medicine, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued final guidelines on January 20, 2012, regarding what constitutes preventive health services. These preventive services will be offered by most private health insurance plans without the requirement of cost-sharing or co-payments. Under these new rules, preventive services for women will include screening for various diseases, well-woman visits, and all FDA-approved forms of contraception. Abortion is not part of the covered services.
I have heard from advocates on both sides of the reproductive health debate, and I understand that positions on the issue come from moral, religious and political values that, for many, cannot be compromised. Nothing in this new guideline changes the existing conscience laws that give service providers the right to refuse to perform certain medical procedures to which they are morally opposed. It also does not change the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal dollars to fund abortions.

     I think Warner’s office either doesn’t understand my concern, or else they are trying to dodge the issue. The real issue is will Catholics and others opposed to “FDA-approved forms of contraception” have to pay for these in their employee health care plans, and thus violate their consciences? Warner’s statement above says, “nothing in this new guideline changes the existing conscience laws that give service providers the right to refuse to perform certain procedures.” But this is not what the concern is about! The concern being raised is not performing but paying for those procedures. This new law will require those opposed to these practices to PAY for them!
     And, apparently, the Obama administration, and I’m guessing most of the Democrats in Congress, have no intention of allowing employers the freedom to follow their consciences.