Coupon Good for One Free Religious Freedom Violation

Some pundits, who reject their own liberal heritage by attacking the U.S. Bishops for defending religious freedom, insist that the bishops have never explained why the president’s “compromise” on the HHS Mandate is morally unacceptable.

(They also conveniently ignore the fact that the “compromise” is entirely fictitious. The president’s final rule attacking religious freedom was adopted “without change” on February 10. The “compromise” is legally meaningless and will yeild no change before the November election. Even the NCReporter’s Michael Sean Winters calls anyone who would accept that kind of accomodation a “fool.”)

Yesterday, the bishops submitted a 21-page, thoroughly researched document opposing the president’s fictional and boundary-less “compromise.”

The USCCB explains why, even if the compromise existed, it would not essentially change the adminstration’s attack on religious freedom.

The “compromise” claims that it will force an employer’s insurer to provide the objectionable coverage (pretending that it will be “free”). But, as the bishops note, religious entities “will still be required to provide plans that serve as a conduit for contraceptives and sterilization procedures to their own employees” in violation of the employer’s beliefs. Religiously objecting entities will “still be required to provide plans that channel contraceptives and sterilization procedures to their employees.”

[B]ecause the insurer is enabled to pay for contraceptives only because the objecting employer has purchased a plan from the insurer, that enabling decision of the employer still facilitates the purchase of contraceptives. So even if the purchaser’s premiums were somehow segregated, it would not resolve the moral problem. In effect, an employer’s offering any health plan will operate as a “ticket,” so to speak, entitling the bearer to reimbursement for the purchase of contraceptives to which she would not otherwise be entitled.

It would be morally objectionable for an employer to provide anyone such a “ticket,” even if the ticket costs the employer nothing to provide. . . . The employer will know that offering any health coverage to employees at all will be a necessary and sufficient cause for each employee to receive the objectionable coverage.

In other words, the employer is still being forced to give her employee the plan that is the necessary ticket for the employee to get objectionable coverage from the same insurer the employer is paying, precisely because the employer buys that plan from that insurer. This is undeniably a direct form of facilitation.

Thus, the USCCB has offered a moral rationale, and it is nothing more than common sense. If you force me to give my employees a plan that exclusively enables them to obtain something immoral, you have forced me to cooperate in the evil.

The “gotcha” response to this argument by critics of religious freedom will likely be that enabling coverage of objectionable items through the employer’s plan is no different than paying the employee a salary that she uses to buy such items. But that position fails to comprehend proximity, and economics. The bishops explain: “The difference is that the employee’s salary is not earmarked for the purchase of anything . . . . Health care premiums, by contrast, are earmarked specifically for the purchase of health care.”

Salary can be spent on anything, because that’s what money is. But a health plan is only for health care, and under the mandate the same plan the employer is forced to buy will be used as a necessary conduit to obtain the same objectionable coverage. The cooperation is direct: one coupon good for free objectionable items, redeemable only at one vendor whom the employee is forced to subsidize.

Also notably, under the “compromise” this arrangement is not optional: all employees are “automatically” enrolled, and it automatically includes their “beneficiaries.” This means that an employee who doesn’t want the objectionable coverage (maybe she works at a Catholic entity precisely so she can get morally acceptable coverage) is not only forced to get it, her children are forced to get it. Let me state it again: a Catholic employee of a Catholic employer can’t stop her own plan (to which she contributes) from paying for her own children to get mandated free birth control and “education” from providers of the same, possibly including Planned Parenthood, which, after all, exists to promote such items.

And because of patient confidentiality, the parents may never know they helped pay for the promiscuity-counseling of their children, or the death of their own embryonic grandchildren.

This is the “compromise” that some apologists for the president insist the bishops must accept. Thank God that the Church stands for religious freedom when its fair-weather friends have abandonned it for political gain.

You, too, can submit comments opposing the federal government’s attack on religious freedom by clicking here.



  • Rich Biancone

    The 5,000 foot view – Liberty is under attack.
    The 50,000 foot view – Part of the plan to move “forward” towards socialism.

  • Gerald Donahue

    No matter who pays or does not pay, this mandate violates the 1st Amendment and our Faith by “prohibiting the free expression of religion”.

  • Marion Maher

    So glad that something has provoked the Catholic Church enough to finally take a stand.
    for too long they have turned a blind eye to many of the evils readily accepted by the left.

  • Phil

    They also conveniently ignore the fact that the “compromise” is entirely fictitious. The president’s final rule attacking religious freedom was adopted “without change” on February 10. The “compromise” is legally meaningless and will yeild no change before the November election.

    It’s not clear from your post. Do you think the “compromise” should be given more legal weight, as opposed to the current state of the law?

  • Andrew Ensley

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t this mandate also require those in celibate religious vocations to have plans with free contraception?

    I don’t see how it wouldn’t, and if so, that’s beyond ludicrous.



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