Is it Moral to Comply with the HHS Mandate?

Summary:

Catholics have a moral obligation to protest against the HHS mandate since it is a serious violation of religious liberty.  Those who have filed lawsuits are providing tremendous witness and service.  Nonetheless, once the HHS mandate goes into effect, since compliance with it would be material cooperation with evil done under duress and accompanied by serious harm to innocent persons, Catholic employers and individuals may morally comply with the HHS mandate that requires them to pay for health care plans that pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception.

The Question:

In July a Colorado judge granted an injunction that temporarily freed Hercules Industries, an HVAC company owned by a Catholic family, from paying for health care plans that cover abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception (hereafter AID-S-C), as required by the HHS mandate. The Newlands, owners of Hercules Industry, admirably and heroically chose to resist the HHS mandate by suing the government.

Do all Catholic employers need to do the same?  There are two types of Catholic employers affected by the mandate. There are apostolic institutions that generally bare the name “Catholic” or something equivalent (such as Catholic universities and hospitals) whose reason for being is to give witness to the faith.  I will not take up the question of the morality compliance with the HHS mandate of such organizations.  Rather I will focus on those Catholics who own business that are not established to bear witness to the faith, businesses such as manufacturing companies or law firms. I will call these “non-faith based” employers or NFB employers.  The question here is: would it be immoral for NFB employers to cooperate with the mandate?

Catholic individuals face a similar quandary.  Is it moral for them to pay into health care plans that pay for AID-S-C?

Certainly if they approved of paying for AID-S-C, their compliance would be immoral but what of those who do not approve?  Suppose they have done every reasonable thing to overturn the mandate and to protest the mandate and have failed to find suitable alternatives?  Would it be morally permissible for NFB employers to comply since they are likely to suffer severe consequences for noncompliance such as huge fines and possibly even going out of business, losing their own means of livelihood and endangering that of many others as well? (Several things may drive them out of business among them, a refusal to pay for healthcare may mean they would not be able to employ suitable individuals, or they may not be able to afford the penalties they would incur for non-compliance.) And there may be further harms, such as the employees needing to buy their own heath care and not being able to get the same quality they received with a group plan.

A Spectrum of Views:

Various Catholic theologians have posted essays on the internet registering their understanding of the morality of complying with the mandate for those NFB employers who accept the Church’s teaching on contraception.  I doubt that I have located all of the pieces but the following are, I believe, representative of the spectrum of views. All of the listed authors have some nuances to their positions but I hope I have represented them fairly:  Jenn Giroux reports on Cardinal Burke’s assessment that formal cooperation would be involved, Michael Pakaluk and Steve Long argue that any cooperation with the mandate would be formal cooperation; William Marshner also argues that it would be formal cooperation but proposes that the principle of double effect might justify some cooperation;  Colin Donovan argues against any cooperation by employers; Robert George and Sherif Girgis argue that the cooperation is material but seem to think the evil consequences that would result do not justify the material cooperation; Rev. Thomas Joseph White, O.P. and R.R. Reno argue that the cooperation is material but nonetheless seem to argue against it (it is not one of the options of response that they consider); Christian Brugger, Christopher Tollefsen and Jeff Mirus (separately) argue that the cooperation would be material and that the cooperation is remote enough to make it morally permissible;  a group of bioethicists at the National Catholic Bioethics Center argues that cooperation is material and that for a temporary period, employers may cooperate with it.

My Position:

Here I am going to argue that NFB Catholic employers and Catholic individuals as well have a responsibility to give reasonable resistance to the mandate as a violation of religious liberty, both before and after the mandate goes into effect.  Nonetheless, I am also going to argue that if required by law, Catholic employers and Catholic individuals may morally pay for health care plans that pay for AID-S-C.  Let me take up the second point first.

(There is a fair amount of disagreement about the meaning of the term “material cooperation with evil”, and a large amount of disagreement about its proper application.  I hope my use of the term is at least intelligible and consistent and that it captures rightly the true moral evaluation of various situations.)

The Act Performed:

Fist let us get a clear sense of the act being performed.  The employer is not going up to the counter of a pharmacy and purchasing an abortion-inducing drug for an employee.  He is not keeping a storeroom of contraceptives to which employees have ready access.  He is not keeping a surgeon on staff who will do sterilizations. He is paying for a health care plan that will pay for AID-S-C should the employee receive a prescription for such.  While often employers may have certainty that some employees will make use of such options, other employers may have full confidence that none of their employees will make use of them.  Since the employer does not intend that any of his employees use the services and since he does not directly make them available, I am confident that the cooperation is not formal but is justifiable material cooperation. (In a future column I will respond to Pakaluk’s and Long’s arguments that the cooperation is formal.)

Material Assistance vs. Cooperation with Evil:

Let us note that if a person who provides material assistance to wrong doers is cooperating with evil then God would be the biggest cooperator of all.  After all, God gives human beings everything we have and He has certain knowledge that we will use it for evil, even knowledge of how each particular individual will use things to do evil.  Parents would be cooperators with evil since they supply their children with everything they have; yet who would say that parents are materially cooperating in all the wrongdoing their children may do?  If someone rescues a known criminal from drowning, one he knows will go on engaging in criminal activity once rescued, the rescuer is not guilty of material cooperation in the future wrong doing of the criminal.

Indeed, all of us are in a position where we provide material assistance to wrongdoers.  Employers pay employees a salary and they know that some of them are going to use that money for immoral purposes, such as paying for abortions.  They may even know who is going to use the funds for abortion.  Employers should try to hire moral people and educate people to be moral, but the choices of how money is spent are not always under the moral purview of those who supply the money. Providing the material wherewithal that wrongdoers need is not always cooperation with evil.  People are responsible for their own choices.

Definition of Material Cooperation with Evil:

I am not prepared to make all the fine distinctions that should be made between simply providing material assistance that one owes another and engaging in material cooperation but it certainly seems there is a difference. Often paying taxes that go to pay for immoral actions is cited as an example of justifiable material cooperation with evil because it is so remote from the evil done.  I wonder if it is cooperation with evil at all when one is giving to others what is owed to them (and we do have a moral obligation to pay taxes).  Employees certainly often use their wages for immoral purposes but is the employer who paid the wages truly involved in cooperating with any of the evil done?  For again, if so, God and parents and someone rescuing a drowning criminal would all seem involved in cooperation with evil and it seems strange to say that God and those performing their duties are cooperating with the evil that might result from their deeds.

Alphonsus Liguori defined material cooperation as “that cooperation which concurs only with the bad action of the other, outside the intention of the cooperator.”  Again, I don’t know if that applies to the taxpayer or the employer paying wages for I don’t know if they are truly cooperating with the bad action of another.

It would seem to me that the transactions that more properly qualify as material cooperation are those in which the agent supplying the assistance does not owe the wrong-doer what is supplied. For instance, one who owns a lumberyard does not owe lumber to all those who come to purchase it from him. Were he to discover that someone purchasing supplies were going to use them to build an abortion clinic, his selling the supplies to the builder would seem to be material cooperation with evil.  Many factors would need to be taken into account to assess whether or not continued selling would be moral but the selling of supplies is material cooperation.

Whether or not I am correct about the distinctions between providing material assistance as a result of giving what is owed to another and providing material that one does not owe, may not make a great deal of difference in the analysis below but I believe we should work at getting a clearer understanding of precisely what constitutes material cooperation.

In general, we should take reasonable measures to avoid cooperation with evil; we should try to avoid situations that entail material cooperation and should resist cooperating when possible.  We should refuse to take any employment at abortion clinics, for instance.

Permissible or Justifiable Material Cooperation:

Nonetheless, material cooperation with evil is sometimes permitted.

Remoteness: For instance, we cannot possibly research the business practices of all those businesses we patronize and thus it is moral for us in general to shop without much worrying about whether companies pay unfair wages, treat their employees poorly, or donate to unworthy causes. Sometimes, of course, we may chose to investigate such matters or follow the lead of others who have investigated such matters, but in general our responsibility for cooperating with evil through our purchases is minimal.

Unreasonable burdens: It is also permissible when the burden involved in not cooperating is unreasonable.  For instance, one may not wish to purchase groceries from a grocery store owned by an abortionist since some of his profits may go to promoting his abortion business.  But if the grocery store is the only one in reasonable driving distance, it would be moral to shop there.

Duress: We are permitted to cooperate materially with evil even when the evil is serious if we or other innocent people would experience serious harm by refusing to cooperate.  These are said to be situations of duress.  Although one is physically and morally able to refuse to act, the duress can be sufficient to render one’s choice not fully free and justifiable.  Aristotle speaks about someone throwing goods over the side of a sinking ship.  The choice of the one throwing goods overboard is a mixture of freedom and duress, for he would not otherwise do so.  Another example would be the person being pressed to drive the getaway car for a bank robbery.  If one could do so without experiencing great harm, one should resist doing.  But one threatened with serious harm could morally drive a getaway car.  The driver would be more an additional victim of the crime rather than an accomplice.

Bundled Evil:

We should also note there is less culpability or none at all in cooperation with evil when the evil is “bundled” into some other act the cooperating agent must necessarily perform. The example of buying groceries from a grocery store owned by an abortionist serves here as well.  Some of the money we paid for cheerios might go to pay for advertising the abortion clinic but since we do not intend at all to fund abortions and since the amount of the money that goes to abortion is negligible, our shopping at the store is morally permissible.  Nonetheless, it would be good to attempt to attract another grocer to town; even better, it would be good to try to convert the owner away from doing abortions by persuasion, pray, sacrifice, and organized protests.

Again, I am not inclined to think that those who pay for taxes that pay for immoral practices are guilty of cooperation with evil, but if they were, it would be morally justifiable cooperation.  It is just and moral that we pay taxes. It is the legislators who decide how tax money is to be spent.  Our paying taxes that pay for immoral actions is not in itself immoral; rather the moral acts we exercise are in respect to the legislators who are elected. Nonetheless, some will conclude that in some instances they should refuse to pay taxes, not because the payment of taxes is immoral, but as a way of signaling their disapproval with how tax revenue is being allocated.

The Position of the National Catholic Bioethics Center Bioethicists:

As a basis for explaining my position I will comment on the statement of the bioethicists at the National Catholic Bioethics Center since it has a certain elevated status coming from a rightly very trusted and influential institution.

The NCBC bioethicists hold that there are three moral options open to employers. One they consider not very feasible since it involves not complying with the mandate but still supplying health care. That would involve crippling penalties and thus it is unrealistic to believe that any employer could continue to operate under the burdens of penalties and lawsuits.

The NCBC bioethicists believe the best option would be for employers to cease to offer health insurance but to provide employees with just compensation for them to purchase their own insurance plans.  They acknowledge that it would be difficult to pay the employees enough to find comparable benefits (since discounts are available for the group plan paid for by the employer).  This option shifts the moral burden to the employees.  The NCBC bioethicists think the employers would only be involved in remote material cooperation with evil through these payments to employees that will go to health care plans that pay for AID-S-C. They do not address the question of the degree of cooperation engaged in by the employees who must now purchase health care plans that pay for AID-S-C.

The NCBC bioethicists also allow that it would be moral for Catholic employers to comply temporarily with the mandate, until January 2014 when individuals will be able to purchase health care from insurance exchanges.  They hold that the cooperation would be “licit mediate material cooperation” and they find that “To avoid putting underinsured employees at substantial risk when fair compensation is not feasible is a sufficiently weighty reason to tolerate cooperation through January 2014.”  At that point the question of the morality of cooperation with evil would pass to individuals who would need to purchase a health care plan, and all of those would involve paying for AID-S-C.

I agree that all the above options are moral though I would like to argue that compliance past January 2014 is morally permissible primarily because I think the cooperation is sufficiently remote and that the harms that come from compliance are outweighed by the benefits.  Refusing to engage in that remote cooperation amounts to  passing on the moral dilemma to one’s employees and also of likely increasing health care costs for one’s employers.

The NCBC bioethicists make no argument to justify their claim that complying with the mandate is mediate material cooperation.  They distinguish it from “remote” material cooperation.  I believe that remote cooperation is a kind of mediate cooperation and that it might be better to distinguish various kinds of mediate cooperation, such as proximate and remote cooperation.   Both may be justified on occasion. Whether the cooperation with the HHS mandate is labeled “mediate” or “remote”, it is of sufficient distance from the evil done to be tolerable in pursuit of other goods.

I will also argue that private individuals may purchase health care plans that pay for AID-S-C.  Their cooperation, like that of employers, is also of sufficient distance from the evil to be done to be tolerable for the reason of having health care.

Mediate Cooperation:

Let me further discuss what mediate cooperation is.  The word “mediate” indicates that the number of “steps” or “acts of the will” between what the cooperating agent supplies and what the primary agent does is very determinative  of whether or not  the cooperation is justifiable.  The morally good person would take reasonable steps to avoid cooperating with evil at almost any distance but there are many occasions in life where the distance between one’s material action and the action of the primary agent is great enough that one does not share culpability in the action. The reason mediate material moral cooperation is sometimes permissible is that there are additional acts of the will that need to take place between what the cooperating agent does and the primary agent does.   Thus the cooperating agent cannot be said to will what the primary agent wills.   The more inessential and remote one’s action is from what the primary agent wills and the greater duress there is, the more permissible the cooperation is.

Yet, simply because cooperation with evil is material and remote enough to justify participating in an activity does not mean that individuals should be indifferent about engaging in action that is associated with evil action.  For instance, someone who delivers pizza to employees at an abortion clinic is far removed from the action of the abortionist.   The work of the cleaning crew of an abortion clinic is far removed from the abortion but more connected to the abortion than the pizza delivery person.  Someone who schedules abortions at an abortion clinic is not directly and immediately involved in performing abortions but is obviously much more a part of the chain of activities that lead to the abortion.  Prolife individuals would not want to be involved in any of the above activities, especially being the scheduler, in great part because of the scandal/hypocrisy/inauthenticity involved and for those reasons it may be immoral for them to do such jobs.  But the wrong that the pizza delivery person and the cleaning crew are doing is not morally culpable cooperation with evil; it is more properly giving scandal. The scheduler is quite “close” to the abortion and thus the cooperation would rarely be justifiable.

Applying the Principles to the Mandate:

The above discussion should help us answer the question of the morality of employers paying for health care plans that pay for abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception.

First, it seems to me that the payment for health care can legitimately be understood to be part of an employee’s salary or compensation.  The employer is paying a sum of money, earned by the employee, for a health care plan that will pay for AID-S-C.   Just as an employee who is free to do what he or she wishes with money earned, so an employee is free to do with the health care plan what he or she wishes.  The employer is acting as a “conduit” for the employee’s money.  He is not using his own money to pay for AID-S-C; he is simply making it possible for the employee to use his or her money for AID-S-C.

Second, any cooperation with evil involved is mediate and of considerable distance from the evil deed itself.  As mentioned above, the employer is not going to the pharmacy to purchase abortion-inducing drugs or going to the hospital to pay for a sterilization for someone; he is not keeping a storeroom of contraceptives or a doctor in his employ who will do sterilizations.   Indeed, there are many “acts of the will” that must take place before the evil is performed.  The primary agent must go to a doctor; the doctor must prescribe the abortion–inducing drug or order the procedure of sterilization; the primary agent must go to a pharmacy and purchase the abortion-inducing drug; the primary agent must use what has been purchased or show up for the procedure.  This seems to me to be material cooperation that is quite distant from the evil that is being done.

Third, mediate cooperation with evil is justified if there is sufficient duress and harm threatened.  There is a sense in which the HHS mandate is an act of holding a gun to the head of employers or it can be seen as a kind of tax; they are being forced or coerced into paying for something that they object to, at the threat of considerable harm.  I think for the purposes of supplying their employees with affordable health care it is permissible for them to pay for the health care plans that pay for AID-S-C.  Moreover, I think the same arguments make it permissible for private individuals to purchase health care plans that pay for AID-S-C.

There are also some goods that should be factored into the equation. Those NFB Catholic employers who are being pressured into paying for health care insurance that pays for immoral procedures now have a good motivation for trying to educate their employees about those procedures. It would be wise for them to hold seminars and distribute materials that explain both the physical harms of such procedures and why the employer has moral objections to them and why he is continuing to seek to have the mandate overturned.  Since virtually everyone who would take advantage of the services provided for by the mandate, would have had recourse to them anyway, the fact that the employer pays for a health care plan that pays for them is unlikely to increase the incidence of the procedures.

What is the Fuss About?

So some might ask, what is all the fuss about if it is moral for Catholic employers to pay for health care plans that pay for AID-S-C?  There are several reasons Catholics should resist:  1)  in general we should resist cooperating with evil 2) we should certainly resist when serious scandal is involved; that is when we are pressured to engage in activity that compromises our ability to give witness to our beliefs, and 3) we should resist when other great goods, such as religious liberty, are involved.  In this instance, the mandate is a part of a pattern of increasing suppression of religion in this country and thus it deserves zealous opposition.  Our bishops have been marvelous leaders in this regard.

First, Catholics are being pressured to support something they believe to be wrong – use of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, contraception.  Even if it is moral for Catholics to do so under duress, that does not mean we should not resist.  Just as the individual who is forced to drive a bank robber to the bank, should resist if he can, so should we all resist cooperating with evil when we can.

Secondly, our failure to offer reasonable resistance to cooperating with evil when we can causes scandal.  Even if it is only remote cooperation with evil to pay for AID-S-C, to do so without protesting would suggest to others that we think AID-S-C are moral.  If we cooperate without protest to what we oppose that will undercut our witness to the truths we believe.   We would be guilty of causing scandal or leading others into sin.

Thirdly, the fuss, as the bishops have said all along, is primarily about the violation of religious liberty.  That is why such employers as the owners of Hobby Lobby have filed a lawsuit against the mandate.  The mandate not only requires Catholic employers to pay for AID-S-C, it defines who can exercise their freedom of religion in respect to practices a religion finds immoral.  Only employers who employ members of their own faith and serve members of their own faith would have the freedom to refuse to support practices they find immoral.  Already Catholics have been prevented from helping rescue women and children from sexual trafficking and from providing adoption services because the state refuses to recognize freedom of conscience.  The reason so many non-Catholics have joined the bishops in their resistance to the mandate is that they see the mandate as a violation of religious liberty. In our country today it is necessary that we offer very strong resistance to any violation of religious liberty.  The forces trying to impose a very secular agenda on religious people are extremely powerful.

[For earlier posts I have written about the mandate, see: "If only our Bishops had thought to consult David Gibson" (Catholicvote.org) and "Religious Liberty, Blood Transfusion, Cigarettes and Contraception" (National Catholic Register, 3/11/12)]

Resist Anyway?

Sometimes individuals will refuse to engage in actions that involve even very remote cooperation with evil because it is strategically wise to do so.  Witness the behavior of many who refuse to purchase products from an establishment that endorses immoral causes; while purchasing a product may involve very remote cooperation with evil, they want to use their refusal to patronize such an establishment as a way of getting the establishment to change its practices and even more importantly to lead the culture to cease endorsing immoral causes.  When such individuals ban together in their protest or boycott, they can often bring about favorable change.

Sometimes we may want to refuse to cooperate with evil even when such cooperation would not be sinful because we want to call attention to a certain evil or when other goods would also be compromised were we to cooperate.  The violation of religious liberty involved in cooperating with the mandate is a very serious evil.  Many Catholics may find that they have the means to challenge the mandate and relieve themselves and others of the burden of cooperating with it.  Catholics, such as the Newlands, may decide to go to great expense to fight the mandate because they want to give powerful witness to the evils it allows and they want to protect religious liberty.

For my part, I hope that that those Catholic employers who cannot find a suitable alternative to the mandate will find an effective way to protest.  Those effective ways may involve not complying with the mandate.  How to best overturn the mandate is a matter of prudential judgment.  I believe, however, that the choice to comply with the mandate neither involves employers with formal cooperation or unjustifiable material cooperation.

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Categories:Health Care

47 thoughts on “Is it Moral to Comply with the HHS Mandate?

  1. Jordan says:

    Has the USCCB consulted with the episcopal conferences of other countries to clarify the moral culpability of cooperation with the HHS directive? I know that Canadian Medicare pays for what Catholics consider to be immoral treatments and procedures. Nevertheless, the CCCB (Canadian episcopal conference) has not, to my knowledge, campaigned for religious liberty in a manner similar to the American bishops. The question of bioethics and healthcare legislation varies from country to country, but surely some similarities exist.

    Also, from a _hypothetical_ double-effect standpoint, all women who obtain pharmaceutical contraception through the HHS mandate provisions might use the medication to treat a women’s health issue licitly. In that case temporary sterility would be an unintended consequence and not an end in itself. Certainly this scenario is not the case in reality. Still, as Dr. Smith notes, it’s not possible for any employer to precisely determine the motives or moral culpability of employees who will use contraception. This is one reason why I would think that cooperation with evil would be sufficiently remote in the case of the HHS mandate.

    1. jmeyer3131 says:

      The medicare issue would be different. There the government is providing it. It’s rather like the difference between paying your employee a wage that they can she can spend as she wants vs. giving her money specifically for contraception or abortion. And while it is impossible to determine motives for employees to provide hormones, you can (or, until now, could) opt out of paying for hormones as contraception. If the doctor wrote a prescription for hormones under the guise of treating illness when it was actually about contraception, that’s on the doctor and employee. When the employer offers it specifically for contraception, then the employer would be complicit.

  2. Brent says:

    So were organizations that offered health care plans with contraception covered with a premium payment already committing moral evil to begin with, before the mandate?

  3. One of the regulations of the HHS is that a dollar of every policy will go to directly fund abortion. Since this money will be definitely be used for an immoral purpose, doesn’t that put us too close to cooperation to comply?

    1. This is a complete lie and fabrication.

      1. You can find quoted sections of the regulations here in the comments. http://www.jillstanek.com/2012/03/guidelines-issued-for-obamacares-hidden-1-abortion-surcharge/

        But if you want to keep claiming that it’s a lie, that’s your business.

  4. It’s also a serious violation of other people’s religious liberty to ban them from marriage using the force of law. Catholics should be protesting about that. Why are we joining in with the angry mob and trying to oppress a minority instead?

    1. Stevelsn says:

      Noone is banned from marriage. Why shoulf the wishes of a few people to change the universally understood reality of marriage, trump the legitimate desire to reject this fraudulent, Orwellian exercise in word games?

      1. Defining a right in order to exclude a minority is still discrimination. The definition of “citizen” had always been known in our country as a WHITE MAN. That didn’t make slavery right. Also, when interracial couples were banned from marriage, they had the same rights as anyone else (according to your logic), they could just go marry someone of the same race.

        A person shouldn’t have to surrender an integral part of themselves in order to have our government treat them with the same respect. If you don’t like gay marriage, then I suggest that yo don’t get gay married. But it’s unchristian, disrespectful, and yes, hateful, to use the laws of our nation to deprive others of the right to their freedoms and equal rights under the law.

        1. drbill says:

          Of course a black man and white woman can marry (and vice versa)..this is NOT the same as a man and man or woman and woman..Applying the Natural Moral Law whether as a Catholic or Atheist one can come to the same conclusion: the homosexual lifestyle is intrinsically disordered..To hold this position does not mean one is a homophobe…it is NOT hatred…We are all called to Love all our brothers and sisters…we are all sinners..we hate the sin not the sinner..whether I commit the sin or my neighbor does..

          1. Rich says:

            First off, Lifestyle has to do with the way in which one entertains, recreates or commits themself to work, etc. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight is known as sexual orientation. It is completely recognized as a legitimate way to be by the Catholic Church, and out catechism calls us to fight against discrimination based upon sexual orientation.
            The current common understanding of intrinsic disorder is not good thomistic philosophy. The actual terminology is intrinsic evil, with evil being defined as the privation of good in an apt subject. In the case of homosexuality, this really only means that the sperm and the egg cannot meet if one or the other is not there. Since many people have still not embraced the notion of sex for the unitive benefit, and still have a procreative sex only attitude, the word evil has taken on a moral understanding never really relevant to it.
            Natural Law is not moral law. Morality is a normative overlay on how we perceive actions and intentions. We constantly argue for and against natural law in determining what is customary and how necessary compliance is for the social order. We also are constantly reevaluating our understanding of the Natural Law, not some much that nature changes but because our ability to perceive nature is always changing, even though the Church does often lag behind Galileo. To think that at anytime when have a complete understanding of all of God creation is errant and arrogant.
            But back to the question of opposing the civil recognition of same gender marriage, and trying to base it on the Natural Law (male and females only because that is what we see in Nature) or on the psuedo-traditionalist (“redefining” marriage – as if it has always existed as it does today, without the dowry, with partners picking each other, with love being the motivation rather than the survival of the clan or solidification of kingdoms) can often be considered right or wrong depending on ones biases. When the biases create the truth rather than factual information, there is the breeding ground for homophobia, or the corollary heterosexism. the believe that the heterosexual orientation is more “right” than another orientation. Homophobia really comes into play when there is a perceived loss from the heterosexual by the homosexual, as when there is the perception that the privileges of marriage apply only to the heterosexual, and same gender marriage recognition by the state, will make this privilege less powerful when shared with non-heterosexuals. This can only apply when there is a need to have special consideration for one group over another, as in the heterosexual community needing to be differently considered than the homosexual community. Watering down marriage to only having the purpose of birthing new generations gives special consideration to those who can or might be able to have successful conceptions resulting from their sexual activity.
            Homophobia is integrated internally into the passing on of understood sex roles and gender classifications, and institutionally locked into the identity of many cultures. It is demeaning to men to be called a sissy, to throw like a girl or to be effeminate. It is insulting to a woman to be referred to a looking like a man or being butch.
            As a Church we have a lot of need to cleanse ourselves from the sin of homophobia and heterosexism. One challenge here is the individual homophobia that keeps many people from truly examining how they feel about sex and about sexual orientation.
            Loving the sinner but concentrating on hating the “sin” is to focus ones mind where it may not belong, especially when it comes to someone else’s love life, or the celebration of the commitment that others what to state openly to the community and ask the community for support in staying faithful and committed. The Sacrament of Marriage is celebrated in and out of the marital bed.

        2. Stevelsn says:

          It has nothing to do with rights or homophobia or any of the comparisons with racial discrimination or any of the BS. you use to advance this absurd idea that a man can marry a man or a woman a woman. Sorry, that’s not what the word means. Period.

        3. Bert says:

          Chanson accidentally walked onto a Catholic website. Whoops. Try reddit. The other atheists congregate there.

          1. Stevelsn says:

            I don’t think we need to discourage other points of view. Totally like minded comments are soon boring and the interaction of competing views is enlightening.

  5. Genevieve says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful commentary! As the benefits manager for
    my father’s company, these issues have been heavy on my mind for many
    months. A couple of questions come to mind – I would love
    to hear your replies!

    1) If the cooperation is so remote as to be permissible, or the duress/potential harm in not complying is great enough that we are not morally obliged to refrain from purchasing AID-S-C-covering health insurance for our employees…then why have the bishops (and many others) taken such an intense stand against this, even to the point of saying they will go to jail or shut down all their Catholic schools, hospitals, etc. rather than comply? It seems that this is either outrageous bluffing, which will be shown up in a scandalous way if they do comply once it actually becomes mandatory…or they really, truly do believe that complying in any way at any point would be unconscionable. The harm of shutting down all those Catholic institutions and putting all those people out of work would certainly seem to be greater than the harm of merely remote material cooperation. One could argue that the scandal caused by complying would be worth these harms…but to be honest, had the bishops not raised the issue in the first place, hardly anyone would have even noticed that it was an issue (we certainly never had, until they informed our consciences) and there would have been no risk of scandal!

    2) Perhaps a part of the moral weight of this matter has to do with the impact that the decisions of this many Catholic and Christian employers, dioceses, etc. could make on
    the entire country. If we DON’T stand up now, when we have a momentum and our bishops have already deeply committed to this fight, then the next time an even graver issue comes up, will we have any strength left to resist? How many of the evil things that happened in Nazi Germany could have been prevented if enough people had stood up soon enough, rather than reasoning that their cooperation was remote enough
    or under enough duress that they weren’t morally culpable?

    3) An additional concern in continuing to offer health insurance plans that provide AID-S-C coverage is that, whether or not your employees actually use this part of their coverage personally, the new rules included in the ACA & put out by HHS (as far as I understand them) mean that the dependents of your employees could be using their parents’ health insurance for AID-S-C, without their parents’ knowledge or consent! So
    having this insurance coverage could in fact make AID-S-C available to teens who might not otherwise have access to it. Given the individual mandate, those parents won’t have the option NOT to have coverage that allows this, with one notable exception….

    Thus far the the only tenable option I have found for employers and
    individuals alike is this: a new Catholic healthsharing organization, Solidarity Health Share (www.solidarityhealthshare.com) that is scheduled to be launched in January 2013 and is being structured so as to take advantage of a loophole in the ACA. If enough Catholics join together to share each other’s health insurance costs, something like this could not only be feasible, it could be an AMAZING alternative, one that is truly moral and just.

    If the bishops have overreacted, and this isn’t actually such a big deal, then it will simply be a prudential judgment whether someone decides to do something besides the status quo or not. But if they are right, that this is an unacceptable level of cooperation with evil, no matter what the duress, then it seems it would behoove us to stand behind them.

    Thank you again for this article – it’s provided a lot of food for thought!

    1. jmeyer3131 says:

      This also expresses much of my concern.

    2. Prof Janet Smith says:

      Genevieve, Thank you for this thoughtful response. As I note perhaps too briefly in my piece, I was not addressing the morality of cooperation with institutions that exist to advance the Kingdom through preaching and directly witnessing to the truth. Elsewhere i have argued that making a Catholic hospital — for instance — to pay for contraception, etc. is much like making the Anti-Smoking League pay for cigarettes. The parameters of the evaluation are very different for faith-based organizations and non-faith based. And I do think we should resist and resist and resist. The law suits should proliferate; we should advance and vote for candidates who will work to overturn the mandate. The bishops are right that this is a serious violation of religious liberty and it should be zealously opposed. Let me note that if employers don’t buy the health care insurance, individuals will need to (at much higher costs) and those plans will allow teenagers access to immoral procedures. But I am hopeful that people will come up with legal alternatives, such as the one you mention. Thanks for the lead on that! God bless, Prof Smith

  6. Guest says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful commentary! As the benefits manager for
    my father’s company, these issues have been heavy on my mind for many
    months. A couple of questions come to mind – I would love
    to hear your replies!

    1) If the cooperation is so remote as to be permissible, or the
    duress/potential harm in not complying is great enough that we are not
    morally obliged to refrain from purchasing AID-S-C-covering health
    insurance for our employees…then why have the bishops (and many
    others) taken such an intense stand against this, even to the point of
    saying they will go to jail or shut down all their Catholic schools,
    hospitals, etc. rather than comply? It seems that this is either
    outrageous bluffing, which will be shown up in a scandalous way if they
    do comply once it actually becomes mandatory…or they really, truly do
    believe that complying in any way at any point would be unconscionable.
    The harm of shutting down all those Catholic institutions and putting
    all those people out of work would certainly seem to be greater than the
    harm of merely remote material cooperation. One could argue that the
    scandal caused by complying would be worth these harms…but to be
    honest, had the bishops not raised the issue in the first place, hardly
    anyone would have even noticed that it was an issue (we certainly never
    had, until they informed our consciences) and there would have been no
    risk of scandal!

    2) Perhaps a part of the moral weight of this matter has to do with the
    impact that the decisions of this many Catholic and Christian employers, dioceses, etc. could make on
    the entire country. If we DON’T stand up now, when we have a momentum
    and our bishops have already deeply committed to this fight, then the
    next time an even graver issue comes up, will we have any strength
    left to resist? How many of the evil things that happened in Nazi
    Germany could have been prevented if enough people had stood up soon
    enough, rather than reasoning that their cooperation was remote enough
    or under enough duress that they weren’t morally culpable?

    3) An additional concern in continuing to offer health insurance plans
    that provide AID-S-C coverage is that, whether or not your employees
    actually use this part of their coverage personally, the new rules
    included in the ACA & put out by HHS (as far as I understand them)
    mean that the
    dependents of your employees could be using their parents health
    insurance for AID-S-C, without their parent’s knowledge or consent! So
    having this insurance coverage could in fact make AID-S-C available to
    teens who might not otherwise have access to it. Given the individual
    mandate, those parents won’t have the option NOT to have coverage that
    allows this, with one notable exception….

    Thus far this is the only tenable option I have found for employers and
    individuals alike: a new Catholic healthsharing organization
    (www.solidarityhealthshare.org) that is scheduled to be launched in
    January 2013 and is being structured so as to take advantage of a
    loophole in the ACA. If enough Catholics join together to share each
    other’s health insurance costs, something like this could not only be
    feasible, it could be an AMAZING alternative, one that is truly moral
    and just.

    If the bishops have overreacted, and this isn’t actually such a big
    deal, then it will simply be a prudential judgment whether someone
    decides to do something besides the status quo or not. But if they are
    right, that this is an unacceptable level of cooperation with evil, no
    matter what the duress, then it seems it would behoove us to stand
    behind them.

    Thank you again for this article – it’s provided a lot of food for thought!

    1. Genevieve says:

      Sorry for the duplicate comment – it wouldn’t let me delete it. This one has the wrong website link for Solidarity, so you can delete it if you’d like, and leave the one posted under my name. Thanks!

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