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  • HHS Mandate "Serious" Threat to Religious Liberty (VIDEO)

    Are the concerns of religious employers about a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) simply a matter of getting “all worked up over nothing,” a new video asks, as the Obama Administration suggests?

    John Stonestreet, national director of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, puts the question to Jennifer Marshall, Heritage’s director of domestic policy studies. “This is serious,” Marshall sums up. “It’s a violation of religious liberty. And that’s why 58 different organizations have gone to court against the HHS mandate.”

    The HHS mandate, which took effect August 1, compels employers to offer health plans that cover contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization, Marshall explains. The so-called religious exemption is so narrow that, in effect, only houses of worship are eligible. Faith-based organizations serving their communities and small business owners operating by their convictions are expected to knuckle under—or face heavy fines.

    Marshall has stressed that opposition to the HHS mandate from evangelical Wheaton College shows this isn’t just a Catholic thing. Organizations such as the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Alliance Defending Freedom are spreading the word—as well as providing legal representation—to Catholic and Protestant universities, hospitals, and other religious employers.

    One family business in Colorado, Hercules Industries, won an initial victory in federal court against Obamacare’s HHS mandate. As Eric Metaxas wrote for the Colson Center:

    Good news, but by no means a reason for complacency or even letting up on the issue. …Across the country there are countless similarly situated businesses that will not benefit from this ruling. As I record these words, these businesses are struggling with some agonizing decisions: Do they violate their consciences, pay stiff fines, or drop health insurance coverage for their employees altogether?

    In the video, Marshall stresses that the infringement of religious freedom under Obamacare is only beginning: “We will see other conflicts with conscience in the future. So the only real solution for the religious liberty problem under the HHS mandate is the repeal of Obamacare.”

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to HHS Mandate "Serious" Threat to Religious Liberty (VIDEO)

    1. Obama wants America, dumb, secular, weak and insignificant in the world. It was his fathers dream and now it's his. We need to wake up from the stupor he has most people in thanks to mainstream media.

    2. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      This is scary.

    3. dougindeap says:

      Claims that the health law violates religious liberty are based on a "big lie"–a gross falsification constantly repeated and embellished to lend credibility. Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the health care law does not force employers to act contrary to their consciences.

      Employers may comply with the law by choosing either of two options: (1) provide qualifying health insurance plans or (2) do not provide such plans and instead pay assessments to the government. Unless one supposes that the employers’ religions forbid payments of money to the government, the law does not compel them to act contrary to their beliefs.

      The second choice does not amount to "violating" the law and paying a "fine," as some suppose. As the law "does not explicitly mandate an employer to offer employees acceptable health insurance" (http://www.ncsl.org/documents/health/EmployerPenalties.pdf), there is no such "mandate" to "violate." Rather, the law affords employers two options, either of which is as lawful as the other.

      Nor are the assessments set so high that paying them would drive employers out of business, as some speculate. The law provides that if a "large employer" (i.e., one with at least 50 employees) chooses not to provide health insurance, it must pay assessments of $2,000 per year per employee after the first 30 employees. That is much less than an employer typically would pay for health insurance. Small employers would pay no assessments at all. Because of this potential saving and because the law affords individuals realistic opportunities to obtain insurance on their own, many employers are considering this option–for reasons entirely unrelated to religion. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443437504577545770682810842.html)

      In recently issued commentary on the various options of employers, the National Catholic Bioethics Center acknowledges, albeit grudgingly, that the option of not providing health insurance and instead paying assessments is "morally sound." While also considering this option "unfortunate" in that the insurance employees would find on their own would include coverage the Center deems objectionable, the Center concludes that the employers' "moral connection" to that coverage would be "remote." https://ncbcenter.org/document.doc?id=450&eri

      Bottom line: Employers are not forced by the law to act contrary to their consciences. Rather, as recognized by even those who object to some aspects of the insurance the law makes available, the law affords employers with similar objections the morally sound option of not providing such insurance and paying assessments instead.

      • stevehn says:

        Why should I have to choose to provide insurance that goes against my beliefs or pay $2000 per employee penalty (and then the cost of insurance on top of that)? Why not allow me to choose a plan that fits my needs and conscience? Done. Sounds like blackmail to me. Violate your conscience or pay up. And when health systems employs hundreds of employees, that's hundreds of thousands of dollars diverted from taking care of the employees in order to pay the penalty. In my book, that a substantial amount of money. Not frivolous as you would want me to believe. There must be a third choice that involves neither violation of the belief that life is precious or paying an arbitrary government penalty in order to purchase my religious freedom (every year!).

        • dougindeap says:

          It appears that you now recognize that the law affords employers a choice that does not force them to act contrary to their consciences, but you don't like that choice because it comes with a cost.

          First, it bears reiterating that since the law does not force employers to act contrary to their religious beliefs, it does not pose the moral dilemma that the bishops and others have claimed. We seem agreed on that main point.

          Second, with respect to the costs, I did not say they were "frivolous," but rather observed–correctly–that they are far less than the cost of insurance that employers would otherwise pay and, for that reason, some employers are considering that option to take advantage of the savings.

          You ask why an employer should have to pay anything. When the legislature anticipates that application of laws may put some individuals in moral binds (as noted above, this law doesn't even do that), the legislature may, as a matter of grace (not constitutional compulsion), provide exemptions for conscientious objectors or otherwise accommodate them. In doing so, the legislature need not offer the objectors a free pass. For instance, in years past, we have not allowed conscientious objectors simply to skip military service for “free”; rather, we have required them to provide alternative service in noncombatant roles or useful civilian work.

      • Bobbie says:

        what's wrong, dougindeap? Force is not in the constitution! Insurance companies should have the freedom to provide whatever they want and the consumer will have the freedom to pick the one that fits them! Insurance is a privilege not a right! Employers are forced by the law to insure provisions that are contrary to the employers or insurance providers beliefs. What's so hard to understand? Just think if America didn't have to dance to the beat of the government that's not their own! Get the government FORCE OUT!

        • dougindeap says:

          You seem to object to the very concept of law, which involves some measure of force by authority. In any event, contrary to what you suppose and say, employers are NOT forced by the law to provide insurance contrary to their religious beliefs. That's the point. That is a big lie, one that the bishops have peddled and many have swallowed.

      • JohnE says:

        You don't HAVE to put poison in your kids' food. You could just stop feeding your children and pay an "assessment" to the government so that THEY can feed poison to your kids.

        You as an employer don't HAVE to violate your conscience by providing insurance which includes contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization. You could just stop providing health care to your employees and make THEM purchase insurance which violates THEIR consciences so that your cooperation is remote. You don't HAVE to be fair and give your employees a salary increase so that they can go purchase their own private insurance — whether or not there are even any non-objectionable insurance plans available. You don't HAVE to offset their salary increase by the $2000 per-employee "assessment" making it even more difficult to buy insurance similar to what you're already providing.

        Really, no religious liberty concerns?

      • JohnE says:

        Here’s an analogy that I think might clarify things. I would like to know where you think the analogy breaks down in any significant ways.

        Many parents buy their kids a computer as they head off to college. Seeing the value – no, the need — no, the RIGHT — of every student having a computer, the president of the university enacts a plan with the noble goal of making computing affordable for all. In order to do this, every parent must either buy their student a computer or pay a “computing fee” to the university of $500 which will be used to set up a “computer exchange” program. Due to the bulk buying power of the university, the students can buy a share for only $1000, which is less than what it would cost for an individual to buy one computer. All computers, whether in the exchange program or provided by the parent, must come with a certain amount of computing power that the committee deems to be sufficient for most students. The president also decides, to the delight of the porn industry, that since most people view porn, every computer, whether provided by the parent or in the computer bank, must include a subscription to porn sites.

        Many parents object, and after much push-back the president makes an “accomodation”: You as a parent don’t have to buy the porn subscription; the computer manufacturer will include the subscription for “free” — you just have to let your kid know that it’s included on the computer. So see, you aren’t really buying the porn subscription for them, so what’s the problem? Despite the accomodation, and to the amazement of some, many parents are still upset with the mandate; other students, the university, and the porn industry accuse these parents of trying to force their morality on everyone else and not wanting everyone to have access to a computer; and a blog commentator informs the protesting parents that the so-called porn mandate is a “big lie” — the parents don’t HAVE to buy their kids a computer, so they wouldn’t be complicit in what they see as being immoral. He also points out that there are even some parents who had provided computers for their other kids in the past who are now considering NOT buying computers for their kids, because the $500 “computing fee” is less than the computer they were planning to get.

        Since they can no longer buy the $1200 computer they were originally planning to buy for their kid to take to college, some parents decide to pay the $500 “computing fee” and give their kids the $700 difference. Realizing this still isn’t enough to buy a computer even on the university’s program, extra-generous parents not only pay the $500 computing fee but also give them $1000 for the generic purpose of buying computing power. Since the parents aren’t telling their kids they have to buy the computing power on the university’s program, he is only remotely cooperating with exposing him to the temptation to view porn. Now the 1st kid only needs $300 to buy a computer on the exchange or pay $500 to $1200 computer his parents were originally planning to buy him. (Whether that $1200 computer must also include porn or not in this analogy I don’t know). That’s just for the kids of the generous parents. The others have a choice of buying the $1000 university plan, or buying their own for $1200.

        • dougindeap says:

          Thank you for asking. Your analogy breaks down, I think, at the outset–and, indeed, illustrates that your real objection is to the so-called individual mandate and not the employer mandate.

          First, it only confuses matters to imagine the employer-employee relationship is like a parent-child relationship. Few regard their employer as their daddy. Apart from whatever social relationships they might or might not have, employers and employees are independent adults who have entered into a contract basically trading services for wages. Employers must, of course, not discriminate against employees on the basis of their religions. Beyond that, they have no business concerning themselves with their employees' religious views, and even less do they have any legal responsibility to shape or influence their employees' religious views.

          Second, if we focus on the parent-employer in your analogy, it is apparent that that person is not required to do anything contrary to his religious views. Sure, he may lament that the law (the individual mandate) requires his employees to obtain computers with porn subscriptions and provides them with ways to do so, since he personally objects to porn. That, though, is but a normal political gripe. Since the law does not require him to act contrary to his conscience, the parent-employer has absolutely no basis to claim that his religious liberty has been infringed. Yet that is the claim that the Catholic bishops and others have made–asserting in so many words that the employers is forced to act contrary to his conscience. That assertion is flatly false.

    4. dougindeap says:

      Your alternate objections are telling in that they highlight the real objectives of those claiming that the health law violates employers' religious liberty. As you appear–albeit reluctantly–to accept, the ACA does not force any employer to provide contraceptive coverage against his or her conscience. You liken employees to children, though, and object that employers should be free to save their employees from bad choices.

      All the arm waving about the religious liberty of employers is but a ploy to rile up political opposition to the law in order to achieve the political aim of gaining an exemption that allows employers to limit their employees' choices to those conforming to the employers' religious beliefs. The aim is not religious liberty for employers (they already have that), but rather power over their employees.

      • JohnE says:

        It wouldn’t save them from making bad choices; it allows the employer to offer a health plan in line with his beliefs. Something he used to be able to do, and without a complaint from most his employees. Employees can already buy contraception/abortifacient/sterilization coverage on their own. This is simply a way of making more people support things that go against their values for no good reason.

        Putting your very limited view of liberty aside (since the law allows it, it must be ok), will an individual who does not wish to contribute to contraception and abortifacients be able to purchase a health plan for himself and his family on the government plan, which his taxes also support, that does NOT include such coverages? Just because such “services” aren’t used by the individual, his premiums help pay for them for others.

      • Bobbie says:

        You're not opening your thinking process!!!!! Consider what's being said and stop your kool aid indulgence. It is what the people say it is. These acts of government far overstep their governing duties. If you're an American, learn to gain some inner strength and learn to know what's in government control is not in your control and what's not in your control is less your personal liberty!

      • Bobbie says:

        you're just doug in way too deep. When the president and his allies say they are mandating contraceptions, abortions and who knows what all they can exploit women, you fail to understand the argument all the way through.

    5. Trish says:

      The HHS mandate either forces an employer to provide what he may find to be objectionable heathcare or pay a fine or an employee to purchase a policy that may go against their beliefs or pay a fine (ohh! get 'em at both ends!) What right does the government have to force it's citizens to purchase a product or pay a fine? Absolutely none and it will only get worse.

    6. Trish says:

      Contrary to the comment that the fines are minimal, here is what CNN money has to say: Fines: Any company with at least 50 full-time employees must start providing insurance to staff in 2014. If they don't and a single worker turns to the government for a health care tax credit or subsidy on the exchanges, then the company has to pay fines.

      It won't be cheap. The penalty starts at $40,000, and increases with the size of the firm's workforce by $2,000 for each additional worker past 50.

      And it won't be enough to provide just any insurance, either. The plan must cover at least 60% of health care expenses, and insurance has to cost the employee less than 9.5% of his or her family's salary. If coverage is deemed substandard by those measures, the company is hit with an even higher penalty of $3,000 per employee.

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