Monday, June 4, 2012

Quote of the Day

The bishops claim liberty for themselves, and for the large institutions they control, while also fighting to restrict the liberty of others with respect to abortion, emergency contraception, and same-sex relationships. Persistent opposition to the liberty of others makes enemies; many Americans on the other side of these issues now view the bishops as a powerful force for evil. Why should anyone who disagrees with the bishops on sexual morality respect their broad claim to religious liberty? That is the challenge that defenders of religious liberty must answer.

– Douglas Laycock
Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Virginia.
Quoted in "The Bishops and Religious Liberty,
Commonweal, May 30, 2012


  1. This is incredibly disturbing - a constitutional professor refusing to acknowledge the radical difference between freely belonging to a religious association and following the tenants of that faith and the power, and danger, of the state imposing itself upon its subjects.

    When will it be acknowledged that this isn't about pills, abortion, or what one does in the privacy of one's home??!! This is about the state demanding that Catholic institutions subsidize practices they find morally abhorrent. Why, dear God, why, do you need Saint Margaret Mary Catholic Parochial School to pay for the contraceptives of its teachers? This is absurd, especially when any of those teachers, Catholic or not, can walk to Walgreens and purchase them pills the counter.

    And don't give me any talk about a "compromise." None exists -it's all just empty rhetoric that means nothing. Look at the actual mandate!

    Imagine if the state mandated a Jewish deli to sell ham sandwhiches. Rightly, we would object. (At least I hope we would object! Who knows these days - for so many, if the state says its OK, well, it must be!)
    I don't care how many people demand a ham sandwhich for lunch. The Jewish owner has every right to not sell the stuff. Should not Catholic institutions have the same right to not violate their religious teachings?

    I am convinced that the mandate, along with ObamaCare, will soon be struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. And I think the decision will be 7-2. Mercifully, there remain even among liberals jurists who still think the protection of conscience and religious liberty is actually an american value worth protecting.
    It doesn't sound like Laycock is one of them, however.

    1. There are two differences between a Jewish Deli and a Catholic enterprise. The Catholic enterprise is not being forced to sell birth control, unlike your Jewish Deli with ham sandwiches. The Jewish Deli does not have the right to tell it's employees they can't use any of the salary the Deli gives them in exchange for their work to buy ham.

      Catholic enterprises have been providing birth control in insurance plans in at least 18 states since the first years of GW Bush and no bishop peeped up, nor has any bishop peeped up in any other country where birth control is an insurance staple. This is a faux war being waged against Obama not for religious freedom.

  2. I thought that the Obama administration offered to mandate that insurance companies offer reproductive health services FREE OF CHARGE? Doesn't this mean that the Church IS NOT being required to pay for reproductive health services and that the onus of doing something the Church finds moral abhorrent fall upon the conscience of the one partaking of reproductive health services? What are we to think of all those prelates in europe who partake of their universal health care systems without blinking an eye? Surely the universal health care systems in europe are offering mandated reproductive health services. I don't hear our bishops in the US castigating their brethren in europe for colluding with moral evil. I have, however, heard that the cardinals in europe think that it is morally suspect to say the least that we do not offer universal healthcare in this country. They see it as an abdication of the common good.

  3. There are several carefully reasoned articles in the most recent issues of Commonweal on the U.S. bishops' document on religious liberty. Anonymous, you might find them enlightening. I notice you are using William Lori's Jewish deli analogy. How are the customers of a Jewish deli like the insured employees of a Catholic hospital?

  4. Arguments that the health care law infringes religious liberty are largely predicated on a big lie. Notwithstanding the bishops' arm waving about religious liberty, the law does not force employers to act contrary to their consciences.

    Many initially worked themselves into a lather with the false idea that the law forces employers to provide their employees with health care plans offering services the employers consider immoral. The fact is that employers have the option of not providing any such plans and instead simply paying assessments to the government (which, by the way, would generally amount to far less than the cost of health plans). Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law’s requirement to pay assessments does not compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs. Problem solved.

    Some nonetheless have continued clamoring for such an exemption, complaining that by paying assessments to the government they would indirectly be paying for the very things they opposed. They seemingly missed that that is not a moral dilemma justifying an exemption to avoid being forced to act contrary to one’s beliefs, but rather is a gripe common to many taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action the government may take with the benefit of “their” tax dollars. Should each of us be exempted from paying our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for making war, providing health care, teaching evolution, or whatever else each of us may consider wrong or even immoral?

    In any event, those complaining made enough of a stink that the government relented and announced that religious employers would be free to provide health plans with provisions to their liking (yay!) and not be required to pay the assessments otherwise required (yay!). Problem solved–again, even more.

    Nonetheless, some continue to complain, fretting that somehow the services they dislike will get paid for and somehow they will be complicit in that. They argue that if insurers or employees pay for such services, those costs will somehow, someday be passed on to the employers in the form of demands for higher insurance premiums or higher wages. They evidently believe that when they spend a dollar and it thus becomes the property of others, they nonetheless should have some say in how others later spend that dollar. One can only wonder how it would work if all of us could tag “our” dollars this way and control their subsequent use.

    The bishops are coming across more and more as just another special interest group with a big lobbying operation and a big budget—one, moreover, that is not above stretching the truth.