More questions than answers on the HHS mandate

posted at 4:20 pm on February 16, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

By this time most of you have absorbed more than your fill of the ongoing debate over the HSS mandate regarding contraception and the churches. (Including the current brouhaha over the congressional hearings.) Ed and Tina have both weighed in on it repeatedly, along with some aspiring office seekers. I’ve held off, not only because this isn’t really my wheelhouse in terms of political topics, but also due to the many gray areas involved which make answers hard to come by.

The common theme seems to have boiled down to two entrenched battle lines. On one side we have the this is an Obama war on the Catholic Church and religious freedom front. On the opposing side we find the this has nothing to do with religion, it’s about wimmin hating Republicans trying to keep us barefoot and preggers in the kitchen argument. Unfortunately, both of these miss the mark for me. The real issue here, as I see it, comes down to two fundamental points.

The first question we should be asking is, does the federal government have the right to tell an employer – any employer, secular or religious – whether or not they have to provide any form of health care coverage to their employees. My understanding is that, traditionally, such benefits were optional and employers offered them as a way to attract the best workers. In my experience, larger employers would offer a range of plans. A young, healthy, single worker might opt for a bare-bones, disaster prevention plan with a high deductible, co-pays, etc. at little or no cost. A married worker with children might choose a larger, HMO style plan which would require a significant deduction from their paychecks and cover a lot more. But either way, these were optional, so the government telling the employer to provide anything would be a vast overreach.

With the advent of Obamacare, however, this has changed. Now – at least for the time being – the assumption seems to be that this is an area where federal fingers can pry into the benefits plans offered to workers. And until the Supreme Court decides, we should proceed on the assumption that this is the case.

This brings us to the second – and far more tangled – point. And it involves the thorny old question of the separation of church and state. Given my libertarian leanings, my general feelings are that as long as churches are acting like churches, the government needs to keep its nose out of their business. When they are preaching the Gospel, saving souls, etc. they should not be taxed or watched very closely by the government, aside from violations of common criminal law. (This changes when they start trying to influence elections from the pulpit in my opinion, but that’s an argument for another day.)

But what about when they begin engaging in business? There are many people who set up businesses with no religious ties, providing goods or services, and the government is involved in their operations to varying degrees by default. There are taxes to be collected and paid, minimum working conditions and regulations for employees, licenses and inspections… all manner of things. It’s one of the facts of doing business in America.

But what about when the the church stops saving souls and begins going into production? I’ve already asked a couple of lawyers about this and the general consensus is that there is a massive gray area involved once again. The Catholic Church operates schools and hospitals. But so too do a lot of private, secular organizations and individuals. If you set up a private LASIK clinic, should you operate under a different, more restrictive set of rules than a hospital or clinic operated by the Catholic church regarding your employees? If you start up a technical school to train welders, should you bear more of a heavy footprint from Big Brother than a Catholic high school?

What if we’re talking about manufacturing? Could anyone establishing any church at all set up, for example, a factory to manufacture golf shirts? (We’ll just replace the little alligator with a crucifix.) Does that suddenly lift you above most of the scrutiny that Polo endures? I’m honestly not sure about the answers to these questions. The case of Employment Division vs. Smith might lend some small insight to the question, but it seems to run a bit far afield, given that the employee in question was suing the state rather than their employer. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act might also have a few things to say on the subject, but none of it looks like a clear match for the current question.

It would be nice to be some sort of ideological warrior on either side of this question and charge into battle full of righteous indignation. But we need an answer that will hold up in the Supreme Court, not the confessional. If the SCOTUS tosses out the mandate, then all of this will have been made moot, I believe. (And I think they will.) But if they don’t, then these are pressing questions which will have to be answered, and the final argument will have to be better than you can’t tell the priests what to do – at least when they are operating something which looks suspiciously more like a business than a cathedral. And the current state of the HHS ruling leaves the cathedrals out of it.


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Churches were operating hospitals as part of their worship long before hospitals were businesses, and long before this country came in to being. Churches didn’t begin operating businesses when they opened hospitals, they continued their mission.

philoquin on February 16, 2012 at 4:26 PM

IMO there should be a mandate for contraceptive use by anyone collecting welfare. But that is the ONLY mandate the government should be implementing.

dentarthurdent on February 16, 2012 at 4:27 PM

That second, tangled question goes away if the first one’s answered correctly.

BlueCollarAstronaut on February 16, 2012 at 4:28 PM

The Amish are exempt from Social Security, even though they engage in business. Of course, most of those businesses are small, family owned businesses that only employ family members.

rbj on February 16, 2012 at 4:28 PM

it’s about wimmin hating Republicans

I thought it was spelled “wymmyn”? Someone get a hold of Loretta Swit for confirmation on this.

rihar on February 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I don’t think it’s complicated. The power to tax and regulate is the power to control and destroy. The government is granted that power by the people and given the machinery to enforce it, but religious institutions are explicitly and specifically outside the scope of the government’s power.

It’s not up to the government to decide what constitutes “acting like a church”, it’s up to the churches. The government has even less say in that than I would as a parishioner or a member.

GalosGann on February 16, 2012 at 4:30 PM

I think what is missing in the comparison of Church run schools and hospitals and others is the background. Churches have run schools and hospitals since the beginning of our Republic as a means to minister to God’s people in their basic needs (education and medical). The church itself usually has its own outreach (kitchens etc.) for the other physical needs and the preaching for the spiritual needs. Even to this day, the church schools and hospitals try to reach the inner city and poor of society to the maximum extent possible; and in the schools they teach the Good News along with the secular education necessary for success in society. So, I don’t believe they are “into production” but still saving souls by showing God’s compassion for His people, exposing them to His message, and caring for their physical ailments.

WhyNot on February 16, 2012 at 4:33 PM

America – where what were once the People … are now simply cattle.

The government has become the farmer … and all we do is “moo.”

OhEssYouCowboys on February 16, 2012 at 4:33 PM

The religious freedom aspect of this is a way to get leverage on overturning Obamacare. You can’t tell a religious organization to offer something that goes against their faith. That’s the govt telling the religious organization that their faith doesn’t matter.

Once that is established, then govt. shouldn’t be able to tell businesses what they have to offer or if they have to offer anything at all. If an owner wants to provide incentives for their employees, he/she should be able to decide what they are.

Vince on February 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Why isn’t the Catholic Church surrounding the White House?

Because Krauthammer is correct. This is the price they pay for supporting socialist policies all these years.

HopeHeFails on February 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Could anyone establishing any church at all set up, for example, a factory to manufacture golf shirts? (We’ll just replace the little alligator with a crucifix.) Does that suddenly lift you above most of the scrutiny that Polo endures?

the alligator is lacoste, not polo. god i’m such a metrosexual.

sesquipedalian on February 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Firstly, I don’t think the government has the right to get involved in my health care coverage.

Secondly, If you provide health care coverage, I think you should cover basic contraception like “the pill”.

Thirdly, abortion is NOT contraception and should never be covered unless it is the only medically viable way to save the mother’s life.

Fourth, contraception is a good thing. I believe that you shouldn’t have more children than you can financially and emotionally support.

Lastly from Instapundit earlier today: “Sexual satisfaction increases relationship satisfaction and couples who are more satisfied in their relationships are less likely to divorce.”

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on February 16, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Doesn’t this apply to parochial schools also? If parochial schools can be shut down with this HHS mandate, what does religious freedom mean? Whither freedom goest?

theCork on February 16, 2012 at 4:35 PM

Churches operate hospitals as part of their Christian ministry. Manufacturing does not fall under Christ’s ministry which is why the Church does not engage in this activity.

Church-operated hospitals have been extremely successful. Most importantly, their success is mainly due to the number of people they’ve healed.

This is where the left’s “We care about the sick” is a lie. Despite the Church’s successes, the left wants to restrict these activities.

To the left, the poor and sick are nothing more than pawns in their conquest for more power.

Kingfisher on February 16, 2012 at 4:36 PM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wake me up when you come to the conclusion that my use or non-use of contraceptives or abortion, is non of the federal Government’s business.

Love,

The electorate.

Tim_CA on February 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Very good point about healthcare being part of a benefit package from employers. Obamacare was never fully thought out and Nancy Pelosi said it best when she said we have to pass the bill to see what is in it.

You know what they did was throw the Obamacare bill against a wall and hoped it would stick, but what we got was the crap that dribbled down and stinks.

Elections have consequences….

steved95 on February 16, 2012 at 4:41 PM

the final argument will have to be better than you can’t tell the priests what to do – at least when they are operating something which looks suspiciously more like a business than a cathedral.

i doubt it’s a business, probably a nonprofit. and i suspect the religion’s tenets probably require them to minister to the sick and to teach. so the simple “looks like a business” metaphor doesn’t apply in my book.

do the mosques that have a private school attached to them have to provide things objectionable to their religion, like abortifacients and birth control? or are they and the amish exempt? equal protection of the laws clause?

Dr. Demento on February 16, 2012 at 4:42 PM

What kills me is they come out “for woman’s rights”, but pull Avastin off the market. It shows you how they are all for preventing/shortening life.

djaymick on February 16, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Elections have consequences….

steved95 on February 16, 2012 at 4:41 PM

We better hear that very quote from every candidate and repub PAC from now til election day.

Preferably in li’l bammies own voice.

Tim_CA on February 16, 2012 at 4:43 PM

IMO there should be a mandate for contraceptive use by anyone collecting welfare. But that is the ONLY mandate the government should be implementing.

dentarthurdent on February 16, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Sounds like China.

neuquenguy on February 16, 2012 at 4:44 PM

I simply don’t understand why anyone makes this a religious organization question. The Constitution provides religious freedom to ALL people not to just religious organizations.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

where is religious organization addressed? Free exercise of religion should allow any individual to opt out of paying for something against their religion including the contraception, abortion or sterilization of anyone.

katablog.com on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Obama said we could keep our healthcare plans if we liked them. He said this over and over and over again. Can’t the Catholics just say, hey we’re gonna keep the plan we had, thanks.

magicbeans on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

If you set up a private LASIK clinic, should you operate under a different, more restrictive set of rules than a hospital or clinic operated by the Catholic church regarding your employees? If you start up a technical school to train welders, should you bear more of a heavy footprint from Big Brother than a Catholic high school?

You aren’t providing enough clarity in your scenarios.

By “rules”, do you mean labor law, OSHA (PPE, etc.), local ordinances (building permits, inspections, fire safety, signage, parking lot design and roadway interfaces, etc.) and on and on. Because if the Pope moved to Indiana, his new digs would have to comply with all the above. The Fire Marshall doesn’t give exemptions cuz’ you say Thou and Thee alot.

BobMbx on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Very good point about healthcare being part of a benefit package from employers. Obamacare was never fully thought out and Nancy Pelosi said it best when she said we have to pass the bill to see what is in it.

You know what they did was throw the Obamacare bill against a wall and hoped it would stick, but what we got was the crap that dribbled down and stinks.

Elections have consequences….

steved95 on February 16, 2012 at 4:41 PM

The “thought” process behind ObamaCare was creating a system that could eventually be morphed into a single-payer, fully-government-run operation without going that route from the beginning.

You are very correct on the consequences of elections.

Bitter Clinger on February 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM

The first question we should be asking is, does the federal government have the right to tell an employer – any employer, secular or religious – whether or not they have to provide any form of health care coverage to their employees.

This is the critical part of this issue – along with whether the Downgrade Administration can order private entities to provide products and services for free.

This is the camel’s nose under the tent flap beginning of the government asserting control over just about everything.

That should really bother those interested in the cause of Liberty.

Chip on February 16, 2012 at 4:50 PM

#1…the leadership of the Catholic Church has been selling out the freedoms of others quite openly in recent history and, should they get their IUD exemption, will have no problem going back to supporting Obamacare AND left leaning Catholics will, do not kid yourself, vote for Obama regardless. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend, in this case. I wonder how devout, yet conservative Catholics square the circle on their church’s very left lean social equity political pursuits which attempt to harness the very same power of the very same Leviathan they now find stepping on their necks?

#2…I have wondered if this overreach will make the Supremes more likely to ixnay the entire thing. Is it a bridge too far for Kennedy?

The Hammer on February 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Because if the Pope moved to Indiana, his new digs would have to comply with all the above. The Fire Marshall doesn’t give exemptions cuz’ you say Thou and Thee alot.

BobMbx on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

It may be in there somewhere, but I’m a little shaky on where Catholic doctrines are violated by having a certain number of handicapped spaces in the church parking lot…

affenhauer on February 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The word ‘church’ is not in the First Amendment.

You can and should exercise anywhere and everywhere all the time.

crash72 on February 16, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Churches operate hospitals as part of their Christian ministry. Manufacturing does not fall under Christ’s ministry which is why the Church does not engage in this activity.

Church-operated hospitals have been extremely successful. Most importantly, their success is mainly due to the number of people they’ve healed.

This is where the left’s “We care about the sick” is a lie. Despite the Church’s successes, the left wants to restrict these activities.

To the left, the poor and sick are nothing more than pawns in their conquest for more power.

Kingfisher on February 16, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I agree.

Jazz, this isn’t the first time you’ve showed lack of knowledge and comprehension about Christians (conservative, biblical ones, that is!). Even if you don’t agree, you need to do some research.

The other point being that even if you’re not a Christian, the root problem of what Obama is doing is attacking the First Amendment. I don’t see why people keep going off into the weeds on this discussion. That’s important for all, no matter what your beliefs.

INC on February 16, 2012 at 5:01 PM

It may be in there somewhere, but I’m a little shaky on where Catholic doctrines are violated by having a certain number of handicapped spaces in the church parking lot…

affenhauer on February 16, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Suppose its not a Catholic parking lot. What if its the First Church of Perfect Humans?

BobMbx on February 16, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Some good points made here. Probably why you see the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities being less offended by the mandate. They apparently depend on federal funds to the point that they can no longer run independently. I’m Catholic and have a great deal of respect for the work of Catholic Charities, in particular, but if you don’t want the feds telling you what to do don’t take their money.

MajorKong on February 16, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Tyrant Obama wants to trash the United States Constitution, which he hates, and suck as much individual liberty from America as he can, much as a vampire sucks blood from his victims, and be as close as he can get to being an American Fuhrer. This is the vital part. His assault on the Roman Catholic church, just this throwback fascist monstrosity’s latest assault on liberty, is incidental. This is how Obama’s assault should be framed.

VorDaj on February 16, 2012 at 5:05 PM

VorDaj on February 16, 2012 at 5:05 PM

I agree.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

katablog.com on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Thanks for bringing this in.

This is the focus.

There’s no need for this long convoluted brouhaha of dissection over the HHS mandate. That’s playing Obama’s game.

He’s attacking the 1st Amendment.

Whatever your religious beliefs are, you should be concerned.

INC on February 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Churches operate hospitals as part of their Christian ministry. Manufacturing does not fall under Christ’s ministry which is why the Church does not engage in this activity.

One thing no one seems to be touching on is the black ingratitude and spite that is involved in this. The Church operates 600 hospitals and I don’t know how many hundreds of schools in the U.S. and if it weren’t for them there’d be a lot more beggars in the gutter.

It’s only in the past 10 years or so that have given rise to the “social services industry”–the Church has been helping poor people for 2,000 years before that. Do they apply for and get taxpayer money for those services? You’re goddamned right they do, what do you think they are, idiots?

Polo shirts, indeed. What a stupid analogy. “What if the Catholic Church had to build rockets for the U.S. military?” –Jazz Shaw.

Herald of Woe on February 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM

But what about when the the church stops saving souls and begins going into production?

Define “going into production”? To us Catholics, our faith mission includes works — and your argument begins to smack of “scriptura sola” — something we Catholics definitely do not agree with.

Catholic hospitals rarely make enough money to break even, and without a lot of volunteer help and monetary donations, they probably wouldn’t be able to function.

Now that we’ve cleared up that train wreck on your part, Jazz, we can move to consider your two points, which are really exactly one point.

To see this, I’ll take two paragraphs, one from each of your points, and juxtapose them:

The first question we should be asking is, does the federal government have the right to tell an employer – any employer, secular or religious – whether or not they have to provide any form of health care coverage to their employees.

as long as churches are acting like churches, the government needs to keep its nose out of their business.

The two boil down to the single point: As long as businesses are acting like businesses, the Government needs to keep its nose out.

Or, as Mr. Jefferson (whom liberals love for his supposed hatred of religion) would have put it:

With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens—a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

unclesmrgol on February 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM

The first question we should be asking is, does the federal government have the right to tell an employer – any employer, secular or religious – whether or not they have to provide any form of health care coverage to their employees.

NRO has a story about the Maine twins and they both, unabashedly, believe the government can and should tell employers what types of coverage to provide. Remember, Obamacare would have died in committee had Senator Snowe not needed to answer the call of history.

We’re screwed because too many supposed non-liberals govern and vote like liberals.

The Hammer on February 16, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Herald of Woe on February 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I’d like to add that I’ve known of hospitals begun by Baptist, Methodist and Episcopalians.

I would also guess that other religious groups have also been involved in the past in starting hospitals for altruistic purposes.

INC on February 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM

The first question we should be asking is, does the federal government have the right to tell an employer – any employer, secular or religious – whether or not they have to provide any form of health care coverage to their employees.

BINGO

Leftists tell us otherwise but this is always between employer and employee.

Harpoon on February 16, 2012 at 5:18 PM

#1…the leadership of the Catholic Church has been selling out the freedoms of others quite openly in recent history and, should they get their IUD exemption, will have no problem going back to supporting Obamacare AND left leaning Catholics will, do not kid yourself, vote for Obama regardless. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend, in this case. I wonder how devout, yet conservative Catholics square the circle on their church’s very left lean social equity political pursuits which attempt to harness the very same power of the very same Leviathan they now find stepping on their necks?

The Hammer on February 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

The prominent ones are starting the drumbeats already, for example, E.J. Dionne, who’s already waxing eloquent on the compromise which really isn’t a compromise that Obama made. That’s the code for all the lefty Catholics to get in line.

As for what I would do as a devout, conservative Catholic, I pray that they all leave. Sometimes I like to change up the last line of the Lord’s prayer to say: “Deliver our country from evil.”

PatriotGal2257 on February 16, 2012 at 5:18 PM

If you want to argue that the church setting up a business goes beyond the scope of what a church does you first have to explain why providing food and clothing through government regulated non profits, education through government regulated schools, and medical/hospice care through government regulated hospitals is substantially different from what Jesus did. These things are part of the Christian ministry, and the fact that the government stepped in and mandated that these “businesses” operate separately from the church itself does not mean they can later come in and totally separate them from the church just because it makes life easier for them. I honestly do not understand why someone who calls himself a libertarian would have a problem with that concept, nor do I understand the Salvation Army, which has always integrated its preaching with operating shelters and thrift stores, is suddenly not a church simply because it operates shelters and thrift stores.

Joseph S on February 16, 2012 at 5:26 PM

The real question is: why should ANY employer provide any employee with healthcare? This should be privately owned and portable. Period.

redfoxbluestate on February 16, 2012 at 5:28 PM

I look at it this way. This isn’t the first time Obama tried to force something down the Catholic’s throats. The Church revolted against the Freedom of Choice Act that originally mandated Catholic hospitals perform abortions. (Obama’s payback to Planned Parenthood.) He is trying to limit/eliminate charitable donations, which will effect the schools.

Why don’t you look at it this way. Does this “free perk” increase health insurance costs or not? The whole notion was to reduce healthcare costs, so this defeats the purpose.

How about this approach? Does this eliminate the need for Planned Parenthood? Since women are on the pill, free of charge, there is no need for abortions anymore. How about welfare? Unintended pregnancies will be a thing of the past. You put all the responsibility on the woman, just like they propose. Counter offers make batter talking points. They could use this to offset the additional costs associated with the freebie.

djaymick on February 16, 2012 at 5:31 PM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wake me up when you come to the conclusion that my use or non-use of contraceptives or abortion, is non of the federal Government’s business.

Love,

The electorate.

Tim_CA on February 16, 2012 at 4:38 PM

yep. A natural progression of human development that is the reason we are all here is now a health care problem that needs to be treated. But only from the women’s side, even though a man has to be involved in every instance of the “illness” pronouncing itself.

So if the government is going to take ownership of paying for the workings of the wombs of our nation, does this mean we will now cover those instances of women who can’t conceive? what if the lack of conception is the man’s medical issue? Surely that has been written into this law out of fairness.

Are the insurers going to have to cover all of the services that PP provides? I’m guessing if Nancy Pelosi thinks 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives then 98% of all women will need those services too. Since PP treated 3 million women for $1 billion last year, doing the math and carrying the zeros, that comes to about $55 billion annually on a linear track. The budget projections for Obamacare were extended to 10 years to show the cost savings so I would expect there is a $550 billion (not inflation adjusted) line item directed at this new “free” benefit. Anybody know the details?

DanMan on February 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Harrison defends freedoms before House committee
By Adriane Dorr

LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison spoke in defense of religion and conscience before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a Capitol Hill hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Expressing concern over the Jan. 20 U.S. Health and Human Services ruling regarding health-insurance plans and the recently required coverage of contraceptives, Harrison said, “We confess there are two realms: the church and state. They shouldn’t be mixed. The church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution.”

Harrison was accompanied to the nation’s Capitol by the Rev. John T. Pless, who teaches theological ethics and is an assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., as well as Ann Stillman, vice-president and general counsel for Concordia Plan Services (the Synod’s health plan for church workers).

On Friday, Feb. 10, the Obama administration revised the initial health-care ruling, allowing exemptions for non-profit religious organizations. Still, Harrison said, “Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. “Along with other religious leaders — the Most Reverend William E. Lori of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dr. C. Ben Mitchell of Union University, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University and Dr. Craig Mitchell of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary — Harrison denounced the violations of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience caused by the ruling.

“While we are opposed in principle — not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs,” Harrison said, “we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.”

“The conscience is a sacred thing,” he said. “To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government.”

Harrison also outlined America’s historic tradition of uplifting and maintaining religious freedom. “I’ve traveled all over the world, to 40 or 50 countries or more,” he said. “Every time I return home, I want to kiss the ground because of the blessings we enjoy in this country. I will stand personally for … the rights of every single person. I will give my sons … up to fight for this country and sacrifice everything I have for the sake of guaranteeing the rights of every single citizen in this country.”

Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) thanked Harrison for his passion on the topic, noting, “Martin Luther would appreciate your intensity.”

Harrison also fielded questions from the committee. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.) asked for clarification regarding the church’s participation in the government’s health-care mandate. “The government spends your tax dollars involuntarily,” he said, “but you recognize that’s separate from telling you, you must take part in it directly.”

“It’s been said that Caesar must be given no less than what is Caesar’s, but no more, either,” Harrison responded. “We participate by paying our taxes, in every aspect of society. We participate communally, etc. But this provision is draconian in that it invades the realm of our conscience.”

After noting the church’s concerns regarding the recent health-care mandate and its violation of conscience, Harrison also urged prayers on behalf of President Obama, concluding, “I stand at an altar regularly to administer the Sacrament. In the prayers of the church, I pray regularly for the president and the well-being of the nation. … Luther bids us in the Catechism to defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

To read Harrison’s statement and watch videos of the LCMS president speaking before the House committee, click here.

Also available are related Reporter stories, “Harrison to speak before House committee” and “Harrison opposes HHS ruling in Feb. 3 statement.”

OmahaConservative on February 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM

First: I suspect that Obama’s exposure to religion is so narrow that he just doesn’t understand that anything exists beyond his nose. It’s not part of his reality.

There are many businesses that operate to support a Church, it’s mission or it’s outreaches. There are Catholic Presses who publish catechisms, misslettes, bibles, prayer cards, newspapers and so forth. There are bakeries which provide Eucharists and wines. There are seamstresses which provide vestments and draperies. There are woodworkers who provide crosses and rosaries. Others provide candles, glasswork, palms, and so forth. One very specific example is EWTN which has a very narrow educational mission for it’s programming. Churches operate festivals, thrift stores, book stores and Sunday morning breakfast kitchens to supplement their budgets. My life insurance policy is underwritten by a Catholic insurer.

Expand this to the many ministries of Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Mormons and the rest.

Second: Obama was raised in a generation of moral relativity – as one blogger put it “God doesn’t believe Plausible Deniability”. In his mind, if you pay someone to commit a sin for you, then you didn’t commit the sin. For the rest of us, we understand that not only did you commit the sin, you attempted to hide it and then you lied about it.

Third: There is no such thing as “free”.

2nd Ammendment Mother on February 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM

The real question is: why should ANY employer provide any employee with healthcare? This should be privately owned and portable. Period.

redfoxbluestate on February 16, 2012 at 5:28 PM

One of the few issues McCain nailed in 2008.

DanMan on February 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

The real question is: why should ANY employer provide any employee with healthcare? This should be privately owned and portable. Period.

redfoxbluestate on February 16, 2012 at 5:28 PM

You’re missing one of the concepts behind Health Care, how it started, and what it is. As Jazz misses, which kind of explains it, or at least why it is what it is.

Remember pre-Reagan we had a 70% top tax bracket?

Now consider you’re an employer, you have an employee right up by that tax bracket; and you want him to take a promotion and work another 10 hours a week at a harder job.

You think this person would be worth say $20,000 a year more working this new job; so you offer this to him. Of course he says no as he’d pay $14,000 in Federal Taxes, $3,000 in State taxes, and see maybe $3,000 or less in his takehome pay… he’s not willing to do the work for $3,000.

Now you ponder, and realize you need a loophole. you offer him “health insurance” that covers all his healthcare costs, and a company car, and maybe some other minor perks.

Now with normal insurance, say Car Insurance… you’re not insuring a regular common everyday expense. Nobody has “oil change insurance” because that would be more costly and just pointless.

But Health insurance doesn’t have the goal of insurance (paying a regular fee against the worry of a large surprise cost) but instead untaxed income from your employer going to a fee so you don’t have to pay it with after-tax dollars.

The more you cover, the more beneficial it is, and if the insurance company charges you an extra 1-2% over the true cost of the common service; still worthwhile for the goal you’re working on (paying your worker without paying him taxable income).

Like many things, it starts with the rich but moves down to everyone (TV’s, cellphones, Alternative Minimum Tax, whatever).

I mean you’re not saving your employee 80%, but still saving him 30% on his taxes with this “benefit” still gives you a way to pay your employees some of their income without it being taxed; making it a boon to your employees for you to do this.

We still pretend Health Insurance is “insurance” because an admission that it’s tax evasion sounds wrong; but that’s what we’re doing, and why the market is so screwed up.

And we’ve already expanded this beyond the basic problem. Do you have dental insurance? How about Vision insurance as a separate addon?

Dental insurance is the craziest of all, it covers regular fees you know you’ll incur, and has a maximum to avoid covering large expenses you couldn’t cover yourself… it’s like the opposite of what insurance is designed for… and many if not most people have it.

When you’ve got a market this confused, this screwed up, and this poorly structured to game a system for decades it’ll have lots of problems. And sadly, if you’re not going to fix the underlying problems regarding what this insurance is and what it means; you’ll never avoid all the stupid that comes with it.

Nobody in their right mind would go out and get a standalone contraceptive insurance policy. It would (by definition) have to cost more than your monthly cost of purchasing your contraceptives… you’d knowingly lose money every month for no reason.

But once we lose the concept of insurance as insurance and see insurance as “something I deserve as pay that isn’t taxed” who can say what “should” or “should not” be in it?

If insurance meant insurance we wouldn’t be here… but since we’re here we either sort out the proper taxation and policy structures to get health insurance back to a real form of insurance… or we deal with the reality that it’ll always be complicated, stupid, poorly structured, and mismanaged by idiots.

I don’t see a way to “keep it as it is” and not accept that “as it is” is still stupid and convoluted because the goal has been less “insurance”and more “tax avoidance” for 40+ years now.

gekkobear on February 16, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Greta Van Susteren had the perfect idea. She said that Catholic hospitals alrady had chapels in them. Re-register the hospitals as churches…

Schadenfreude on February 16, 2012 at 5:51 PM

The Navy is about to launch a rocket if anyone is interested. 6:01 EST

http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Webcast.shtml

DanMan on February 16, 2012 at 5:57 PM

gekkobear on February 16, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Thanks for that.

DanMan on February 16, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Schadenfreude on February 16, 2012 at 5:51 PM

They would then not be able to get federal grants or provide services covered by Medicare and Medicaid. They have become too dependent on the feds to untangle themselves.

MajorKong on February 16, 2012 at 6:12 PM

It’s so wonderful to watch President Hope n Change heal the rifts in our nation and unite the citizens under a banner of cooperation and goodwill toward all.

*Sigh.* It’s almost like he’s planned it.

locomotivebreath1901 on February 16, 2012 at 6:14 PM

(This changes when they start trying to influence elections from the pulpit in my opinion, but that’s an argument for another day.)

If pastors didn’t try to influence political thot, we would never have had the DOI/BOR, Constitution and slaves would still be slaves and Jim Crow would still be Jim Crow.

Even Jesus preached from the pulpit, as did every priest & prophet in the OT. Jesus wasn’t concerned about the Roman govt, but he did about Herod and the theocracy.

Bottomline, the FF would mock you for this sentiment. To top it off, you are repeating and advocating the great progressive LBJ’s hostility against the pulpit which called him out for his corruption as a Senator.

Fail!

But what about when they begin engaging in business? There are many people who set up businesses with no religious ties, providing goods or services, and the government is involved in their operations to varying degrees by default. There are taxes to be collected and paid, minimum working conditions and regulations for employees, licenses and inspections… all manner of things. It’s one of the facts of doing business in America.

Saint Paul was a tentmaker which help fund his missionary travels. The only thing the Romans cared about was whether he paid the taxes due Caesar.

But what about when the the church stops saving souls and begins going into production? I’ve already asked a couple of lawyers about this and the general consensus is that there is a massive gray area involved once again. The Catholic Church operates schools and hospitals. But so too do a lot of private, secular organizations and individuals.

It was religious institutions that “invented” hospitals. It was religious institutions that “invented libraries and public education.

Only when there was a profit motive, did private businesses get involved. Only when there was a shortage of the above, did the govt get involved.

If you set up a private LASIK clinic, should you operate under a different, more restrictive set of rules than a hospital or clinic operated by the Catholic church regarding your employees? If you start up a technical school to train welders, should you bear more of a heavy footprint from Big Brother than a Catholic high school?

What if we’re talking about manufacturing? Could anyone establishing any church at all set up, for example, a factory to manufacture golf shirts?

Bottomline, the 1st trumps any un-enumerated laws. If the Feds propose a law that anyone finds objectional due to their free exercise of religion, then that law is null, constitutionally speaking. The govt gets its nose under the tent by saying X is for the common good, and bit by bit, we sacrifice our liberty for the common good. If an employee doesn’t like what an employer is offering, then go find another employer. The employer should only be responsible to his bottomline goals.

AH_C on February 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

If you are going to give away free birth control it should be included on EBT cards for women of child bearing age. They get their prescription from the doctor and then pay for it at the pharmacy with a special credit on the EBT card that can only be used for this purpose. It makes no sense to give middle class women free birth control as part of their health insurance plan.

Wigglesworth on February 16, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Since when do religious rights only come when one’s a member of a church, or an employee? The rights derive from the free association of individuals, whose rights are Constitutionally protected.

It does no good to lean into the power of the church as a lobbying block. That just plays into the postmodern liberal notion that all human relations are about operations of power — the personal is the political.

Here’s something to consider. It sounds a bit paranoid, but it’s worth thinking about. The entire health care system is going to track who has what insurance, where. It has to, if there’s a mandate. And if you’re part of an organization that’s exempt for religious reasons, that will be known about you and every other such person.

For this first time in my memory, basically, there’s going to be a de facto registry of people who dissent with the regime’s Great Plan. To the extent that a system exists that manages everyone’s health care and tracks exceptions, well, there you have it.

Tyrannical states have always had their informers and snitches. What happens when the system itself become a stooge, making available to the authorities at their discretion an enumeration of folks who are not consuming their soma like good citizens?

rasqual on February 17, 2012 at 1:04 AM

The Navy is about to launch a rocket if anyone is interested. 6:01 EST

http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Webcast.shtml

DanMan on February 16, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Pity it isn’t from Vandenberg. I love stepping out with the binoculars and a tripod and watching those go up.

lexhamfox on February 17, 2012 at 5:22 AM

rasqual on February 17, 2012 at 1:04 AM

Funny you mention that. I worked for a software firm with a branch that produced some really superior name search software. It was very sophisticated and we had certain security agencies who were customers but the majority of clients were insurance firms.

Essentially, insurance firms have been checking this kind thing for about 15 years with that product and they share database access that goes with the names, addresses etc. all very legal too.

lexhamfox on February 17, 2012 at 5:29 AM

Regarding the “brouhaha” over the witness. I almost wish they would have allowed her. Apparently she was going to testify about a roommate who lost an ovary due to a medical condition that could be treated by birth control pills. But the Catholic college she goes to doesn’t cover birth control.

What some people fail to realize is that when those same pills are prescribed to treat a medical condition (not just prevent pregnancy), those same insurance plans will cover it.

So its very likely her insurance does cover it. Maybe she just didn’t know that.

taznar on February 17, 2012 at 11:17 AM