NYT: We also know better about religious fidelity than a bunch of nuns

posted at 1:01 pm on January 3, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Everyone, it seems, knows better about how to live one’s faith in the public square than the nuns who have to facilitate contraception coverage for people who are sworn to celibacy. The New York Times editorial board followed the White House lead on arguing that the nuns aren’t really violating Catholic doctrine by facilitating access to contraception, despite what they themselves believe. And even if it did, the requirement doesn’t place a big burden on religious expression:

A careful review of the matter should persuade Justice Sotomayor and her Supreme Court colleagues, who may also become involved now, that the alleged threat to religious liberty is nonexistent and the stay should be lifted while litigation proceeds in the lower courts. …

The Colorado nuns’ group, the Little Sisters of the Poor, is a religiously affiliated organization that is exempt from the health law’s requirement that employer insurance plans cover contraception without a co-pay. The audacious complaint in this case is against the requirement that such groups sign a short form certifying that they have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, a copy of which would go to their third-party insurance administrator. The nuns say that minor requirement infringes on religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Under that law, the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless the government demonstrates that the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest. The certification requirement, an accommodation fashioned by the Obama administration to bolster the protection of religious exercise without depriving women of an important benefit, does not rise to a substantial burden. A federal trial court denied a preliminary injunction on that basis and a federal court of appeals declined to issue an injunction pending appeal, though decisions in some similar cases have come out differently.

This, however, has the burden issue backward — and always has. The question here is why the federal government has imposed this requirement at all, and why it meets a state interest so substantial that it forces other people to pay for contraception, including employers and schools. Despite the scare-mongering from the White House, there isn’t any difficulty for American women (or men) in accessing contraception. The CDC performed a long-range study of unplanned pregnancy, from 1982 to 2008, and found no evidence that lack of access to contraception contributed to it at all. “Contraceptive use in the United States is virtually universal among women of reproductive age: 99 percent of all women who had ever had intercourse had used at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime,” the study concluded, and didn’t even bother to list lack of access as a contributing factor.

If the federal government wants to expand access to contraception, they can offer it directly — and in fact, they already do. Title X programs, which HHS has managed for decades, have routinely been funded with bipartisan support in Congress to ensure that poor women have access to reproductive choices. For most women, though, birth control is inexpensive and easily accessible, as the CDC found when it studied the issue of unplanned pregnancy. Just as with any other life choices — say, for instance, food — the assumption is that women and men will make responsible choices with the wages they earn for the lifestyle they wish to lead, and that the federal government won’t force their employers to directly subsidize those choices above the wages and benefits they offer in a free marketplace.

This demonstrates the absurdity of what happens when government mandates that the burden for lifestyle choices falls on those other than the individual him/herself. People who oppose those lifestyle choices object to having their pockets picked to fund them, and we end up telling nuns to cover contraception despite their celibacy. And then, when they object to facilitating access to contraception because of their intention to live their religious beliefs in their own actions, we get the New York Times and the White House insisting that the nuns don’t know how to do so. Had we just left things alone and acknowledged that birth control choices were only the business of the individual, this absurdity wouldn’t have arisen in the first place. Instead, the government decided to solve a non-problem by the most burdensome method possible.

The Department of Justice responded similarly today, but also brings up an issue of standing (which the NYT mentions as well) that is more responsive:

“The employer-applicants here are eligible for religious accommodations set out in the regulations that exempt them from any requirement ‘to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for contraceptive coverage,’ ” Verrilli wrote.

“They need only self-certify that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services.”

Religiously oriented nonprofits around the country have objected to the requirement and said it violates protections granted by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

They contend that if they sign the self-certification letters, that makes them complicit in the government’s plan to provide contraceptive services, because the law provides that third-party insurers will still provide the coverage.

But Verrilli said the Little Sisters case provides a weak test case. Their third-party insurer is a church plan that the government contends cannot be required to provide contraceptive services.

Most of the nonprofits challenging the new requirement have received injunctions while they pursue their litigation. No appeals court has yet ruled on the merits of their arguments.

That is the ERISA legislation, which exempts church groups from various requirements. However, the HHS definition of a church group in relation to the “compromise” is also at issue. That definition required the groups to primarily employ members of their own faith, and to primarily serve members of their own faith. The Little Sisters of the Poor do not discriminate in their service to the community, which is another issue that courts will have to decide. We’ll see if Sonia Sotomayor buys the DoJ explanation and lifts the injunction, or decides to put the whole mess on hold until all of the issues reach the Supreme Court.

Update: Kathryn Jean Lopez wonders: “What does the administration have against the Little Sisters of the Poor?”

Update: “found no evidence that access to contraception…” should have been “found no evidence that lack of access to contraception…”. Fixed above.

Update: Gabriel Malor has a more specific question:

Maybe HHS should have focused on having a website that acknowledged childbirth before worrying about contraception.


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Good liberals always know more than everyone else, it’s why they should be running everything.

Bishop on January 3, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Under the DOJ’s argument, no one would have standing.

pat on January 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

I agree!

Sincerely,
libby, verby, and partisan

22044 on January 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

LOL how they frame it as “they think signing this letter burdens their religious liberty! The silly ignorant things.”

NOT: “We object to facilitating contraceptive coverage for anybody. Period.” Which makes a whole lot more sense. God forbid the NYT offer a sensible argument on behalf of its ideological opponents.

alwaysfiredup on January 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

As Kathleen Sebelius once said:

“Some people live. Some people die….”

The Dems know better then anyone….

They have a list..
and they are checking it twice….

Electrongod on January 3, 2014 at 1:10 PM

They started using the argument that most Catholic women use contraception anyway so that means the church should just give in and supply it. By that logic since most Catholics probably commit sin the church should somehow be okay with that. Libs always want to dictate because they know so much more than the rest of us rubes.

major dad on January 3, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Protection from this kind of evil is why Catholics pray to St. Michael the Archangel.

horatio on January 3, 2014 at 1:12 PM

“What does the administration have against the Little Sisters of the Poor?”

They don’t kneel at the altar of All Powerful Government. That’s an offense in the eyes of the Left.

chimney sweep on January 3, 2014 at 1:13 PM

This does not surprise me. The new york times would not even make good puppy training paper, liberal rag and propaganda tool for the left.

crosshugger on January 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM

“What does the administration have against the Little Sisters of the Poor?”

Answer:

The Little Sisters of the Poor do not discriminate in their service to the community, which is another issue that courts will have to decide.

If you can get help from them, you’re not reliant on government.

And if you’re not reliant on government, you can’t be controlled.

Barack Obama has screamed that government must control everything and everyone.

Therefore, Barack Obama must destroy anything that makes people less reliant on government.

northdallasthirty on January 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

If signing this certification is so trivial, as hte feds say, why are the feds making a federal case out of it?

Because it’s not trivial, and it’s not so much about contraception as about power, and hte marginalizing of religious groups and religious expression.

“Freedom of worship,” to use the Obama administration’s preferred term, means you can perform your rites behind closed doors on your Sabbath with the ordained clergy you choose.

Come outside, and you live in a secular sociaty in which the state determines what beliefs are acceptable and in a society in which the primary relationship is the individual to the state. Family, religion – those ties are tenuous, and subordinate to the state.

Wethal on January 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Who had the idea and why is it so important to liberals that others pays for a cheap readily available commodity like birth control for people easily able to afford it on their own?!?! It defies all common sense. 98 per cent of these free birth control users will spend four times that a month on coke and coffee… Do I need to pay for that too! If HHS demanded a group of Muslin imams pay for beer for their employees I doubt the Obama administration and the NYT be dismissive of Muslims about that… Somehow I know they would twist themselves into pretzels to accommodate

Caseoftheblues on January 3, 2014 at 1:18 PM

With the ideologues in the Administration, as well as in the NYT, the only thoughts or expression of thought that is acceptable, is what they deem are acceptable.

The Declaration of Independence cites rights that are inalienable, not delivered by government, but are fundamentally one’s rights. The US Constitution expands on this, while limiting the powers of the government to infringe on these rights.

It’s ironic that the progressive-fascists who insist that there are, hidden within the US Constitution, definitions of rights that have been thusfar unseen until it gets to the point where they appear in order to further their social agenda, but that the rights that are clearly defined, these rights are immaterial because they work against their social agenda.

The progressive fascists see the Constitution as an outdated and obsolete document simply because it impedes their abilities to take away our freedoms and liberties – telling us how and what to think. That their sycophants in the media are doubling down on their double standards shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It’s all about the ideology – and loyalty to the ideology.

Athos on January 3, 2014 at 1:22 PM

The New York Times editorial board followed the White House lead

Did you expect something different to happen?

Good Lt on January 3, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Because it’s not about public interest or even access to contraception. It’s about Leninism and one of its main objectives — compromising and denigrating and destoying religion. That’s it. Religion is a faith and belief system in competition with the power-mad State and must be devalued, pushed to the very edges of respectable society and finally destroyed.

Nothing here is new. Yet we constantly talk about the Left with absolutely zero historical references or context. As if all of this just sort of dropped out of the sky upon us, like some kind of phenomenon. Or that if we simply apply rationality and persuasive discourse we can work out a civil arrangement.

It’s the Left, Jake.

rrpjr on January 3, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Note to Pope Francis: this is the result of big government social welfare-ism — not capitalism.

aryeung on January 3, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Just think if GOP leadership had a single @#$%#& clue they might be able to get some traction on this. Do you think the Dem’s would go radio silent about such a low hanging fruit. Obama vs. Little Sisters of the Poor? Give me a break. I could write the ads in my pajamas.

aquaviva on January 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Update: Kathryn Jean Lopez wonders: “What does the administration have against the Little Sisters of the Poor?”

Answer: The Little Sisters of the Poor are trying to do the government’s job of welfare.

Steve Eggleston on January 3, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Did you expect something different to happen?

Good Lt on January 3, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Considering the Gray Lady is about to become an official presstitute organ of the Red Chinese,….

Steve Eggleston on January 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM

This country was founded on religious liberty.

Liberals, go phuck yourselves.

BuckeyeSam on January 3, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Under the DOJ’s argument, no one would have standing.

pat on January 3, 2014 at 1:07 PM

That’s the plan.

Johnnyreb on January 3, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I’ve grown a little tired of people such as the NYT, telling Catholics what their doctrine is. In that discussion, clearly the Little Sisters of the Poor are the most knowledgeable on the subject. Since they are representatives of the church, I will take their word, as members, on what violates doctrine. Not some Left-Wing opinion page.

Signing, pledging, willing away or abandoning principle all constitute a violation of religious beliefs and doctrine. If people such as the NYT understood anything at all, it would be that even inaction is a violation of doctrine.

Clearly, the Obama Administration is against allowing citizens the free exercise of their religion. This is yet another intrusion by the President on our Constitution.

Marcus Traianus on January 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM

As someone who went to Catholic school virtually my entire life (except for one of my master’s degrees), I’d advise the NYT to be very careful about screwing with a bunch of nuns… it won’t end well for The Gray Lady and it won’t be pretty.

To wit:

St. (Mother) Katherine Drexel (1858–1955), the second American-born saint, founded Xavier University in New Orleans, defending African Americans and Native Americans against racism in the early 20th century, even standing against the KKK with her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament:

In 1922, when the Ku Klux Klan threatened the order for their work in Texas, the nuns prayed — and a tornado destroyed the local KKK building and killed two KKK members.

dpduq on January 3, 2014 at 1:32 PM

I’ve always liked nuns. And girl nurses too. I think it’s the starched white uniform – or it may be the soft-soled shoes. (You have to lift the nun’s skirt slightly to see the shoes. I like that too.)

Tsar of Earth on January 3, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Just think if GOP leadership had a single @#$%#& clue they might be able to get some traction on this. Do you think the Dem’s would go radio silent about such a low hanging fruit. Obama vs. Little Sisters of the Poor? Give me a break. I could write the ads in my pajamas.

aquaviva on January 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

I know. Completely, endlessly, stupendously pathetic. I’d cry if I thought about it too much. Or maybe I’m beyond crying. The GOP is simply too pathetic to exist.

rrpjr on January 3, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Just think if GOP leadership had a single @#$%#& clue they might be able to get some traction on this. Do you think the Dem’s would go radio silent about such a low hanging fruit. Obama vs. Little Sisters of the Poor? Give me a break. I could write the ads in my pajamas.

aquaviva on January 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

I know. Completely, endlessly, stupendously pathetic. I’d cry if I thought about it too much. Or maybe I’m beyond crying. The GOP is simply too pathetic to exist.

rrpjr on January 3, 2014 at 1:35 PM

so true

horatio on January 3, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Just think if GOP leadership had a single @#$%#& clue they might be able to get some traction on this. Do you think the Dem’s would go radio silent about such a low hanging fruit. Obama vs. Little Sisters of the Poor? Give me a break. I could write the ads in my pajamas.

aquaviva on January 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

If some uppity Tea Partier did that Boehner and McCain would be out in front of cameras denouncing it immediately.

jukin3 on January 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

There is no compelling state interest. Contraception is cheap and readily available. The whole issue is just a powerplay by the state.

mbs on January 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM

What’s a few whiny nuns anyhow… – typical progressive

workingclass artist on January 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM

The better question is why the government feels compelled to force coverage of abortifacients as opposed to the forced coverage of anti-coagulation drugs or any other drug for that matter. Abortifacients are rarely used for the the purpose of curing a disease or other medically necessary application. Yet anti-coagulants or the highly used omeprazole are more likely to have a added benefit to society in reducing ailments of the population.
Birth control is hardly a necessary coverage to be forced as it doesn’t really seem to be in the interest of the state. For without more children being born there will not be enough of a population in the future to pay for the leviathan we have now.

theguardianii on January 3, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Liberals.

Always wrong, but damned pleased with themselves.

listens2glenn on January 3, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Stand Strong Sisters…

God Bless You

workingclass artist on January 3, 2014 at 2:03 PM

We learned today why the contraception mandate is so important to Obamacare. Turns out they forgot to put in a mechanism to add a newborn to your existing Obamacare health insurance policy. Can’t have any babies being born until that gets straightened out . . . in ten or twenty years.

No Truce With Kings on January 3, 2014 at 2:08 PM

As Kathleen Sebelius once said:

“Some people live. Some people die….”

The Dems know better then anyone….

They have a list..
and they are checking it twice….

Electrongod on January 3, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Actually, their list doesn’t include most of their victims since they don’t have names. Since 1973, the death clinics have been merrily going about their business. Few records are kept for any length of time.

platypus on January 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Cloward / Piven is all about collapsing the system by forcing more and more people into state services – which the state cannot fundamentally provide. Then once the current system collapses, a new ‘improved’ progressive fascist system is the ‘fix’ with a guaranteed annual income for all.

Paul Ehrlich’s ‘Population Bomb’ envisions rapidly growing populations that create global havoc (food, climate, instability), and demanded ‘emergency’ measures to curtail population growth.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was an early advocate for contraception and the use of contraception to further her views of eugenics and elimination of the ‘unfit’.

All four of these people are heroes of the current progressive-fascists whom control the Democrat Party. They are seeking to implement these agenda’s in order to ‘fundamentally change’ this country and ensure there place in power and control of the ‘new’ USA.

There is nothing in the ACA that is designed to fix or address the challenges we face in healthcare. Everything in the ACA is designed around facilitating and achieving an unprecedented level of government power and control over every citizen so that this progressive government can enact their solutions to ensure ‘fairness’, ‘social justice’, and ‘economic equality’. If they can’t, then it’s to break the system to the point where the only other option is single-payer…which achieves the desired end goal.

Athos on January 3, 2014 at 2:22 PM


Instead, the government decided to solve a non-problem by the most burdensome method possible.

The key quote – progressivism in a nutshell. It’s never about solving real problems… it’s always about control. Just keep adding burdens, and eventually those knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers will give in and cede all their liberties (for their own good, of course!) to the all-wise, all-knowing beneficent federal government.

Marcola on January 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

“So burn a little incense to Caesar. Big whoop. Just cross your fingers.” -NYT

Akzed on January 3, 2014 at 2:39 PM

There is no compelling state interest. Contraception is cheap and readily available. The whole issue is just a powerplay by the state.

mbs on January 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Dunno — China’s One-Child policy comes to mind. Next step: forced birth-control for those damn racist Teabaggers…

affenhauer on January 3, 2014 at 2:40 PM

It’s those damn SOCONs who always want to get into your bedroom. /SARC

jerryofva on January 3, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Actually Horatio if the Republican leadership got into this you all the Libertarian types would flogging them for getting into other people’s bedrooms.

jerryofva on January 3, 2014 at 2:44 PM

it’s always about control.
Marcola on January 3, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Always. As Alinsky said, “the issue is never the issue.” It’s always power and control.

rrpjr on January 3, 2014 at 2:46 PM

The New York Times editorial board followed the White House lead on arguing that the nuns aren’t really violating Catholic doctrine by facilitating access to contraception, despite what they themselves believe.

This is Nancy Pelosi’s version of Catholic doctrine (she claims to be Catholic) where you have to approve it to know what’s in it.

Steve Z on January 3, 2014 at 2:48 PM

The certification requirement, an accommodation fashioned by the Obama administration to bolster the protection of religious exercise without depriving women of an important benefit, does not rise to a substantial burden.

But requiring ID for voting does.

Got it.

Thanks NYT for clearing that up for me.

questionmark on January 3, 2014 at 3:04 PM

O’Brien: What are your feelings towards Big Brother?

Winston Smith: I hate him.

O’Brien: You must love him. It is not enough to obey him. You must love him.

-1984

the beatings will continue until moral improves

roflmmfao

donabernathy on January 3, 2014 at 3:08 PM

I don’t think this is about the admin targeting the Little Sisters because they want people reliant on government – rather I think the truth is far worse in its essential vanity and stupidity. The problem is, they just don’t want to backtrack on their requirements, even though the implementation of those requirements is tyrannical and absurd. They just DIDN’T THINK about the utter ridiculous results their contraception requirements and they resent having it pointed out to them.

This is not about a planned, desired result; it’s about maintaining the stance that they are always right and have though things through in a responsible and reasonable manner. The truth is almost always the opposite, and they can’t stand that fact.

dkmonroe on January 3, 2014 at 3:09 PM

If these nuns are anything like the ones I had in grade school, the DoJ won’t know what hit them!

polarglen on January 3, 2014 at 3:30 PM

The certification requirement, an accommodation fashioned by the Obama administration to bolster the protection of religious exercise without depriving women of an important benefit, does not rise to a substantial burden.

But requiring ID for voting does.

Got it.

Thanks NYT for clearing that up for me.

questionmark on January 3, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Slightly off topic-Almost all health care facilities require photo ID to get treatment to prevent insurance fraud. How about if you are required to get a gvt issued photo ID to use your health insurance? The photo ID shows whether or not you are a citizen (and can vote). You need a new one every year-get it in your birth month-just like a driver’s license. The ID also is used as a voter ID.

There have been many instances of health insurance fraud-they can lead to serious health consequences because records become incorrect-wrong medications, incorrect drug allergies, incorrect identification of prior surgeries and procedures.

Let’s see the NYT oppose healthcare ID.

talkingpoints on January 3, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Evidently Obama and the NYT’s editorial staff have a problem with ethics. Not that either ever had any.

GarandFan on January 3, 2014 at 3:40 PM

NYT: We also know better about religious fidelity than a bunch of nuns

Well ya can’t expect people clinging bitterly to their religion and their guns to think objectively, now can ya?

Think, people!

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 3, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…

But that doesn’t stop the Obama Administration/DOJ from trying to do it. They’re trying to establish “progressiveism” as that national religion.

sadatoni on January 3, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Up to 190 million? While the citation as a whole is noteworthy, I think the government continues to be overly optimistic about the number of grandfathered plans that will still exist this time next year.

The Schaef on January 3, 2014 at 4:14 PM

The nuns say that minor requirement infringes on religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Under that law, the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless the government demonstrates that the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest (AKA Obamacare).

There ya go. This is what Obama is hanging his hat on.

timberline on January 3, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Ya know, Ed, I don’t what to get nasty about this story, but you would not BELIEVE how many Roman Catholics I’ve talked to over the years – as well as lot of Protestants – who insist on voting for Liberals and Democrats. When I point out that supporting a political party that has battled relentlessly for special privileges for s0d0mites and the unrestricted murder of babies is anti-Christian, typically, I’m sworn at.

oldleprechaun on January 3, 2014 at 5:09 PM

I’ve decided to come out of the closet: I am a Roman Catholic, and I rejoice in it. For too long I’ve hidden, afraid that my faith would offend others, afraid that others would ridicule me, afraid that others knowing I’m a Catholic would bring me shame. That was wrong and weak. No more. From now on, I wear my Crucifix outside my shirt. I make the Sign of the Cross with pride and in public when I need to. I will publicly display whatever tenets of my faith I so desire. I will follow my God and my Savior.

I. Have. Had. Enough.

If you don’t like it, too bad. If it makes you uncomfortable, too bad. The sand box is over there. Go pound on the contents for a while.

Kraken on January 3, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Kraken on January 3, 2014 at 6:11 PM

…I like it!…I’m a prot…but ….I like it!

KOOLAID2 on January 3, 2014 at 8:32 PM