Citing their commitment to religious liberty, some religious groups recently opposed a measure to mandate birth control coverage in most insurance plans. However, many of these people have cheered when minority religious groups like Muslims have their rights violated.
It’s difficult not to succumb to skepticism over some people’s objections to a pending insurance mandate.
Based on a provision of the health care reform legislation passed in 2010, most employers who provide health insurance benefits would soon be required to offer plans that include contraceptives. The original law exempts churches but not religious-based institutions like hospitals and schools.
What united Catholics and non-Catholics against the plan is the idea of keeping the government from infringing on religious freedom, as many religions prohibit the use of contraception.
President Obama took the wind out of the sail of his critics by announcing an alternative plan. Women who work for religious institutions will have access to birth control at no cost to them. But the contraceptives will be paid for by insurance companies, not their religious employers.
While Obama’s original plan raised concerns about religious liberty at first glance, a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court provided a big loophole — this one favored by many of the same people opposing the birth control mandate. In a case involving Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Mich., the Supreme Court unanimously recognized the legal concept of a “ministerial exemption” in enforcing state and federal laws on churches.
Hosanna-Tabor successfully argued that its exemption to these laws extended to its ministers, not to nonreligious employees. Therefore, church employees who are not ministers have the full protection of the law, according to the ruling.
Even though they have nothing left to argue, I’m not convinced all critics of the birth control mandate had sincere motives.
Where are all these lovers of religious liberty when minority groups like Muslims have their rights violated? Why is it OK for the government to infringe on their freedoms?
People have a right to promote their particular religious views over those of other groups. But religious liberty as a principle only works when it protects everyone’s rights. So, when defending this concept, it’s all or nothing.
Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or email@example.com.