Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Church's Right

The big news story in the past few days has been the Obama administration attempting to pass a part of the HCR law that requires all employers to include contraception as part of their health care packages. The reason this is getting so much attention is that it makes no exemption for religious institutions who may be against birth control (primarily the Roman Catholic Church).

Those opponents of the legislation say that it violates individual liberty by forcing churches to provide contraceptive items and, some have argued, by forcing women to use them. In both cases, the argument is false. In fact, the legislation does no such thing, and wouldn't have been possible if it did. Both of those outcomes would be unconstitutional and the courts would have struck down the legislation.

The reason they haven't is that these arguments are not based in fact. The fact is, the law only requires all employers (religious and secular) to provide coverage for contraception. That does not mean they are required to furnish the contraceptives themselves. Instead, like any other health plan, a person who purchases the items that are covered would be eligible for reimbursment through their employer. It doesn't require a person employed by a religious institution to buy these items, nor does it require someone to violate their personal beliefs in order to follow the law.

But perhaps the most important point is this. Religious institutions are fighting this legislation on the grounds that it infringes upon personal liberties of religious expression. However, it does not. What it does is allows a woman to receive birth control if she chooses to. It makes it available. My health plan may cover certain medical procedures, but I'm not required to get them, nor do I choose to simply because I have the option. I make a choice for my health based on my health needs. If a woman feels like she needs the pill, she should be able to get it. That is the spirit of the law proposed by Obama. So, the position that the church has taken is not one of liberty, but of denying personal choice, which is a foundation of our country and of liberty itself. They are trying to stifle personal choice in religious rhetoric and stop individuals from accessing things they may wish to access of their own free will.

Churches and religious institutions do have rights in our nation. They now have the right to refuse to hire based on religious beliefs. They have the right to tax exemption as a religious institution. In fact, they have more rights than the common citizen. They have turned into for-profit empires that spans regions of our nation. They lobby our government and demand special protection from the same amendment in the bill of rights that they use to further their agenda in government.

The institution of religion in America is a powerful force, one that is bent on furthering it's own ideology and seeing it come before the will of those who do not agree with them. They have damned the spread of Sharia law, but have no concept of their own hypocrisy when they demand laws to be passed on biblical grounds. I hope that the administration continues to stand by it's decision to implement these changes, and that those who speak out against the free will of the people are revealed and condemned for the snakes that they are.

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