Sunday, February 12, 2012
In partial response to Bob's question, According to the Bishops, "It [the Obama revision] would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer's policy, not as a separate rider."
The Bishops apparently are objecting that the contraception insurance is not a separate rider."See http://usccb.org/news/2012/12-026.cfm
Even assuming the Bishops are correct in their characterization, this objection seems excessively precious to me. It seems to exalt form over substance. I do not see how this distinction gives rise to a morally serious objection involving religious freedom.
On the other hand, I do not believe the Obama revision applies to private for profit employers with religious objections. Although I recognize that by subscribing to the Taco Bell example, I will be thought by most people to have walked into outer darkness, I think it appropriate to honor those objections, if, but only if, there is no economic incentive for employers to make the objection. An employer (including religious hospitals and universities) should not economically benefit from a religious exemption. As I have previously argued, see here, the employers should be required to increase employees' wages by the amount the employers save because of a religious exemption. (With the possible exception of a very closely held business corporation, I would not expect that business corporations would have consciences to invoke).
The Bishops are concerned about self-insuring employers with religious objections and religious insurance companies. With respect to the former, I wonder how many of these are individuals who have consciences and how many are business corporations that as artificial entities who do not. If they are individuals with a good faith objection, I would compel them to increase wages by the amount they would save from a First Amendment exemption and have the government provide social insurance.
As to the latter, I would like to know about religious insurance companies. I have not heard of them. My tendency is to think that business corporations have no free exercise rights, but if there is an unincorporated insurance company run by a private person, I would balance the free exercise interest against the government interest, and the possibility of alternatives. But I think more facts are needed here to analyze the factors.
I conclude by noting again the irony that amidst the internet explosion surrounding Obama's insensitivity to free exercise interests that little attention has been paid to the fact that the award for constitutional insensitivity to religious freedom still belongs not to President Obama, but to the conservative's favorite justice: Antonin Scalia.