Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Religious Freedom and the HHS mandate

Here is my op-ed piece, appearing today in USA Today, on the HHS mandate and religious freedom.  I humbly submit that my arguments are more-sound than Dionne's or Kmiec's.  A bit:

[G]overnments hoping to make good on Madison's promise will sometimes accommodate religious believers and groups by exempting them from rules and requirements. This sounds like special treatment for religion, and indeed it is. Our country's founders believed that such compromises are sometimes necessary and justified, even when the rules in question are popular or seem sensible, because religious freedom is both fundamental and vulnerable.

It is true that the administration's proposed mandate includes an exemption for some religious employers, but it is so stingy as to be nearly meaningless. It does nothing for individuals or insurers, and it applies only to employers whose purpose is "the inculcation of religious values" and that hire and serve primarily those of the same religious faith. The vast majority of religious educational, social-welfare and health care organizations — not to mention the ministry of Jesus on earth — do not fit this crabbed definition.

The proposed exemption covers only inward-looking, members-only, religious-instruction organizations while excluding those that respond to the call to feed the hungry, care for the sick, house the homeless and share the good news with strangers. Religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and universities that serve people of other religions would be vulnerable. The exemption assumes that religion is only about belief and values, not service, sacrifice and engagement. It purports to accommodate religious believers, but it actually would confine their belief.

We should hope, again, that the administration changes course. . . .


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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Professor Garnett, this is a good op-ed piece. I am afraid, however, it will not convince the administration of a President who claims, " We are no longer a Christian Nation, at least not just", and thus no longer recognizes that our Constitution was created to protect our fundamental Rights that have been endowed to us from Nature's God with the capital G. Our Founding Fathers recognized that Religious Faith was necessary for our prosperity and that Natural Law and thus our Natural Rights are endowed to us from God, with the Capital G, not nature's gods. To claim that we are no longer a Nation that recognizes Nature's God but rather we now recognize nature's gods, changes everything.

Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 28, 2011 2:36:12 PM

According to a blogger at Commonweal, a "bad" Samaritan is one who respects the inherent Dignity of the human person. Perhaps this blogger simply does not realize that Love is not possessive, nor does it serve to manipulate: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=16084

Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 28, 2011 3:09:07 PM