Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Saturday, April 30, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

Home : Viewpoints : Editorials
3/11/2014 11:53:00 AM
Obamacare's religious winners and losers
Catholic News Service
Town hall attendees listen to speakers at a community forum on the Affordable Care Act in Long Beach, Calif.
Catholic News Service
Town hall attendees listen to speakers at a community forum on the Affordable Care Act in Long Beach, Calif.

Here is an op-ed from the March 7 issue of The Colorado Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. It was written by L. Martin Nussbaum, a First Amendment attorney in Colorado Springs.

COLORADO SPRINGS — In January 2012, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ordered that health care plans include free contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilization and related counseling (the "CASC mandate").

Because evangelical Protestant ministries conscientiously oppose abortifacients and the Catholic Church conscientiously opposes the entire CASC mandate, a historic number of religious employers -- more than 200 -- sued the United States seeking freedom to practice what they preach. The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear two of those cases -- Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. Each involves a for profit employer operating according to its owners' religious values. The issue is not whether corporations have standing to invoke the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. Church and ministry corporations routinely receive such standing. The issue is whether corporations lose such protection when they are privately owned and profit oriented. Thirty-three of the 39 (85 percent) lower courts hold they do not.

This is the first wave of religious liberty lawsuits. The second wave -- well underway -- will include more nonprofit ministry employers like the Little Sisters of the Poor. As before, many will invoke RFRA. Some will also raise Establishment Clause objections because Obamacare includes a seldom noted system of discriminatory religious classifications.

In its 1982 Larson v. Valente decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said that "(t)he clearest command of the Establishment Clause" is that the government cannot prefer one religious group over another. It struck down a Minnesota statute that imposed a charitable solicitation registration requirement only on religious groups receiving more than 50 percent of their income from nonmember donors. In 2008, the 10th Circuit similarly struck down a Colorado law that gave scholarships to college students attending "sectarian" colleges but not if the college was "pervasively sectarian."

Obamacare's religious classifications are far more extreme. It creates four classes of those religiously opposed to the CASC mandate: (1) those excused; (2) those "accommodated" if they hire surrogates to provide CASC benefits; (3) those eligible to plead for RFRA protection; and (4) those that must provide the coverage or pay fines up to $36,500 per employee annually.

The first class is created by statute and regulation. The statute excuses two religious groups from the individual mandate -- Anabaptists and those in health care sharing ministries. Anabaptists include Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, Mennonites and the Bruderhof. The statute also exempts members of health care sharing ministries formed before Dec. 31, 1999. Only three Protestant groups qualify: Medi-Share, Christian Healthcare Ministries and Samaritan Ministries. Members of identical programs formed after 1999 need not apply.

By regulation, the administration also exempts "churches," "their integrated auxiliaries," "conventions or associations of churches" and "the exclusively religious activities of any religious order." If a ministry of a church separately incorporates, it loses its exemption. An unincorporated parish social ministry is exempt. An incorporated one is not even though its work is identical. The Little Sisters of the Poor religious order is exempt. Its separately incorporated nursing homes are not, even though they are staffed and run by the Little Sisters because of their religious calling. The classification scheme also distinguishes "integrated auxiliaries" from nonintegrated ones. The primary test for "integration" is that the sponsoring church provides a majority of the funds. This is the same criteria violating the Establishment Clause in Larson. Determining whether the activities of religious orders are "exclusively religious" or "partially religious" has an additional constitutional infirmity because such analysis inevitably entangles the courts in religious doctrine.

Second-class religious employers include separately incorporated ministries like schools and colleges; faith-based charities; religious hospitals; and parachurch ministries. Under Obamacare, these do not merit full exemption from the CASC mandate. Instead, they are required to enter agreements and give notices to their insurers or third-party administrators obligating those contractors to provide CASC benefits to the ministries' employees. This no more alleviates their religious consciences than the Civil War draft alleviated Christian pacifists' consciences by exempting them if they hired surrogates to fight.

The lowest class of religious employers is for-profit corporations owned by religious individuals and operated with religious values. They are further sub-classified. In her 10th Circuit argument in Hobby Lobby, the Department of Justice attorney allowed that, if the for-profit employer was a sole proprietorship or general partnership, it had standing to invoke RFRA. But if the same business was a limited partnership or a corporation, it could not.

There is a word for this classification system: discrimination. It is government choosing religious winners and losers -- a practice discredited by 1,600 years of Western history and forbidden in America as an establishment of religion.

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved