“Be Not Afraid,” a TV ad paid for by the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee, was released yesterday (August 9).
"President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith," the narrator says at the beginning of the 30-second ad. Superimposed on the picture is a reference to San Antonio Express-News, 02-01-2012.
The February 1 Express-News article, “Obama insurance decision declares war on religion,” ended with Michael Gerson’s e-mail address. But, inexplicably, the Romney ad does not mention that that piece was written by Gerson and published in the Washington Post on January 30. (Gerson's op-ed article was titled “Obama plays his Catholic allies for fools” and ends by asserting that “the war on religion is now formally declared.”)
In reply to the Romney ad, Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said the president “believes that, in 2012, women should have access to free contraception as part of their health insurance, and he has done so in a way that respects religious liberty. Churches are completely exempt and religiously affiliated organizations that object to providing the service will never have to pay for contraception” (from USA Today).
Opposition to the provisions of “Obamacare” that require employers to provide insurance including coverage of legal abortion, sterilization, and contraception has been loud and persistent.
However, providing insurance coverage for something doesn’t mean that people have to use that coverage. For example, just because my insurance policy covers appendectomies, that doesn’t mean I have to go out and have an appendectomy. It is the same with abortion, sterilization, and/or contraception.
Providing coverage doesn’t mean that people who don’t want to be sterilized have to have such a procedure. Of course not!
I am a strong supporter of religious liberty and a staunch supporter of the separation of church and state. But for the life of me, I can’t understand why being required to provide full insurance coverage to employees can be considered a violation of religious freedom or a war on religon.
If it is, does that mean that employers can withhold wages from their employees if they know that those employees are using their wages for immoral purposes? If people choose to use insurance in ways that violate the religious conscience of their employer who provides that insurance, isn’t it equally objectionable for people use their wages in ways that violate the consciences of those who paid them?
Suppose Mr. A is the owner of a company and he finds out that one of his fulltime employees, a married man, is regularly spending around 8% of his earnings on keeping a mistress. By doing that with his paycheck the employee is violating Mr. A’s religious conscience. After all, the Bible is pretty clear: “Thou shall not commit adultery.” So, shouldn’t Mr. A have the religious freedom to deduct 8% from the man’s pay each month?
I doubt that many people would agree that Mr. A should have the freedom to deduct his employee’s pay for that reason. So why should employers have the right to withhold insurance coverage because of “religious freedom”? And why should requiring them to provide insurance be called a war on religion?
Such employers say that people can, and should, pay for their own contraceptives, etc. But if employers require people to buy what they, the employers, should provide through insurance coverage, in effect isn’t that the same as withholding wages from them?
Talk about the President’s “war on religion” is, frankly, political nonsense.