By Teresa Welsh |
The Little Sisters of the Poor have a case against Obamacare. And the Obama administration knows it. The fact that they provide a religious exemption for churches proves that they know there is a legitimate problem with religious liberty within the president's signature legislation. Why else would such an exemption exist?
The problem is that the administration insists the Little Sisters of the Poor are not religious enough to deserve such an exemption. But realizing how ridiculous their position is, they came up with a new scheme to try to save face with mainstream America, while still pandering to their radical base. It's a new "If-you-like-your-plan-you-can-keep-it" promise to sell us another bad idea.
The Obama administration is requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor to authorize, through a form, that a third party provide what they find violates their religious beliefs ("free" contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs) to their employees. It will not, with much emphasis, allow them to be exempted as churches are.
All the administration has done is empower liberal commentators to say the sisters have been given an exemption, when the truth is they have just created a scheme to make sure they substitute their judgment for that of the religious order. The sisters are clear in their belief that they cannot in good conscience sign this form to authorize what they find is a violation of their religious beliefs.
That is the most important thing to realize in this case. What could violate the so-called "separation of church and state" more than to have government go into a religious order and tell them what is and is not a violation of their beliefs and force them to include what they find objectionable in their ministry practices?
Think about it. Why in the world would the administration not exempt the sisters as they do a church? Some would argue this group is even more religious than the average church! The Sisters run 30 health care facilities for the elderly poor in the United States – from nursing homes, to intermediate care, to residential or assisted living and other independent-living facilities. Every member of their order disregards worldly comforts, taking vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality in order to serve their Lord and their neighbors. The Little Sisters of the Poor actually maintain a tradition of begging, demonstrating a life of true dependence on faith alone.
And the Obama administration wants to fight them on getting a religious exemption like the one churches receive? That's ridiculous. Worse yet, there is no reason for the administration's capricious violation of their religious liberties.
The Obama administration has thrown all kinds of exemptions left and right – to labor unions, to big businesses and others, but not to the Little Sisters of the Poor. They apparently need to invest in a lobbyist to get what they need.
We hope the Supreme Court takes the case and sends a strong message in support of our religious freedom by siding with the Little Sisters of the Poor on this important case.
About Penny Nance President and CEO of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Mary Ann Walsh Sister of Mercy of the Americas and Director of Media Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Dana Singiser Vice President of Public Policy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Leslie Griffin Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas