Once again, religion in the U.S. gets a free pass. As you probably know, the Obama administration recently required all employers to offer free contraceptives as part of their employee health plans. This included religious employers who employe people who are not of that particular faith or are non-religious. This created a firestorm of protest from churches across the country, Catholic and Protestant. After weeks of outrage and complaints, the President announced that he will seek to allow religious employers to pass on the responsibility, and the cost, of providing contraceptives onto the insurance companies.
Now, I’m no economist, but it seems pretty obvious that the insurance companies aren’t going to like this very much. The result will probably be higher premiums, which religious employers will likely pass onto their employees. This means that people who are employed by religious organizations will be forced to pay more for “free” contraceptives. This despite the fact that religious organizations and churches are already allowed to operate tax free, even if they don’t use their money for charitable purposes, unlike other non-profits. Now they get to avoid the responsibility for the cost of contraceptives, unlike every other employer in the country.
The religious organizations claim that the rule to provide free contraceptives are an infringement of their constitutional right to religious freedom. This is blatantly bullshit. What it is in reality is an infringement upon their centuries old privileges. What if a white supremacist church, who believe that the Bible condones discrimination agains blacks and Jews, claimed that they didn’t have to provide health insurance for black and Jewish employees (assuming that they would employ them in the first place)? This would never be allowed, as it is blatantly discriminatory and against the law. Yet we allow churches to subtly discriminate against women who want, or sometimes even need, contraceptives. Not only do we them to discriminate against their employees (mostly women), but we allow them to pass on the cost of providing them as well.
The whole compromise it just a thin sheen of slime that allows religious groups to pretend that they aren’t providing contraceptives. Everyone is praising this sham as a great compromise that protects religious freedom, when what it really does is violate the rights of employees of theses organizations to equal access under the law.
I sincerely hope that someone brings a legal challenge to this and see how it plays out in the courts. Even if unsuccessful it will at least, hopefully, publicly shame these religious groups who continue to bend the law to allow them to perpetuate their immoral patriarchal privileges.