Last week, the Olympian reported that Wheaton College was joining the lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the HHS contraception mandate. Unless you’ve been trapped in a cave for the last few months, you’ll recall that more than a dozen lawsuits have already been filed, arguing the mandate violates religious freedom.
Plaintiffs across the country include Catholic dioceses, religious schools and charities, religious health care agencies, and states’ Attorneys General.
So far, two cases have been dismissed; one brought by Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, and the other by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning’s office.
[Bruning] “brought the lawsuit along with attorneys general of Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. Catholic Social Services, Pius X High School and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America joined the Nebraska case against the mandate.”
In the Nebraska case, according to the Journal Star, U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom of Lincoln dismissed the case Tuesday, saying the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the action challenging part of the Affordable Care Act.
“Although the rule that lies at the heart of the plaintiffs’ complaint establishes a definitive, final definition of ‘religious employer,’ the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirements are not being enforced against non-exempted religious organizations, and the rule is currently undergoing a process of amendment to accommodate these organizations,” Urbom said.
In layman’s terms, they jumped the gun. The uproar over the contraception mandate, as described by one conservative website amounts to this:
“These deeply-rooted moral codes…will be impeded, Catholic leaders say, should the Obama administration continue with its planned mandate.”
This argument might fly if churches and religious organizations practiced their “deeply-rooted moral codes” in all aspects of their dealings with insurance providers; but such is not the case. As Think Progress pointed out in February,
“Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception and… many Catholic institutions offer the benefit to their employees.”
A few of TP’s examples:
- The University of San Francisco offers employees two health plans, both of which cover abortion, contraception and sterilization
- Jesuit University of Scranton One of its health insurance plans, the First Priority HMO, lists a benefit of “contraceptives when used for the purpose of birth control.”
- DePaul University in Chicago covers birth control in both its fully insured HMO plan and its self-insured PPO plan and excludes “elective abortion
Think Progress also pointed out:
“Boston College, the six former Caritas Christi Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts, and other Catholic organizations that are located in one of the 28 states that already require employers to provide contraception benefits could have self-insured or stopped offering prescription drug coverage to avoid the mandate — but didn’t do so.
Instead, they — like many Catholic hospitals and health care insurers around the country — chose to meet the needs of the overwhelming majority of Catholic women and offer these much needed services.”
But enough about religious organizations and birth control, let’s get back to the issue of “deeply-rooted moral codes”; in light of the contraception outcry, how do religious institutions rationalize carrying insurance riders for sexual misconduct?
In 2010, the Daily Beast reported:
“Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance… Guide One Center for Risk Management…has more than 40,000 church clients…
On average, the company says 80 percent of the sexual misconduct claims they get from all denominations involve sexual abuse of children. As a result, the more children’s programs a church has, the more expensive its insurance, officials at Guide One said.”
In another example of church moral code, Helena-based Catholic Diocese of Montana is trying to force the Arrowood Indemnity Co. to
“…cover some of the costs associated with defending former nuns and priests accused of child abuse in the 1930s through the 1970s.”
Diocese spokesperson Renee St. Martin Wizeman said, “Arrowood is one of 16 insurance companies that we tendered claims to…”
Let’s recap: insurance for contraception – not okay; insurance for paedophiles – standard operating procedure. Tell me again, how does that “deeply-rooted moral code” thing work?
One church in Florida took a rather unique, albeit “ungodly”, approach to a convicted paedophile priest; according to Jacksonville News 4, not only did they hire him knowing his circumstances, but the church agreed to ban children from Sunday service in order for the priest to meet the terms of his release.
You absolutely did read that right.
And how about Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the national bishops’ conference, and latest church media
hound darling? According to the New York Times (my emphasis):
[he] “authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee…
Experts in the Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse say that payouts to dismissed priests are not uncommon. When a man becomes a priest, the church is expected to care for his needs for a lifetime.”
Instead of salary, they would receive a $1,250 monthly pension benefit, and, until they found another job, health insurance.
“Until they found another job”. So not only do they carry insurance for lawsuits resulting from paedophile priests, they let them simply move on to the next unsuspecting employer. Anyway, let’s re – recap:
- Insurance coverage riders perfectly acceptable to pay for pedophile priests
- Funds for payoffs to pedophile priests perfectly acceptable
- Rehiring pedophiles acceptable as long as you refuse church attendance to parishioners’ children
- Insurance coverage for contraception not acceptable, even though 98% of women of child bearing age are now using, or have used contraception. (FYI – that would obviously include many Christians.)
In one publication, “The Impact of Clergy Sexual Misconduct Litigation on Religious Liberty“, Patrick Schiltz goes so far as to make the inane argument that clergy sexual misconduct litigation is itself, a “serious threat to religious liberty…”.
You absolutely did read that right.
Why, you ask? It all comes back to insurance:
“Even for more recent incidents, churches often find themselves uninsured. The hundreds of lawsuits that churches have already defended have diminished or exhausted much of their existing insurance coverage.
…for the past decade or so, policies that insure churches have excluded coverage for liability arising out of sexual misconduct. A few insurance companies offer “riders” that cover such liability, but that coverage is expensive and is capped at relatively low limits…”
Now that’s a real boo-hoo situation, isn’t it?
Mr. Schiltz points out:
“The people in the pews do not seem anxious to increase their donations to help pay the costs of litigation.”
Ya think? Their money is already being redirected toward these settlements, which in turn, takes money away from charitable works, and church programs. The more cases that come to light, the less enamored parishioners are of the church, and rightly so.
These are institutions that claim they set the “moral tone” for the country, while having covered up the most immoral of acts for decades. Now they use the congregation’s donations to purchase insurance against the legal liabilities of harboring and protecting criminals.
So if we’re going to talk fungibility, the Church’s argument against mandated contraception by insurance providers; it would be wise to take a good look at the hypocrisy of that argument, and tell them we’ll talk when they get their own houses in order.