Friday, January 11, 2013

Is the Government ‘Defining Religion’? | Commonweal magazine

The U.S. Catholic  bishops conference continues its hyperbolic alarums that religious freedom is under attack.  Here a Notre Dame law professor takes on their lawuit against the so-called "contraceptive mandate". - GWC
Is the Government ‘Defining Religion’? | Commonweal magazine:
by Cathleen Kaveny

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act because of its contraception mandate and the Department of Health and Human Services’ refusal to extend a blanket exemption to Catholic institutions such as hospitals and universities. The USCCB is not only worried about what the law might force these institutions to do, such as pay for contraceptive coverage. It is also worried what it might say about who they are. In a statement issued last year the USCCB Administrative Committee protested: “Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry.... HHS thus creates and enforces a new distinction—alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law—between our houses of worship and our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need, of any faith community or none.”
I think the USCCB’s criticism is rooted in a mistaken assumption about how our law operates. The HHS regulations don’t define religion—they define exemptions to the mandate applicable to institutions that certify themselves as religious, while balancing competing concerns in light of the purposes of the particular law they are implementing.

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