The following comes from a July 1 story on Religious News Service.
When the Supreme Court on Monday (June 30) issued a split decision narrowly backing the right of for-profit corporations to deny contraception coverage to their employees for religious reasons, many assumed that faith-based nonprofits would have it easy when their own cases eventually reach the high court.
“The death knell is sounding for the HHS mandate,” said Lori Windham, an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns, as well as other religious groups that object to the Health and Human Services Department policy requiring birth control coverage.
Windham noted that in two rulings by lower courts on Monday, several of Becket’s faith-based clients received last-minute relief to shield them from complying with the mandate, which takes effect today (July 1).
“The ruling in Hobby Lobby and then these two rulings in quick succession show that the HHS mandate is on its last legs when it comes to religious nonprofits,” Windham said.
The Little Sisters of the Poor organization was founded in the 1840s by Jeanne Jugan. Its members take four vows, those of chastity, poverty, obedience and hospitality. Public domain image
Yet many analysts say that in fact what worked for Hobby Lobby — the national craft store giant owned by the Green family, who are evangelical Christians — may not necessarily work for the Little Sisters, who operate nursing homes for the poor around the country.
The nuns are the main plaintiff for a range of religious nonprofits and institutions who argue, in cases that paralleled the claims of for-profit businesses, that complying with the Obama administration’s mandate to provide free birth control coverage would violate their religious freedom because they object to contraception.
So when those cases reach the Supreme Court, why wouldn’t the Little Sisters eventually receive the same treatment, or even greater deference, than a corporation like Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood Specialties, its Mennonite-owned co-plaintiff?
The key difference is that the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has already offered an accommodation to faith-based nonprofits that allows them to sign a waiver giving a third-party administrator permission to take care of the birth control coverage, with no further involvement by the religious group.
The Little Sisters and others argue that even signing such a waiver entangles them in something they view as morally objectionable. (Hobby Lobby and other plaintiffs do not object to contraception per se but are concerned about what they say is mandated coverage of abortion-causing drugs.)
But Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority in Monday’s 5-4 decision, suggested that the accommodation offered to religious groups could have been a fine solution if provided to for-profit corporations as well….
Writing for Religion News Service, Mark Silk, director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, also predicted in March that the justices would decide as they did this week — and on Monday he wrote that if they follow their logic when the faith-based groups come before them, the Little Sisters et al. could be in trouble.
The key factors are twofold, Silk explained:
One is that the majority based their decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, of 1993, which requires that the state must have a “compelling interest” if it is to infringe on religious rights, and it must use “the least restrictive means” possible.
The majority essentially assumed, but did not rule, that the government did have a compelling interest in providing birth control coverage to women. But the five justices said the government could find a better, less restrictive way to accomplish that goal, like paying outright for the coverage.
Yet Justice Anthony Kennedy, in a concurring opinion, pointedly noted that “the means to reconcile those two priorities are at hand in the existing accommodation.”
And Kennedy is the second factor clouding prospects for the nuns and others, because he is considered the swing vote on the court, and when the Little Sisters’ case comes up he could swing the other way.
In fact, the Hobby Lobby decision, Silk predicted, “will prove to be a significant setback for the Catholic bishops and other free exercise maximalists, a good omen for contraception coverage advocates, and a fine result for those interested in a reasonable balance of the interests at hand….”
To read the entire story, click here.
Our modern-day American courts are such a fraud! America was founded on respect for God and Judeo-Christian Biblical teachings and morality! The clergy of all churches need to strongly teach their people right from wrong, and to have a moral conscience! All of our secular schools, colleges, and universities, should be built upon our Judeo-Christian heritage, and everyone should be taught these basic, Biblical principles!! When children grow up, they must be mature adults, with a solid moral conscience, ready to lead a good life! If entering Law School, they must have a solid background and daily practice of respect for God, and living by Biblical principles! No question! All secular law must be based on Divine Law– or it is a TOTAL FRAUD!! And all science must bow in respect to God, and to basic Biblical principles, no matter what! God and His Creation, must always be given respect! One must ONLY practice science ETHICALLY– or be put in jail!! Nurses and doctors, and all other medical people trained in classrooms to perform MURDER, and abort a child– should face charges of MURDER, and all be held accountable!! Religion in our country must be given highest regard, and all clergy and nuns of all faiths, must be held in great respect!
I strongly disagree about how secular law should be based on religion.
In fact, I think it’s intuitively obvious that religious and secular should be distinct as a matter of morality.
Divine Law comes from God—and is administered by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being. Yet, no human institution—including the Catholic Church—can come anwhere close to any of these attributes. Thus human authorities regularly abuse their power. Preventing human authorities from exercising too much power can be seen in religious terms as avoiding the near occasion of sin.
Thus, it makes perfect sense that teaching divine law (religion) needs to be distinct from the law that is enforced by human authority (secular law).
I see the question of to what extent it is moral for the Church to ask secular authorities to compel obedience to Catholic moral principles by using worldly legal force to be an undeveloped area of Catholic theology.
I wish some theologian would write a treatise on this topic to get the ball rolling in this area of Catholic thought.
Linda writes one of the most dangerous things ever written on these pages when she says “All secular law must be based on Divine Law– or it is a TOTAL FRAUD!! And all science must bow in respect to God, and to basic Biblical principles, no matter what! God and His Creation, must always be given respect! One must ONLY practice science ETHICALLY– or be put in jail!! ”
1) If all secular law must be based on Divine Law, who gets to say which Divine Law and which Divinity? Our nation was first populated by native Americans. Should we adopt their religious law for the whole country? Or how about Sharia Law? or Canon Law? or Levitical Law. That would sure put barbers out of business right quick!
2) If science must bow to “Bibilical principles” and practice science “ethically” or be put in jail, then we go back to a flat earth, and the sun and planets revolving around it instead of the sun. We go back to thinking that humans roamed the earth with dinosaurs, and we end up with an earth uninhabitable by humans in about a hundred years. And we’d have to turn all of the University of California campuses into prisons to hold all the scientists who would be incarcerated.
Many years ago when I was an associate pastor, the pastor of the church I was assigned to told me that when prayer was taken out of public schools, no bishops protested this action by the supreme court. Likewise, when abortion was legalized, the silence of the bishops was deafening. When those two ungodly acts were passed, the bishops could have and should have threatened to close all Catholic schools immediately. The government would have gone nuts trying to find room in the public schools for all the children. The bishops could have also told Catholics not to pay any income taxes, and that would have forced these two decisions to be overturned, but nothing came about when the bishops still had influence over their flock. This was not my statement, but the pastor’s, and you know, he was correct. Unfortunately most of the bishops belong to the left wing of the democrat part, having voted for Obama and influenced the passage of Obamacare. Seek ye first the kingdom of God is what the bishops must be preaching, but by their cowardice the United States and Canada are no longer God-fearing nations.
I completely disagree about prayer in schools.
Christ did not come into people’shouse’s and force them to listen to his preaching at the point of a sword. Nor did he come to earth as a King that conquered the whole world. Instead, he came to earth as a humble man and allowed mankind to CHOOSE to listen—and obey—his Word.
A parent may compel a child to pray, because that falls within the proper scope of parental authority. Yet, the state is not a parent, and does not have the same right—nor would it be moral for the state to exercise such authority.
Basically, you’d have to state thinking that it possesses more wisdom than God himself. Instead, the state should follow the example of Christ—the people should be allowed to CHOOSE to listen to the Word—or not according to their free will.
How is school prayer religion by compulsion? Public schools are supported by tax dollars, which, ultimately, are extracted from the populace under threat of a SWAT team raid. Thus it is completely inappropriate for a state to force children to attend a public school, then compel them to pray.
However, I do think religious schools should be allowed to compel children to pray—since we can presume they are sent there by choice by parents. Now, I DO think the state should provide vouchers to parents who choose to send their children to religious schools—if, of course, the state taxes the populace to support public education.
Prayer in schools should not be instigated by teachers or administrators, BUT freedom of speech of individual Students should not be prohibited either.
If students want a Bible Study group, or Koran study group, or Torah study group, or to say a prayer at their graduation or before a football game so no one gets hurt, – then the government must not interfere.
This is what the Constitution says (and nothing more) –
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
JonJ, while the government or its agencies (including public schools) can not promote any specific religion, it can not continue to violate the rights if individual students either.
I suggest you go back and read the US Constitution word for word and in entirety.
Dottie, I’m a lawyer.
I am certainly aware of the establishment clause.
Mostly, the courts apply it correctly. The problems have come from school administrators who go overboard trying to exclude religious expression.
In general, students have the right to pray in schools. The problem start when school administrators try to tell students to pray—or student led prayers become part of a for-credit class, and are done in such a way as to allow one dominant type of religious expression in practice.
I am presuming that Fr. Karl wants us to go back to reciting the “under God” pledge of allegience and teachers telling students they should pray.
Not only is that unconstitutional, doing so in a coercive manner using teacher authority is also immoral—unless, of course, you are in a religious school in which the students are placed there by parental consent.
Courts for 2 centuries have interpreted the First amendment to mean that you are not to be prohibited in who and how you worship. It does not allow you (or me) to disobey laws we are uncomfortable with or go against our consciences. Take, for example, conscientious objectors. They are subject to sever penalties. Take tax objectors: They are thrown in jail. Take nudists: they are, well, ordered clothed. Take KKK members: They are required to hire people of all races. The first amendment guarantees freedom to express religion in religious contexts, and hire ministers to perform religious services. It does not allow people to start a business and then claim they are all ministers so that they can discriminate in hiring. That is nowhere near what the First Amendment requires.
Fr. Karl always explains the issues so succinctly. Word has it that there was cheering in the Chancery of my former archdiocese when Obama won in 2008.
Because many chanceries are frauds themselves, the frauds in the Chancery of your former Archdiocese cheered on a fraudulent election in 2008 and I assume 2012!
May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
Viva Cristo Rey!
Yours in Their Hearts,
Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc
I have read that Raymond Arroyo of EWTN was on the Laura Ingraham radio show just after the 2008 election. Here is what he said.
“LAURA INGRAHAM: Here is the problem, how many of the bishops voted for Obama?
RAYMOND ARROYO: The bishops I spoke to say that maybe half of their brother bishops if not more voted for Obama.”
“half of their brother bishops if not more” . . . This would coincide with the 53% of “Catholics” who voted for the homosexualist baby-butcher.
Juergensen, Thank you once again for exposing the real reason for much of the diabolical disorientation taking place in the world today. As the Church leadership goes, the world goes.
Message of Our Lady of Akita, Japan
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of My sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them.”…Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary.
It is disturbing to see Cardinal Timothy Dolan standing next to NY Senator Schumer who is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-religious freedom, and anti-self defense, to promote ILLEGAL immigration,
and all the while there are at least two active homosexual Parishes in DOLAN’s NY Diocese.
Dolan does not understand the meaning of the MORTAL SIN of SCANDAL, or he simply does not care.
Bishops are also required to adhere to every Doctrine of the Faith in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.
CCC: ” 2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized.
It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others.
Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
CCC: ” 1759 “An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means.”
I pray that much help will come for these precious nuns. We need to help them. Lets keep them in our prayers.