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Separating church and state

Published: Mon, April 15, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Separating church and state

The Vindicator reported on March 30 that Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general and chief law enforcement officer, is using the influence of his office and the resources of our state to join in a federal battle over religious issues. Talk about entanglement over issues involving church and state. He should know better.

The U.S Supreme Court, as recently as January 2012, reaffirmed in the Hosanna-Tabor Church decision that the First Amendment prohibits “theological entanglement” between church and state. That includes the case where, like here, the government tries to intervene on one side or the other in a religious dispute.

The issue in question involves the requirement under the new federal health care law that employer-sponsored health care plans shall provide access to contraceptives and birth control information, something which is almost universally used and has been constitutionally guaranteed in this country for nearly 50 years. However, because some religions oppose contraception, as a matter of their belief and teaching, the law granted exemptions to churches and religiously affiliated organizations.

In spite of that exemption, some churches are not satisfied. Now they want to expand that exemption to also exempt private, secular for-profit, non-religious organizations whose owners claim they are personally opposed to contraception. Some of these companies have hundreds of stores across the country and employ thousands of employees. They want to deprive their employees of federally required benefits because they — the owners — claim they are religiously opposed to contraception. Those employers want to impose their own personal religious views on others, who may or may not agree, on the grounds of conscience or “religious freedom.” DeWine is joining the fight.

However, religious freedom is a defense to government action, and is not an offensive tool to enforce ideas upon another. As one federal court recently noted: “religious liberty is a shield, not a sword; it is not to be used to impose one’s religious beliefs on others.” Yet that is what these churches, corporations and DeWine are trying to do.

Mr. DeWine should focus himself and the efforts of his office on state civil matters that do not entangle the state with religious disputes.

Richard P. McLaughlin, Youngstown


1Jerry(601 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago


How obtuse do people on your side of this argument have to be to continually miss the point and repeatedly misstate this argument? Or is it just a deliberate attempt to obfuscate, and an inability to respond to the point and make a reasonable argument?

Yes, YOU have the right to buy contraception; and if YOU believe that YOU should use contraception, then YOU may buy as much contraception as YOU want. Why, however, do YOU have the audacity to assume that YOU have the divine right to impose YOUR beliefs on others? When YOU suggest people who have religious convictions against paying for the distribution of contraception should be forced by law to violate their religious convictions, that is exactly what YOU are doing.

Personally, I do not have religious convictions like this, and I have no problem with contraception. I do not agree with the reasons people give for their religious convictions against contraception. But it does not matter that I (or you) disagree with their religious convictions, they have a right to believe and act as they choose to believe and act.

I do not oppose these Obamacare mandates because I have convictions against contraception. I oppose them because I wonder, if President Obama and his HHS bureaucracy can force some people to violate their convictions against their will today, what will he force me to do against my will tomorrow???

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2savarose(7 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago


Let's say you work for a Jehovah's Witness. They don't believe in blood transfusions, so they are against insurance coverage for it. Now you or a loved one needs a transfusion. You absolutely have the right to it, you just need to pay for it yourself. Guessing that could get a little pricey.

How about a Scientologist? They don't believe in psychiatric treatment. So your insurance plan doesn't cover it. Now you or a loved one is severely depressed. You absolutely have the right to see a psychiatrist, get a prescription for an anti-depressant, you just need to pay for it yourself. Guessing that one could get a little pricey, too, especially if you need continued counseling.

How about me? I own a business, it's against my religion to provide Viagra for men over 50, cause their wives are sick of sex anyway, in my opinion. Now you have erectile dysfunction. You absolutely have the right to get Viagra, you just need to pay for it yourself. That one might not be too pricey, but by now you should get my point.

Any problem with any of these scenarios?

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3Jerry(601 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago


What point were you trying to make???

No, I do not have any problem with any of these scenarios. It is NOT my employer’s obligation to pay for my medical expenses, or for insurance to cover my medical expenses. Health insurance coverage is a benefit my employer may (or may not) offer, to the degree my employer wants to offer it.

I understand the insurance coverage I am going to get (or not get) before I agree to accept a job. If it is not sufficient for my needs I have the choice to (1) pay for the healthcare I need on my own (2) procure other healthcare insurance on my own (3) seek a job at another employer who offers better healthcare insurance.

The employers who do not wish to offer healthcare insurance coverage, or who wish to offer lesser healthcare insurance coverage, must understand that they may have trouble getting employees to work for them. That would be their problem to deal with, and their choice to make.

What I do not assume, however, is that I have some divine right to force someone else to pay for my healthcare choices against their will.

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4Jerry(601 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

Savarose: follow-up

Since you mentioned psychiatric therapy, let’s expound on that……

Some people (not many and not me) are proponents of psychiatric therapy to “cure” homosexuality; sometimes referred to a sexual restorative therapy. Suppose a future administration and HHS secretary decide that sexual restorative therapy must be part of all healthcare coverage. They could issue regulations requiring all insurance companies to cover restorative therapy, and all employers (including those owned by lesbian or gay people, and including PFLAG and LBGT organizations) to provide such coverage.

Also, with regard to religion in general, it is a statistical fact that people who attend church regularly live healthier and longer lives. Suppose a future president and HHS secretary use this fact to decide that people who do NOT attend a church on a regular basis need to pay an extra fee/tax/penalty (whatever we’re calling it today) for their healthcare.

Do you have any problem with these scenarios? This is the power that you are suggesting we give away to the president and the HHS bureaucracy.

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