Jesus Christ Himself Wouldn't Get Obamacare Religious Exemption. Really.
Just last week people in churches throughout the land heard the parable of the Good Samaritan. Yesterday we learned the story of the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus. In my pastor's sermon on that portion of Scripture, he reminded us how these stories are about serving our neighbor, regardless of whether those neighbors share our trust in Christ. More importantly, of course, they are about Jesus showing undeserved mercy on us sinners.
But Christians who believe in acts of mercy to any in need, as opposed to only those who share their religious views, just aren't Christian enough, according to the Obama administration. In fact, they're not even religious, according to the bureaucracy.
In new rules about which organizations may receive an exemption from onerous regulations requiring them to pay for contraceptives, sterilization and other services that may violate church teaching, Health and Human Services explained what makes for a true religious group.
Here is their definition:
Group health plans sponsored by certain religious employers, and group health insurance coverage in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services. A religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii).
So you can get an exemption if, and only if, you primarily serve your coreligionists and make the inculcation of your religious beliefs the primary means of your charitable work?
At this point, I'm not even sure I can think of any of the thousands of religious charities that would meet this test.
As the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops wrote:
As the law reads now, to follow HHS rules and qualify for an exemption, many Catholic institutions would have to violate their very mission and refuse service to non-Catholics. They’d have to fire hard-working employees. To maintain their religious integrity, they could be forced to stop providing employee insurance benefits. Or they’d have to close down, a step that would not benefit a nation where one out of six persons seeks hospital care in a Catholic institution. It would also hurt the millions who receive social services and counseling through Catholic Charities; bread, milk and cereal from parish food pantries; and other types of assistance from additional church-run agencies.
Great work, Obamacare! The violation of conscience protections is just the cherry on top, eh?