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Freedom of religion and the employer

I’ve been following the birth control debate pretty closely, as can

Rush Limbaugh - Caricature

Rush Limbaugh - Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

probably be shown by my having devoted two whole posts to it, and am considering another about Rush Limbaugh’s ridiculous rants and attacks on a woman, a Georgetown law student who intended to testify on the issue.

We all have the right to our own religious views. However, our rights can be somewhat limited by time and place, as well as the rights of other people. For example, employees can be limited in their speech (including religious) during their paid hours, if that behavior conflicts with the interests of the employer. My co-workers’ right to peace and my employers expectation of productivity do create limits to my hypothetical right to evangelize at work.

An employer, according to US law, also has to accept certain boundaries relative to their religion and employees. Most businesses cannot refuse to hire someone who does not happen to attend the same church as the owner. A few exceptions to that are actual places of worship, possibly very small businesses, and I’m sure a few others are recognized.

So the idea of a “conscience exception” for businesses that are not actively religious in nature is inherently wrong. An employer has no religious rights over his/her employees. A shop owner who didn’t believe in blood transfusions would be considered laughable if they attempted to remove that particular medical treatment in a health insurance plan. So why is birth control fair game? If it were hearing aids or blood pressure medication, the discussion would be much saner (I would hope).

Some would say that it’s the employer’s choice and you don’t have to take or keep the job if the benefits are not sufficient. That is a possible course of action, but I have yet to have an employer give me the details of their insurance plan ahead of time, so it isn’t like the information is available during salary negotiations. Some (most?) employers even require you to work 3 or 6 months before you become eligible, making you put in real time, perhaps only to learn that an important part of your compensation does not meet your needs. So the “free market” does not solve this problem.

We have a major problem with health care in this country. The only solution our legislature was able to get through was a modest plan to increase the percentage of people with insurance coverage. The only way this will help is if we also allow experts (medical and public health experts, not bishops or rabbis) to define what a basic, comprehensive plan looks like.

It is clear that people who speak from a “moral” or a political point of view are deliberately lying and confusing the issue.

  • Sandra Fluke, telling the story  of a roommate whose ovarian condition required surgery due to a lack of coverage for the proper medication, somehow becomes a slut (when her own choices were not even under discussion). Her history of belief in reproductive rights somehow makes her a “plant” as opposed to the positive terms they’d use for those who are devoted to conservative causes.
  •  The co-pays or full prices for prescription medication that must be taken daily somehow add up to “a lot of sex,” deliberately confusing prescription costs with the costs of other “per use” methods such as condoms.
  • Males with no medical training pontificate that birth control pills serve no medical purpose. This is quite easily debunked.
  • Coverage under an insurance policy is deliberately confused with entitlement and government handouts
  • The fact that Georgetown students pay every dollar for their insurance (if it’s like USC, where I attend, it is mandatory unless you have evidence of other acceptable coverage) is not mentioned. That fact alone should indicate that nobody’s religious rights are infringed by bringing insurance policies into the 21st century
  • The fact that 28 states already have laws requiring such coverage with no problems is also ignored
  • The fact that some Catholic universities already have comprehensive plans because there was no way to separate medical necessity from personal preference is also ignored
These are very similar distortions and outright lies to the kinds of things that were said about Obama as a candidate, or even as current president, and health care reform when it was in the formative stages. Death panels, anyone? Obama a secret Muslim? It is clear that the Right cannot be trusted to say anything factual. They will say or do anything to win.

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