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BIRTH CONTROL: Government cannot advocate for religion

Letter by Patricia G. Cleghorn, Gig Harbor on March 5, 2012 at 3:10 pm with 24 Comments »
March 5, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: A much larger issue is at stake (Letters, 3-3).

The First Amendment protects not only the freedom to practice one’s religion, as the writer notes, but also protects us from government imposed religion: ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”

When government endorses the efforts of employers, educational institutions, medical facilities, and pharmacies to impose their religious beliefs on others and deny or burden access to perfectly legal medical care, including access to contraceptives, the government is, for all practical purposes, establishing that set of religious beliefs for all of us.

The government cannot be the advocate for religion. We are not a theocracy. We are not an Iran. And, in a free society, nobody should have to acquiesce in the religious beliefs of another and forgo meaningful access to medical care to get a job or go to school.

Leave a comment Comments → 24
  1. Bmaynard says:

    Well said Patricia, thank you.

    I apologize in advance for the unchristian responses you will receive on this forum.

  2. aislander says:

    The imposition lies in using the power of government to force private entities to perform services, and going beyond even that to force others to pay for those services…

  3. Pacman33 says:

    Don’t you love how the oppressive left attempts to portray the First Amendment’s ‘free exercise’ of religion as some new concoction contrived by the right and that American religious organizations have always been required to provide and pay for drugs and procedures they consider morally wrong.

    This is nothing but a shameless and desperate attempt by the Demorats to avoid the conversation of 0bama’s record and 0bama’s “plan”. Can you blame them?

  4. Bmaynard, I am a Christian, and this is a Christian response.

    Patricia G. Cleghorn wrote: “When government endorses the efforts of employers, educational institutions, medical facilities, and pharmacies to impose their religious beliefs on others and deny or burden access to perfectly legal medical care, including access to contraceptives, the government is, for all practical purposes, establishing that set of religious beliefs for all of us.”

    Your comment is absolute baloney! No christian organization is trying “to impose their religious beliefs on others” in the context of this birth control controversy.

    The religious organizations, in this case most notably The Catholic Church, is simply saying “It is against Catholic core beliefs to promote, perform or pay for abortions, and in the view of The Catholic Church, artificial birth control is the same as abortion.” It would be FORCING The Catholic Church to accept others beliefs and to forego their own if they are FORCED to pay for birth control.

    How is that not simple to understand?

    The Catholic Church is NOT standing in front of each and every pharmacy in the country and saying, “YOU CAN’T COME IN HERE TO GET BIRTH CONTROL, BECAUSE WE DON’T BELIEVE IN IT.” Tell me of one single pharmacy where a Catholic is blocking the door so you cannot get birth control?

    The Catholic Church is simply saying that you can go ahead and get whatever birth control drugs or devices you want, no Catholic is going to try to stop you, but to be true to its beliefs The Catholic Church will not pay for your birth control or for anyone else’s for that matter.

    The government is NOT establishing any new religious beliefs that all Americans must follow. The government, through application of The First Amendment, is simply saying; that just as YOU have the right to practice YOUR religion, so too does The Catholic Church have the RIGHT to practice its religion, and part of that involves not promoting or paying for the use of artificial birth control and/or abortions.

    God Bless You!!!

  5. What about the rights of indiviuals to live their lives free from the religious beliefs of others?

  6. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    When government forces employers, educational institutions, medical facilities, and pharmacies to suspend their religious beliefs in order to provide items to which they object as a matter of conscience, such as contraceptives, the government is, for all practical purposes, suspending that set of religious beliefs for all of us.

    Fixed for ‘ya.

  7. I beg to differ, I am Christian Bmaynard and I take plenty of issue with this topic. We have freedom of religion in this country, and that means ALL religions NOT just the loudest ones. Your freedom of religion does not mean that you get to oppress everyone else. We live in a SECULAR society, NOT a theocracy. Let’s also remember that this is a women’s health issue being used to bully out a healthcare mandate. Most oral contraception is prescribed for health measures and this is something that is near and dear to Jesus’ heart. He healed a woman who had been bleeding excessively. (uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pre menopause, ovarian cysts, cancer) That’s right. Jesus was a liberal and he cared about women’s healthcare not to mention, he kept a mob from stoning a woman for having sex. Not only that, Jesus didn’t care what religion you were, he healed people, and he fed people for FREE! Jesus was also a SOCIALIST.

  8. Whoops… I meant Mukbir, not bmaynard :0) And in answer to your question Mukbir- name one rx where a catholic is standing in the way blocking one’s access to contraceptives? Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia.

  9. Frida you are wrong three times.

    1. No religion, not even The Catholics, are attempting to “oppress everyone else.” That’s a flat out lie, and people who promote that statement are liars. The Catholic Church is only saying the The First Amendment guarantees all religions the right to practice their religion, and requiring Catholic organizations to pay for birth control is the same in their view as FORCING them to perform abortions and that is oppressing The Catholics from free exercise of their religion.

    2. Jesus did not protect a women who just had sex. Jesus protected a prostitute. Read your Bible.

    3. No catholic is standing in the way blocking one’s access to contraceptives at Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia. Sorry, you are wrong again. This store, as a policy does not provide Plan-B and possibly some other contraceptives, but it does “immediately refer the patient either to the nearest source, or nearby source, of Plan B.” So no one is prevented from getting what they want. They just may not be able to get it at Ralph’s.


    Please try to be more accurate and truthful in the future if you can.

  10. bobcat1a says:

    Well vox, when an employer who happens to be Christian Scientist refuses to follow law to provide health insurance will you support that? When some nutcase says his child with cancer should “pray it away” are you going to support that choice?

  11. muki? With confidentiality laws regarding medical treatment, it is none of the catholic church’s business legally to know what their employees treatment is. Jesus Did protect the woman who just had sex, what do you think the adulterer did? Play tiddlywinks? The Rx at Ralph’s has stood in the way of women getting Plan B- which IS and oral contraceptive. Have you ever been there? I have. Customers were always able to throughout the years get such contraceptives from the Rx and then like some bad Seinfeld episode some Plan B from planet 9 comes in decides only THEIR conscience and NOT medical science or fact is in charge. The nearest grocery is another Thriftway. For people with transportation issues, it is a HUGE hardship to go to the nearest Rx that will fill a medically sound Rx. You read your facts and your bible to see what you only want to see and NOT what is actually there. Remember, Jesus provided FREE healthcare and food. He also treated women’s health issues with respect by healing the heavily bleeding woman. Which is EXACTLY what birth control pills do when prescribed for Uterine Fibroids, Cysts, Endometriosis, and precancerous growths in women.

  12. I’m also wondering why someone who has such a moral objection to filling Rx’s would become a pharmacist in the first place? That’s like becoming a surgeon who faints at the sight of blood.

  13. muck is confused once again or is it twice again or several times again? I lost count. Poor muck.
    The Catholic Church has difficulty including women in rolls equal to men. That is wrong no matter the religious beliefs involved. This is the 21st century, not the 5th, 11th, 16th or 20th.

  14. PatGreen says:

    “2. Jesus did not protect a women who just had sex. Jesus protected a prostitute. Read your Bible.”

    Oh. Now I understand. A Bible freak. Now the rest of the ranting sort of makes sense. Well, maybe makes sense.

  15. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    Well vox, when an employer who happens to be Christian Scientist refuses to follow law to provide health insurance will you support that?

    Not a very realistic scenario, bob. But generally speaking, yes – since no one person can ultimately prevent my getting anything to which I otherwise lawfully qualify to receive. In other words, if someone were in a position to – as a matter of conscience – choose not to provide health insurance for which I otherwise meet all prerequisites, I would simply go somewhere else. Tough stuff, ‘eh?

    When some nutcase says his child with cancer should “pray it away” are you going to support that choice?

    No. And that is not the issue here. To my knowledge, child endangerment laws have prevailed in every case such as you describe.

    Let’s try to stay on topic, shall we?

  16. I hope the couple that lost a son to treatable appendicitis because they only believe in faith healing doesn’t ever own a hotel or restaurant or other public business. Their employees would be denied all health insurance because of moral objections to science and reliance on faith healing instead.

    The far right thinks it is a first amendment issue to have a business that is run to provide services to the public claim they get exemptions from any civil law they disagree with based on their moral objections. Hotels, restaurants, gift shops, book stores, hospitals and other non-religious institutions are not religious institutions just because their owners happen to be religious.

    These public businesses do not provide religious services. They are not in business to provide religious guidance or instruction or to carry out religious rites. And, no, selling Bibles or rosaries in the gift shop is not a religious activity.

  17. pantomancer says:

    Interesting position letter writer. How is the government “endorsing” a religion in this case ?

  18. Bmaynard says:

    OK muckibr,

    You choose which religion get to pay for what?

    The Hindus do not believe in violence, can they opt out of paying taxes for the military because they are morally opposed to violence?

    Should Government not make barren married couples pay taxes for the education of the children of people who can not afford contraception or even to raise their children without financial help from the government?

    Anytime an exemption is given to a group on a religious or moral basis, you are establishing a case for a state sponsored religion.

  19. sumyungboi says:

    Patricia, this whole discussion is not about contraception or women’s health. Every couple of months, progressives pick a new boogey man and, true to their Alinsky teachings, attack a non-existent enemy and attempt to get defensive responses out of conservatives regarding a non-issue. Contraception is legal, easy to obtain, and very inexpensive. Your insurance probably covers it, but even if it doesn’t, it’s by no means a financial hardship. This whole little game has been nothing more than playing one group of people (women) against another (conservative men) by liberal re-election strategists, and it’s all because they can’t be honest about the economy or their economic records. Think about it for a minute, what could possibly be gained by alienating over half the population?

    By the way, Patricia, I find your desire for the government to forcibly replace any church’s god with itself troubling and offensive.

  20. Actually, the 1st Amendment bars Congress from establishing a state-sponsored religion and passing laws that interfere with religious practices.

    A few exceptions.
    Mormons and others have been forced to give up plural marriage.

    Peyote is a banned substance that is scared to several Native American churches.

    Some Muslims believe that the best marriage is between a uncle and his niece but such marriages are banned in the US.

    Other religions hold that 12 and 13 year olds are old enough to be married – often to men old enough to be their fathers and grandfathers.

    Others believe that brides should be bought or sold to the highest bidder, of offered in repayment of debts.

    Secular law overrides many other religious laws such as forced marriages and honor killings.

    Sumy – this is a progressive issue and the longer the conservacons keep riding it the more moderate and independent voters will come to the progressive side.

  21. sumyungboi, I agree that this is not only about contraception. However, it has been a long-held principle in the nation, reaffirmed over and over again by the courts that the parts of religious institutions that actually deal with religion are exempt from almost all civil alws that would interfere with their practices of religion. That means that the non-discrimiantion alws do not apply to churches, and churches do not have to pay their ministers minimum wage, etc.

    However, until the far right evangelicals and the Catholics decided to make contraception an issue, the businesses serving the public that charitable organizations, including those owned by religious institutions, were never exempt from civil alws and coyuld not override such things as non-discrimination in hiring or pay or benefits, etc.

    If you work for the Mormons, let’s say, at one of their church owned hotels in Salt Lake cITY, ALL

  22. well, my last comment all of a sudden was posted while I was still typing – sorry.


    If you worked as a cashier for the Mormons, let’s say, at one of their church owned hotels in Salt Lake City, even if the LDS church decided that they had a moral objection to one of the state or federal laws on employment, they could not claim any exemption, unless you were actively providing religious instruction or carrying out a rite of the church instead of dealing withy serving gthe public.

    It is not the left or progressives trying to change what ahd been settled long ago, it is a new approach by the religious right to try to impose their beliefs on people who do not necessarily believe the same way they do. Why should a waitress working for a restaurant that happens to be owned by a church not have the same legally-mandagted benefits and protections under the law as someone else who works for a competing restaurant across the street?

  23. sumyungboi says:

    Big difference, xring. You’re describing things that a church might _want_ to do, but which society in general frowns upon. These things, sharia law, polygamy, those are the sorts of things that would qualify as religion imposing their values through an action. This contraception controversy is the opposite, this is a thing that a church does _not_ want to do, yet the government would force them to, which amounts to secularists (or another religion for that matter) imposing their values onto a church. In order to “impose” values onto another portion of society, an organization must demand action, which in this case, are progressive secularists demanding action from a church which contradicts their church edicts.

    tuddo, not buying it, and neither are you, deep inside. LDS “church owned hotels” in SLC are not religious institutions, they’re simply hotels that happen to be owned by the LDS church. Catholic hospitals and universities are religious institutions. Nice try, though.

  24. “The new compromise is that religious employers themselves will have no responsibility to either pay for this coverage or to communicate with employees about it; instead, those burdens will shift to insurance companies, at no additional cost to consumers.”


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