12 June 2012

My Wife Takes on the HHS Mandate

My wife just took on the HHS mandate.

One of her Quaker relatives in PA posted the picture below on Facebook (click it to enlarge), so my wife saw it. The picture and quote of Obama put her over the edge. She usually doesn't comment on things like this, but this time she felt obliged to take the plunge.
She wrote the comment below:
First of all the complaint of the Church is not that they are not being able to practice a belief. It is that they are being asked to provide and pay for something, which the Church holds to be a grave evil. They are not refusing to allow their employees the use of birth control they simply do not wish to be made to pay for it. And since when was birth control a basic right? As far as I know one can live with out it. One can even live with out it with out being “punished with a baby”. I would be curious to find out if those supporting this administrations stand would do so if he were attacking another religious denomination other than the Roman Catholic Church? What if people’s right to object to military service was under attack. Many religious leaders across the country not only Catholics recognize this for what it is, a flagrant attack on the religious freedoms of American Citizens. The Church will not yield on this one. And some of the repercussions will be: the closing of parochial schools that provide education to thousands of under privileged children, The closing of hundreds of hospitals and clinics that care for those below the poverty level. Nursing homes like the one I visit every week with my children will be forced to cease their ministry to the elderly poor. And the list goes on. Why? Because those organizations are not considered religious organizations even though those running them do so because that is what their faith calls them to do. They will close rather than be forced to provide something they consider morally atrocious. And they are right to do so. Would we want them to sacrifice their beliefs? It is a tragedy that they are being asked to do so. And when they are forced to close who will fill in to take their place? Who will fill the whole that is left when the Church is no longer allowed to care for the poor? The Obama administration? It will be a sad day indeed. [original emphasis]
This was great! I'm so proud.

For this post on my blog, I thought I would expand on her logic with my article below. (I submitted the article below to a magazine, but they did not accept it. Where would you have submitted it?)

In Catonsville, Baltimore County, Maryland, where I live, The Little Sisters of the Poor serve the elderly with a level of dignity well above other nursing homes. They have several levels of care in various facility wings within St. Martin’s Home on Maiden Choice Road that meet the needs of the residence.

About every week, my wife and two smallest children go visit their “friends” at St. Martin’s with the hope that they’re “making the residents happy” by the display of their youthful energy. Tragically, the new rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) places The Little Sisters in jeopardy of severely reducing their beautiful mission to the poor. The rule mandates that employers directly or indirectly provide contraception and abortion causing drugs to the employees “of all faiths in [their] ministry”.

As the March first statement of the Little Sisters indicates, “Because the Little Sisters of the Poor cannot in conscience directly provide or collaborate in the provision of services that conflict with Church teaching, we find ourselves in the irreconcilable situation of being forced to either stop serving and employing people of all faiths in our ministry – so that we will fall under the narrow exemption – or to stop providing health care coverage to our employees.”

Does the Obama administration through the guidance of Catholic HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius realize that the contraception mandate will cause cost effective religious institutions to function less effectively or shut down? Do they realize that practicing religion is more than going to a place of worship, especially as believed by those in the three Abrahamic religions? A clue to these questions came from a Washington, D.C. political pundit who has close ties to Maryland and the Obama administration.

On February 12, Colby King said on the program “Inside Washington, “Well, I was hospitalized recently at a Catholic hospital. There was no exercise of religion as far as I was concerned [laughter] - at any point. I just got medical care. ... The religion question never came into being. I was treated in that hospital the same way I would be treated in any other hospital.”

Others on the program tried explaining that serving others was an integral part of practicing the Christian religion, but no one laid out the facts from history or the Bible.

Going back to the early Christians in the Roman Empire, when Pagan Romans exposed their newborn children to the elements, Christians would rescue and care for many of them. In the Middle Ages and even today, convents were safe havens for newborns whose mothers could not care for them; they were the origin of the modern “Baby Moses Law”. Jesus Himself taught the Good Samaritan parable that revealed that all people should come to the aid of their neighbor in need.

Most of all, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, verses thirty-one to forty-six, Jesus reveals that when anyone in the world helps the poor, they minister to Jesus. At the end of time, Jesus will say of those who served the poor themselves, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (vv. 35-36)

When religious institutions act positively toward people who are poor in material and ultimately spiritual ways as revealed in Matthew twenty-five, they are in fact fulfilling their religious obligations through Love within the public square. Even though the care may seem to be the same whether through secular or religious institutions, the above spiritual undergirding of the sponsoring Church, Religious Order, or Ecclesial Community is present. Also, when I personally go to the local juvenile prison facility to help with math classes inside the institution, unless they ask me, they would never know that I come to see them as a Catholic layman in response to a calling by a sister religious from the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

When a non-Catholic hospital nurse or university janitor works in their respective institution, that employee is supporting the mission of the employer to uphold its Gospel mission. The Catholic employer also has Gospel and Church Tradition in mind when it makes the decision to provide health insurance that does not include contraception and abortion inducing drug coverage to their employees. The Gospel, or Culture of Life that the Church preaches does not allow these institutions to directly or indirectly materially cooperate with the Culture of Death by providing those materials.

Of course, there is a debate whether the government may force insurance companies and/or Catholic institutions to provide contraception under the U.S. Constitution. However, the fact of the matter is that religious oases such as The Little Sisters of the Poor would rather reduce their positive contributions to the world which Jesus loves than to cooperate with the evil that the government would force upon them.

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