Government Should Not Define 'Church'
Under pressure from religious and conservative groups, the Obama administration has offered another compromise on the issue of birth control coverage within the Affordable Care Act. While exempting churches and some religiously affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and universities, from supplying the coverage, the new proposal calls for their employees to receive stand-alone private insurance policies providing birth control coverage at no cost. Insurance companies will foot the bill, but only the naive can possibly think the cost won't find its way back to the institution in the form of higher health premiums.
Numerous lawsuits filed against this and other portions of "Obamacare" will proceed and for good reason: the federal government seems intent on setting rules on matters of conscience and worse, defining what constitutes a church, or religious institution.
One of the litigants is
The core issue as I see it -- and there are others -- is whether the government has the right to define a church as a building in which people congregate on Sundays and whether a private company headed by a religious person qualifies for conscience exemptions. For government to decide such things violates the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment, which state "
Permit me to offer the justices some assistance.
The early church was not a building with a towering steeple. The early church met in homes. If one accepts New Testament teaching (and what higher authority on the church could there be?), the concept of the church being an organism that resides in each individual believer is clearly spelled out in several passages.
Paul the Apostle writes in his letter to the Colossians (1:24) about the "body" of
The same theme can be found in Revelation where John is asked by Jesus to write letters to several churches. Those, too, were bodies of believers, not physical structures.
In the Old Testament, God told Solomon that while He was too big to live in buildings, He would "dwell" in the
That was and remains for believers the authentic church, so when people say, "I am going to church," it is an impossibility because they can't go to themselves.
The administration's efforts to effectively gerrymander lines between what it considers legitimate religious practice and the secular is what the Founders hoped to avoid when they linked the establishment clause with the free exercise clause.
That is why, among other reasons, government should not mandate birth control coverage as part of any national health care plan.
Read the latest political news.
- Gilded Class Warriors
- 'Assassination Memo' a First Step in Setting New Warfare Parameters
- The Double Threats
- Rush to the Defense? Not So Fast
- Why Annihilate the GOP?
- A New GOP, or Just A Cosmetic Touchup?
- Government Spending That Isn't Smart
- Obama's Second Coming
- Operation Hubris
- Can the GOP Escape Its Bubble
- Leave Liberal Hollywood to the Liberals
- Can GOP's Local Success Translate to Federal Level?
- United States Shouldn't Create Underclass of Immigrants
- Rubio vs an Invisible Obama
- Marco Rubio's Problem Wasn't the Water
- Rubio and the GOP's Thirst for Leadership
- The GOP's Civil War Stumbles On
- Two Cheers for Republican Rebranding
- Obama's Blunt Challenge to Congress
- Conservative Business Leaders Should Widen Their Scope
- Calling Out Bugnut Idiocy
- No Easy Answers for Gun Woes
- A Time to Resist
- Recycling Old and Failed Ideas
- Obama: An Energized Lame Duck
- Obama's Place in History Already Assured
- Obama's License to Kill by Drone
- Drone Double Standard
- Torture Helped Get bin Laden?
- Let Us Prey
- A Message to Obama, Served Cold
- Government Should Not Define 'Church'
- Where The Buck Still Stops
- Republicans Make Nice, But Are Their Hearts True?
- Incoherent Immigration Reform
- The Eye Doctor and the 'I' Pol
- 60 Minutes' Missed Opportunity
- Obama and Rubio: A Study in Contrasts
- State of the Union, At Home and Abroad
- The Minimum Wage and The Meaning of a Decent Society
- The Hoax of Austerity Economics
- Diplomacy: Lying Politely
- United States and Israel Push The Boundaries of International Law
- Pentagon Keyboard Jockeys Can Now Out-Decorate Combat Heroes
- One Day The World Will Thank Bush For Shaking Up The Arab Region
- Has Obama Kept His Open-Government Pledge?
- State of the Union Allows Presidents to Outline Agenda
- State of the Union Address Likely to Focus on Domestic Issues
- Obama Again Offers to Negotiate Big Deficit Deal
- Immigration Reform Plan is a Farce
- The GOP Crack-up and Obama's Unraveling of the Republican Coalition
- GOP: Rest in Peace?
- A Time to Build
- Obama's Challenge
- Obama's Debt-Ceiling Strategy Could Put The Squeeze on GOP
- Obama's Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Why I'm Singing the Inauguration Blues
- Obama's Inaugural Address Not Progressive Enough
- Taking Joe Biden Seriously
Government Should Not Define 'Church' | Politics
(c) 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc